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The Moor

 Sunday, 4th March, 2018
The Moor

Blythe Stewart, 2015/2016 Emerging Creative for Theatre and Performance, shares with us her most recent production; The Moor and how being an Emerging Creative has helped her journey.

 

Two years ago I was a part of the h.Club Foundation’s Emerging Creative Programme. As an alumni I’m very fond of the Foundation, especially the past few weeks whilst being in rehearsals for The Moor, a production by Catherine Lucie, which I am currently directing. The Moor will premiere in February at the Old Red Lion, Islington. 

The Moor is a tense psychological thriller, part domestic drama, part folktale about Bronagh; a young woman who has spent her whole life living on the moor. When a boy vanishes, Bronagh has to tell someone what she suspects, entangling herself in a murder investigation.

Catherine and I both met back in 2012 when a course leader from East 15 Acting School put us in touch (we both attended the school, though at different times). Since then, we have worked collaboratively. The Moor marks our third collaboration. 

I first began my collaboration with Catherine on The Moor when I was an Emerging Creative. Directing the show has been a two year process, since the start of my time as the 2015/2016 Emerging Creative for Theatre and Performance. 

When people asked me what the programme was like, I would tell them it was like a residency, as I felt this word best captured the experience and support. The Club allowed me to feel like I had a place to call my own for both my creative and personal ambitions, in addition to being surrounded by creatives who could help me fulfil them.

During my time on the programme, I sought out unheard plays and created opportunities for developing playwrights to hear their work aloud and to work with actors side by side. Throughout the year I developed 5 new plays, one of which included The Moor. 

The Club acted as hub where we were able to run a series of readings and rehearsals which supported Catherine in developing her story, honing her characters and seeing what it was really like when actors got hold of their script. 

After with actors breaking open the play and testing its suspense and plot, we held a small reading for theatre programmers. Their positive and encouraging response was so rewarding.  

What has always drawn me to Catherine’s work is her assured, whimsical, and compassionate voice. In Bronagh, we see more than just a strong female character. (Is that phrase dead yet? Please?) Bronagh is perceptive, shy, astute, distinct, ordinary, and most importantly changeable. Recently bereaved, a new mother, and in a toxic relationship, Bronagh’s fight is for herself as she struggles to make a difference in her life. 

Catherine and I are both passionate about making work that gives a space for people usually on the edge of society, and not for novelty or box ticking sake. We believe these stories can offer resonance for all (not solely women, or artists, or even people who live on the moors) and especially for those, like ourselves, who struggle to keep the plates spinning between both work and personal responsibilities.

The supported development time together was invaluable. It lead us to secure the run with the Old Red Lion; a leading off-West End theatre for new writing. Currently in our final week of rehearsals, we’re chuffed to have received these opportunities. But more than this, we’re determined to keep the momentum going. For us it’s imperative to be creating new work and new opportunities as developing artists, just as much as it is to sustain them. That’s what, I think, makes the Emerging Creative programme so special. It’s a year long ‘residency’ but also crucially, a commitment to supporting artists’ long term, celebrating the work after their time on Endell St.