Posts

, , , ,

The Gate, Ellen McDougall: ‘There is an unconscious bias in the way that we categorise people and often that is invisibly prejudiced.’

Gate-14

Ellen McDougal

Ellen has just come from rehearsals for the world premiere of Effigies of Wickedness, a project that she is directing, in collaboration with English National Opera. The cabaret includes a number of songs banned by the Nazis in the ’30s. During the Nazi reign, the Weimar cabaret performed the songs as a celebration of difference but were later exiled. What can audiences expect from this unlikely collaboration? “For me success will be opportunity to bring together different worlds: opera, there’s also the cabaret scene in London that some of the artists we are working with are really connected with. When the music was first written it came out of a very strong queer community from Weimar, Berlin. What I don’t want it to be is a chocolate box all escape to the 1930’s. That said, the satire and wit in the music is incredibly joyous,” says McDougall.

jrgvtsabp5d40kgsjgb6.jpg

Effigies for Wickedness 

For most of our time together, McDougall, artistic director of the Gate, Notting Hill looks me right in the eye and gives long, careful answers. Where does she get her confidence? “I don’t know… I don’t know that I’ve got loads of confidence,” she says.

” remember writing Purni Morell an email after I left the studio at the Unicorn, where I was director in residence very early on in my career. She’d sent me to Vienna to see shows. I wrote her this email saying: ‘having you believe in me helped me to believe in myself’. I think that is definitely one example of where confidence can be found. By being backed by somebody that you truly admire.”

I ask Ellen whether her gender has ever held her back professionally. “It’s impossible to answer that question as I’m not the person giving me opportunities, I guess,” she says thoughtfully. “But I would say that I haven’t always been very front-footed as a director. I think there is sometimes a structure in theatre where directors are expected to be loud, confident and demanding; in terms of getting pitches listened to or getting people’s attention and that’s never been something I’m comfortable doing or doing very well. I think those structures are founded on patriarchal patterns but the idea that that favours men is probably true,” she says.

McDougall is leading the way in a renaissance in fringe and pub theatre that is often a stomping ground for radical emerging artists. But with conversations currently raging around fair pay on the fringe, does she think that the fringe model is broken? “There are big important questions about diversity, about who is getting the chance to make work and then there is a conversation about who is privileged enough to be able to afford to work for free,” she explains. “The thing of treating artists badly and expecting too much of them and putting demands on them in structures that exclude anyone on low income; the subsidised sector is as much to blame, I would say, probably across the board. We need to be interrogating those structures more rigorously and thinking about the way we talk to artists and we need to be including them in those conversations. That’s a more useful debate to be having, I think.”

What is her best quality? “I like to think that I’m collaborative and that I’m good at listening,” she says. “I’m definitely rigorous, borderline perfectionist. I like to think that I am imaginative. I went to an artist talk in the summer as part of the Shubbak Festival and the panel were female artists from the Arab world and one of them said that she hadn’t noticed initially but she’d suddenly realised that her work was often described in the terms that you would use to describe settings on a washing machine – such as delicate or soft. But that idea that somehow the way her work was being viewed was gendered. The serious thing that she was pointing out was that there is an unconscious bias that goes on in the way we categorise people and often that is invisibly prejudiced,” says McDougall.

ellen-mcdougall

Ellen McDougall 

In 2011 Ellen received an Olivier Award nomination for her first show, Ivan and The Dogs. What, I ask, does she think of the 2018 nominations? “I think that the idea that there is a best is weird,” she says with a smile. “The idea that art can be quantified and compared is really weird. When I went to the Olivier’s in 2011, I was nearly sick everywhere because I was so nervous. I mean, they announced the category my show was nominated in after a performance by Barry Manilow. Sean Holmes’ production of Blasted won and he spoke about Sarah Kane and what she might have made of it all after the reception that show had when it first opened. Having said that, getting people excited about all forms of theatre is really brilliant, and it definitely does that.”

At this point, we discuss climate change, rising CO2 levels, melting of ice caps and the wildlife TV series Blue Planet. It is a subject that is very close to McDougall’s heart. “The context of making theatre in the knowledge of climate change: how the way we make stuff, the stories we tell. The structures need to change in order to account for that. I feel like it is something that should be on the agenda all the time – it often gets dropped off because it requires deep thought and a willingness to experiment. But we’ve got to talk about it and think about it because it relates to everything. To me, it underpins so much of what is happening in the world. Brexit, the swing to the right… And somewhere I think the knowledge that we all have that climate change is happening and it is fucking terrifying is in conversation with all that.”

Pia Laborde Noguez 2 Trust, Gate Theatre.

