Production Week: They ran with performer Whitney Richards

Posted by Morgan Leek, November 14th, 2011

Whitney Richards ain’t just a pretty face. She knows how to rough it backstage with Black Swan and bring out the charisma onstage (and on camera.. okay and offstage) with independent film and theatre companies. She can also make funny sounds, run pretty fast and dodge cornflake rain. On her day off, Whitney took the time to write about production week for They ran ’til they stopped – now showing at PICA until Saturday 19 November.

Words: Whitney Richards Photos: Donna Ferreri & Sarah Rowbottam

They ran 'til they stopped rehearsals Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Hello reader. This is a blog for you to read. I have diarised my adventures during production week for They ran ’til they stopped (TRTTS). I hope you will find this educational.

I have spent the last six months assistant stage managing for Black Swan Theatre Company. I’m not a trained ASM, but they were willing to give me a go because I was keen to work and keen to learn. Hence, production week as a performer for TRTTS was the least stressful I’ve had for a long while.

Production week ain’t really about the performers. It’s about fitting together all the other equally important elements of the production. It helped that the designers were amaze ballz and knew exactly what they were doing. Will Slade (noises), Mike Nanning (globes) and Alissa Claessans (furniture) were true professionals.

They ran 'til they stopped rehearsals Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Monday: Actors had a day off. I saw the film Drive. So good. Go see it.

Tuesday: Plotting. Actors stand around in places they’re told to stand in. It’s pretty fun. Also the day we learnt Lawrie does a mean step ball change.

Wednesday: Tech and first dress run. Also the day I remembered I have to pretend I don’t have cornflakes riiiiiiight down my pants for half the show. Wednesday was also the day we were semi-attacked at lunch by the “gentleman who was having a bad day.”

Thursday: Final dress run and preview. The dress run was incredibly low in energy. But it was the run we needed to have before we got an audience. Also the day myself, Arielle and Katt chaperoned Lawrie to a questionable looking barber to get an emergency hair cut. Turns out his face is pretty nice. Preview went fairly smoothly, aside from a few rogue props. The show wasn’t as comfortable and fun as it has been in rehearsals. Nerves McGreg! The audience response was great, although I confess it was made up mostly of our close friends.

Friday & Saturday: Final preview and OPENING NIGHT! Great responses and not just from our friends. Also the days we battled with the slippery floor. You’ll have to come see the show to learn why.

They ran 'til they stopped rehearsals Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

We’ve gotten all the scary things out of the way now. Arielle, Lawrie, Alice and myself are now fairly comfortable with the show and can just have fun. I’m thoroughly looking forward to it.

Things I have learnt this week: don’t laugh during your final dress run, it’s incredibly unprofessional. Be careful in Northbridge even at midday. Good teams make the most enjoyable production weeks.

Things you (the reader) have learnt: Be careful in Northbridge even at midday. See Drive. Come see They ran ’til they stopped, there’s cornflakes.

They ran ’til they stopped
10 – 19 November 2011
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts
Tickets $18 – $28 www.pica.org.au
CHEAP TUESDAY $15 Tickets for 6.30pm Tue 15 Nov performance. CODE: Duckies.

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Whitney Richards graduated in 2008 from Curtin University with a BA (Film/Television & Performance). She has since worked in over 20 professional and independent film and theatre productions, including the feature Little Sparrows. In 2012 Whitney will perform in two main stage Black Swan State Theatre Company shows.


Week 3: They ran rehearsals with performer Lawrence Ashford

Posted by Morgan Leek, November 9th, 2011

Lawrence Ashford (Lawrie) is a bit of a champ in our books. Not only did he stand on a podium for two hours in the middle of Perth Cultural Centre whilst strangers covered him with post-it notes saying “nice ass” and “cares like a mother would”, he was just named Perth’s best storyteller at the inaugural Barefaced Story Battle. In between tech runs and RTR interviews, Lawrie took a moment to share what Week 3 rehearsals have been like for They ran ’til they stopped which previews at PICA this Thursday.

Words: Lawrence Ashford, Performer Photos: Sarah Rowbottam

They ran til they stopped Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

It is with a touch of sadness that we say goodbye to Week 3, and full time rehearsals. As excited as I am to get into the PICA performance space, I shall miss the fun days we spent in the Blue Room Theatre’s Kaos Room.

In fact, that room is aptly named, because at times rehearsals have bordered on unmitigated chaos. Working with Katt, Whitney and Arielle has been an absolute blast, and several times over the last few weeks we have found ourselves looking around, as the fits of laughter subside, and wondering if perhaps we are having too much fun. Fortunately Whitney has kept us on track, repeatedly reminding what page of the script we are up to, and how much more work is ahead of us.

They ran til they stopped Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Although, it has never really felt like ‘work’. Katt has maintained a fine line between chaos and control, and has encouraged us to play with almost every piece of text, which has lead to some exciting, and sometimes hilarious discoveries. We have also discovered a lot about each other. For instance, I had always known that Whitney was a talented performer, but it wasn’t until one of our first rehearsals when she burst into tears whilst working on a scene, that I realised she is in fact, a young Meryl Streep! She has been known as Meryl ever since (much to her displeasure). Arielle can also turn on the waterworks should the occasion call for it, and has been known as Natalie Portman since mid last week. If you see either Whitney or Arielle on the street, or at the theatre, please refer to them with their new names. Many thanks.

