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It’s our 5th Birthday!

We’re 5 years old! On 22nd December 2014 we nervously registered Baseless Fabric as an official company and set up a meeting with a business bank account manager. It was all a bit scarily official. So how do we do this then?! Run a company, make work in public spaces, engage with our local community…

It’s been a quite mental 5 years and we have learned such a lot both creatively and practically in working out how to make it all happen. We couldn’t have done it without your support.

A First Class Death (2015)

A First Class Death at VAULT Festival, A Secret Life with Theatre 503, Reunion & Dark Pony in South London libraries, street operas Drifting Dragons, Cosi Fan Tutte and Die Fledermaus, Mitcham Library drama workshops, countless Opera Taster Workshops for local schools & sessions with elderly groups, and recently also 2 parallel productions for schools offering young people a chance to engage, explore and be imaginative with opera over a 7 month project. Not to mention becoming a charity 4 years ago!

Cosi Fan Tutte (2017) at Gorringe Park Pub Tooting

2019 certainly has been our most crazily ambitious year yet. Who stages 4 productions at once?! We do apparently! With our Die Fledermaus professional production for the high street, adaptation for the Grimeborn Opera Festival at the Arcola Theatre plus our parallel productions with St John Bosco College and Cranmer Primary School in association with Jigsaw4u all happening at the same time, end of July was a bit busy to say the least with several rehearsal rooms running at once! Plus of course being a working mum is never easy, but Artistic Director Jo had a particularly interesting time when OperaBaby chose that exact time to get a bad chest infection and they spent several nights in hospital! Babies have such an amazing sense of timing!

Die Fledermaus Arcola Theatre

Die Fledermaus (2019)

But OperaBaby quickly got better and the shows were a great success! We had 4 star reviews in The Guardian and The Stage for the first time, fantastic audience feedback for both the sell-out shows at the Arcola and for our 12 street performances. This year we performed in a variety of locations across both our home borough of Merton and neighbouring Wandsworth taking us, for the first time, to Roehampton, Tooting, Wandsworth Town and Battersea. Audience comments included:

‘Amazing! Never been to an opera before! So good! Will try to go see one soon. Such loud clear voices. Brilliant work! Thank you!’

Baseless Fabric Theatre workshop with Cranmer primary school parallel production

Meanwhile, our wonderful groups at St John Bosco and Cranmer Primary performed the most imaginative spin-off productions of Die Fledermaus thrilling their workshop leaders, parents and the professional opera singers with their performances. Who knew that Eisenstein had an evil brother Osenstein? Or that the Eastenders theme tune would meld so perfectly with Strauss? We were super proud of both groups and all that they achieved over the 7 month project with their fantastic workshop leaders Elliott, Natalie, Elen and James – thank you all for your hard work!

And though, yes, Die Fledermaus with all its different elements took up most of our time and energy in 2019, we also found time over the Easter holidays to have fun with 70 brilliant young people in Mitcham Library discovering the skills of beatboxing, stage combat, puppetry and theatre design!

Beatboxing Workshop at Mitcham Library

We’ve had the busiest year to end our first 5 and are now busy planning what happens in the next 5. If you’d like to get involved in some way please drop us a message, we’d love to hear from you. Or if you’d like to help ensure our work is able to continue, why not consider becoming a Friend, whilst getting further insights into how our work is created? We have rather a lot of money to raise, contacts to make and plans to develop to make the next 5 years happen so if you’d like to be involved in the next stage of our future we’d love to hear from you!

Elderly session at Merton and Morden Guild

Yet we couldn’t have made the first 5 happen without you so thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you’ve enabled us to achieve so far –

Joanna, Mark, Francis, Rachel, Arnold and Sophie
(though in 2019 5 actually became 6!)

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“Seeing your ideas come to life… is so rewarding and addictive.”

Following our ACTS: REACTS residency at Wimbledon College of Art in 2016, we are keen to support local young creatives as they develop both creatively and on their journey to a career in the theatre industry – so we were pleased to be able to support recent Wimbledon College graduates Cecilija Berg and Nadine Froehlich as they worked with us on our 2017 productions. You can read about Cecilija’s work with us as Costume Assistant on Cosi Fan Tutte and here we caught up with Nadine to find out a bit more about why she became a theatre designer, how she worked on Reunion & Dark Pony and what she’s up to next:

Nadine Froehlich

Where did you study and what course did you do?
I trained on the Theatre Design course at Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL.