Trust, Gate Theatre. Photo credit: Ikin Yum 

She’s not finished. “I’m proud that Trust had a set that was largely recyclable or reusable and some of the things that weren’t recyclable or reusable are things they have recycled from a previous show at the Gate. There is an economy that is starting to happen within what we are doing in our season that means we are trying to lower the impact of our footprint with the shows and that is something we will continue to do and interrogate. I think there is something incredibly exciting about empowering artists to think about how the things they make are made.”

Effigies for Wickedness (Songs banned by the Nazis) runs 03 May to 02 June.

Box Office 020 7229 0706

 

 Jude Christian directs Falk Richter’s TRUST at the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill

Jude Christian credit Manuel Harlan
Jude Christian credit Manuel Harlan

Jude Christian credit Manuel Harlan

Ellen McDougall’s critically acclaimed first season at the Gate theatre, Notting Hill continues with TRUST, Falk Richter’s anarchic celebration of broken relationships, complex negotiations and the tyranny of capitalism.  The production opens on 22 February (press night 26 February).

Jude Christian’s production, in which she also performs, interrogates our political and economic system through the lens of a romantic relationship, asking the questions; if you decided to end a romantic relationship, is being 52% sure but 48% not, enough to walk away from what you’ve invested in? And are we really going to settle for a system that we can’t trust? This experimental production will use the Gate Theatre space in a completely new way.

The cast will include Pia Laborde Noguez , whose recent credits include The Tempest at Norwich and Norfolk Festival, Boat (Theatre N16), Current Location (Summerhall) and In The Beginning Was The End (dreamthinkspeak) and Zephryn Taitte who has recently appeared on stage in The Tempest (Stafford Shakespeare Festival), Result (Pleasance Theatre) and Rachel (Finborough Theatre).

It’s about me. It’s not about you.

Leave or stay.  Speak up or keep silent.  Slam the door or keep the peace.  Walk out tonight or stick it out for another week, a month, a year.  Drain your bank account and get out while you still can or keep on saving for the holiday, the house, the car.  Destroy all existing structures and begin entirely again – or get hitched to the person who betrayed you.  Begin a revolution or just keep calm and carry on – things aren’t so bad, are they?

 Falk Richter is one of the most important German playwrights and directors of his generation. His work has been translated into more than 25 languages and produced all over the world.  His plays include For the Disconnected ChildRausch (written with Anouk van Dijk), Play LoudMy Secret Garden (written with Stanislas Nordev), Damaged YouthState of EmergencyThe DisturbanceSeven Seconds (In God We Trust) and God is a DJ.  Apart from writing and directing his own plays, Richter has directed Shakespeare, Chekhov, Schiller, Brecht and contemporary writers including Caryl Churchill, Harold Pinter, Martin Crimp, Sarah Kane and operas by Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Weber.

The text is translated by Maja Zade,  dramaturg at the Schaubühne Berlin, where she has worked with directors including Thomas Ostermeier, Ivo van Hove, Luk Perceval, Benedict Andrerws and Marius von Mayenburg.  Her translations into German include works by Lars von Trier, Arnold Wesker and Caryl Churchill, and she has translated into English works by Marius von Mayenburg, Roland Schimmelpfennig, Lars Norén and Falk Richter.

As a director, Jude Christian‘s theatre productions include Parliament Square (Bush Theatre and Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester), Lela & Co (Royal Court), The Darkest Corners (Transform), The Path (HighTide), Blue (RWCMD), Split/Mixed (Summerhall), How Do You Eat An Elephant / BWYTA Ellifant, Sut Mae Gwneud Hynnydwedwch? (National Youth Theatre of Wales), Happy and The Mushroom (Pentabus Young Writer’s Festival).  Jude’s work also includes Nanjing which she wrote and performed in. Jude is the Artistic Associate at the Gate Theatre.

Trust is designed by Bethany Wells with sound design by Ben and Max Ringham and lighting design by Joshua Pharo.

In Conversation: Paul Mason will take place on Monday 5 March following the evening performance of Trust.  The event will explore how the personal is political, what it means for one country to break up with 27 others and what it would take to break out of our current economic system.

Paul is the author of several books including Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere – an account of the networked uprisings of 2011, which was adapted for the stage at the Young Vic and, PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future – a bestseller now translated into 16 languages in 2016. Paul joined Channel 4 News in 2013, and covered Greece, the Gaza war and the Scottish referendum. In 2015, he produced a documentary series about the first six months of Syriza in Greece:#ThisIsACoup – for Field of Vision. Paul has also been a consultant on the movie Jason Bourne, started a blog calledMosquito Ridge and appeared regularly as a commentator and analyst on Brexit, Trump and Corbyn.

