Following a sell out season in April, JB Shorts 2 opens in Manchester next week. It consists of six brand new short plays by TV writers starring many household names including Sue Cleaver (Eileen Grimshaw in Coronation Street) and former 'Allo 'Allo star Arthur Bostrom. We caught up this Manchester based actor- who is no stranger to the Northwest stage (having recently performed in See How They Run at the Royal Exchange) - to find out more.
JB Shorts 2 is incredibly unique. Can you tell us a bit about it?
It's a collection of six short playlets performed each evening. The pieces are written by established writers, many of whom work principally in television. The casts are drawn from a pool of local actors, some of whom have years of experience and some who are just starting out in professional life: so it's a happy mix of talent. The evening will provide a varied menu for the audience, as well as showcasing the talents of the actors, writers and directors involved. The venue is small, so it is also an extremely intimate experience for both the performers and the audience. I also think that at £5 it is one of the best bargain events for the Arts in Manchester.
What attracted you to the project?
I was fortunate to see the first production earlier this year of JB Shorts and enjoyed it very much. I loved the varied playbill which was offerred: every piece was entertaining and well done. I remember thinking it would be great fun to be involved in it, should the project be repeated. I had been intending to contact the producers if they did it again, but happily they approached me and I immediately accepted the chance. I have only lived in Manchester for just over three years and it is great for me to have the chance to work with more Manchester - based actors and make new friends and just enjoy being part of an already successful experiment.
Do you have a favourite line, scene?
The play is short and, as there are six of us involved, there aren't a huge number of lines and speeches for any of us. I was attracted by the clever construction and wordplay in the writing, and though I do have a favourite speech, probably my favourite line is "That's why we have blocking Stephen, otherwise we'd all be falling over each other, wouldn't we?". In an acting space of a few square feet I find saying.that hilarious!
With so much Theatre is Manchester to choose from, what makes Shorts stand out?
It's truly original, in that it gives audiences such a varied evening: almost like a "tasting" evening, and features such a wide variety of experienced performers, writers and directors too. The intimate space presents challenges of its own but really closes the gap between performer and audience member that a traditional venue cannot manage. It seems to manage to be both a theatrical event and a truly social gathering at the same time. With the varied fare: if one piece does not appeal to an audience member for whatever reason, there's the happy knowledge that another will be along in a few minutes!
What’s been the funniest/most memorable incident that has happened in rehearsals?
So many as we have been laughing together a lot. Because in the play we are acting as actors and directors in a play, and because we use improvisation quite often, we sometimes lose sight of whether our discussions are in the play or for real - which is what happens in the play anyway. This causes much confusion and laughter for us and frequent questions such as "is this real? are we talking about the play now or are we still in it?".
You have performed at the Royal Exchange and the Opera House previously. What do you like about Manchester’s theatre scene?
I've always loved the Manchester theatre scene: it's so varied with a combination of both contemporary and experimental work as well as the classics. Each theatre has its own unique appeal and a certain style one comes to expect, and standards are extremely high! Being such a compact city, in which it is fairly easy to travel around, I go to the Lowry, Royal Exchange, Oldham Coliseum, Bolton Octagon etc. as well as large scale productions at the Palace and Opera House. Smaller scale productions through the University, Contact etc. are also easily accessible and usually well publicised, together with established "festival" events like 24:7 and Queer Up North. There's a great deal of exciting theatre going on in this region, and a great pool of talent living here.
Arthur Bostrom was speaking to Glenn Meads
JB Shorts 2 runs at Joshua Brooks, Princess Street, Manchester from 6 -17 October. The show starts at 7pm and Tickets are £5 and available on the door.
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