Robert Harper

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Robert Harper talks about being at Edinburgh Fringe Festival playing The Interrogator in To Kill a Machine a new play about Alan Turing written by Catrin Fflur Huws.

Q. What is it like being at Edinburgh again and how is it different from the last time?

A. It’s been great to be a part of a venue that has multiple sites and spaces, with a mixture of theatre, dance, physical theatre & comedy on offer. It really seems to help broaden the appeal of all the shows at the venue.
Q. What is is like to be in a show that is receiving such incredible responses from audience?

A. It’s wonderful to receive all the accolades for the play from a wide variety of sources, from other companies at the venue to general audience members and theatre critics in the press. We all came to Edinburgh thinking that the show had a good potential to create a buzz in the theatre category, but we’re still pinching ourselves that this is really happening.

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Q. What has been your favourite experience of the festival so far?
A. This is difficult. Beating contestant X? Come and see the show to see what I mean

More information about Robert Harper is available here

To Kill a Machine is at Edinburgh Fringe Festival ZOO Venues until 31st August,
https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/to-kill-a-machine

Gwydion Rhys

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Gwydion RhysGwydion Rhys talks about being at Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the first time playing Alan Turing. 
My first impression of Edinburgh? –  that the city is just lush. The buildings and the history to it.
But because the Fringe is on you kind of miss this initially as the whole buzz of the place and people take over, so it’s taken 3/4 days to absorb all this before taking a moment to appreciate the city itself.
It’s daunting doing a show anywhere, you always work hard in rehearsals and in your own personal prep even if it’s one show, tour etc, but here at The Fringe, going into the first few shows, you know if you get off to a bad start it could be a long month catching up and feeling that you’ve failed to convey the story and your hard work hasn’t paid off. So to get the reaction we are having is a relief but so rewarding, for me personally, I’m just happy the script and story is now finally reaping it’s rewards and that the whole process of development seems to be paying off.

But it’s easy to be carried away with stars and compliments and those compliments turn into complacency, so we have to remember that each show vanishes when the final light comes down and the next day is the start to our 1st show in a way, because I always say “ tonight we have people coming who have not seen it, or even have expectation that it’s good, so we have to work to earn the right to re claim those compliments each show”

KillMachine2_rehearsals_113WMy favourite part? –  opening night, the fear, excitement that finally we have brought Turing to Edinburgh, and are presenting To Kill a Machine to the world.
More information about Gwydion Rhys here
To Kill a Machine is at Edinburgh Fringe Festival ZOO Venues until 31st August,
https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/to-kill-a-machine

Edinburgh Reviews

To Kill a Machine: Scriptography Productions

******
“To Kill A Machine arguably one of the most finely crafted hours of theatre you’ll find on the Fringe.”
Liam Rudden Edinburgh News
http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/what-s-on/theatre/review-to-kill-a-machine-1-3856330

 

*****
 “the writing mixes the abstract with the naturalistic with skill, creating a poignant piece that by exploring the nature of machines, raises many questions about what it is to be human.” Total Theatre http://totaltheatre.org.uk/scriptography-productions-to-kill-a-machine/


****
  “Gwydion Rhys is tremendous as Turing” Jon Wainwright Public Review
http://www.thepublicreviews.com/to-kill-a-machine-zoo-venues-edinburgh/

 

****
“I would recommend it to everyone and anyone” M Johnson Broadway Baby
http://www.broadwaybaby.com/shows/to-kill-a-machine/708300

 

****
“absolutely sensational, and features on of the finest acting performances I have ever seen on the Fringe.” Steve Griffin Edinburgh 49
http://edinburgh49.org/2015/08/18/to-kill-a-machine-zoo-7-31-aug-20-55-1hr/

 

 

To Kill a Machine, a new full length play written by Welsh writer Catrin Fflur Huws about the life of Alan Turing. Director: Angharad Lee Scriptography Productions Dress Rehearsal May 5 2015 ©keith morris www.artswebwales.com  keith@artx.co.uk  07710 285968 01970 611106

