By Toby Quash
Opens at The Dream Factory, Warwick on 20th December
Playbox Theatre is thrilled to present the world premiere of an original new play GRETEL by Toby Quash, commissioned by Playbox as part of the ongoing commitment to creating new work for and with young people. Gretel is written in collaboration with Toby’s playwrighting programme Blank Shift. The production is directed by Emily Quash.
We all think we know the story of Hansel and Gretel, it has been with us since childhood. Here, Toby Quash has re-explored its origins and relocates the story to a world ravaged by war, perhaps the Thirty Years War, or a war yet to come. Emerging from the landscape is the heroine, Gretel, and this is first and foremost her story.
A company of 50 young people tell Gretel’s story in a multidisciplinary production combining text, movement, song and the complexity of rope manipulation to present a production that will linger in the mind.
Directed by Playbox Artistic Director, Emily Quash, who says, “The Christmas production for Playbox is always a major event in our calendar, and taking on the directorship is both a joy and something to fear! Such high expectations from audiences, such a great responsibility to deliver the ‘perfect’ festive experience…whilst always ensuring that our young actors are challenged, compelled and totally engaged by the rehearsal experience.
Working with one of Toby’s new texts is always exciting. You know that the script will be bold, often brutal, and always non-conventional. His writing comes with, not only words, but a total vision…and I know that I’m going to have to work incredibly hard and with real compassion to bring the piece to fruition in the way he has imagined. That being said, I like to think that we’re a good double-act and we love working together to explore music choices, colour concepts and visual aspects that we feel are inspiring…so always lots of lively discussion.
I knew that I wanted Gretel to be a very physical piece and, having seen what our young people can achieve with the ‘skating’ in The Snow Queen last year, I wanted to find a new way to push them, as well as discovering a visual storytelling device that would be appropriate for the ‘woven’ nature of the tale. We’ve gone with ‘ropes’ – the actors are currently in training to learn to climb these with ease, and to be able to deliver text from the top! We’re using ropes to create our set, be that a forest, a trap, a school…whatever we need it to be…and they serve as an effective metaphor for the increasingly ‘entangled’ experience of many of the characters within the tale.
I don’t want to give too much away…rehearsals have been great so far. The cast are working tirelessly, bleeding their blood, grazing their knees, losing their breath…they’re singing, dancing, being incredibly playful and…well, let’s see what we come up with by Christmas! In true Playbox style, it’s sure to be full of surprises...”
Gretel is played by 17-year-old Freya Davis from Kenilworth, with 15-year-old Dylan Jones as Hansel.
In addition to Emily Quash, the creative team is Chris Johns (Scenic Art), Matt Cater (Lighting Design), Richard Cooper (Technical Director), Sam Young (Musical Director).
Gretel an original new play by Toby Quash, writer of Paradise Kill, Gutterhead, Catching Flies and The Shadow Roads, opens at The Dream Factory 20th December with performances as below:
The Dream Factory, Warwick
Fri 20th December, 7.00pm
Sat 21st December, 3.00pm
Sat 21st December, 7.00pm
Sun 22nd December, 1.00pm
Sun 22nd December, 5.00pm
Tues 24th December, 11.00am
Sat 28th December, 3.00pm
Sat 28th December, 7.00pm
Sun 29th December, 1.00pm
Sun 29th December, 5.00pm
Mon 30th December, 3.00pm
Tues 31st December, 3.00pm
Raked/Side Seating: Standard £18, Concession £10
Bench Seating: Standard £15, Concession £9
Visit our What's On page to book or call 01926 419555.