The Offstage Cast from the Liverpool International Theatre Festival is Back for Season 2!!
In preparation for the Liverpool International Theatre Festival in May 2022, Artistic Directors (Vic Mills and Neil Maidman) chat with Offstage Cast host, Deborah Raddall about plans for the festival and take a look at the success of the virtual festival ' Short Cuts'.
In this episode, Neil and Vic talk about Short Cuts and the decision process in choosing the winners. Each of the top six is discussed and we would encourage you to watch the finalists - some great theatre there.
Links via our Facebook page to each of the finalists are here.
https://fb.watch/83-ox5ewbk/ Toofa’s Reward – Tender Talents – Ashindi Theatre Company Kampala, Uganda
https://fb.watch/83-s7VTmOo/ Family Pics – Venzi De Scena’ from Civitaveccia in Italy.
https://fb.watch/83-tVvlndY/ Hide and Seek – Port Tobacco Players Maryland, USA
https://fb.watch/83-xdmrPvJ/ Half Full Half Empty - Team Poupoulo from Greece
https://fb.watch/83-EWj9pZ3/ Fetus Il Luogo in Buio from Napoli, Italy
https://fb.watch/83-IH9Emii/ Extraction without Pain - Compagna De Teatro Casa del
artista and producciones Veneteatro - from Caracas, Venezuela.
Head over to our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/litfns for all the latest news on the festival, plus links to the troupes that are taking part in 2022.
Please remember to subscribe to this podcast!
Hello and welcome to the offstage cast, a podcast all about the Liverpool international Theatre Festival. Each episode, we will deliver an all access pass to what staging and international Theatre Festival is all about. I am your host, Deborah rattle along with Neil Maidman and Vic Mills. We are the offstage cast will Hello everybody and welcome to season two of the offstage cast. It's been a while. My name is Deborah Raddall and I'm happy to be one of your hosts today and always on our theatre themed podcast. And I would like to ask my fellow hosts to chime in with their lovely theatrical voices to say hello to all of you. Hi, guys. Hello, hello. Hello. How are you? Deborah. I'm doing really well. Actually, I'm quite excited to get rolling on Season Two of the offstage cast. How about you, Vic? Yeah. Oh, good here. Yeah, things are beginning to kind of get going again in Wales. So it's really nice to get going on our podcasts again, too. And lovely to see you too. Deborah. Course our listeners can't necessarily see your lovely face. But it's nice to look across the Atlantic at you from Wales this afternoon. Always the dramatic romantic, thank you so much, Vic mails from Wales. And me and Neil Maidman. Also from rails. Neil, what? How are you going to top that? What can you say? I can never top Vic Mills? I've tried for the last 20 years. But no, it's beyond me. Absolutely. every lesson. I have. I have Yeah, I know my place. And it's usually three or four feet behind you. And that's and you know what? That's okay, Neil, it's okay to be you. It's just important for everyone listening to know that we can't all be like Vic Mills. No, we can only be who we are. Yeah, some might say that's a blessing, actually. So that might indeed. So enough of the witchy repair tag on down to business. Let's talk about what we're going to talk about in our first podcast of season two. And we are going to be talking about something that all of our listeners, I'm sure are waiting for the results and the exciting things that happened in our short cuts contest. What can you tell us about that, gentlemen? Well, after a fantastic competition, and, you know, terrific entries from all around the world, in many languages, styles and forms. We've managed to whittle things down to six. Well, you know what, I just occurred to me, maybe we should make people wait a little while longer to give out what our six finalists or six, with attention. And we'll be back after this next commercial message. We won't have a phone ever commercial. Let's talk about what we've been doing. So we are I am teasing a little bit for the results of shortcuts. But let's talk a little bit because, you know, it's been a while since we've had a chance to chat and had a chance to do a pod. So Neil, what's what's, what's happening with you? Well, things in the UK and in Wales have changed a bit since we last recorded one of these pods for the better. Things are opening up again, life is back pretty much to normal. At the time of recording, you know, the vaccine programming in the UK with regard to COVID has been very, very successful. cases are still quite high. But you know, people aren't getting as sick as as they were, which is obviously good news. And in terms of good news, yeah. In terms of theatre and stuff and and the creative process, which you know, Vic and I are very much involved with. We both have had some things going on over there over the summer. I've been involved with CO directing a short film, and I'm looking at directing a one man blade not not me and that one man play I hasten to add and then our theatre, our lovely Theatre in in Wales, the black Little Theatre is as we are recording this, I'm making some plans to reopen in October 21. I'm then doing a Christmas show as well. In late November, early December. busy busy that's a different than this time last year, isn't that