Not long before rehearsals start ahead of our performances at Live Theatre, Newcastle on 22 and 24 February! Here's more information about our fantastically talented cast.
Mark Conway - Performer & Movement Consultant
Mark Conway trained at Rose Bruford College. Performance credits include: Chicken Dust (Finborough Theatre), It Never Ends, Occupied, Hacked (Theatre503), Ballistic, Tiny Tempest (Mini Mall), Toad (Southwark Playhouse), Peter Pan (Northern Stage). Movement Director credits include: Voyeur, Love Stories (Southwark Playhouse), Tiny Tempest (Brighton Dome), Land of Our Fathers (Theatre503 & Trafalgar Studios), Acedian Pirates (Theatre503), A Colder Water Than Here (Vaults Festival). Mark was shortlisted for Old Vic 12 in 2016.
Safiah Durrah - Performer
Safiah is originally from Kuala Lumpur. She studied theatre and performance at London Metropolitan University followed by an MA in Acting for TV, Film & Radio at East 15. During her BA course at London Metropolitan University, she received a semester of physical theatre training under the company Frantic Assembly and also performed at the 14th International Shakespeare Festival in Gdańsk, Poland. Safiah played a lead role in Japan NHK English educational TV drama and as a voice over artist, she has worked in IVR, documentary, commercial, infomercial and narration in English and Malay.
Safiah can also be heard as the voice over for the Philippine VisionFund. Aside from performing, Safiah is an established Pilates instructor.
Mona Goodwin - Performer
Mona’s work in theatre includes: Blue Heart (Tobacco Factory/Orange Tree); Laila The Musical (Rifco Arts); The Snow Queen (Royal & Derngate); Generation of Z (Royale Productions); Sundowning (Pursued by a Bear); Finding Noor (Citizens, Glasgow); Suffering in Sirens (Vertical Line); The Secret Garden (Aria Entertainment); Far From the Madding Crowd, Where Have I Been All My Life (New Vic, Stoke); The Conspirators, Julius Caesar and The Tempest (Orange Tree); DNA (Courtyard); Wind in the Willows (Chesterfield Rep); Cling to Me Like Ivy (Birmingham Rep); Spring Awakening (Lyric Hammersmith /Novello); Viable Alternatives, V for Vendetta (Theatre503). TV includes: Capital, Black Mirror, Topsy and Tim, Doctors and EastEnders.
Features and Films include: Marvellous, Brighton Rock and Freefall.
We are beyond excited to announce that we have been awarded the Live Lab Bursary by Live Theatre, Newcastle!
Live Theatre will be providing us with dramaturgical support in the development of our debut production, Sex With Robots and Other Devices which will culminate in two performances on 22 and 24 February 2017! We couldn't be more excited, and would love for you to come to one of the performances! Tickets available here. We also have brand new artwork by artist Juliet Sugg, have a peek below...
Hope to see you in Newcastle in February!
The first thing we did today was to have another look at the 'Me and You' scene. This scene is the first of a three scene storyline that looks at a woman who decides to use a robot to fulfil her husband's sexual needs. She is unable to do most physical things due to illness and sees this as a way to keep him happy. It's an interesting question. Would having sex with this robot feel like cheating for them both? Could you handle your partner being intimate with something that looks human but isn't?
After a quick biscuit & cuppa break, we looked at new scenes added by Nessah. The scene that particularly hit a nerve with me was 'Mama and Dada' this scene shows a young couple who buy a robot child and begin to wonder what they can do to it. What would the consequences be? Can you hurt a child that can't feel?
Only Nessah can make you feel disturbed, sad and joyful in one scene. Amazing. Can't wait for the invited audience to see this.
We had a great start to the day in which we spent the majority of the morning exploring robotic movement. To compare a selection of everyday actions/routines/characters and the effect when adding layers of 'Robot' to them was very interesting. For example a 'rude boy/girl' who is 60% robot 40% human and what that does physically.
We then looked at breaking down the various scenes and finding moments where this physical language however subtle or motif like, could be integrated into a scenario to assist and achieve their goals. Some really interesting and thought provoking discoveries were made in which we were able to approach dissecting what the reality of actually having a robot in your home, specifically of a sexual nature, would be like, would reveal, or might complicate. Roll on Thursday! #SexwithRobots
Today is day two of our R&D on Sex With Robots by Nessah Muthy. It was a day of getting scenes on their feet and breathing some life into them. In doing so we also started to explore the physical language and vocal qualities of the characters both human and robotic.
