Open Stage offers a wide range of workshops, drama-based projects and one-off activities for schools, youth groups and the community. We are a new Community Interest Company that works with a broad range of people from backgrounds of chaos and addiction to offer projects that increase self-confidence, self-esteem and practical skills.
Born out of the Open Book Project at Goldsmiths College Open Stage was established in 2008 to further develop Open Book's ethos of introducing the arts to its members.
Opera, fine art, music, Literature, philosophy and theatre are all promoted within the project to create a greater exposure to the arts for its members who may not necessarily come from a traditional arts background.
Open Book works with ex-offenders, people in recovery of addiction and those with mental health problems to encourage them to achieve their intellectual potential through education. To date Open Book has helped place in access of 270 students on to education programmes ranging from Access and Foundation courses to Degree and Masters level.
The original intention behind Open Stage was to give those connected with Open Book an opportunity to flex their creative muscle, discover the wonder of making theatre and raise the profile of Open Book. With such a rich well of personal experience to draw from the work to date can be described as confrontational, controversial, tragic and funny as well as politically charged. The work reflects the attitudes and first hand experiences of those involved making for what is ultimately very compelling drama.
Open Stage strives to create issue-based theatre to highlight the problems faced by those involved and to give a voice to their journey of recovery. Although Open Stage is first and foremost an Issue Based Theatre Company it aims to entertain its audiences with a unique approach to theatre. Through using writers and actors new to the world of theatre but experienced in the issues broached Open Stage delivers with an authenticity that adds a distinctive gravitas to its productions.
Michael Mahony — Director
Janice Larkin — Producer
Kevin Dineen — Actor and Chairman
Sue Hallissey — Actor, Writer
Michael Holland — Writer
Joe Baden — Open Book Co-ordinator
Each production also includes new writers, actors and technical support but includes regular support from George Maddocks (Lighting), Roberta Zuric (Acting and Stage Manager), James Hunter (Filming), James Carney (Front of House), Carla Austin (Acting and Front of House), Kate Hamilton (Front of House), Mel Larkin (Costumes and Stage Manager), Tom Slatter (Acting), Emma Lane (Acting), Will Bufford (Acting), Neil Bradley (Acting and writing), Szilvi Keffert (Acting) and many others.
Showcase The George Wood Theatre, Goldsmiths — Jul 2008
The Showcase was in effect the inauguration of Open Stage; the acorn from which a mighty oak can grow. For the majority of the performers this was a first time experience, though witnessing their keen and committed approach to the rehearsal and performance process this was often hard to believe. All the work was scripted by those within the project. Politically charged, confrontational, controversial, tragic and funny the work reflected the gritty attitudes and experiences of those involved, making for compelling and thought provoking drama.
From this production a DVD with two films has been created. The first, Open Book Talking Heads, features a number of Open Book students discussing their own histories, their journey to education and the hopes and plans for the future. The second, is an edited version of the showcase and demonstrates, through use of film made both at the production and during rehearsals, the enormous skill, dedication and ability of all those involved.
The Darker Side of Christmas was performed at Greenwich University at Christmas 2008. In the ornate setting of the Council Chambers Open Stage produced a hard hitting, witty look at the side of Christmas beyond the happy families, Christmas trees and turkey dinners. Again thought provoking, all original material, politically charged, Open Stage is not afraid to say it as it is.
The Dicephalus Project – "If you weren't there you missed a wonderful experience – uplifting, funny, emotional and, above all else, real." To quote some other members of the audience "better than the West End", "reminded me of Becket" and "incredibly moving" whilst the critics said a "well written script and good delivery from all the cast" with a "professional" design and a "particularly effective" lighting design. What was it you missed and about which you are now kicking yourself? It was the Dicephalus Project, a production from Open Stage which took place at the Greenwich Playhouse on 25 – 28 March 2009.
The Dicephalus Project uses the format of La Ronde by Arthur Schnitzler to delve into the fascinating minutiae of people's everyday lives; how the institutions of society affect them; the duality of existence and the interconnections between people who do not know each other. As with all the work of Open Stage it was politically charged, confrontational, controversial, tragic and funny, reflecting the attitudes and experiences of the company and making for compelling drama.
Comments on The Dicephalus Project: "a startling and thought provoking look at the realities of some people's lives", "darkly humorous, but uncompromisingly honest and worthy of a much wider audience", "I cried - and laughed"
Legacies Greenwich Playhouse/The Greenwood Theatre — Oct 2009
Once again Legacies was a collaborative project written by a number of members of the company. It broaches the subject of social inheritance by asking how the actions and deeds of one generation hold ramifications for the next. Set against a backdrop of greater events stretching over almost a century it follows five individual stories. Starting with an execution for cowardice in World War I and culminating with recent events in Iraq the play also takes in the Windrush influx of West Indian immigrants in the Fifties and how racism served to shape the attitudes of future generations. Baked bean adverts of the Sixties, the Winter of Discontent under Callaghan's Labour Government in the Seventies, Rubik's Cube, Wham, The Clash, the Millennium and the predicted Y2K computer crash all feature in this look at inheritance.