“Totally gripped by To Kill A Machine at . Great performances all round but Gwydion Rhys as Turing was off the scale. Go see!” @dan_thom

“Loved To Kill A Machine @ZOOvenues Southside.  Compelling theatre impeccably acted & directed” @FringeMan2015

“Saw the most amazing show last night “To Kill a Machine”, the best piece of theatre I’ve seen so far the fringe” @FrancescaHill18

“What a truly incredible piece of theatre, beautifully acted. Blown away! #ToKillAMachine an absolute must see”

“fabulously moving show – great performances all round” @livingpic

“To kill a machine was by far one of the most powerful and moving pieces of theatre I have ever seen. Absolutely incredible! #” @Julia_Birdx

“Blown away by Kill a Machine – Zoo venue – a must see! “ @Poshcoch

“To Kill A Machine – incredibly moving and beautifully acted.” @Alice_Burrows

“Outstanding performance of To Kill A Machine tonight. Another top Welsh made production @edfringe – loving #Edinburgh” @Jamrees

“Thought #tokillamachine was brilliant last night. A direct, powerful piece about a great man who was treated awfully. Congrats. GO!” @BaleGJ

KillMachine2114w“People of Edinburgh, go watch ‘To Kill a Machine’ @ZOOvenues Terrific script, great direction by @AngharadLee and some really superb acting” @darkmantheatre

“don’t miss #tokillamachine. Caught it last night, fantastic perfs & compelling depiction of Turings life” @KBarrDiff

“Loved To Kill A Machine @ZOOvenues Southside.  Compelling theatre impeccably acted & directed” @FringeMan2015

“Saw the most amazing show last night “To Kill a Machine”, the best piece of theatre I’ve seen so far the the fringe #edfringe” @FrancescaHill18

“To Kill A Machine is the most powerful piece of theatre you will ever see. Don’t miss it at The Edinburgh Fringe !” @sueavery_writer

“I saw the most incredible piece of theatre tonight, still can’t get over how great “To kill a machine” was #edfringe” @maddie_bonser

“A powerful piece of theatre.”
Thomas Meyer https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/to-kill-a-machine

“hits like an emotional freight train.” Graeme Ross
https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/to-kill-a-machine

#3 Seeing stars

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IMG_3099Day 3 of the blog but it is Day 5 maybe 6. But then are we counting this as since we arrived or shows? So we’ve done 4 shows and had our first night off though it wasn’t really a day off because we ended up doing Pick of The Fringe. So it’s Wednesday or is it Thursday? When did we get here? How many days have we been here, how many shows left to go?

Let’s just call it #3: Seeing Stars

While we’re lost in the confusion let’s take a moment to talk about this – extreme tiredness. Edinburgh is about extreme tiredness whichever way you view it – as participant, venue staff, audience. Reviewers too – how do they do it, seriously any reviewers want to explain to me how you go from show to show and find time to even think about each show let alone review it – I am genuinely interested.

Basically it is a very fast moving rollercoaster – time is flying by, a show each night, the endless searching of social media to find comments and chatter to retweet and post. The highs of a 4* star review and the lows of technical stresses.  Walking into the city from the flat and back again and into the city and back again. All of this with not enough sleep. My bedroom has white curtains so basically I can’t sleep until is dark and I am awake as soon as it gets light and also my brain is refusing to switch off and is endlessly churning through a to-do list.

I still haven’t seen any theatre. Well that isn’t strictly speaking true, I went to a show accidentally with Francois on the first night here because he was going to see it and I thought – why not? I then also went to see Diary of a Madmen, which is a fellow welsh company. Diary of a Madman is gobsmackingly good. Mesmerising performance from Robert Bowman and beautiful writing which transcends it’s age and feels incredibly contemporary. Also have to say how much I loved the set.  Very clever design so simple and yet intricate.