well, exactly. Yeah, I know Victor's as I've been involved with a lot of creative writing and he's his theatre company are doing Lots of bits and pieces. Somebody sent me I think in sort of development and some in actual rehearsal. Yeah. So what do you have to Vic? Let's let's talk to you now. Vic mail. Oh, wait. Well, obviously, Neil's outlined really clearly the position as far as kind of things happening again, but it's still difficult for the theatres, IT professional theatres are kind of opening, with some trepidation, obviously, the issue is if, because there's an awful lot of infection, if one member of a cast gets any infection, then, you know, our performance is going to be off because of the isolation needed for everybody else who knows them, etc, etc. So it's a huge financial risk for a theatre to put anything on really, because it you know, they could go through the whole process and then not be able to perform because one person has come into contact with the virus. So that's still a major issue for us. Really? Yeah. And I think it is everywhere, guys, isn't it? Yeah. No, everybody is in everybody around the world is the same kind of challenges if when they consider wanting to put on a show lie. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Cuz there's that what if what if something happens? And that's a real fear? That's a real possibility? Yeah. I mean, we're working at the moment, my company on a comedy musical, a new piece of musical, a boat, a family of Elvis tribute acts. And their kind of Welsh Elvis tribute down. So there's a lot of live singing of Elvis. And a lot of family problems brought to the fore. so hilarious piece. So we're hoping, I guess, for that to work commercially, we probably are going to need theatres to feel kind of fairly confident. So my guess is probably in the new year, January, February prompts, so you're workshopping that now and pass that? Well, we kind of went into full rehearsal mode, exciting, we've done the whole kind of writing and constructing the piece and developing a piece of it is in a full rehearsal mode at the moment. But just so that when theatres are open, we can say, right, we've got the piece, we're ready to go. And so that's where we are with that we've got a couple of other projects that we're still looking for funding to cut through for and of course, funders are a little bit cautious at the moment, as you can imagine, for all the reasons we've talked about, but things definitely, you know, we're actually getting to work on stuff and meet together and do things. So that's how does that feel? How does that feel being back at it like just from like your, how does it feel in your heart? It's, it's a fabulous field. Only this week, we've had our first indoor rehearsal, we've been rehearsing outdoors, which we've been able to do because of that, the summer and weather and things but our last outdoor rehearsal, it was getting a bit dark quite early. So we thought we were gonna have to move this indoors. But for safety reasons, we've gone for kind of outdoor rehearsals, but it was hilarious. absolutely tremendous fun. You know, a neighbour as we were singing numbers in neighbours from the area calling out requests, and it's a nice bit of marketing doing it. And then we're like, what do you do? Yeah, buy ticket? Yeah, come on your ticket. Oh, I'm so happy for you guys. That's fantastic. And how's it feeling out of your heart now? It's been a little bit weird for me because I haven't been back rehearsing in, in, in theatre. I've just been doing film. And that's a new thing for me as a as a director and structure producer. So that's been a bit a bit of a challenge over the over the over the summer months, but we're getting there and, and this sort of short film should be out in November, I guess, end of October or early November. So that's been it's been fun. It's been it's been a little bit different. You know, a little bit Can you tell us the name of this film? You might as well let's stick a plug in here and not ready. Yeah, it's cold. It's called Victor knuckles. Yeah, is moving Congress sort of title but Victor knuckles. Yeah. Is that a person's name or is? Yeah, I think Victor's doing slightly. Both. Really? Yeah, it's it's one man's journey through a violent life, which sounds like a barrel of laughs and it was not really about that fight. But it's, it's more or less a one man sort of film. And, yeah, it's been, it's been an exciting sort of journey, but it's been. Yeah, it's been, it's been different, you know, it's been, it's different to the, to the immediacy of, of, of theatre, you know, we, when we, when we were rehearsing the theatre, I'm sure our listeners will be involved with amateur theatre or professional theatre will, will relate to this is that, you know, you get up on stage, you know, you learn your lines, you you do it and, and it's done. And you get the the gratification of doing that, at that time. Sitting in a park at night, two o'clock in the morning during the night shoot, and rehearse, I'm sorry, filming the same thing from five different angles, six different times each. You get a little bit jaded by that, and I, I lose the, I don't know, I was losing the dramatic world to live at times. But you live that delayed, you get delayed gratification with film as opposed