Articles for December, 2014


Fiesty & funny – Tricycle Young Company

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014 by Tricycle

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I’ve just joined the Tricycle as the new Young Company Director. Randomly last year I came to the Takeover Festival and it was magical. There was a buzz created by so many young people showcasing their work with pride. So when I got the job I was thrilled. Six weeks ago I chucked all my earthly possessions in my car and moved city, house and job from Theatre Royal Plymouth to the Trike. I saw The Kilburn Passion over the summer which was funny and moving and so I know the quality of the work produced by the young people here and I am ridiculously excited about the year ahead.

I’m directing projects with four groups: Press Road Young Company 10-14s, Young Company 11-14s, 15-18s and 19-25s. I’ve spent the first six weeks just getting to know the actors, playing with physicality, text, improvisation and games. The four performances we’re making are going to be very different in style and process – the only thing I can say for certain is that all the groups seem to be headed in quite a political direction. Already some of the stories and themes they’re exploring and bringing into the rehearsal room are quite challenging.


The actors are working on a new play by Shamser Sinha. Making a play that represents 21 voices is quite a challenge. I’ve worked with writers before on developing scripts with young people and each process is unique to the writer and actors. As a director my job is to facilitate workshops to find out what kinds of ideas the company are interested in telling and from there find useful exercises which help Shamser develop the story, characters and theatricality of the play. The company have done research – brought in music, personal stories, newspaper articles, answered questions and created short scenes in response to them.


This group are fascinating. Feisty, funny and inquisitive. Bhav Parmar (Assistant Director) and myself have a blast every week with this lot. We’ve been playing with extracts of scripts; we covered the room with images cut out from magazines and newspapers and off the internet; we’ve made scenes in response to these. We’ve now begun the devising process through the creation of characters. The first week each actor chose a name, a characteristic and then proceeded to answer a questionnaire about from the perspective of the new character. They were then interviewed by three other actors to find out more about this character’s history, family and lifestyle. We’ve discovered how some of these characters relate to each other and authority. (In role as ‘Carol’, a recently graduated youth worker with a social work degree, I was given a certain amount of grief by some of these characters!) We know this play will take place with them trapped in a space overnight, but I don’t want to tell you too much!


This group is playful and I wanted to stretch them to try characters outside of their experience and in a range of acting styles. So, we’ve done a lot of work with scripts and how writing comes off the page. We’ve played with extracts from four VERY different styles and stories. A giant baby kidnapped by the government, a class on a school trip convinced their teacher is secretly a terrorist, a little girl never allowed to take any risks, and a silly competition for geniuses where a girl goes undercover to prove to her dad how clever she is. The group then voted to perform Gargantua by Carl Grose (who regularly writes for theatre company Kneehigh). The characters are larger than life and we have the challenge of working out how to stage a giant baby eating various politicians (can we make edible gingerbread puppet politicians?)

Rehearsals kicking into gear for the Takeover...

Rehearsals kicking into gear for the Takeover…

Press Road Young Company

These young actors are competitive! I know this because, despite 10 years of playing ‘Splat’ with teenagers, I have yet to win against this group. We’ve been exploring the story of King Midas (for whom everything he touched turned to gold) and how it relates to contemporary culture with its themes of greed but also asylum. Towards the end of this term the company created characters and set Dempsey (the Assistant Director) and me the challenge of writing short scenes based on their ideas to perform back. I was given a lot of notes on my first draft and they have been teaching me how to incorporate convincing slang into the dialogue. I have much to learn before we start developing a film after Christmas.

(Tricycle Theatre has run drama projects at the Press Road Housing Estate since 2004)


Find out more about how you can support the work of the Tricycle by clicking here. Click here for more info on the Takeover.


Roll up! Roll up! Lionboy video blog

Thursday, December 11th, 2014 by Tricycle

Behind the scenes… Complicite’s Lisa Kerr brushes up her circus skills with aerialist Jo Foley, in preparation for her role as Pirouette in Lionboy.

Music – Stephen Hiscock / Editing – Rimi Solloway

Lionboy is a festive family adventure coming to the Tricycle from 17 Dec – 10 Jan, suitable for everyone aged 8 up.


It’s a family affair – an interview with Lionboy author Zizou Corder

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 by Tricycle


Complicite’s family adventure Lionboy is based on a trilogy of books by Zizou Corder. But Zizou is in fact the penname of two authors: mother and daughter writing team Louisa Young and Isabel Adomakoh Young. Here they answer a few of our questions about what it was like writing Lionboy, and seeing Complicite transform the novels for the Tricycle stage…

Complicite’s adaptation of the Lionboy trilogy is back this Christmas at the Tricycle – what are you most looking forward to this time around?

Isabel: I can’t wait to see and meet the new Charlie! It was so funny getting to know Adetomiwa, who played Charlie the last time around, because the character was my alter ego growing up. Now I’ll meet Martins (the new lead) and be face to face with another another version of me, confusing! Also Complicite is such a brilliant company for inventiveness and ideas, so I’m sure more time in the rehearsal room will have yielded some exciting new theatrical wizardry.

The Lionboy story crosses continents and involves everything from a floating circus to a shady global corporation. Where do you get your ideas from?

Isabel: I think it was basically my nutty imagination growing up. We wrote the books when I was very young, seven years old, and I was an only child so I made up a lot of friends and adventures for us to share. In the bedtime stories that came before the book, there were leprechauns and monsters too, and Charlie could speak to all animals. It was chaos!

Louisa: Yup, I nicked them off Isabel. And she nicked them off me. Then I organised them, and she told me where I was going wrong.


Isabel, what was it like becoming an author at such a young age?

Louisa: She loved it! Didn’t you?

Isabel: It was very exciting, suddenly we were traveling to all the countries we’d been published in, and signing books, even going on TV. I remember when we signed the publishing deal they sent a guy dressed as a lion to our house with a whole hamper of Lion bars, that was pretty cool.

Did you learn anything about each other from writing the books together?

Isabel: It was my first time getting to know mum’s professional side I guess – although she wasn’t calling me for meetings in the living room or anything! I’d never read her previous books as they were a bit beyond me, so it was wonderful to see how she created stories. We had one of our first and only disagreements over a character in the book, too. But mostly all that time writing and promoting never felt like work – it was just an adventure!

Louisa: Everything I know, almost, I learnt from Isabel.

Lionboy is set in the near future – ten years on from writing the first book, does the future look any different to you now?

Isabel: A lot more of the world – conscious stuff came from mum of course: I was a bright kid but not that well-informed! I’m learning a lot more about politics and global issues, and I think Lionboy shines a light on a lot of things. If anything, the urgency of the climate issues has grown more than we might have expected, and big Pharma is growing more powerful. I hope the kids that loved and love Lionboy will be motivated to help save our lovely planet.

Lionboy is on stage at the Tricycle Theatre this festive season from 17 Dec – 10 Jan. Click here for more info and to watch the trailer.