I also saw Blam last night which was a company outing before Angharad let Edinburgh. I loved Blam though I feel I really shouldn’t, it was silly, violent, incoherent, structurally questionable and devoid of narrative but I really loved it and think more people should make shows like that – big, bold, fun. It had moments of genius and real beauty and intelligence which were usually pushed to one side for the next disconnected set piece. Ever since Spaced I have found there is lots of pleasure from playing slow motion gun fights/making silly robot noises and re-enacting movie action sequences so yes I loved Blam.

But today for the first time I sat down and thought about booking tickets which I have now done. It is interesting as a participant to sit and think – what do I want to see? Beyond the companies you know and want to support and the companies you would like to make contact with – what shows do I want to see? It really makes you reflect on your own marketing strategy to think about it. I really don’t know how audiences decide and I can understand be so reliant on reviews and what people are saying.

Anyway so what has been happening since I last sat down and wrote a blog, however many days ago it was when we had our first night.

Mainly I am really pleased to say that it has been nothing but incredibly positive, in fact it is all a little bit surreal.

We’ve had two sell out performances, we were asked to appear in Pick of The Fringe, we have had lots of reviewers in each night, we’ve been filmed by S4C Heno, we have lots of venues and partners requesting tickets interested in future touring and the work of the company, we’ve been asked to do a radio interview.

Two days ago I wrote a headline for a press release – Wales company storms Edinburgh – it was largely a joke that I planned to replace once I could think of a better one but I find myself thinking today that it is quite acceptable really.

I spend a lot of time fighting back tears – good tears. When someone says on twitter, “To kill a machine was by far one of the most powerful and moving pieces of theatre I have ever seen. Absolutely incredible! ” @Julia_Birdx,  it’s hard not to cry at such a wonderful comment.

Each night I stay outside to ensure that everything runs smoothly front-of-house which means I am standing there as the audience walks out – I get to see the people with tear stained eyes, the people who are shell-shocked by it and then I get to hear the audience raving about how much they loved it – a definite highlight of my time in Edinburgh.

At some point in the next few weeks I’ll write about the positives and negatives of a company sharing a flat but this morning was definitely a positive. Buying an Edinburgh Evening news on the off chance we’d made it in a paper review but not really expecting it and opening it to find this “To Kill a Machine arguably one of the most finely crafted hours of theatre you’ll find on the Fringe”.  To be able to share with everyone together the amazing review which also singles out each of them in turn was an experience that will stay as a highlight for a long time.

 

Day 2: Four Characters in search of a hoover

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The first night of To Kill a Machine has happened and everyone can take a deep breath. 1 show down and 21 to go.

21 to go. Yes, 21 to go.

As the company approached the first night there were so many unknowns. A good producer makes sure there aren’t any unknowns but it’s the nature of Edinburgh and not a damn thing I can do about it.

15 minutes of get-in time and 15 minutes of get-out time which is also the get-out of the previous company and the get-in of the next one. We had no idea what the previous set was going to be like so no way of knowing at what point the space would be cleared. We did know we had a complex set to put in place, re-focusing of LX to manage and a large number of props to place. So Maisie, James and the boys had rehearsed it and knew they could do it in 4.5 minutes. Then we heard the previous set used sand on the stage.

All I could do was wait nervously near the stage door and hope it was all going to plan – then I saw an actress running around looking for a hoover. Five minutes later and another actress bursts through a door looking for a hoover.

But at 8.50 the doors opened and the audience were allowed in – our set was in place, actors ready to go.

It was a good audience too. Almost capacity which made me very happy. The Torch Theatre Co team were amongst them including Gareth Bale who is Edinburgh with Grav and Jamie Rees with Oh Hello. It felt great to have the support of another Welsh company on our first night and I was looking forward to hearing what Gareth thinks of this new version – having been involved in the pilot.

The audience reaction was great – a few samples below.