The Gate Theatre Starts 2018 with two ground-breaking international productions

Nina Bowers

Actor Nina Bowers will play over 20 characters in a new production of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, Anna Deavere Smith’s ground-breaking piece of verbatim theatre.

Jude Christian, Associate Artist at the Gate, will direct and perform in Trust, an anarchic celebration of broken relationships, complex negotiations and the tyranny of capitalism, by Falk Richter.

Ellen McDougall’s critically acclaimed first season continues at the Gate Theatre with two groundbreaking international productions.Artistic Director Ellen McDougall said,

‘Nina Bowers and Ola Ince are two thrilling new talents – they have formed an incredible partnership to present this essential verbatim piece. Jude Christian is one of the most exciting artists currently working in theatre, and will direct and perform in her production of Trust’

This morning the venue announces that actress Nina Bowers will play over 25 roles in the new production of Anna Deavere Smith’s TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES, 1992.  The play, directed by Ola Ince, opens on 11 January (press night 15 January). Rehearsal images here.

This is a city at war with its own children.

When the policemen accused of assaulting young, black taxi driver Rodney King were acquitted, deadly riots broke out across LA, laying bare the recurring pattern of racial oppression and police brutality in America.

For this ground-breaking piece of verbatim theatre, Anna Deavere Smith interviewed hundreds of people from police commissioners to Rodney King’s family about those devastating few days in the summer of 1992.  These are their words.

Nina Bowers made her acting debut in Tomorrow I’ll Be Twenty for Complicite. She wrote and co-devised Nina Talks About Her Values which was performed at Camden People’s Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe 2017. She is a co-founder of the theatre duo Two Much Company.

Anna Deavere Smith, also an actor, is perhaps best known for playing Nancy McNally in The West Wing and Gloria Akalitus in Nurse Jackie. Her plays include Fires in the MirrorHouse ArrestLet Me Down Easy and The Arizona Project. Her playwriting process involves interviews with scores of individuals. Her writing primarily focuses on a topic of civic and political interest. Smith is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the National Humanities Medal, presented to her by President Obama in 2013. She has been the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Award, The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, two Obie Awards and two Tony Award nominations. She was runner up for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play Fires in the Mirror. Honorary degrees include those from Yale University, Juilliard, Barnard, the University of Pennsylvania, Radcliffe, Wesleyan, Williams College and Northwestern University, as well as many others.

Director Ola Ince was the 2016 Genesis Future Director Award winner and Artistic Associate at Lyric Hammersmith and Theatre Royal Stratford East. Her directing credits include Start Swimming (Young Vic & Summerhall), White Sky (RWCMD & Gate Theatre), Broad Shadow (National Theatre), Dutchman(The Clare, Young Vic Theatre) and Rachel, The Soft of Her Palm (Finborough Theatre).  As Associate Director, her credits include Bugsy Malone (Lyric Hammersmith), Tipping the Velvet (Lyric Hammersmith & Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh), Fog (UK tour). As Assistant Director her credits include Shakespeare Trilogy (Donmar Warehouse & St. Ann’s Warehouse), Ma Rainey’s Black BottomDaraA Taste of Honey (National Theatre), Porgy & Bess (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Josephine & I (Bush Theatre) and Wild Swans (Young Vic Theatre).

Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 is designed by Jacob Hughes.  Jacob graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2011 and was a finalist in the Linbury Prize for Stage Design that same year. He has since been nominated for Best Set Designer in the Off West End awards, Wales Theatre awards and has exhibited his work in the Society of British Theatre Designers exhibition Make:Believe.  In 2016 Jacob became the National Theatre’s first recipient of the Max Rayne Design Bursary Award. Design credits include Broad Shadow (National Theatre), Start Swimming at The Young Vic andTreasure Island at Watford Palace.

Lighting design is by Anna Watson whose theatre credits include: Box of Delights (Wilton’s Music Hall); King Lear (Shakespeare’s Globe) Becoming: Part One (Donmar);  Snow in Midsummer (RSC); The Seagull, Shopping and Fucking (Lyric Hammersmith); Dutchman / The Secret Agent / Fireface / Disco Pigs / Sus (Young Vic) You for Me for You / Plaques & Tangles / A Time to Reap (Royal Court) The Chronicles of Kalki (The Gate); The Roaring Girl (RSC); Bank on it (Theatre-Rites / Barbican); ; Salt, Root and Roe (Donmar); On the Record / It felt empty when the heart went at first, but it’s alright now (Arcola); Paradise / Salt (Ruhr Triennale, Germany); Gambling / This Wide Night (Soho Theatre);  Rutherford and Son / Ruby Moon (Northern Stage);  … Sisters (Headlong); King Pelican / Speed Death of the Radiant child (Drum, Plymouth).  Opera credits include: Don Carlo (Grange Park) Orlando ( WNO and Scottish Opera); Ruddigore (Barbican, Opera North and UK Tour); Critical Mass (Almeida); Songs from a Hotel Bedroom / Tongue Tied (Linbury ROH); The Bartered Bride (Royal College of Music); Against Oblivion (Toynbee Hall).   Dance credits include: Mothers (The Place); Refugees of a Septic Heart (The Garage); Soul Play (The Place); View from the Shore / Animule Dance (Clore ROH ).

