Issue date: Tue 22 March 2016
Greenwich Theatre’s reputation as great supporters of emerging UK theatre companies went up another notch when The Flanagan Collective won an award for Best Collective at the Adelaide Fringe Festival earlier this month.
The company, working out of a converted water mill in north Yorkshire, won the award in Australia after a three-week run with three different shows – Babylon; Sherlock Holmes: A Working Hypothesis; and Fable.
Babylon has been performed in Greenwich before when the theatre worked with the company to present the revolutionary production upstairs at the Greenwich Tavern, but both Sherlock Holmes and Fable make their first appearance in the borough when they transfer back to Greenwich Theatre next month (April 12-16 and April 26-30 respectively).
“We’re delighted that the collective not only made their Adelaide debut but won this award” said James Haddrell, Greenwich Theatre’s Artistic and Executive director.
“We are always keen for shows to tour before they come to our main stage, so that they are at their absolute best when they come to Greenwich. Winning an award at the same time is a real bonus and very exciting for all concerned.
“Fable is very much in the style of a lot of The Flanagan Collective’s work, combining story-telling, music and performance. I think it’s the best kind of magical realism, a charming story about a girl who has a weak heart but dreams of being an astronaut. It’s a simple but very beautiful show. Sherlock Holmes is different, taking on a hugely well-known character, but the company have done similar when they took over a pub for an immersive Jazz Age theatre version of The Great Gatsby, and the reaction then was fantastic.”
Greenwich Theatre supports around 15 young companies at any one time. “Basically we help them with anything they need,” said James. “We start with some as soon as they graduate from drama school if they show real promise. That early on they need help with forming the company and how to produce a show. They need different kinds of help as they progress and think about touring and even touring abroad, and we help them with that as well.”
Companies like Idle Motion, who have toured China, and Sell A Door – who have worked in the West End and toured Europe and the Far East – now enjoy international reputations.
“We have recently taken on three new supported companies. We are working with Lucy Grace, whose company How Small How Far is touring a show called Garden,” said James, “a company called Patch of Blue who are preparing to premiere a new show about autism at the Edinburgh Fringe, and an exciting new writing company called Reverend Productions who will be touring London and the South East later this year with a double-bill of new work. We have also partnered with established Greenwich Theatre regulars Les Enfants Terribles this year to present two awards to young companies – Sharklegs and The Outbound Project – who will both now receive a package of financial support and mentoring as they prepare to take a show to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It gives us great satisfaction to be in at the ground floor with companies that go on to make a real impact.
“It’s also a great moment when they strike out on their own, but I’m glad to say they all do stay in touch.”