@Poshcoch  Blown away by Kill a Machine – Zoo venue – a must see! #edfringe

@Jamrees Outstanding performance of To Kill A Machine tonight. Another top Welsh made production @edfringe – loving #Edinburgh

@BaleGJ Thought #tokillamachine was brilliant last night. A direct, powerful piece about a great man who was treated awfully. Congrats. GO!

@darkmantheatre People of Edinburgh, go watch ‘To Kill a Machine’ @ZOOvenues Terrific script, great direction by @AngharadLee and some really superb acting

We also have out first audience review on edfringe.com

To Kill a Machine provides a genuinely new exploration of a story that we think we know well, from so many adaptations. This well woven story pulls together the strands placed throughout the play to create a rich and profound ending. Gwydion Rhys’ performance of Alan Turing was deeply moving, and the whole cast were flawless in their roles, and made for a powerful piece of theatre.

Thomas Meyer https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/to-kill-a-machine

In a conversation in the bar Gareth said to me that it thought the new version of the play was a perfectly distilled piece of theatre – a description I love.

Positive reviews are vital in Edinburgh for any company as you try to help audience fight their way through over 3,000 shows so it’s good to get started with some as a new company, new play, new production.

I have a feeling, much of this diary-of-a-small-scale-theatre-producer-in-Edinburgh will be spent talking about me trying to market the play, to shout louder than all the people shouting, to find innovative and more interesting ways to get noticed like £1 off tickets if you come to the box office with a completed broadsheet crossword for that day. I’m quite pleased with that one – and really wish I could take credit for it but it was the inspiring idea of @hannahd  who is one of our most supportive computer science friends.

As we start this Edinburgh journey I also wanted to take some time to thank all the amazing people who helped to get us here. Thanks/Diolchiadau

So 1 show down and 21 to go.

To Kill a Machine is at Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 31st August at ZOO Aviary Venue 124.  Every night except Tuesday.

Book tickets here http://www.zoofestival.co.uk/

This blog is by producer Sandra Bendelow @sandrabendelow

Theatre Company heads to Scotland in search of international success.

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An interview with arts producer and playwright Sandra Bendelow about the recent production of new play To Kill a Machine which will be heading to Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August to be part of the Zoo Venues programme.

KillMachine2084wHow did you get involved in the project?
Back in 2011 I was selected as writer to be part of the Sherman Cymru and Aberystwyth Arts Centre Spread The Word project along with Catrin so I was in the room when she first pitched the idea. I remember thinking what an amazing idea it was for a play not just because it was about Alan Turing but also the idea Catrin had for how she was going to tell that story. Then after Catrin wrote the short play she decided she wanted to write it into a full length play and approached me to help her produce it. She did just want to write it and put it on for one night in Aberystwyth but I could see the potential for it to be a huge project. I pushed to get it out there as a pilot project in 2012 – we took it to a science cafe event at Swansea University celebrating the centenary of Alan Turing’s birth. It was at this event that I realised exactly how incredible the play was – the audience was entirely computer scientists and mathematicians who worshipped Alan Turing. Also they were incredibly defensive of the Alan Turing legacy because of how badly he had been treated by society, government and history. It was incredibly exciting and terrifying at the same time. But they absolutely loved the play, as a play about Alan Turing and also because of the way Catrin embeds his work into the play.

 

How did the tour go?
We had incredible responses from audiences and also from critics. It’s had brilliant reviews which is always great to get for a show; the writing, the performances, the direction, the set – all getting exceptionally positive responses. But also the audience response has just been so fantastic. It’s not an easy play to watch – but it does have lots of humour and endearing moments which the audiences loved. We have so many people commenting on how extraordinary Gwydion Rhys is as Alan Turing. Catrin’s writing has been compared to Beckett, as feedback for a writer goes, I don’t think it gets better than that. Most importantly we have shown a side of Alan Turing’s story which has not been told before and we have made people really think. It seems to working really well as a play in the very intimate spaces like Arcola in London which bodes well for Edinburgh as the space we are in at Zoo, The Aviary is very similar. I think that in a small space what Alan Turing endures and is subjected to during the course of the play is literally too close for comfort. I’ve watched the play countless times and I cry every time I see it. The only thing that varies is the point at which I start crying. Alan Turing’s life story is just so heartbreaking.