Sound Designer Max Perryment is a London, U.K. based Composer and Sound Designer who has composed music for numerous television commercials. Recent clients include: Nokia, London and Partners, Johnnie Walker, Land Rover, The Singleton, Godiva, The Co-op, Raffles, Volvo, Thomson’s Holidays, Amazon, Magnet Kitchens, GQ, Booking.com, Liverpool One, Continental, Berkley Homes, Jacamo, Barclay’s, Simply Be, Neville Johnson and Zoopla.

He has composed music and sound designed productions at The Young Vic, The Bristol Old Vic, Hampstead Theatre, The Other Palace (formerly St James’ Theatre), The Gate, Southwark Playhouse, Orange Tree Theatre, The Vaults, Hope Mill Theatre, The Bunker, Ovalhouse and Theatre 503.   Max also writes music for contemporary dance and has been the resident composer for Made By Katie Green since 2010.Max is a founding member of the band Escapists who have played Reading and Leeds Festival as well as supporting Manic Street Preachers and Imagine Dragons on their U.K. tours.

TRUST, Falk Richter’s anarchic celebration of broken relationships, complex negotiations and the tyranny of capitalism opens on 22 February (press night 26 February).  Jude Christian’s production will use the theatre space in a completely new way for her production that asks the question; are we really going to settle for a system that we can’t trust?  The cast will include Pia Laborde Noguez, whose recent credits include The Tempest at Norwich and Norfolk Festival, Boat (Theatre N16), Current Location (Summerhall) and In The Beginning Was The End (dreamthinkspeak) and Zephryn Taitte who has recently appeared on stage in The Tempest (Stafford Shakespeare Festival), Result (Pleasance Theatre) and Rachel(Finborough Theatre).

It’s about me. It’s not about you.

Leave or stay.  Speak up or keep silent.  Slam the door or keep the peace.  Walk out tonight or stick it out for another week, a month, a year.  Drain your bank account and get out while you still can or keep on saving for the holiday, the house, the car.  Destroy all existing structures and begin entirely again – or get hitched to the person who betrayed you.  Begin a revolution or just keep calm and carry on – things aren’t so bad, are they?

Falk Richter is one of the most important German playwrights and directors of his generations. His work has been translated into more than 25 languages and produced all over the world.  His plays include For the Disconnected ChildRausch(written with Anouk van Dijk), Play LoudMy Secret Garden (written with Stanislas Nordev), Damaged YouthState of EmergencyThe DisturbanceSeven Seconds (In God We Trust) and God is a DJ.  Apart from writing and directing his own plays, Richter has directed Shakespeare, Chekhov, Schiller, Brecht and contemporary writers including Caryl Churchill, Harold Pinter, Martin Crimp, Sarah Kane and operas by Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Weber.

The text is translated by Maja Zade, a dramaturg at the Schaubühne Berlin, where she has worked with directors such as Thomas Ostermeier, Ivo van Hove, Luk Perceval, Benedict Andrerws and Marius von Mayenburg.  Her translations into German include works by Lars von Trier, Arnold Wesker and Caryl Churchill, and she has translated into English works by Marius von Mayenburg, Roland Schimmelpfennig, Lars Norén and Falk Richter.

As a director, Jude Christian‘s theatre productions include Parliament Square (Bush Theatre and Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester), Lela & Co (Royal Court), The Darkest Corners (Transform), The Path (HighTide), Blue (RWCMD), Split/Mixed(Summerhall), How Do You Eat An Elephant / BWYTA Ellifant, Sut Mae Gwneud Hynnydwedwch? (National Youth Theatre of Wales), Happy and The Mushroom (Pentabus Young Writer’s Festival).  Jude’s work also includes Nanjing which she wrote and performed in. Jude is the Artistic Associate at the Gate Theatre.

Trust is designed by Bethany Wells with sound design by Ben and Max Ringham and lighting design by Joshua Pharo.