The day started by myself, leading a warm up which involved literally prancing like show horses, leaping like gazelles, and of course saluting the sun (and the sun shone beautifully in the morning, though it snowed in the afternoon. More sun-saluting in the afternoon needed). We looked at mirroring one another, focusing on the pure mechanics of precise mirroring. This then developed as one person was given a word or emotion to explore through physical action whilst the partner continued to mirror, the partner was then asked if they could feel an emotion through the actions they were replicating and see if their feeling was right. Can you replicate movement? Can you replicate emotions or ideas? We also quickly found a physical sequence of a robotic archer and we intend to investigate repetitive automation through our "archers" tomorrow. Then we began to delve into the brilliant scenes, building on yesterday's open and playful approach to all the possibilities of the play by starting to make definite choices on characters and histories and current situations. In the first scene we played with, it quickly became very clear to me that we couldn't hold back. Playing a male robotic sex doll for a girl with a very particular fetish meant we hit the ground running and some bold and brave work was beginning to take shape. We later went on to explore the human conflict of technically forcing something to have sex with you despite them not being human. Or is still real? Throughout the day we continued to work our way through the scenes and battle with the moral side to having sex or control over a robot with the implications of ever expanding AI. Do we only feel morally abject when the AI is advanced enough to question the acts a human is putting it through?
The team meet at the Young Vic bar, 4 actors, a director, writer and spike the dog. We are geared up with hot drinks, snack and work materials, as we head over to our home for the week Platform, Southwark to begin our exploration of this fascinating topic.
Sat around a table we begin to discuss the human and robot relationship. It becomes very apparent that there are many questions surrounding this topic. Where is humanity heading with it development and advancement in technology? How does it affect human relationships? What benefits and drawbacks can the development of sexual robots have on society? Furthermore it leave us all very undecided as to where we stand with regards to sex with robots and other devices. After our in depth conversation and a quick warm by Mark (one of the actors) we dive straight into Nessah' s extraordinary mind as we read her script Sex with Robots. They are collections of short scenes exploring sexual encounters with robots. Nessah doesn't state which characters are human or robots and so it gave us room to play with different scenarios. What was interesting about this was how almost endless our possibilities could be. We had situations where the status between human and robot would alter depending on which character played the human a which one played the robot. Also the essence and intention of the scenes often differed when we played with different variations. On the other hand there were scenes which automatically expressed which characters were robots and which were humans. With one scene in particular, I initially found myself empathising with a sex robot or sexbot but as the scene progressed my feeling shifted when I realised the emotional implications for my character. Even though it's only day one, our minds are already racing and we are pulling strange faces as we explore this world and become astonished. Technology is developing so rapidly who knows where we will be in 5years time let alone 20... As Bobby our director pointed out yesterday people can and are already having sex with robotic devices - you can fuck a foot. A robotic foot that can be used to please you sexual wow! Quote of the day #youcanfuckafoot
"When you say you're going to be working on a week-long R&D, it can often far too easily sound like you basically don't have any ideas yet, but want to hang out with your mates in a room and play with stuff. To some degree, I wouldn't actually argue with that. When Nessah first approached us with this idea, we spent a week doing exactly that, thanks to the Old Vic New Voices LAB initiative. And I wouldn't change that for anything. What came out of that week was more than any of us expected - it raised questions we'd never considered, opinions were changed, new attitudes were formed and crucially it allowed other people to see inside Nessah's brain, and gave us a fresh perspective on our hopes for the project. Essentially, we went from 'D'you think we can make a play out of this idea?' to 'YES! Let's make a play out of this idea. Now where do we begin...?'
This time around is going to be a very different beast. Throughout last year, Nessah slogged away, pulling together the vast mush of ideas, thoughts and feelings from that initial week, whilst we cracked on with getting some funding together to progress the project. Which I guess, is a ridiculously potted history of where we are up to now.
On 22nd Feb, we will be going back into a rehearsal room with four brilliant and lovely actors, who will be helping us pull together a tight narrative from this sprawling metropolis of modern technology. Our source material this time will be text-based, in the form of 10 scenes, which will act as the focus whilst we find our feet. By Friday 26th, we will have work to show an invited audience. Which if I'm honest, is both really bloomin' exciting, and absolutely terrifying, but I suppose we wouldn't be doing this if we felt any other way...
I just want to say a very quick thank you to our theatre angel who has made the week possible. As a company, we firmly stand by the principal of paying those who work for us, and thanks to their kind donation, we have achieved that. And also to the Young Vic, who have offered us this great space to explore our ideas.
Here's to it - see you on the other side!"
From 15 - 21 December 2014, Cloakroom were lucky to be given the opportunity of holding a research and development week to develop the content of our new project. Old Vic New Voices and Time Warner's Lab Space enables emerging companies to use rehearsal space for free to develop ideas without the pressure of delivering a finished product at the end of the programme. This time was invaluable in our process, and we were able to hold movement sessions with Movement Director Mark Conway, work on script and exercises with actors, and hold fruitful discussions concerning the subject matter of our debut project 'Sex with Robots and Other Devices.' Nessah's back at her writing desk developing the script, and we are very excited about how the project is driving forward. We will be able to divulge more information in the coming months! Old Vic New Voices is such a beneficial platform for companies such as ourselves, and we would like to extend our thanks to them, Time Warner, and the people who gave up their time to make it such an exciting and beneficial week. Here's some photos of our time in the rehearsal room: