Rebecca McCutcheon

Director theatre & site specific performance


Leave a comment

Til We Meet in England 2017

Some of you will know about or maybe saw the pop up of Til We Meet in England at last year’s Peckham Festival. I’m really excited that we’ll be returning to Safehouse to stage this in a full run later this year, and we’ve just started a Crowdfund Campaign to support the project. The project will launch Lost Text/Found Space as a Peckham-based theatre company, making work for the local and London-wide community, and will be a landmark for Safehouse too, as it will be the first full run of a production, and so will put the location as well as us on the map.
Our work is truly unique, offering innovative approaches to staging remarkable lost texts.

Til We Meet In England:
A family discover their son is missing, possibly murdered by sectarian forces. They prepare themselves to flee, but are surrounded by a blood-hungry mob. How can human values persist when humanitarian beliefs are flung aside?

Working with Elizabeth Inchbald’s extraordinary lost tragedy, The Massacre, experiences of persecution, displacement and mob violence are explored resonating with Britain’s contemporary refugee crisis and the rise of fascism across Europe. Through examining and responding to The Massacre and its themes in Safe House in Peckham, we create an intimate experience which brings you face to face with the world of persecution and panic, loss and longing for home.

Til We Meet in England is our first full-length run – we’ve made sell-out pop up versions of this amazing piece; we now want to reach a bigger audience and have a wider impact. Our Crowdfund Campaign will help us to make the project accessible and inclusive of as wide a local audience as we can, helping us to connect to young people and local communities through workshops and events.

Please check out the campaign video below, and support us by pledging for one of the rewards, and help to make this wonderful project happen:
Please do pledge and share


Leave a comment

Til We Meet in England – Scratch

tricastinIn September 2016 I directed scratch performances of ‘Til We Meet in England’, at Safe House in Peckham as part of the Peckham Festival, merging text-based performance with site, movement and installation. Til We Meet in England’s starting point was the coming together of Elizabeth Inchbald’s tragedy, The Massacre, with the intimate domestic, near derelict site of Safe House.

map

The Massacre is a remarkable text written by Inchbald in response to sectarian intolerance in the French Revolution, which has much to offer today. This text, and its engagement with experiences of displacement across Europe, resonates with current experience, and also highlights a long view, in which such movement across the continent has been a familiar and recurring event. Inchbald depicts her persecuted family, the Tricastin’s, with great humanity and empathy, a valuable voice to hear today, and she is explicit in placing England as a place of humanitarian refuge.

 

 

Working in Safe House with this text, the themes of seeking ‘home’, of finding sanctuary, of the precariousness of life and of the value of sharing all became strongly present for audiences, as we share the same intimate space as performers, and make a journey exteriorwith them.

Safe House is a tiny, domestic house which has reached a point of near-total dereliction. Quoting Tadeusz Kantor’s landmark ‘Odysseus Returns’, this house as a setting interacts with the text of The Massacre, through performance, encounters with characters, with music, with fragments of installations and recorded audio from recent British political life.

The intimacy of the space, as a home which hgatheredas become unhomely, works compellingly with the plays’ themes. The piece gathered momentum as sections of Inchbald’s depiction of an emerging fascist leader were performed, at which point the audience members are put in role as fellow mob members in the claustrophobic space of the living room. Here audiences became physically involved with the action as they wish to be, and are (more significantly) all ‘active participants’ in that they are called on to consider both the moral questions in play, and at the same time to encounter with empathy the characters who are caught in the drama.

photos

It was thrilling to find all of the performances sold out and I’d like to thank Sydney and the whole Peckham Festival team for making the work happen. We plan to bring the performance back in a longer run, in 2017, and are seeking funding and partnerships to make that happen. If you would like to be involved or support the project, please see our Crowdfunder page to support this extraordinary project and find the kinds of rewards and events you can be part of as a supporter.


Leave a comment

‘Til We Meet in England

 

At Safe House, Peckham, Sept 10th & 11th

‘Til We Meet In England is a unique site-specific performance in Peckham’s brand new arts festival. Created in and for Safe House, a tiny, semi-derelict Victorian house in the backstreets of Peckham, ‘Til We Meet in England is part-performance, part-installation, fusing text, movement, objects and song to create a potent, intimate experience.

It takes Elizabeth Inchbald’s rarely performed tragedy, The Massacre, as its starting point. A brilliantly successful writer of wryly observed sex-comedies, this was Inchbald’s only tragedy, using the lens of the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacres to comment on the Terror in France. Wrestling with her horrific, lurid content, Inchbald uses fragments of ‘testimony’, words she claims come from eyewitness accounts, a nascent foreshadowing of testimonial drama. Ultimately, she censored the play, advised that it was unlikely to please (the subtext of this advice being that her own radical liberal politics were the problem).

