GUEST POST - Becky Owen-Fisher, Playwright

Becky came to both E15 and DenMarked, came to the network night, hosted the workshops with Lung Theatre, experienced The Archive of Things Left Unsaid and also wrote the fast and furious retelling of the Gunpowder Plot for Smoke and Mirrors which audiences loved. 

Who else better to write a blog about Season One?

"During the Edinburgh Fringe this August Kate approached me and Tom and asked us if Lamphouse Theatre would like to collaborate on a hugely exciting project that she was about to launch in Peterborough. She explained, over coffee in the courtyard at Summerhall, that she had succeeded in securing some funding from Battersea Arts Centre to make Peterborough part of the CTN or Community Touring Network and that she would be producing a festival of work in the Autumn called Platform8. The really exciting thing about Platform8 is that it brings professional touring companies into the city but also encourages and funds ‘homegrown’ work. And that’s what she wanted Lamphouse to be part of.

We all know that Peterborough’s arts offering has grown really rapidly over the past few years and I’m so proud of everything that’s been achieved. It’s a testament to everyone that has taken part in any artistic activity in the city recently that Battersea Arts Centre wanted to bring CTN to us. Kate offered me an incredibly opportunity; to write a play that would feature as part of a festival style evening at the Green Backyard on bonfire night. The play would tell the story of the gunpowder plot, in Horrible Histories fashion and would be surrounded at the GBY with live music, crafts, food, drink, a fire juggler and of course, bonfires.

To say I was terrified of trying to write a funny piece of theatre would be a huge understatement. I’ve never attempted anything like it before, so my first point of call was to spend three days watching CBBC. Once that bit of research was fully embedded, I thought I’d better crack on.

Two false starts later and I finally had something which we began to think might be worthy of staging. Tom, being as brilliantly connected as he is, called up his friends at me.him theatre, and as luck would have it, they were free. Richard and Adam are wonderfully talented actor musicians, whose talent lies in taking stories (or in my case, half formed scripts) and making them funny, and thankfully they felt inspired by Robert Catesby and his gang of gunpowder plotters. We also enrolled Lizzie and Jason into the mix as roaming actors, and they were happy to oblige, on the condition that they were allowed to wear pretty dresses and wigs respectively.

Rehearsals started a week before the show and I crept in on the Wednesday evening. Tom’s direction was, as ever, genius and I can honestly say, I laughed until my sides hurt that evening (and that’s no testament to my writing) – we knew we had something good!

Needless to say, the show, Smoke and Mirrors, was an incredible experience, watching a geosphereful of people laughing, smiling and joining in with something that we had created was really special.

Another joyful thing about CTN is meeting the touring companies and performers. We spent a really fabulous evening watching the brilliantly talented Conrad Murray and I was extra lucky to spend a good couple of days in workshops (and bars and pubs) with the absolutely gorgeous cast of E15. The theatre company Lung made E15, a verbatim play about the social housing crisis, for the Edinburgh Fringe this year. It’s a cracking piece of theatre and the actors and their director Matt are an inspirational bunch to be around. They mucked in too for Smoke and Mirrors, playing the King’s Men, dashing about in a hilarious group ‘searching’ our audience members; I’m so grateful to them for getting involved and being prepared to wear really daft headtorches.

So, a massive thanks to everyone involved in season one of Platform8 and specifically Smoke and Mirrors. To Kate for believing and supporting; to Tom for bringing it to life; to Adam and Richard for being such brilliant sports (and writing the majority of the funny bits); to Lizzie and Jason for learning the longest speeches ever written; to Tom and Crystal for photographing it all so beautifully; to the GBY for their space, patience, and the best vegan chilli for miles; to Lung for being so excited about the pub on a boat; to Mask Theatre and Naomi Jones for the very generous costume loans (they’re on their way back, promise!), to the Battersea Arts Centre and the rest of the CTN network for coming to Peterborough; to all our friends and families who came to support (and those that wanted to but couldn’t get tickets – sellout – whoop!); and to absolutely anyone else that I’ve forgotten. See you next season Platform8!

Becky

PS Also don't miss Lamphouse Theatre's next production, Treasure Island, which kicks off a tour around Peterborough and surrounding areas on Saturday 26th November. I've been very lucky to learn the new skill of dramaturgy in this piece. it's going to be a cracker! Find out all the tour dates, locations and times and book online at www.lamphousetheatre.co.uk