What made you want to become a Theatre Designer? What do you enjoy most about it?
I always saw myself as an artist, working on big paintings and drawings. What I enjoyed most of all was the process, researching themes that start to form a concept, but making paintings as a final piece didn’t seem enough for me. Read more

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2017 A year in review

St Teresa’s Primary School opera workshop

It’s the start of a new year so it’s that time of year that gets you thinking about what you’ve achieved over the last year. We had a big year in 2017 with two massively successful productions – Cosi Fan Tutte and Reunion & Dark Pony – both of which included professional performances, workshops for young people, and for Cosi also sessions for the elderly, not to mention re-writing the music and libretto for the high street! We loved working with so many shops, cafes, supermarkets and libraries for performances, especially being part of National Libraries Week for our Reunion & Dark Pony production. Our Cosi Fan Tutte further embedded our work in our home borough of Merton, while Reunion & Dark Pony took us further across South London to Southwark, Lambeth and Wandsworth as well as our first performances in the new Merton Arts Space in Wimbledon Library.  Read more

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Looking back on Reunion & Dark Pony…

A few weeks ago we had a fantastic time being part of National Libraries Week presenting our Reunion & Dark Pony production. Libraries are such amazing spaces and to be part of a national week of events showcasing a wide range of fun activities and events that libraries can be used for was just brilliant.

We had lovely feedback both from reviewers and audiences about our site-specific performances of these fantastic plays. As one reviewer commented: ‘The company couldn’t have chosen a more suitable author for this purpose than the one who once said “My alma mater is the Chicago Public Library. I got what little educational foundation I got in the third-floor reading room, under the tutelage of a Coca-Cola sign”.’ (Everything Theatre)

Read more

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Ex-alcoholic fathers and Indian braves

Reunion & Dark Pony Rehearsal

We’ve had an exciting start to rehearsals for our David Mamet libraries production! David Schaal, Siu-see Hung and myself have been detectives searching through the incredible detail of the history of the characters’ lives in Reunion. Bernie and Carol have not seen each other in 20 years since he left her and her mother when she was a child, and this first meeting of trying to work out if they can have a relationship in the future brings up so much detail from their past lives, sometimes painful, sometimes funny, often moving, and always intriguing. There’s so much detail to sift through and we’ve had our lists of facts about the characters’ past lives and the questions where we’ve had to work things out to make sense of their past or make up our own detail to create a fully rounded backstory for the actors. David Mamet has put so much detail into the lives of these two characters – Bernie, ex-alcoholic, ex-tail gunner in the war, and lineman on the Cape outside Boston, Massachusetts and his daughter Carol, whose relationship with her mother, with her new older husband Gerry and his two children from his previous marriage, that it is a joy to work through it all in rehearsals to bring these characters fully alive to you in performance. We also have to work out what the characters want at each moment – what their intentions are – and how these intentions towards each other change at various points in the play. Read more

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We have a Winner!

Congratulations to ‘Tessa Newby’ for winning two tickets to Reunion & Dark Pony. We asked people to sign up to our newsletter over the summer and during our last production ‘Cosi Fan Tutte‘ and Tessa was the lucky name out of the hat!

Reunion & Dark Pony is on between 9th – 15th Oct. Reunion tells a story about an ex-alcoholic father, reconciling with his daughter for the first time in 20 years. In Dark Pony a father tells his child a magical fairy tale about the friendship between an Indian Brave and his Dark Pony.

 

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Aged 16-25 & based in South London?

This event was in 2017

Do you want a sneak peek into rehearsals?

Do you want to be involved in a professional theatre production?

Are you interested in learning about acting, directing, theatre design, stage management or box office? Then come join our fun team! We are looking for reliable, enthusiastic volunteers with an interest in theatre and libraries to help us create Reunion and Dark Pony for site-specific performances in six different libraries across South London.

No experience is necessary as all training will be provided. We’d ask you to help us at least one performance during 9th – 15th October when we’d cover your travel expenses. And you’d be invited to come to rehearsals during the week commencing 2nd October to see how our actors, director and designer bring the plays to life and to meet for a chat with our Artistic Director to discuss how we can advise you on your future goals.

Travel expenses will be covered. Read more

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Announcing the cast of Reunion & Dark Pony

Find out more…

We are excited to announce our cast for Reunion & Dark Pony by David Mamet. These two short plays of David Mamet’s early work are about father and daughter relationships. Reunion realistically observes a meeting between an estranged father and daughter who have not seen each other in years, while Dark Pony playfully explores a father telling his child a magical story. Performing these plays in beautiful library spaces across South London

David Schaal’s many TV credits include The Inbetweeners and The Office, while theatre credits include Rabbits (Park Theatre) and A Steady Rain (Arcola Theatre). Siu-see Hung rejoins Baseless Fabric following her involvement in their production of A First Class Death for VAULT Festival. Other recent credits include Chinglish (Park Theatre) and I Wish To Die Singing (Finborough).

Find out more…

Read more

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Designing a production for six libraries across South London

Clapham Library

Clapham Library

So our design process for Reunion and Dark Pony is well underway! Our exciting Set & Costume designer Bex Kemp and I have started the process of thinking about how you design these plays for six different libraries! Read more about Bex’s previous work here.

We’ve been reading and discussing the plays, pulling out things we think are interesting and possibly useful to think about as well as visiting all of the libraries together. Each library is quite different so the plays will be a different experience in each library, each with its own problems to be solved and exciting, beautiful or unique elements to make the most of. We need to work out how the plays can work best in each of the six libraries to make the most of each individual space as well as telling the stories of these two plays as best as we can. Read more