Newly recovered for a contemporary audience, the play is vibrantly re-imagined for its perspectives on cultural intolerance, refugee experience, and its long-view of England’s international role. It offers a valuable view of Britain’s long, notable and now threatened identity as a place of tolerance and humanism. Examining the play in this context shines a spotlight on a long-silenced woman’s voice, presenting England’s moderation, and a much-needed positive image of Britain’s European past and present.

 These pop up performances from director Rebecca McCutcheon (Dido, Queen of Carthage, Vincent River), designer Talulah Mason (Traces, London) and a talented company, in the tiny found space of Safe House are a rare opportunity to encounter this remarkable gem in an intense environment.

Til We Meet in England at Safe House – 139 Copeland Rd Peckham, London, SE15 3SN

Sept 10, 8pm & 11, 6pm & 8pm

https://www.facebook.com/TilWeMeet/

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/til-we-meet-in-england-tickets-26639333965

Please note: the performances will take place upstairs and downstairs in Safe House, which is not an accessibly adapted space.

Saturday 10th Post-performance event: join director, Rebecca McCutcheon, designer Talulah Mason and the company to hear about the development of the project and to share your views on the performance.

 


Leave a comment

A Testimony and a Silence at Dilston Grove

DVD label

May 2014 – a site-specific performance piece in Dilston Grove in Southwark Park. Dilston Grove is an arts space and former church in which the rarely-performed play, The Massacre by Elizabeth Inchbald, was explored. The play is extraordinary and prescient, a discussion of the tragedy of genocide, written by Inchbald during the French Revolution. It is a play whose tense relationship to terror and to violence, and to human values of respect and humanity, found rich ground in the association of meanings generated by Dilston’s craggy, evocative spaces.


Leave a comment

Mariam in Peckham – The Cary Cycles

August 13th 2013 – Mariam Pop Up event – The “Gretchen Day” Gallery, Peckham

Last night was the first of our two pop up performances in the fictionalised Gretchen Day Gallery, on Copeland Park, Peckham.  My talented research group worked so hard to develop the performance-as-art-exhibition, which managed to be beautiful, funny and moving. The ‘frame’ of the high-profile retrospective, complete with conflicting curators, performance installations, giving way to Mariam’s post-Herod power-vacuum, was lucid, absorbing and visually arresting. Our intrepid audience moved and challenged us to explore their presence in relation to our site, performance and text. Well done to the whole team for taking the ideas to new and interesting places, and thanks so much to our generous audience whose feedback has been extremely insightful and positive.

Here are some bits of feedback which give a flavour of the performance:

“I liked the realisation that somehow one version of the story (the play) seemed to slip through a wormhole into another version (the installations).”

“I didn’t expect the gallery to be a kind of lens to see the play through. I was so impressed by how ‘present’ the words sounded.”

“The piece was generously providing me with surprises in terms of its nature, its presentation, its plots.”

Jack Davies and Jamie Smith both documented the performance and process with the following images.

Kayleigh Hawkins; photo Jamie Smith

Kayleigh Hawkins; photo Jamie Smith

Kate Russell Smith; photo Jamie Smith

Kate Russell Smith; photo Jamie Smith

Kayleigh Hawkins, Photo Jack Davies

Kayleigh Hawkins, Photo Jack Davies

Sarah Vevers, Kate-Russell Smtih and audience; photo Jack Davies

Sarah Vevers, Kate-Russell Smtih and audience; photo Jack Davies

Flora Wellelsey-Wesley; photo Jack Davies

Flora Wellelsey-Wesley; photo Jack Davies

Flora Wellesley-Wesley; photo Jack Davies

Flora Wellesley-Wesley; photo Jack Davies


Leave a comment

Mariam at Burford

Kayleigh Hawkins as Mariam

Kayleigh Hawkins as Mariam

In June 2013, Liz Schafer invited me to develop the site specific research around the text of Mariam for a performance at the Burford Festival, the town of Cary’s birth. This performance formed the launch of the Mariam Project which Liz is producing across academic and performance disciplines.

The Mariam Project seeks to celebrate and research Elizabeth Cary’s Tragedie of Mariam by creating a range of performances in different settings to explore the play and bring Cary’s work to a wider audience.

Mariam at Burford: Youth and young girlhood
Weds 12th June at 4.30pm, St John the Baptist
Part performance, part installation, this 70 minute performance inhabited the church where Elizabeth would have worshipped as a girl, married, and where her family, the Tanfield’s, are ostentatiously entombed. This performance sought to explore Elizabeth’s play in the town she lived in as a child and young woman.  The research centred on resonances between Elizabeth’s life and work, offering a unique opportunity to hear and experience the voice of this remarkable woman, in a contemporary working.