Working with this team, and with our hardworking production team, has been such a wonderful experience. I look forward to finally opening later this week, and only hope that the audience has as much fun watching this show, as we did making it.

My castmates and I are already plotting a possible sequel. Some titles that have been suggested so far are: “They started running again”, “They ran til they required a hip replacement”, and “I know where you ran last summer”.

They ran ’til they stopped
10 – 19 November 2011
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts
Tickets through PICA

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Lawrence studied a Bachelor of Arts at Curtin University, with a Major in Performance Studies, and a Minor in Creative Writing. He furthered his training whilst living abroad in London, taking short courses at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Theatre credits include Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love (Hayman Theatre), Terrorism (Hayman Theatre/Be Active BSX-Theatre), and Jack and Jill (The Blue Room Theatre/Red Rabbit Collective). In 2011 Lawrence collaboratively developed and performed in new work: Flirt Fiction (Red Rabbit Collective), which toured to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe before returning to Perth for a three week run as part of The Blue Room Theatre’s Personal season. Lawrence is also an active participant in Barefaced Stories, a regular storytelling series in Perth, and in October 2011 took out the inaugural Barefaced Story Battle, beating a field of thirty four to be named Perth’s best storyteller.


Week 2: They ran rehearsals with writer Gita Bezard

Posted by Morgan Leek, November 1st, 2011

Writer Gita Bezard from The Duck House gives us a snapshot of what week two has been like in the rehearsal room for They ran ’til they stopped, a new performance opening at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts next week.

They ran 'til they stopped rehearsals

Pictured (front – back): Gita Bezard, Jeffrey Jay Fowler, Alice Hatton

Words: Gita Bezard, Writer for They ran ’til they stopped

The second week of rehearsals was as much fun as the first. Coming in and out of the room as I do, it was always a joy to walk in and be a part of the fun going down. The script is almost finalized, now I’m just being picking about specific words “can you say ‘good’ instead of ‘fine’, and then can you say ‘ok’ instead of ‘alright’? It’s very important. Thanks.”

Read on…


They ran til they stopped rehearsals

What’s a unique quality about your friend?

Posted by Morgan Leek, October 25th, 2011

Last week we asked city dwellers in the Perth Cultural Centre to write down a unique quality about their best friend and stick it to Lawrence, performer for They ran ’til they stopped.

They ran ’til they stopped is the latest show by Perth-based company The Duck House. Set in a domestic kitchen, They ran ’til they stopped is the story of three young housemates who are dealing with loss for the first time in their life. In their silent kitchen, they shelter from the cornflake rain, are unprepared for cabaret and eat romantic dinners for one. Together they relive past moments and write down qualities about their lost friend in the hope of moving forward.

Big thanks to the 157 odd people who shared a quality about their friend! Check out a video we made with Storybottle documenting the event below, or read the post-it notes collected on our facebook page here


Week 1 They ran ’til they stopped Rehearsals with Director Kathryn Osborne

Posted by Morgan Leek, October 21st, 2011

They ran 'til they stopped first reading

Words: Kathryn Osborne, Director for They ran ’til they stopped

It has been a very exciting start to They ran ‘til they stopped rehearsals. We spent the majority of our first week working on the physical choreo that opens the piece. The characters begin at a funeral for a friend which is followed by a section in which we see time passing.  Before rehearsals began, I knew that I wanted to find a physical and creative way to show that time had passed. So the cast and I began this week working with actions and developing ritual routines that we could then alter the rhythm and shape of to show that time had progressed.

It was quite a difficult section to put together, but I am pleased with our current draft. With the addition of sound and lighting elements I am confident that our ‘time lapse’ will be a visually engaging start to the work. The performers (Lawrence Ashford, Arielle Gray and Whitney Richards) did a great job in retaining the non verbal sequence, especially because each repetition might only change slightly for them! And of course I changed my mind quite a lot as usual.

They ran 'til they stopped first reading

They ran 'til they stopped first reading

They ran 'til they stopped first reading

I have really enjoyed working with the performers. The four of us have never worked together before but it has been a very joyful and refreshing experience. Everyone has brought such great enthusiasm and energy for the piece and each performer has leapt into the material with a strong sense of fun, trust and commitment. As a result of their infectious attitude, we have already managed to draft the first third of the show in under a week. And as our immensely helpful Dramaturg Jeffrey Jay Fowler stated, what we already have is already tightly executed and enjoyable to watch.

And of course we have made a ridiculous amount of mess with cereals of multiple varieties. It wouldn’t be a Duck House show without a serious amount of mess (we love our Stage Manager Alice Hatton!). The cast and crew are currently working on some nifty ‘cereal effects’ for the show, but I’ll keep my mouth shut about those as I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

The set design concepts are coming along nicely (Design by Duck Alissa Claessens) and some rewrites are already underway (Writing by Duck Gita Bezard). And I am so happy to have the talented Will Slade and Mike Nanning on board at the eleventh hour for sound and lighting design. Some great ideas from everyone so far!

More from me next week.

Kathryn Osborne, Director, The Duck House

They ran ’til they stopped
10 – 19 November 2011
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts
Book online at www.pica.org.au
More info click here.

They ran 'til they stopped first reading