Giving Thanks...

This is traditionally the time of year to give thanks - generally because at this time of year we are all a little bit drunk all of the time and this allows us to be lower our guard and gush. Well, that is certainly true for me - I may have had a Bailey's while writing this!

I have had an extraordinary year of making work with brilliant people in brilliant spaces and I want to take this opportunity to thank them. 

I had the pleasure of working on the Barbican Box project again this year where I worked with Toeneelgroep Amsterdam led by Ivo van Hove. This project continues to be an inspiration to many young people and teachers across East London. I had a great time working with Mossborne School (Hackney), Buxton School (Leytonstone) and Sydney Russel School (Dagenham). 

I got introduced into a raucous, rude and riotous world of sexiness by the empress of blag Vanessa Kisuule. It has been a humbling, powerful and crunchy time making this important show and I am proud to say I have been involved in its evolution. Huge thanks to Vanessa for taking me on as he confidant, provocateur and general irritant. This show would not have been possible for it not for the wizardry of the brilliant Liz Counsell and sublime movement of Lucy Bairstow. SEXY will be coming to a venue near you in 2018...

It's always a brilliant thing when the seed of an idea blooms. Throughout 2017 I worked with the word magician Francesa Beard to create a show that explored our new “post-truth” world that's had enough of experts and asks what is the global cost of make-believe? By working with the dedicated and exceptional Tom McAndrew we were able to bring a group of brilliant creatives to realise this complex and beautiful show. Huge thanks go out to Charlie Morgan Jones for his gorgeous lighting design, Jethro Cooke for his haunting sound design, Shawn Soh for his epic video and costume design, Matt Mifsud for the poster design, the Arts Council for believing in us and giving us money! Full touring information coming soon...

Over the last year, I have worked with an inspiring writer, four awesome directors, four brave theatres and four distinct community groups in the first phase of Headlong Future before it starts proper next year. So huge thanks to; Stef Smith, Jon Randall, Tricia Gordon, Julia Head, Lucy Hunt, Jayne Williams, Lee  Hart, Faith Collinwood, Brewery Arts Centre, Bristol Old Vic, New Perspectives, Theatre Royal Plymouth.

A Wild World

In the Summer I worked with a group of extraordinary young people with a variety of needs and made a show about holding onto childhood. This show would not have been possible if it were not for the following people: Immediate Theatre, Jo Paul, Jo Carter, Charmian Humphrey, Jerome Boothe, Gary Horseman. 

For the second year running, I had the opportunity of directing a show at the Institute of the Arts Barcelona. Huge thanks to Drew Mulligan, Valentina Ricci, Amadeus Solernou, Emma Groves-Raines, Pedro Vaz, Olivia Owens. As well as the cast: Samantha Atkin, Olivia Atkinson, Juan Callirgos, Vegard Eliassen, Rebecca Fixemer, Annamad Hjortass, Sina Klinski, Patrizia Maio, Rafaela Nicolay, Paula Ortiz, Riccardo Portone, Antonio Rob, Lisa Ullrich, Kimberley Van Der Leeuw

In November I was reminded why I make theatre, why telling stories is so powerful and how theatre can be truly a democratic experience. I was a co-director with the hugely talented Segun Olaiya and we worked with 10 extraordinary young people and a brilliant team to make a show that explored the idea of fame, freedom and what you would give up to get back the things you have lost. Huge thanks go to Lyric Hammersmith, Catherine Nicholson, Charlie Farrant, Cass Conteh. 

I also worked with a lot of other brilliant people who I would like to thank:

This year has been truly fantastic. So many people enabled me to make the work I wanted to. It is likely I have missed people (mainly due to the Baileys!) so please get in touch if I have. 

Gush over!

Have a fabulous 2018...

Rob X

Death is funny. Right?

Ian Bonar and I have been on a brilliantly long journey making Be Prepareda show about the crunchy experience of death and loss. However, Ian began his journey many years before. In this guest blog Ian explains how it all started. 

Death is funny.


I remember when I was a kid my Grandad telling me that he was writing his memoirs and showing me the famous typewriter he was writing them on.

I, obviously, was totally disinterested and just wanted to go outside and kick a football.

But when I came across the manuscript many years later, yellow, faded and typed on a typewriter; in a box of stuff I was looking through after my dad died, it was like finding a piece of history.

The front cover is the seven ages of man speech from As You Like it, and each chapter is headed with a period from  … ‘Then the whining schoolboy’ etc.

He talks about growing up in the tenements of Port Glasgow, of living in one room with seemingly hundreds of brothers and sisters, of his father (Davy Bonar - the man on the poster) working as a Cocker in the shipyards, of riding his Raleigh Golden Arrow round the Glen Burn, of being in The Boys Brigade, of hardship and poverty, of getting a scholarship to go to a Grammar School - of growing up basically.

Then he gets to the chapter titled 'Then a soldier, full of strange oaths'... He starts to describe being called up to fight in the war - going in front of the medical board and sent to Burma… and…suddenly…I noticed that words were getting mixed up. Tenses confused. Random images dropped into sentences that seemingly had nothing to do with what he was talking about.

My Grandad had suffered a stroke and subsequent dementia - and he must have carried on going up to his room every day to sit at his typewriter and - write.

It was terrifying and fascinating and heartbreaking to see his memories disintegrate on the page - and it make me think about my Dad, about what I wanted to forget about his death and; and the things I desperately wanted to remember about his life. And it made me want to piece them back together. Somehow.

The thing about the phone number being the same as the local undertaker is true.  The house I grew up in shared a number (with one digit different) to Patricks, the local undertakers.  And people would phone.  To check abut the wreath, or the hearse or the time of the service. 

And it was funny.

Until, one summer an old man called and called…and called. He was so confused.  What happens in the play didn’t happen then, but I remember being so affected by it.  By how lost he sounded.  How adamant he was that he had called the right number.

And as I started to write the play, memories came flooding back - things from way back - things from the funeral - things about my childhood.  Things that made me laugh and things that made me angry and sad - and, I hope, the play captures the millions of tiny emotions and confusions that you feel when you lose someone.

Cos, death is funnny.  Right?

Written by Ian Bonar

Be Prepared is on at Underbelly all of August. To book tickets and find out more please click HERE. To see Ian perform an extract of the show for Free then head to the Cow Cafe on Tuesday 9 August at 11:45pm. 


Be Prepared production shots released.

The wonderful Other Richard took some great production shots this week. One week to go before we are in Edinburgh. 


Big Belly, Cowgate (Venue 61), 56 Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1JX

Thursday 4 - Sunday 28 August