Flora Wellesley-Wesley as Mariam

Flora Wellesley-Wesley as Mariam

Mariam at Burford: Encountering Elizabeth
During the Festival, the Mariam Project we also developed specially crafted and composed audio experience and map, tracing and mapping Elizabeth Tanfield Cary’s life and experiences onto her home town of Burford. The audience could follow the map to 6 locations, where fragments of Elizabeth’s life and work was collaged  with sounds, atmospheres and compositions by Lucy Harrison. I’m thrilled that Encountering Elizabeth will become a permanent offer in Burford shortly.

Here are some audience comments on the performance, followed by some images:
“Wonderful music – beautifully fluid use of the space and movement of the audience. A fascinating glimpse of the play that leaves us all wanting a little more.”
“Looking forward to the complete performance after such a tantalizing glimpse of the play”
“Thank you so much for bringing this wonderful piece to the Burford Festival. A great introduction to “Mariam””
Salome at the altar, Burford 12th june 2013. Sarah Vevers. Image copyright Jamies Smith

Salome at the altar, Burford 12th june 2013. Sarah Vevers. Image copyright Jamies Smith

“Terrific performance and inspired use of the church”

Conor Short as Constabaras; image copyright Jamie Smith

Conor Short as Constabaras; image copyright Jamie Smith

Sarah Vevers as Salome and Flora Wellesley-Wesley as Mariam. Image copyright Jamie Smith

Sarah Vevers as Salome and Flora Wellesley-Wesley as Mariam. Image copyright Jamie Smith

Kate Russel-Smith as Doris with an audience member. Image copyright Jamie Smith

Kate Russel-Smith as Doris with an audience member. Image copyright Jamie Smith

Kayleigh Hawkins as Mariam. Image copyright Jamie Smith

Kayleigh Hawkins as Mariam. Image copyright Jamie Smith

Elizabeth Cary and the Mariam Project, by Liz Schafer

2013 sees the 400th anniversary of the publication of The Tragedy of Mariam, Fair Queen of Jewry by the astonishing pioneer playwright Elizabeth Tanfield Cary (1585-1639). The Tragedy of Mariam is the first known play in English written by a woman, and it is a play full of women characters declaring independence, demanding freedom in marriage, and arguing for the right to divorce. At a time when women were expected to dedicate themselves to marriage and children, Cary’s play asked the question ‘Why should such privilege to man be given?’
Born and brought up in Burford Priory, Cary was probably married in St John the Baptist Church, Burford, where she would have attended church. Many years after she had written Mariam, a play about marital conflict, Cary’s own marriage broke down. Cary converted to Catholicism; she was disinherited by her father, Sir Lawrence Tanfield; she separated from her career politician husband, Sir Henry Cary (1st Viscount Falkland); and she was placed under house arrest by Charles I, after a custody battle resulted in Cary kidnapping her own children. During the 1620s, Cary was reduced to such poverty that she frequently ate friends’ leftover meals. But, like her heroine, Mariam, she would not compromise her principles.
Elizabeth Cary is remembered in St John the Baptist Church, Burford, as she is represented kneeling at her parents’ tomb in the church. It is therefore fitting to explore a part of her play in the Church as part of ‘The Mariam Project’ during the Burford Festival.

The Mariam Project is being led by Elizabeth Schafer, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London.


Leave a comment

Still Life

Sarah Toogood

Sarah Toogood

In 2003 I directed angels in the architecture’s first full-scale production, a staging of Still Life by Noal Coward in the disused Aldwych tube station on the Strand in central London.

The station is a beautiful, ghostly 30s station close to the Aldwych, unused since the 80s, which had the feeling, as I entered, of still holding the threads of the lives which had passed through their over the years.

Coward’s Still Life is a gorgeously understated portrait of love and duty in pre-war home counties England. Its the play which inspired Brief Encounter, and contains the core of that filmic work. The play version also contains a rich seam of characters drawn across society, and lends itself to ensemble playing.

Press Comments:

…the sanest reason imaginable to sit in a disused tube station

Time Out

A model of what fringe theatre can be, and a delightful option for the theatre-lover looking beyond the West End…unlike the film, you’re more likely to come away from this Still Life laughing than crying…well worth the very slight detour to this unfamiliar and unlikely venue”

Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide, London

…a vivid pre-war experience…the promenade element, lively writing, supporting turns and rattle of trains make this unusually rewarding for an hour spent waiting in a tube station…!

The Metro

..an inspired design…angels in the architecture has discovered that Aldwych Tube Station has more than enough atmosphere for reigniting ardent impulses among theBath Buns…

The Evening Standard

Dickon Edwardes, Helen Laing, Sarah Thom, Robert Goodale

Dickon Edwardes, Helen Laing, Sarah Thom, Robert Goodale