to with theatre, it's me. I mean, you practice a practice of practice and practice. I guess maybe it'll you know, depending on the way you look at it, it all kind of comes out, in a sense the same. But yeah, rap on a film. And then you wait a long time before you get the audience reaction. Whereas you wrap your rehearsals and immediately go on stage. And yes, if it is app, you know, you get it, you get the applause, you get fed, as I often like to say, as a director, you do as a stage director, which obviously a damn awful lot, but over the years, you look at the way you look at the entire picture on stage. And with film, it's very much a narrow vision of what you're looking at on. And you don't really appreciate that until you've been in the different in those two different sort of scenarios. Because the film that I was co directing, I've already directed and I'm about to redirect on stage. And it's whilst the character is the same that I was looking at the actual visuals of it were dramatically different on and that's so interesting, Neil, that's really interesting, because, you know, we can pull this back around to the whole idea of what our participants of shortcuts had to do. Many of our many of our submissions are done well, obviously, all of the submissions are done by people with a background in a lot of theatre and maybe some have had a lot of film as well, but mostly theatre. So I'm sure a lot of them have struggled, struggled during the course or were challenged during the course of prepping their submissions. Yeah, you're absolutely shortcuts, right. Same sort of idea. Yeah, the six, the six we're going to briefly talk about today, each have different sorts of takes on, on what we were asking. And that was that was that was that was great, because we kind of thought that we might end up with sort of short films of theatrical productions, which we kind of did in in in a couple of them. And then others were more saint. Grand, but they were they were different. They were wider. And that was something that I certainly wasn't expecting. And one of the great things about both shortcuts is that these theatre practitioners, these great people from across the world that that entered. I Oh, well. Yeah, that's that is that is a different sort of take on this. And yeah, we'll come to that in a little bit. Well, and they're all different. They're all veiled way, way different. Yeah. Yeah, they're way way different. And but it's, it's some of the, the, the entrance that we had, you can actually see one of them actually literally, but the others, you can actually see them working on stage. Yes. Well, let's so I don't know, what do you think we should do next? Should we continue to tease people or should we get right down to business and talk about our our six finalists? What do you want to do pick people out of their misery. Let's just let it rip. Yeah. So shall we run run through them initially, but without any clue as to who won? Yeah. So no particular order. These are our six finalists from shortcuts in no particular order. And thank you all thanks to everybody who submitted a piece for shortcuts. I know that Vic and Neil had a big challenge. whittling down to the top six, and it was great fun. No, it was great. Yeah. All of them. Yeah. Yeah. So okay, in no particular order. Really, really this one, you say the sort of six word. a plea from Maryland in the us by a group called port tobacco players, which was a kind of filmed outdoors. And yeah, was quite an intimate family story, which was lovely. Then we had a very, very different piece from Caracas, Venezuela, with a kind of mixture of mask. And puppetry work a very, very funny comedy about going to the dentist. We had a very kind of sophisticated filmic piece from Civitavecchia, just outside Rome in Italy, which kind of looked at various different scenarios in the history of a family. We're the second piece from Italy, which was amazing with all the things that we had ended up with two finalists from Italy. This one was from Napoli and was a one person peace monologue from a foetus prior to its birth. Sounds horrific when you put it out. I think it sounds interesting. It sounds anyway. But we can talk about carry on with the less witty and engaging and moving kind of piece, we had a piece of folk storytelling from Uganda, from the you shindy Theatre in Uganda, lovely, lovely piece of ensemble playing loads of colour and energy and just a very, very effective piece of storytelling. And lastly, we had a kind of quite a technical piece kind of playing with the idea of people having to communicate via zoom. And it was a police very much kind of oven for the pandemic and I think just worked very well. It was clever, beautifully conceived and very, very nicely pulled off. So really, really kind of different piece, which perhaps if somebody from 10 years ago was looking at would not have gotten it at all, but our audience from around the world that would totally empathise with and it was very much a piece for today. And Greece, wasn't it that it was Greece. Yes. They say that. You say Greece, but it was definitely from Greece. Yeah, that's okay. You just did. Everybody's probably very interested in how you came up the process by which you decided who was going to be the winner? Or that you