Catrin Fflur Huws talks to Sandra Bendelow

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catrin fflur huwswTo Kill a Machine writer Catrin Fflur Huws and producer Sandra Bendelow talk about the how things are going at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

SB: What has it been like to come to Edinburgh festival to see your play – which is doing really well?

 

CFH: It’s overwhelming, because there’s so much good stuff here, we’ve seen so much good stuff this week, and the fact that ‘To Kill A Machine is getting such good audiences really is wonderful. The competition is so strong here that I’m really proud that it’s  grabbed so many people’s attention and that it’s been getting sell out audiences. At one level, that  doesn’t make sense because we’re up against famous plays and plays by well-known writers and established companies, and plays that are splashed all over billboards so that people can’t but notice them.  And yet on the other hand, I’m thinking, well it’s a good show. I’m really proud of it as a play and I’m really proud of what Angharad and the cast have done with it. So I think it’s brilliant that Edinburgh’s festival goers have seen that in amidst all the other things and that they’ve given it a chance. So, For the play itself I’m not surprised that people like it, but in terms of there being so much other good stuff here, I’m delighted that this has been something that people have gone ‘yep putting my money on that’ and that they’ve come out thinking ‘Waw – yep – that was brilliant.’

 

SB How do you feel about this version of the play which has been distilled now from a longer piece into a one hour play?

 

CFH: It’s really weird. When I cut it I thought I’d cut about 15 pages from the 2015 tour script and I’m finding I can’t think of much that I miss, I can’t think of things that I regret cutting or things that the show is poorer for. So I think that’s quite a valuable lesson for writers about how much you can cut and how much noodling you’ve got in a play that you can be that ruthless. Cut 15 pages, and you find that you’re very rarely thinking ‘ooh there’s a bit missing.’

 

SB: I always thought that the natural length of the play was a little bit longer, I always kind of felt that I wanted to put a bit more in, those other scenes, like the one in the national guard, just was such a lovely scene, I’d like to have seen it, but it feels with this one now  the journey it goes on is a lot more intense and the impact on the audience is more powerful.

 

CFH: Which is odd because when we were developing it there was the idea that it should be about an hour and a half. And I sort of think, that’s much longer and I’m kind of wondering ‘Would that have worked?’

 

SB: Where as a lot of audiences here are actually saying ‘I want more’.

 

CFH: Yes people do feel it’s kind of a whistle-stop tour of his life in that you get through 42 years in as many minutes. So yes it is a bit  of a situation where you’re 5 minutes in and he’s already an adult, so perhaps people do want to linger on aspects of his life for longer. But I think that’s part of the point as well – that his life was so short and that it does get cut short too soon. Also, it’s better to leave people wanting more as opposed to having them going ‘can we have an interval please?’ The other thing is that although people say they want more – do they really want more, because so many people have left the show feeling really drained and shellshocked. Some people have felt the need to be quiet for a long time afterwards while other people want to talk and to hear their friends’ voices. And you think, well if it does that to you, do you really want more of it or has it told you what you need to know no more no less?

 

SB: How do you feel about the performances because obviously they know the play so well now so that does have an impact on how they perform it, they’re playing with it a little bit, how do you feel watching the performances now?

 

CFH: Yes I feel it has developed a lot, even in the period between the tour in May and now. I think the actors have all reflected a lot on their characters in those two months, so I’m finding that Robert Harper is just getting more and more menacing and yet very urbane and very nice in a sort of dark Sir Humphrey Appleby kind of way, and yet at the same time you’re think no, this person could kind of completely mess someone’s life up and not mind or even care particularly And yet there’s warmth there too – the father is well meaning even though he has absolutely no understanding of his son. And Rick Yale, he’s developed the character of Arnold Murray in particular to the extent that now, in the court scene, I do feel sorry for Arnold Murray. In a way I think he is a character you do need to feel some sympathy for because in a way he’s been appropriated by the system, he’s a victim of the system as well. And I think the interaction between Robert and Rick, that wasn’t written into the script, really brings that out: the way in which The Interrogator bullies Arnold Murray into giving the right answer in court. He’s being used by the system there too.

