James Seager: Les Enfants Terribles’ Producer on Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the LET Awards and more
James Seager and Oliver Lansley are the masterminds behind Les Enfants Terribles. Their previous work includes multi-award-winning, international stage shows, including Dinner at the Twits, Alice’s Adventures Underground and The Vaudevillains. James Seager is Les Enfants Terribles’ Producer.
Last week I had a phone chat with Seager. We talked about the origins of their partnership. He says, “We met fifteen years ago, working on a Shakespeare play – As You Like It – and we are truly great friends. We direct together and have similar tastes,” he laughs. “We come up with ideas and 95% of the time it works, usually we are on the same page.”
Seager and Lansley recently announced the winners of the annual LET Awards. Nominees took part in a showcase at Greenwich Theatre. “It’s been pretty magic. The standard was the highest we have ever seen. We had over one hundred applicants – of which we shortlisted ten companies. All of them were brilliant and it was a very difficult decision to choose one winner.”
Two winners were selected, Rendered Retina and BoonDog Theatre. Both will receive a performance slot at the Pleasance as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe, £1000 cash as well as mentoring. “Rendered Retina are young, fresh and enthusiastic,” he says. “We could tell that they have a passion and genuine love for theatre. A lot of the decision was down to mine and Olly’s instinct; we felt that they could really benefit from our mentorship. What Rendered Retina did was inventive, slick and clever. Their work showed a great deal of potential for development. Both companies stood out.”
The Rendered Retina boys: Tom Mangan, Jordan Choi and Alex Mangan are upbeat about their recent win, “We are so honoured to have been offered this opportunity! The LET Awards gave us the chance to meet some incredibly talented artists and performers, and for that we are very grateful. We are excited to receive mentoring from LET, as well as the chance to showcase our work at the Edinburgh Fringe,” says Choi.
It’s behind Les Enfants Terribles’ love of facilitating opportunities for emerging talent, particularly the LET Awards, where their work shines. “This is the sixth year we’ve done this and there are two main ways in which we help. One is creatively; direction, storytelling and writing. Secondly: on a productivity level, we find that new company’s want more help with finance and accommodation. I.e. the nitty gritty and boring things involved in taking a show to Edinburgh. We have fifteen years under our belts of taking work to Edinburgh Fringe, so we are in a position to guide them. It’s quite expensive! Time slots, venue hire, accommodation, flyers, PR etc – it all adds up,” cautions Seager.
Les Enfant Terribles are providing an invaluable service for emerging talent. It’s brilliant. Really very brilliant indeed. They have just announced The Stepladder Award, which is designed to support developing fringe theatre companies making original work. The emphasis of the award is on supporting a company to mount a professional tour of their Edinburgh Festival Fringe show and building their company profile and structure from the roots.
Taking a show to Edinburgh Fringe is no mean-feat. Balancing ambition with breaking even is nearly impossible, other benefits of appearing at Edinburgh are infinite. “The experience – its intense putting on a show and taking it to Edinburgh – it is a huge learning-curve,” says James. “It’s important to be there meeting new people, raising your profile and showcasing work where all the important people working in this industry are in one place. “
If the output of dynamic work is anything to go by, 2017 will see Les Enfants Terribles progress on to even more innovative projects. “As well as the Step Ladder programme, our sister company Les Petits Theatre Company have the stage adaptation of David Walliams’ ‘The First Hippo on the Moon’ out on a U.K Tour. ‘Alice Adventures Underground’ is back at The Vaults from April. We also have a brilliant outdoor show doing the Festival circuit over the summer and a really exciting show opening in London in October.” He pauses: “So, watch this space.”
ALICE’S ADVENTURE UNDERGROUND OPENS AT THE VAULTS ON 25 APRIL 2017