know that how you narrowed down because I hesitate to say the winner. Right? So who was the who were the people that you selected to be the top three? Because People's Choice is easy. We know how that one works? Okay, well, there's two stages the process because this this went on for a good few months, really. Now, Vic and I worked together for years, as you know, and we're the best of friends. But we what we did was we when we looked at the the entire entrance, because we obviously we watched all of the entrance, and there was lots of them. And thank you to everyone that did enter from that didn't get through to the top six. It was a it was a tough, but it was a tough choice in many cases. And what's so weird really happened because we what we did was because of the pandemic. You know, Rick and I was closer friends. We don't we haven't seen much of each other over the last 18 months, other than via zoom excetera. Because we live about 30 miles apart. Anyway, we said to each other, we'll we'll just we'll, we'll, we'll look at all of them. And then we'll come we'll we'll come together or by resume meeting and get out our top six, thinking that this could be quite a long process. And apart from one, and that was due to some sort of technical error, right where where I hadn't seen one of the entrance. We picked exactly the same sex. Which which surprised us both than it really did. Really? Yeah. Yeah. So that's interesting. So we had a very early night. With regard to that. didn't take long at all. We just said, Oh, we just we slap each other. On the back. graduations us. Yes, exactly. And then we that was really rusty. It was dead simple in that sense. All the work beforehand, you know, you you did everything and you went Oh, these are great. We are the kind of things that we were looking for and all that in advance. Yeah, we thought that we would go back and you know, work if necessary, a very close Mark scheme on the on the criteria if you weren't in agreement, but we were very, very common. about those six. So what are the top three things? So what are what are the three or four main things that you were you were looking for? To meet the brief of? Here it is, this is what we're doing for short cuts. And this is what we're looking for. What are those things? We were looking, we were looking for something which could work for an international audience. What does that mean? What do you mean by that? So something that wasn't completely dependent on nuance and subtlety of language. Oh, okay. Okay. But there were kind of bold, universal strokes, that would be recognisable and understandable, and that people can link with so and maybe will perhaps have a heavier visual aspect than some types of theatre might have that would be for a group of people from all within the same subset or culture would have more commonality to lean on. So we felt that it needed a kind of universality and something which was pretty visual, because it was a very short piece to kind of 10 minutes, then you do need something which does a whole job. And that that doesn't feel like it's part of something else that you don't feel like you're watching an extract, but is genuinely feels kind of complete in itself. And in order to do that as to have an impact very kind of quickly and powerfully as to get in there and grab you. And because I think those skills are very specific, because normally in theatre people are used to either having a full plate or work with, you know, an hour and a half to two and a half hours to tell a story or a kind of one act play, which might be somewhere between half an hour and an hour in which to tell the story. So it being able to kind of communicate something which could work across cultures, etc. all within a kind of fairly short piece, no pressure, no pressure is there and you know, given the constraints of, of COVID, etc. We were also obviously then looking for colour, quality of performance, you know, the usual things that you'd look for quality of kind of, of acting of directing those kind of usual theatrical features. It was about developing both character and situation within that really small sense of time, isn't it that actually, that things aren't left unsaid, you get a great sense of what's going on who these people are, and what they're doing. And we saw some really good examples of that that didn't make the top six didn't wait, you know, that. That was immediately obvious that are this is happening. And this is a family situation. Right. Okay. And I was immediately obvious as to what was going on, even if we couldn't actually understand the, the nuances of the language. So a lot of people It sounds like for what you're saying that there were a lot of people that met that part of the briefer Yeah, definitely. Oh, yeah. Yeah, that's great. Yeah, that's another thing for me was looking at it and thinking, Okay, yes, this is this is a film competition, but it was always about theatre being filmed, as opposed to what I just been doing, which is reimaginings. I mean, for for, for cellulite. So it's some about well, near all the top six could be put out on the stage in the Astor. Okay, now, perhaps slightly longer, obviously, but could tell a story on stage as well. I think that was kind of important. And we're any stage or any