Students Staff

12 January 2018

East 15 alumni return to the nest

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 6:32 pm

Familiar faces will be on the stage at the East 15 Clifftown Theatre in Southend  this term as alumni return with their new touring productions, The Lost Leigh Goose on Saturday 27 January performed by new Southend company, Wild Story Theatre and Joan,Babs & Shelagh Too on Monday 29 January presented by Conscious Theatre.

Wild story theatre weekly

Wild Story Theatre, founded by Elaine Hartley, aims to produce local stories about wildlife, folklore and history around Essex.   This project, which is backed by Metal Culture, includes several East 15 alumni, Dylan Tate, Assistant Director and Media Marketing, Emily Essery and Kate Austen, both performers and devisors and Rhea Locker-March, devisor.

Elaine said: “Dylan was on the Community Theatre course in Loughton. He graduated in 2008 and now tutors at East 15 in Southend, this term he is focussing on puppetry for the Physical Theatre course and BA Acting and Stage Combat. I met Dylan at an audition in 2010, we both got a job working with Flabbergast Theatre, and have been touring and creating exciting comedy puppetry shows ever since. We are now married and living in Leigh-on-Sea where Dylan is from.

“Emily was on the Physical Theatre course in Southend. We have been working with her for about four years and she is so much fun to work with, very creative and has great energy and input for devising and performing.

“Kate Austen, from Leigh-on-Sea,  was on the BA Acting course and I met her this summer at the Edinburgh Festival. We got chatting and realised we had Leigh-on-Sea in common among other performance interests.  It is great to involve another local in the production who feels close to the project matter and who can bring some  local knowledge to the production.

“Rhea was also on the Physical Theatre course and joined Flabbergast last year. She is a very talented and creative performer and I am excited to work with her on this production. Rhea is based in Southend so it is fantastic to have her on board. Rhea is helping with the development and devising of the show.”

Elaine chose Clifftown Theatre to launch this production as it is such a fantastic space that supports smaller theatre productions. She said: “I have been to watch a number of shows here and have always come away impressed, whether it is a student production or touring company.

“It is so important to have theatres such as Clifftown that will support upcoming companies and productions and provide an alternative to the large, commercial receiving houses that so often dominate theatre. The staff at Clifftown are always so friendly and helpful. Southend is lucky to have such a wonderful theatre on its doorstep.”

Joan, Babs & Shelagh Too is brought to Clifftown by Loughton Campus Contemporary Theatre graduate Gem Rudd-Orthner who is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Joan Littlewood’s birth, the woman many consider to be the mother of modern theatre.

Gem in role

Gem as Joan

Gem said:”Joan, Babs & Shelagh Too was inspired by Ken Campbell who taught me at East 15 just before I graduated. A few years later, when it was the centenary of Joan’s birth, I decided to take Ken’s advice and be Joan. Joan’s students founded East 15 to carry on her extraordinary actor training method. Debuting at Edinburgh Fringe as a work in progress, it attracted Oliver Senton who expressed an interest in redirecting it. I am so grateful for the journey I have taken with Oliver making the show into what it is today. I feel the whole process has been a tutorial from Joan because I have learned so much about producing shows as well as writing and performing them.

“I wanted to bring this piece to Clifftown because Joan is our guiding light and I feel that we, of all the theatre practitioners out there, should know about Joan and her enormous legacy. All contemporary theatre, especially the work that we all make, is derived from her.”

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