 

And I Think Francois’ different characterisation, they’ve diverged much more, so you’ve got the very delicate character of Christopher, of someone who probably knows he’s dying, and his fondness and affection for Alan, you’ve got John who’s this very uptight and very black and white, these are the rules, these are what you’re meant to follow. And then that just being taken apart when Alan doesn’t fit into the rules that he lives by, so one the one hand you’ve got someone who has no understanding of why you could break the rules, and on the other hand, this wave of love for his younger brother. And then you’ve got the Gordon Welshman character, quite light, quite sort of straight forward in a way that, Alan gets confused. And I think Francois and Gwydion spar against each other much more in those scenes now – Turing only thinks about the job at hand while Gordon is quite garrulous on the surface, while he’s processing the problem of the enigma machine in the background, and Alan’s gets increasingly frustrated with him for seeming to be so focused on chitchat rather than concentrating.

 

And Gwydion of course is just…I don’t know how he does it…he even looks more and more like Alan Turing every time I see him, so when I see him as Gwydion I’m sort of slightly baffled that he’s got a welsh accent and I’m thinking ‘where’s that come from?’ I’ve even found myself starting to get confused as to ‘is it Alan Turing playing Gwydion Rhys, or Gwydion Rhys playing Alan Turing?’ But what he puts himself through as an actor is absolutely jaw-dropping.

 

SB: Do you have any advice for other writers in terms of lessons you’ve learned in terms of how you’ve gone through this process? It’s actually quite exceptional, not only have you had quite a long development process, but also it’s been out and toured now over quite a long period of time so you’ve seen, experienced the actors taking it away and it becoming less the script than what they’re doing after a long period of time. Any lessons in terms of that?

 

CFH: I think the lesson I’ve learned is how little I knew.  You think when you’ve written a play, it’s finished. And then I realised that once it’s gone through a development process and a tour and it’s in the hands of Angharad and in the hands of the actors, how much I didn’t know. How much it could be edited, how much it could be changed, what it could be done to it to make it visual. Despite it being largely the same words as the words I wrote, it is a completely different play from what I thought was a final written version, and the difference between the final written version and the performed version, you realise, just how much of a process it is. Of taking it from a flat 2 dimensional medium to a 3 dimensional medium, that’s been something I wasn’t expecting. And how much it changes in performance too – the actors are bringing out little nuances, so I’m not seeing ‘my’ play any more, I’m seeing a play that’s made by so many layers of rehearsal and performance and re-writing and performance and the director’s ideas and the cast’s ideas.

 

SB: I know you’ve seen lots and lots of things in Edinburgh, but what’s the one you’d recommend?

 

CFH: oooh the one I’d recommend? I haven’t seen anything I haven’t sort of liked, haven’t seen some merit in – I’ve seen children’s shows, plays, music, cabaret, circus and it’s difficult to say ‘oh that’s better than that.’ The one I’d recommend for writers is The Bookbinder. That is absolutely spellbinding in terms of the performance and the visuals, but because it is a story about writing stories, and it has an important lesson for anybody who wants to make anything, so I think that’s the one I’d recommend to people who are writers.

More information is available on Catrin Fflur Huws 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

 

What is the audience saying?

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“To Kill A Machine by @scriptography is outstanding. Incredible performances all round. Surely one of the most poignant shows at @edfringe” @stephconnell292

@ZOOvenues highlights are To Kill a Machine @scriptography (incredible lead performance) @WardrobEnsemble Future of Sex” @nickmslater

“To Kill A Machine was fantastic – brilliant, truthful performances” @VickiGlover26

“To Kill A Machine is a must see. Wonderful cast & brilliant play.” @durnowrich

“Absolutely beautiful acting in @scriptography ‘s . Really inspiring performances. Beautiful.” @rosemaryterry

“So far my two favourite plays have both been Welsh productions. Iphigenia in Splott and To Kill A Machine. 2 outstanding performances.” @fade2dust

“Just seen @scriptography #tokillamachine. Wonderfully written and superbly acted. Passionate, painful, and poignant. Gwydion Rhys is a star.” @lucywithasmile

“#tokillamachine – absolutely amazing. Definitely go and see!” @charli_unwin

“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

“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

KillMachine2118w“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

“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

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

“To Kill a Machine is dazzling theatre. Gwydion Rhys is revelatory as Alan Turing #bestofEdinburghFringe  #ToKillaMachineElectrifies” @Fjaklute

“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

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

 

What are the reviewers saying?

