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When Kiln is not Kiln

September 4th, 2018


Photo Credit: Simon Davies

Some of you will know this story, you’re savvy enough to stop reading if you have.

In 2005 a group of students graduated from Birmingham University and decided to form a theatre company. After much fraught discussion they decided to call their company Kindle. I don’t know for a fact that the discussion was ‘much’ and ‘fraught’ but whoever named their enterprise with speedy decisive assurance? Anyway, the point is they called themselves Kindle, they worked hard, started making shows, and became successful.

In parallel with this story is one about a graduate of Princeton University who, in 1994, decided to form an online book retailer. After ‘much fraught discussion’ he decided to call his retailer Amazon. He worked hard, started selling books and became successful.

In 2005 Amazon started work building an electronic book called Fiona. After some time it became clear that the e-reader could be great but that its name was rubbish so after much engaging of branding consultants they decided to call it Kindle.

By the time millions of Kindles were being sold around the world Kindle started to get fed up of sharing their name with an e-reader and all the questions and misunderstandings that involved. They decided to change their name.

Despite very little engaging of branding consultants they still came up with the name Kiln, a neat choice I’m sure we will all agree.

In parallel with this story is one about a graduate of Hull University who in 2012 takes over Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, London. After working hard, making shows and being successful, the director leads Tricycle Theatre to a major refurbishment. After ‘much fraught discussion’, but possibly not very much ‘web-searching for to see if a theatre company already exists with the name you’d quite like to use for your theatre company’, she/they decide to call it… and here you’re all ahead of me – Kiln.

So poor old Kiln were called Kindle before Kindle and now they’re called Kiln before a much richer, more established and more prominent theatre based in London decide to be Kiln. Where from here?

Well Kindles are still called Kindles. Kiln complained to Kiln about the name Kiln, but Kiln really didn’t seem bothered about it at all – whereas Kiln, as you can imagine, are really quite bothered about it. So Kiln aren’t going to change their name, particularly after an expensive rebranding, despite sniffy columns and comments in The Guardian which also include numerous people saying what a rubbish name Kiln is! This just leaves Kiln who have decided to disband, not because of the whole Kiln thing, but because as a collective they felt they’d run their course and want to continue working in theatre as individuals.

So if Kiln are disbanding does any of this matter? Well, The Tricycle didn’t know Kiln were disbanding when they decided to cohabit their name – maybe Kiln didn’t know they were disbanding at that point, so there is a lack of respect in the decision, which is upsetting, original Kiln are sinking in the search engines swamped by new Kiln.

On 22nd September Kiln are holding a valedictory walk from Birmingham University to a pub somewhere across some hills, I hope to join them and celebrate their achievements and wish them luck with whatever they do next – whatever they may call themselves.

Commentators Calling

August 31st, 2018

We are spending this weekend at Moseley Folk Festival performing as The Commentators, spinning out a Test Match Special style radio sports commentary over folk proceedings for seven hours at a stretch, Saturday and Sunday 11:00 – 18:00. Our innovation for this year is that the whole thing can be heard live online around the festival site, at home, wherever you can connect to the internet.

commentators is on Mixlr

Arty types might call The Commentators ‘long form improvisation’, less arty types might call it ’having a laugh’ and less enlightened types certainly call it “droning on”. We’ve been performing The Commentators in various non or almost sporting settings since 2009. This is our fourth time at this festival and I’m amazed that they keep asking us back; I cling to the fact that they do when beset by self-doubt with hours left to go each day.

It’s easiest to commentate imagining people are listening in an imaginary world. The idea that actual people yards away in this actual world are actually listening is always deeply concerning.

To keep us on track we have a number of unwritten rules and guidelines concerning The Commentators:

– they are endlessly enthusiastic and optimistic.
– they are interested in everything.
– they have hypotheses and speculate.
– they are never nasty, cruel or unpleasant.
– they can be skeptical and are often cautious.
– they are experts but never on the subject they are discussing.
– they understand sport and read most of life as sport.
– there are always ‘listeners at home’.
– you only ever get hints of their lives beyond this moment.
– they are not funny.

It would drive us crazy doing too much of The Commentators but fortunately we have other things on. This coming week we’re in Saltley Academy working on the latest edition of The Steps Series which in an installation we’ve been reinventing since 2008. Next week we’re in Madrid with Of All The People In All The World, a performance we first made in 2003. Last week we revived our first hit theatre show It’s Your Film which we made in 1998 and to balance out all these revivals and reinventions, on 17th September we start rehearsing a brand new theatre show, The Capital which will open on 24th October at The REP in Birmingham before going on tour..

Until any of that we have a whole weekend of minutia to keep the listening public up to date with. Please tune in before we drop out.

Matters Outstanding

July 30th, 2018

This weekend saw the return of Lunar Festival after a year off. Having worked the 2015 as The Commentators it was a pleasure to return not working but as the punters. Although cloud cover prevented us from seeing Friday night’s Blood Moon phenomena in the sky the Lunar stages presented plenty of alternative phenomena to gape at in awe.

Amadou and Mariam were a stirring joyful feelgood revelation to get lost in. They were set up by Basement Jaxx who got and kept a whole field of people jumping with their DJ set. In turn they were set up by zestful fun from The Go! Team

Saturday’s more overcast weather was adroitly mirrored by a darker musical programme that opened with Matters, my pick of the festival. Although I absolutely loved Amadou and Mariam ultimately they are a bit too cheerful and exotic to be my pin-ups, driving epic paranoia from Birmingham has to carry the day for me.