stage? Absolutely. So because the kind of the brief was about family and it wasn't necessarily about production in a high film production values. You know, we were one of the one of the entries in that one on the top six, I think was filmed on a on a mobile phone. Really and I think this is important to cover is it's important to to review this that the criteria by which you were reviewing these submissions was not who had the best film value and know whose was the flashiest was special effects. That that was not what you were using to influence your decisions and I think this is important moving forward so that people understood that there was it was accessible to anybody who wanted to come in garlis of their filming experience and I'm doing air quotes in the air right now to hold up any any any further but but just to answer your question fully just as the the actual process. We had our top six and then that went they were they were put out on on on social media. And then Vic and I looked All those top six again? Get our top three. Yeah. And we we didn't have a seat? Well, we kind of we agreed very, very quickly on what our top three were. Yeah. And then we had we had a further discussion then as to which way round it would be. And I think that that conversation. We didn't disagree with that, but we just didn't have any we didn't have any further idea, or were the three were. But we didn't have we didn't have any sort of preconceptions as to arguments can be made for all the winner, they were so different. Yes. And you could certainly have put a case for any of them. And I think that is very, very nice adjudicating something at that time like that with somebody else. Because I think that process of talking through going back to the brief again, talking through what it is you're really looking for. And it was doing that again, really that said, Okay, what, you know, what, what we really want him people to be able to do and who has kind of got closest to that. Because I think subjectivity at this point wasn't going to take us there, we weren't going to say well, we really just like this one the best. Because we thought the top three were all terrific. And and you have to get picky in the top three, if you really do that, that was a much, much longer conversation. And we kind of kind of talked each other to the point that we reached in way Yeah. With the pair of us not being involved, for the first time in all our adult lives, I guess, in theatre for such a long time. I remember that conversation being quite invigorating, because Rick and I, as you can imagine, talking about theatre all the time. And all we talked about in the previous 18 months was was COVID the soccer results. Cricket during the summer, whereas our we share those passions anyway. But our real passion together is theatre and to have that conversation about creativity was lovely. So, the third one we mentioned that we have mentioned, obviously all of them but the third one was was fetters from this, this was the one that I hadn't seen. And visiting not only not seeing them with mister Yes, Mr. Lee so yeah, but that was that was a different one. Oh, no, no, no, no, but but the foetus No. So yeah, I immediately saw that and, and that is how I ended up in the in the top six was was that I hadn't seen it. But it was a very funny take on you know, I said earlier but by establishing a character establishing a situation well, and it was all done in English, which was really really good. You know, it says of it's obviously been a second language. I really admire that this chap sort of Christian is Oh, yes. Yeah, he's a very, very accomplished and very, very funny performance. But you do is the way it was kind of set out and people have gone look at this is you want me Really? What am I looking at? What What is this? What is this? And the way I would describe it is that it's Yeah, it's an old man sort of rant on on the from a foetus was yet obviously yet to be born and about all the challenges that he's going to be you know, things like that his name and you know, who are these people that are my parents, etc. You know, why are they choosing my name? Why should I choose my name? And it's and it's very, very, very funny. And I think it's slightly improvising but there's a vegan I got that impression that Yeah. This he was he was very much as we say, well, going off on one you know, and it was, it was very, very amusing. Very, very funny. So that's that's foetus or foetus. foetus. Yeah. In Italian, so go and watch that one if you haven't seen it, that's our number. Our number three Yeah, from Napoli. Congratulations. Yeah. Okay, Vic, your return in second place. is a group from Uganda called the you shindy Theatre Company. A lot of them are students or past students of a theatre school called the tender talents theatre school and they Play was called that two phase reward, to first reward, reward and was a story about kind of family and tribal loyalty or disloyalty, and the kind of importance of relationships and being willing to overcome people treating you badly, or people treating you in a way that you felt they shouldn't have, in order. Because these people are your family, you're bound to them. So you have to learn to live with what they've done to and you have to keep them, draw them in