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******       

“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/scriptographyproductions-to-kill-a-machine/

 

****

“absolutely sensational, and features one 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/

 

****

“Gwydion Rhys is tremendous as Turing” Jon Wainwright Public Review

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/to-kill-a-machine-zoo-venues-edinburgh/

 

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

Alan Turing play gets Nomination for amnesty Freedom of Expression Award

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To Kill a Machine has been nominated and long-listed for Amnesty Edinburgh Festival: Freedom of Expression Award which honours an Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre production of excellent artistic merit that builds understanding and raises awareness about human rights in an inspirational way.
To Kill a Machine tells the life-story of war-time cryptanalyst Alan Turing. 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.

Further information and full long list 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

Rick Yale

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KillMachine2053wRick Yale  talks about being at Edinburgh Fringe Festival playing The Betray in To Kill a Machine a new play about Alan Turing written by Catrin Fflur Huws.

What has the experience been like being in Edinburgh for the first time?

Well it goes without saying that this is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been in. There is so much to do and see that for the first few days it felt a bit overwhelming. But as I’ve settled in, you really appreciate the atmosphere of the festival. The streets are filled with support and love for the arts and as an actor you feel like a kid in a candy shop with so many shows on your doorstep.

What is is like to be in a show that is receiving such incredible responses from audience?
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It feels so warming that the audience has really tuned in and responded so beautifully to Alan’s story. It makes what we do so worth it when people leave the space having either learned something about Turing or even about themselves. With each positive review it gives us more of an incentive to keep a high standard of storytelling .
What has been your favourite experience of the festival so far?
Waking up to Fran leaning over me, giggling like a schoolgirl, newspaper in hand, reading a lovely review.
More information about Rick Yale 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

Francois Pandolfo

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KillMachine2_rehearsals_021wFrancois Pandolfo talks about being at Edinburgh Fringe Festival playing The Friend in To Kill a Machine a new play about Alan Turing written by Catrin Fflur Huws.

How has this experience of Edinburgh Fringe differed from previous visits?

I was here last time as a stage manager in 2008, not normally my bag but I was helping out a producer friend at The Assembly Rooms with a show he was looking after called The Pyjama Men. Very funny boys indeed! I vowed that I would return one day as a performer because I found the experience so intoxicating for anyone itching to use Edinburgh as a testing bed for creativity. It’s only taken me 7 years but here I am. Better late than never!
What is it like to be in a show that is receiving such incredible responses from audience?

Amazing. I would like to say it’s expected because we’ve always had such faith in the piece but it really is a lovely surprise because there is so much competition here and if I show stands out and gets a really good response then it really is quite special. It’s such an honour to be part of such a creative team and we are having an absolute ball. To be honest, even if the show wasn’t doing as well as it is, we’d still be having a great time because my fellow cast members, crew and company are a real blast. I’m going to be having major festival blues after this.

 


What has been your favourite experience of the festival so far?

Going to see a late night mime show called ‘Dark Side of the Mime’ at Assembly Roxy venue. It completely pushed all the boundaries and went all out to test what we allow and don’t allow ourselves to find funny. It explores, examines and exploits what it is to be human today. Really brave, funny, grotesque and extremely naughty. It was incredible and I had such a good time. 2nd  experience would be seeing ‘Diary Of A Madman’ at The Zoo Venues.  Robert Bowman literally gives a master class in acting in this inspired piece of theatre about insanity and loneliness. It blew my mind. Hopefully there are many more to come.

More information about Francois Pandolfo 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

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

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/