Monday, 3 August 2015

The Scoop - Captain Show Off! and Women Of Troy

FOR the past 12 summers the ampitheatre outside City Hall has been home to an open-air classical theatre season where people can come and see a play for free.
This year, theatre company Gods And Monsters is presenting two shows at The Scoop - Captain Show Off! for the younger members of the family and Women Of Troy for older audiences.
The season has been put together by the company’s artistic director Phil Willmott who promises plenty of action and adventure outside City Hall.
"It's always really exciting to do outdoor shows," he says. "This year the two we are doing explore how our ancestors regarded the morality of war.
"One is a real family friendly show and the other is for older children and adults but what's great is we have the same set of actors doing both shows so it’s quite a feat."
Captain Show-Off! has been adapted from the Roman comedies of Plautus by Phil, with original music by Theo Holloway.
It is set in a bustling Roman town where everyone anticipates the return from war of the big-headed soldier, Milos Colossus.
But if he's expecting everything to be as it was when he left for battle, or that he's going to be welcomed back with open arms, he's in for a bit of a shock.
“It’s a real fun show with lots of myhem, silly gags, confusion and mixing of identities, slapstick, singing, dancing, audience participation and puppetry,” says Phil.
“We've got a brilliantly colourful cast of clever slaves, daring lovers and cunning tricksters and they’ve all got funny names to reflect their characters. For example we’ve got Timidious who’s really shy and timid.
“It’s very fast moving and very visual and it’s been written in a way that there is enough going on for everyone - whether they are two or 200.”
By contrast Women of Troy, adapted by Lisa Kuma from the ancient Greek Trojan War trilogy by Euripides is pure drama, a dark tale of some of the courageous women on opposing sides of the Trojan War.
This new adaptation of Iphigenia at Aulis, Hecuba and The Trojan Women looks at their sacrifices, triumphs and tragedies.
“It looks at the way women are brutalised by being caught up in war and the way in our society we are worried about becoming radicalised,” says Phil.
“What I found fascinating was that we can read these speeches which were written hundreds of years ago and it’s almost exactly the same thing going on today. There are so many parallels as we still see these international conflicts going on with the associated oppression and brutality.
“It’s horrific and you realise we just never learn from our mistakes.”
And indeed Phil says the inspiration for choosing the two plays came about from what was going on in the news.
“I was thinking about what’s pre-occupying London and indeed the country at the moment and the choosing of the plays, particularly Women Of Troy, reflected that.
“I always try and find plays that reflect stuff going on at the moment and this seemed to fit the bill.
“I also love Roman stories and we've not done many before and it seemed like a fun idea and it suits the space well.”
And he says he’s looking forward to bringing them to the Scoop.
“It’s an incredible venue and I love it because the atmosphere is extraordinary,” he says.
“When you get 800 to 1,000 people on a summer night and they go completely silent – so much so that you can hear a pin drop - it's amazing.
“For me though it is about getting people coming to see what we do who would not normally come to the theatre. For many it will be their first experience of seeing live drama with a big crowd and being excited by it.
“What's also important is that it’s free. In these difficult economic times it's really important to have free access to high quality arts and we are really proud to be able to do this. We only ask for a donation at the end of the show.
“It’s the same for the kids’ show too. There is excellent children’s theatre out there but it costs money – this costs nothing except their time.
"However, even though it's free there is still a challenge to keep it lively, exciting and interesting - enough that it encourages people to come back next year or to go and see something else that's on.
"What this also does is show how diverse audiences can be. I love the idea that you can look along the row and see City workers with locals, young and old, students, tourists and homeless people and know that they all have the same experience and hear the same story.
“That’s really powerful."

Captain Show Off! and Women Of Troy are on at The Scoop, More London, between Wednesday, August 5 and Sunday, August 30. Shows start at 6pm and 8pm. No need to book, just turn up.

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