Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Spotlight On: Fable Workshop

These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and celebrate the work that people are still managing to generate during these difficult times. In this ‘Spotlight On’ series, we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share what they are up to during these challenging times and how you can be involved.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

Here we caught up with Sean Hollands (Director, Movement Director, Frantic Assembly Practitioner & 2016 Bryan Forbes Award winner) to talk about his company Fable and everything they are up to during this stage time.

Can you give us a little intro into who Fable are and what you do?

Fable Workshop is a company made for people to collaborate and make work together. We want to make stories first and foremost, and in that way, we try not to tie ourselves too tightly to any particular form. We are young but I’m keen for us not to have any particular “style”. I want the company to be known for pushing boundaries by working with innovative creatives. We want to be mainstream and experimental. We currently have a VR piece in the works, as well as a “traditional” play, and an immersive production. We are trying lots of things with lots of different people. I called the company Fable Workshop because I wanted the company to make stories, that are developed through building, study, and excavation of exciting ideas. It’s my own little story building factory!

What made you want to start Fable?

Collaboration has always been at the heart of everything I have ever done in theatre, and in that time I have worked some incredible creatives. I lost count of how many times I would discuss projects with people, only for us to fall at the first hurdle, how do we actually go about doing it? For me starting Fable was the first step in being able to make the projects I am passionate about. However, I want it to be a company where others can make their own work as well. I am not putting myself forward as the director for everything that Fable makes. I want to use the company as a platform to shout out about the projects I find exciting. In that way, I guess it’s a little bit like selfish collaboration. I collaborate because I want to see something, or learn from something, in that way I would call it selfish. I just want to see great stuff! Fable exists to put talented, creative and amazing people together.

What is Fable up to during Covid19?

We have made Quaranscenes! It is a live-streamed show that we are aiming to air weekly, starting on the 29th of April. We have brand new work written for the world of streaming and performed live by actors that we have found through call-outs. I became aware very quickly that fringe artists, writers and actors, were not going to get much space in this current climate. We are going to see a lot of recorded and streamed plays with big-name writers and actors.
I wanted to make something where we could continue to showcase the work of all the grassroots artists out there. I knew it also had to rely on collaboration, so we have initially put out the call for actors and writers to get involved. As we receive audition tapes and scripts we match up actors and writers together. We then give them time to talk and collaborate. We also make sure they are happy with all the technology. Then we stream!

The show will have around 4-5 performances each week, some monologues, some duologues, and potentially larger casts in the future. However, we will also use the space to promote other companies doing work through this time. We will also talk about and share useful resources each week, so that creatives can hear about other projects that they can get involved with.

The audience will also be able to donate as they watch the stream, and all the money we make goes straight to the creatives involved in making the stream possible. I also wanted to find a way of getting money to artists, and this seemed like the first step to doing it! So come watch!

How can people get involved?

We are still accepting submissions from both actors and writers. Head to fableworkshop.co.uk and check out the brief for the full details! We would love to see more actors auditions. We would also love to get more monologues if we can! We would especially love to have more text for and by women!

When this is all over what do you think the landscape of the industry will look like?

I honestly have no idea. I think streamed work will be here to stay though! I think there are going to be technical innovations that are going to happen, which will be paired up with some good ole creativeness. When so many people are using a resource, we find exciting ways to use it. Look at the rise of TikTok! People are incredibly creative, and streaming work is going to gain a space as people use it. 

I think that is exciting! I know people will worry that you lose the shared experience which is, of course, important but if we stream work, we reach wider audiences. We reach people who can’t afford the traditional ticket, or people that can’t leave the house, because of child care or health. People will be access theatre now for the first time in years, and I hope they are not left alone again when this is over. Theatre is incredible so I think we should continue to share it as much as we can.

Is there something that's happened during Covid19 that’s surprised you? For better or for worse!

Not really. Purely because COVID itself has been so surprising. Nothing that has happened because of it, has been more shocking than the actual spread of it. I’m meant to be in Australia right now. Instead I’m still at home and working 3 days a week in a warehouse in Croydon. My life has changed in such a drastic way in a matter of weeks. I guess I’m surprised I’m not more upset about it. But everyone is in the same boat, and the boat isn’t stable. In the grand scheme of things, I’m on a higher deck, with a regular trolley service. Some people are struggling in ways that I can’t even imagine. The focus of everyone must be on the “we” and the “us” right now. We have to roll with the punches as they come and push back against it when we can. I just want to keep pushing forward in this time, I don’t want to sit still. That’s how I’m dealing with it. Everyone has their own way of coping, and every single way is valid. Stay strong!

If you want to check out Fable and their work more have a look at their website and tune in to Quaranscenes via the link below!

Interview written and conducted by Phoebe Hyder
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