 

KillMachine2137wAs Alan Turing’s story became more well known – with the government pardon and the Hollywood film – what do you think makes this telling of the story so unique.
Catrin’s telling of the story doesn’t shy away from telling it the way it should be told. It doesn’t simplify the story or shy away from the harsher elements of it like the gross indecency conviction and the chemical castration. Also though she has written Turing as she sees him, a fun loving and highly humorous man who made friends, worked well with colleagues and who fell deeply in love as a young boy with Christopher Morcam. Christopher tragically died young but Turing carried that love with him for the rest of his life and at the heart of Catrin’s play is an incredibly touching and beautiful love story. The cast we have are just amazing alongside Gwydion Rhys as Alan Turing we have Rick Yale, Francois Pandolfo and Robert Harper playing about 15 characters between them – the cast never leave the stage so we watch them transform from character to character which is mesmerising. One of my favourite moments of the play is when Rick steps from the Game Show Host into Arnold Murray. It is directed by Angharad Lee and her impact on the play and Catrin’s re-development was hugely significant – adding a visual and very physical aspect to the play.


What is next for To Kill a Machine?
We head to Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the whole three weeks of the festival where will be meetings lots of programmers from venues and festivals in the UK and all around the world. We have had interest expressed already about touring the play to international festivals.  It is all a bit surreal that as a small company from Aberystwyth this time next year we could be embarking on a world tour with the play. But then it is a really great play and we want as many people as possible to see it.

 

What is next for Scriptography Productions?
I do sometime wonder what we will do next, how will we ever find a project to produce as good as this one? But we are about to start the search for the next To Kill a Machine, the next idea that we can develop over a few years and eventually produce and tour. It is going to be a really difficult play to follow. But we’re confident that somewhere out there in Aberystwyth a writer has an idea that will eventually become an amazing play.

To Kill a Machine written by Catrin Fflur Huws, produced by Scriptography Productions, performed by Gwydion Rhys, Rick Yale, Francois Pandolfo and Robert Harper, directed by Angharad Lee will be at Zoo: Aviary Venue 124  7th – 31st August 8.55 PM

If you would like to know more about To Kill a Machine or Scriptography Productions you can contact the company at scriptographyproductions@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Edinburgh – Day One and a bit!

To Kill a Machine: Scriptography Productions

KillMachine2010wSo it’s Day 1 at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Well not strictly speaking Day 1. The van containing the To Kill a Machine set, me (the producer Sandra Bendelow) and Stage Manager Maisie arrived Tuesday, the rest of cast and the director arrived Wednesday evening for the tech on Thursday. But it is Day 1 of the show with our opening night at Edinburgh happening tonight 7th August 8.55PM

So it’s taken three years to get here. Three years ago that we did the pilot project for To Kill a Machine – putting the play together on a miniscule budget and 8 days of rehearsal performing it at Aberystwyth Arts Centre,  taking it to Sherman Cymru foyer and to Swansea University.

As a small company, the last three years has been about getting the company to the stage that it could produce this amazing play. The plays potential was always evident. In three years it has been through several stages of development and the one being presented now is a highly crafted and unique piece of theatre. In its recent tour of Wales and Arcola Theatre in London it received waves of positive review from reviewers and audience.

It would not be here at Edinburgh without the support of hundreds of kickstarter supporters, a mass of computer scientists from both Aberystwyth University and Swansea University, Arts Council Wales funding, a collaborative partnership with Cwmni Arad Goch which provided us with a perfect rehearsal space and support from Aberystwyth Arts centre to help in development and to get us over the final hurdle to Edinburgh.

