I miss the postman, most of the time, so I’ve never really noticed what a keen interest he’s been taking in my mail. Until I met him this morning and he told me that I had the most exciting post on his round. If only he knew the amount of theatrical nonsense he delivered and I’d managed to accumulate over the last three years. I wonder if he knows that behind my front door was Lady Bracknell’s handbag, almost the whole of Saucy Jack’s bar (complete with Glitter Boots) and one very expensive customised small stage box from the first version of Reading Gaol. Our postman is only one small part of helping to create the worlds we’ve put together the last three years, and that little stage box is about to head to a much bigger stage than the last time we saw it, alongside today’s package, with lord alone knows what’s inside.
So what’s it all about? Well, the marketing describes Reading Gaol as a “remix” of Oscar Wilde’s classic “Ballad of Reading Gaol” with five new pieces of writing and storytelling with some physical theatre thrown in for good measure. We use the original work by Wilde as a “framing” mechanism to tell the stories of five prisoners each with their own voices and personalities. You’ll find out more about them and their stories in the weeks to come – and I’m sure some of them will pop up here in the next few weeks.
Reading Gaol is really a darker, more unexplored version of Oscar Wilde’s story. We’re all familiar with the lighter, more comedic elements of his work, but the end of his life was altogether a darker affair. From respected society figure to dying in poverty and disgrace, the end of his life was as far removed from the sparkling and witty figure we’d all prefer to remember him as. We’re choosing in this version to use Wilde’s story as in inspiration, a look into one man’s darkest hour as a parallel with Wilde’s own story (but with our usual twist on proceedings – so expect a more “modern” and fresh version of the show than we staged last year.)
For this new version of the show, we’ve gone back and revised some of the staging a little bit, (we’ve got more space to play with, for a start) and we’re going to be looking at using some of the more practical elements offered by Theatre N16 in its brilliant, brand new space at Styx in Tottenham. We’re going to really bring home that brutal sense of incarceration for the audience and push our actors a little bit more than in the previous production, so if you saw the production before, you’ll definitely be seeing something new and interesting in this new version. The brilliant thing about Reading Gaol last time was the fact that it made people talk in the pub afterwards, and we hope that this will be the same this time. One of the things I love about my job is sitting in the audience watching people’s reaction during the show, and I’m excited to see what you make of this brand-new version of the show.
We’ve got a brilliant cast for this version of the production, and we’re delighted to be introducing some new performers to our growing family. I’m really looking forward to spending time with them and seeing what they bring to Monster, Guardian, Human, Innocent and Hero. We have five really strong pieces of writing from Cat, Simon, Erin and James and it’s also a dream to welcome back Harriet Lambert and Erin Read to Team “Triple Threat” and produce a bigger, more exciting version of one of our first true collaborations together.
So, look out for updates from us in the weeks to come. We’ve got a load of plans for some blogs, lots of behind the scenes stuff and more content as we chart our journey back into the dark, and I really hope to meet some of you either in the run up to the show or in the bar afterwards. Grab your tickets while you can, this one is going to be special.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got five prisoner’s uniforms and five mail sacks to unpack. I wouldn’t want the postman to think I was ignoring him, would I?
David is Artistic Director of Proforca Theatre Company and director of Reading Gaol (2018). You can find follow him on Twitter and Instagram @DavidBrady83. Reading Gaol is adapted from "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" by Oscar Wilde and features new material by Catrin Keeler, Simon Marshall, James Lewis and Erin Read. Associate Directors Harriet Lambert and Erin Read.
Reading Gaol is performed at Theatre N16 Monday 23 July - Thursday 2nd August 2018. Tickets are on sale NOW from www.proforca.co.uk/box office. Use discount code "Early10" for 10% off your tickets. You can follow Proforca Theatre Company on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @proforcatheatre and via our website at www.proforca.co.uk