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”