and keep them in the family. And not send them off or ban them. But, you know, find some way to live with what they've done, which is, it sounds like quite a heavy theme, but it but it's relatable for all of us anyone with a family to this story that I had a wonderful comic treatment, it was. This was actually filmed on a stage, very simply filmed on was probably a mobile phone, lovely piece of ensemble play in terrific acting, just a great little piece of folk storytelling. And it was very difficult to focus it. It just it got everything just right, you know, and lots of colour and lots of passion. Energy. Yeah, it shifted location a number of times, but absolutely seamlessly. We, we were at the village that we were out in the fields that we got to visit somebody that we were back again. And but all of that happened completely kind of seamlessly. So a great story, a great story on a really good ensemble piece as well. It was really Congratulations, Uganda. up yeah. Yeah, and it's the the group is tender. Sorry, it's called the you shindy Thea to come You shouldn't be theatre. They're attached to the tender talents, theatre school, to other talents, theatre school. So these are young people, which is very exciting, because it's always nice to see what our new up and coming generation of theatre performers have crotchety old people. And those that are coming to LA TF in 2022, we'll see fingers crossed that you shouldn't be theatre. So the winner of the inaugural shortcuts. Competition is, again from Italy. And it was a piece called family pics. Which delts deals with different stages of the family life, from the mentor sorts of times in life from from birth, marriage and death, really. And it was something visually quite stunning. wouldn't make it was it just outdoors filmed out to our stores? Yeah, filmed outdoors. And there wasn't a great deal of script to it was there? I don't think it was it was it was all about the visuals. And, you know, it was it did have things like drone shots and all that sort of stuff. And if you're thinking, well, hang on now, you just said, you know, it's all good to have these things in, you know, done in on a mobile phone or whatever. And they need other drone shots. Why did that went? Well, it was because I go back to what Vic said earlier about our feeling is that I still what our criteria would be. This could be put on stage, albeit slightly away, but it could be put on stage. And an international audience understands it completely. Because it's completely visual. And most spoken language required. Yeah, there is the spoken language in the piece. But if you could you could code with it as the spoken language you understand what was spoken language for sure. Yeah. Yeah. So an absolutely stunning piece. And kept to our brief as well with regard to family was very much part of it. And and the visuals on it were just absolutely stunning. So that's the eventually the centre theatre group in just outside. Yeah, just outside Rome. So go and watch this. If you're listening. Well, since you're listening, go and watch it. It's really something that you need to see. Yeah, and you'll understand. We'll get some, we have some links in the in the bio, for the for the pisode as well. So let's talk about the prizes for shortcuts for our shortcuts this year, what are some of the fabulous prizes we're providing to our winners? what they what they would cash prizes cash, never. You can't go wrong with them. We all like the cash. Cash prizes. So the winner had 500 Canadian dollars. Lovely. And the runner up 250 Canadian dollars and ensuite plates. 100 Canadian dollars. So it's that's good money. That's good. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, particularly for, for groups have been able to perform for a long time. That's really nice. I think it just says something about us valuing what they've done and being kind of grateful for what they've done to. And also there'll be receiving certificates in the way that we would normally do at at an L ATF festival. So Oh, Noes are being specifically produced and sent to them at the moment. So that's that, that'll be a lovely thing for them as well. So will you be doing like an adjudication page for each one to? Yeah, we've, we've been, we've already provided through social media notes on why we've selected each one. And it's been interesting to see that companies have already used quotes from that in their own follow up publicity. They've been very pleased with some, you know, to be able to pull out certain phrases that the adjudicators have, have commented on their pieces to be able to lovely sound by default retrieval. So yeah, that's always a lovely thing is now you know, when you whenever you produce something people say nice things about it, and you begin to feel very good about yourself, don't you? It's, you do. We have a lot more to talk about and shortcuts, which we're going to do in our next podcast. So make sure you tune in to the next episode of The offstage cast, which will be part two of shortcuts. You've been listening to the offstage cast from the Liverpool international Theatre Festival. Remember to subscribe in your favourite podcast app, so you don't miss any future episodes. For more information, and to contact us, be sure to visit our website Li tf.ca