It feels very overwhelming at the moment. Edinburgh Fringe festival is the largest arts festival in the world and it feels immense around us. As I look at the list of projects that are also here as part of the Wales in Edinburgh scheme again I feel overwhelmed that our 3 year old company is sitting alongside companies like Volcano, Sherman Cymru, Torch Theatre Co, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Gwyn Emberton Dance, Mr & Mrs Clark, Living Pictures Productions, Puppet Soup and Light Ladd & Emberton.

But we are here and now it’s time to show the world a new play by Welsh playwright Catrin Fflur Huws.  A play that is not only a fantastic piece of writing but a play that presents the real story of Alan Turing. A story that is so deserving of being told.

To Kill a Machine is at Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 7th – 31st August at Zoo Aviary Venue 124.  Every night except Tuesday.

Book tickets here http://www.zoofestival.co.uk/

First Week Special Offer for completed crosswords

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KillMachine2045wScriptography productions and Zoo Venues are delighted to offer £1 off all tickets for To Kill a Machine during our first week for potential code breakers.

All you have to do to claim the offer is  take a completed broadsheet crossword from that day to the Zoo box office and you will be given £1 off your ticket. This offer is valid for all shows taking place during the first week.

To Kill a Machine tells the life-story of war-time cryptanalyst Alan Turing, written by Welsh playwright Catrin Fflur Huws. It is a story about the importance of truth and injustice and about the importance of keeping and of revealing secrets.

The play examines his pioneering work considering whether a machine could think asking the questions: what then is the difference between a human and a machine and if a human is prevented from thinking, do they then become a machine?

At the heart of the play is a powerful love story which questions the meaning of humanity, and the importance of freedom and considers how these questions are played out in relation to Turing’s own life, death and posthumous re-evaluation. It is the story of Turing the genius, Turing the victim and Turing the constant, in a tumultuous world.

The play is supported by the Arts Council Wales – Wales in Edinburgh awards.

To Kill a Machine is at Zoo: Aviary Venue 124 Edinburgh Fringe Festival 7th – 31st August 8:55PM

Book tickets here http://www.zoofestival.co.uk/
REVIEWS

“To Kill a Machine questions something so fundamental, so ingrained within society and across cultures, and so ultimately problematic: the distinction between man and woman.”

“Gwydion Rhys gives a virtuoso performance as Alan Turing”

http://www.asiw.co.uk/kill-machine-gate-cardiff/

KillMachine2035w“a triumph and a thrill to watch”

http://www.newwelshreview.com/article.php?id=990

“To Kill a Machine is a sensational piece of theatre about Alan Turing’s life”

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/arts-culture-news/kill-machine-sensational-piece-theatre-9254491

“Don’t expect some wishy-washy story of a nice geeky
guy who happened to be homosexual. No, this is a hard-hitting look at the nature of humanity when confronted with a person who won’t – or perhaps just can’t – conform.”

http://www.asiw.co.uk/kill-machine-scriptography/

“Gwydion Rhys is fantastic as Turing”

“Absorbing, provocative and, sometimes uncomfortable
to watch”

 

 

Wales in Edinburgh

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Scriptography productions is thrilled to be at Edinburgh as part of the Arts Council of Wales scheme to bring the best of Welsh theatre and performance to Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Dawns Ysbrydion / Ghost Dance – Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru
CAITLIN – Light Ladd & Emberton
Black Stuff – Volcano Theatre
Diary of a Madman – Living Pictures Productions
Grav – Torch Theatre Company
Iphigenia in Splott – Sherman Cymru
Land of the Dragon – Puppet Soup
My People – Gwyn Emberton Dance
Smash it Up – Mr & Mrs Clark
Oh Hello – Torch Theatre Company
To Kill a Machine – Scriptography Productions

For more information http://www.wai.org.uk/wales-in-edinburgh?diablo.lang=eng