I looked after bags while lots of people went to hear Ed Miliband do whatever he does now. We caught Untied Artists blowing cobwebs from their Acorn Emporium children’s show before it arrives at mac in August. Barbara Nice was audible in the distance running a version of Blind Date. I caught what looked like a dad and two very young sons played a punk set and Ouse Valley Singles club playing a pugnacious skiffle set. We ate Persian food, didn’t feel the need for any of the ‘healing’ or craft activities on offer, slept past the 8am kids cinema showing on offer by Flatpack and sheltered from the rain. Blackash concluded their intense set with cheerleaders and a gorgeously back lit Goldfrapp wrapped Saturday-up with an rich and assured performance.

A triumphal return for Lunar, next up, in early September comes the Moseley Folk Festival for which The Commentators return.

Recruiting a Re-lighter for The Capital

July 4th, 2018

We are recruiting a Re-lighter for the tour of our new show The Capital at the beginning of 2019.

Dates:
To be available for 2 days between 23 -27 October 2018 in Birmingham to learn
the show’s requirements from the lighting designer at Birmingham REP.

The production will undertake a UK tour for 2 or 3 weeks during the period 28 January to 17 February 2019; exact tour dates to be confirmed.

Deadline for Submissions: 24 July 2018 by 5pm

Read more about the requirements and how to apply below:

Continue reading “Recruiting a Re-lighter for The Capital” »

BE judged

July 2nd, 2018

REVOLT ATHENS by Elli Papakonstantinou/ ODC Ensemble from Elli Papakonstantinou/ODC on Vimeo.

BE Festival starts tomorrow (Tuesday), so that makes it a year since I was on the judging panel. I don’t really agree with art prizes (perhaps because I’ve never won one) so it was a bit hypocritical to agree to be a judge on an art prize panel, but I’m emotionally beholden to BE and find it difficult to refuse them anything.

In the end I had a great week. It was lovely to have an excuse to clear my diary see all the productions at BE – the first time I’ve done this. Being a judge meant complimentary food in the fabulous ‘on stage’ BE restaurant and the biggest treat was meeting the other judges and arguing and agreeing with them.
Naturally there were shows other judges loved for being profound, moving or clever that left me cold or disinterested. There was a show I loved but others felt lacking in some way and no argument I could make would persuade them otherwise. There was the show I expected to not like that I loved and acted as cheerleader for. There were shows we felt too slick, others too knowing.
Each day we met before the first performance to reflect on the previous day’s shows. A chance to tune into each others aesthetic, to gauge the field, to clarify our own thought by hearing the thoughts of others. Continue reading “BE judged” »

Of All The People In Salzburg

June 19th, 2018

Of All The People In All The World - Salzburg

We have just returned from spending ten days at the Sommerszene2018 Festival in Salzburg where we performed Of All The People In All The World in the beautiful setting of the Kollegienkirche.

Around 7,000 people saw the show during our time there, people from all over the world. Below are some observations on some members of the audience, collected over one hour on the final afternoon (16th June 2018) …

People looking down at piles of amber rice.
People looking up at white Baroque domes.
A boy with a pirate T-shirt and a girl with a top that says Love.
A couple with rucksacks, a guitar and a neatly rolled tent.
A woman with a crutch, a couple holding hands.
Three women with heart shaped biscuit necklaces with the initials S and F spelled out in icing.
A pregnant woman with her hand on her back.
A man with shoes but no socks.
Continue reading “Of All The People In Salzburg” »

Why Buy Now?

June 11th, 2018

Tickets are on sale for our new show The Capital that opens in October and although I love the purity of turning up on the night of the performance handing over folding money in exchange for a ticket and walking into the show, here I expound five brief arguments as to why this is a terrible idea. Continue reading “Why Buy Now?” »

We Can Remember It For You Wholesale

June 3rd, 2018

Birmingham Wholesale Market occupies a huge site, 28 acres of prime real estate a mere apple’s throw from New Street Station. It seemed inevitable that redevelopment and the commercial imperative would catch up with the vast 1970s concrete warehouses and that time has finally arrived; the traders have moved out, the bulldozers are on the horizon and squeezed in between, to conduct the last rites, are Friction Arts with their performance event Everything Must Go. Continue reading “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” »

Kenesh Dramaturge

June 1st, 2018

Last Thursday I was holed up in the Stan’s Cafe kitchen with Keisha Grant, Artistic Director of Keneish Dance, looking at a video documenting an early draft of their new show Hi I’m…. For this piece Keisha is interested in including some narrative elements and thought it may be helpful to talk about this with someone who devises theatre shows. Continue reading “Kenesh Dramaturge” »

Casting

May 24th, 2018

You’ve heard it here before any other source, we’ve just opened casting for our brand new studio theatre show THE CAPITAL. As usual we are devising the show between us all, so we’re looking for actors who have good experience of working in this way. We’re seeking performers who are skilled at visual story telling as the show will be wordless. This doesn’t mean years of mime training, but it does mean knowing how audiences read images and how as an actor you make images. The show is about life in a modern diverse city, so we are encouraging applicants from all sectors of society. All the details are in a PDF document here.

Please spread the word.


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