As with all Open Stage productions this is a hard hitting drama set in and around a cemetery. Tackling thorny issues such as mental health, crime and addiction, Legacies is collaboratively written and performed by those with firsthand experience. 'A controversial warts and all account of how the consequences of social ills are perpetuated through one generation on to the next.'
Audience members comments 'fantastic, gripping, thought provoking, kept us talking for days, made a grown man cry, couldn't believe the cast weren't trained actors'
Hammer Horror or The Battle of wounded Knee, By Michael Holland
A Very Dark Comedy Indeed
Film buff Tom doesn't just like the movies he devours them, digests them and then spits them back out at random. He lives his life through them and who could blame him; it's all he has left. When Stuart rudely disrupts his special weekend viewing Tom feels some retribution is called for but how far will he go? Rita's whirlwind romance with the hapless Dave is about to be derailed by inevitable tragedy. Julie, Rita's Mum is not happy as she senses a perfect family life full of love, dreams and expectations is beginning to disintegrate under the spectre of heroin. A veritable multitude of Hollywood quotations, a pastiche silent movie, gritty kitchen sink drama and a good measure of surreal torture all serve to create a heady mix of a thriller that can only end one way. Or will it?
A comedic yet sardonic look at the destructive nature of addiction, mental health and those affected by it, Hammer Horror also takes into consideration the question of the moral high ground and who exactly holds it in a world where morality is thin on the ground.
Within the constraints of confinement Charlie, Baz and Dickie are caged lions killing time. Charlie hates dancing, Baz hates goulash and Dickie loves The Archers but misses his Egyptian cotton sheets. Meanwhile Audrey, Bridget and Kristina play the waiting game. Audrey's efforts to keep the peace between the feuding Kristina and Bridget are futile as the slapstick brutality proves to be relentless. Flitting between institutional reality and surreal dimensions, The Boy's Club examines motherhood, class, status and etiquette amid a brooding atmosphere of imminent violence. An inadequate ballet dancer, a Fred and Ginger combo and The Wizard of Oz all come into play as the tension builds to a dramatic climax… with a game of SNAP!
After being invited back for a second time Open Stage is delighted to be presenting this, its sixth production, at the Network theatre. Coinciding with the company's third anniversary this production is yet another landmark in its short and remarkable journey.
Born out of the Open Book project at Goldsmiths College, Open Stage strives to create entertaining issuebased theatre to highlight the problems faced by those involved and to raise the profile of the enterprise that has helped the students.
Open Stage was as innovative as always with its production of Block Party, written by Michael Holland, these three separate plays, linked by a rundown block of flats, was directed by three people. Michael directed the first, Urban and Western, Helen Knowles the second, Beyond the Call and Szilvia Keffert the final, linking, piece – Tripping the Night Fantastic.
The play looked at addiction, drug-dealing, dysfunctional parenting, vigilantes and dodgy dancing - all the ingredients for a hilarious view of life on a South London estate.
Block Party three tales cover all the emotions - including all the love you want - from maternal to lost, through unrequited and long-term. Block Party is a tragic-comic story of hope and survival.
What do people do when they lose love? Urban & Western shows Tom and Jim trying to find their way back to love, whether that's through a dating agency or winning back the girl of their dreams with a song. See two of life's truly unloved trying to find someone to love. Beyond The Call shows the pain of lost love. Rose, Patricia and Michelle tell how the pain of losing someone never goes. Tripping the Night Fantastic is a tale of the survival of the un-fittest as we follow the story of one family over 25 years.
Angie is gregarious flirty and Wayward with an addictive personality. Bea is forthright honest and loyal and just wants a simple life. Despite her naivete Jessie is clever and creative but she has to fight hard to remain ambitious. In 1992 the three girls prepare to leave school and enter into adulthood, by 2005 all three find themselves in very different circumstances. Three Women follows their sorrow and joy, mistakes, successes and of course the men they encounter. Through a series of snapshots this ensemble piece races its way through the years with an abundance of laughter and tears along the way. Starting life as acommunity drama workshop in Brixton, Three Women has evolved into Open Stage's eighth production.
Born out of the Open Book project at Goldsmiths College, Open Stage strives to create entertaining issue-based theatre to highlight the problems faced by those involved and to raise the profile of the enterprise that has helped its students.
When Frank Earnest Bleeder suffers an untimely and grisly demise those not so near and dear to him are summonsed to Solicitors Burke Hartley & Hare to witness his last will and testament. George is a retired policeman with a history and a habit. Ruby is finally off the streets but will she soon find herdelf back in the gutter. As for Scoutmaster Tom, he's just a pussycat and Tracy needs to eat herself big to win back her lover. Penthouse Andre aspires to more than black satin sheets, blowjobs and a chocolate fountain but his 'paramour' Joe is heading for the priesthood. As for the troubled, rejected Sophia, well all she ever wanted... was to dance.
Open Stage strives to create issue-based theatre to highlight the problems of those involved and to raise to profile of Open Book the enterprise that has helped them to overcome them.