Roundabout is a pop-up theatre from Paines Plough and Theatre Clwyd. The big, yellow dome, which seats 160 people, has previously stopped off at Eccles, Little Hulton and last year made its home in Ordsall Park. This year Roundabout visits Albert Park in Broughton, where it hosts three new plays, as well as comedy and community arts.
Quays Life meets this year’s Directors: Annie Lunnette Deakin-Foster (Movement Director); Stef O’Driscoll (Director) and Janisè Sadik (Assistant Director):
How did you get involved with Roundabout?
Stef: I have been working with Paines Plough for the last 8 years. I started with them as assistant on Wasted, I assisted James Grieves then became associate director at Paines Plough and directed a couple of shows, so the natural progression is for me was to direct the Roundabout Season, I did my first season last year then I have come back again this year.
Janisè : I’m the trainee director at Paines Plough this year, so I’ve been put on this lovely programme, the Roundabout.
Annie: I worked on a show with James Grieves last year and this year, he connected me to Steph and then Steph put me on board for The Roundabout.
How long have you been working on these shows?
Stef: So it’s an insane process when you’re making 3 shows, we had 7 weeks in London then 4 weeks in Mold. That works out at 11 weeks in total to make 3 shows, 4 of those you’re in tech and previewing here.
What do you enjoy about Roundabout and what are the Challenges?
Stef: I love the Roundabout, the Roundabout is everything what it means to be human, it brings communities together and I think we need spaces like that more than ever with what’s happening currently in the world. So for me its community, its joy, it’s magic. It has an inbuilt lighting system, there’s no other like it. That fused with sound just creates a really magical place to grapple with what it means to be human. I don’t know what else to say other than it’s joyous.
Annie: It’s a really intimate space as well you sort of break down the relationship between audience and performer and there is nowhere to hide for the performers, which as an artist is something really exciting to work with and how you can express using your bodies, and story tell through your bodies in 360 degrees, is just really rewarding in this unique space.
Stef: yeah and it’s like the audience are a part of it, they’re the 4th character, they’re very much a part of that space. So to have something so live where the audience are very present is everything that I think theatre should be.
How is it working with the same 3 actors across the same 3 plays?
Stef: I think each play requires a different physical language in that space, it’s really about discovering what that is to support the actors with what to do. The space is so unique so we prep them to be in that space. Its 360 degrees, in the round, so if you’re facing someone, the people behind you also need to know if you’re happy or if you’re sad. There is a physical toolkit that gets made particularly for the space its self and then looking at what is the best way to tell each story. So there is a lot of work that’s been done in terms of playing different characters, how do they walk, how do they speak, and finding distinctions. So a lot of work goes into what is needed for each play in a physical way.
Annie: Yeah and we really try to establish the different words very early on. That might shift from what we thought it was going to be in rehearsal, to what it ends up being. I think that helps land each play in a different world, or environment. But I think the basic toolkit are opening out and exploring characterisation and physicality and connecting to intention.
How important is it to take this work to local communities, like Broughton in Salford?
Stef: It is so important that the Roundabout flat packs in the back of a van and can go to anywhere on the doorstep of people that might not be able to access the arts for whatever reason; they can’t travel or its too expensive, or their only idea of theatre is in their nearest town which is like a West End musical. If you don’t have things like the Roundabout, then it will stop people accessing something that, I think is, transformative and every one should have the ability to be able to experience something to see themselves in a story to be able to understand what the world is about and grapple with what means to be human. So we need to do more of this, it’s incredibly important that people can access it on their doorstep.
Have you been to Salford before?
Stef: Yes, so we were in Salford last year with the Roundabout, and it was amazing to see a community take over the Roundabout space, it was amazing. We had Ordsall’s Got Talent which took place with lots of people from the community doing a talent show, the opening as well which was lots of different youth groups performing. It was beautiful to see how the Roundabout gets transformed by communities, so not only are we saying here is the best of the best new writing, come and enjoy and share this with us, but equally for them to have ownership of what goes on in there.
Describe each show with one sentence:
Annie: I’d describe the experience overall as like a box of chocolates, with various flavours. But Dexter and Winter is a fast paced adventure of fun and discovery.
Stef: Daughterhood is about what it means to be a daughter and we look at what two sisters and them grappling with duty and stepping into duty when their father is unwell.
Janisè: On The Other Hand we’re Happy is pure love, magic and it really touches you on social responsibility.
Roundabout is at Albert Park, Broughton from 5-8 September 2019.