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Bristol Ferment Premiere New Play at Bristol Old Vic

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This September, Bristol Old Vic are to present the premiere of Coasting, a new play by Natalie McGrath.

A blistering mix of 1980s pop culture language and Polari, the gay slang from the 1940s and 50s, Coasting is set in a desolate, faded seaside town and follows best friends Pearl and Ocean as they precariously cling together making small change from slot machines and escaping reality by whatever means possible.

Coasting has been developed through Bristol Ferment, and was first seen as a rehearsed reading in Bristol Old Vic Studio in January 2010. Bristol Ferment is Bristol Old Vic’s artist development scheme, which aims to nurture and support the most exciting artists in the South West. It was established as a key part of the vision of Tom Morris and Emma Stenning when they took the helm at Bristol Old Vic in 2009. It is a year-round programme of activity, punctuated by two Ferment Festivals which gather together a fortnight of work-in-progress performances in an informal and lively atmosphere.

Catherine Johnson, who wrote the international hit musical Mamma Mia! and who lives in Bristol, is supporting a strand of Ferment that specifically develops new writing. She said “I was very fortunate to begin my writing career at Bristol Old Vic and it’s thrilling that local writers are receiving the opportunities I did. Bristol Old Vic is committed to producing contemporary plays with a regional flavour and I am pleased to support their work.”

Tom Morris, Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic says “For two years Bristol Ferment has been fostering the development of new theatre-makers in Bristol, in both devised and written work. During that time a number of shows have reached full production including Hattie Naylor’s Ivan and the Dogs, Adam Peck’s Only and Tristan Sturrock’s Frankenspine, and alongside these we’re delighted to be producing Coasting, a haunting, poetic and beautifully atmospheric script by Natalie McGrath. The ongoing productivity of Bristol Ferment testifies to the extraordinary talent of the creative community of Bristol and underlines our commitment to identifying and nurturing the creative voices of within it.”

Sharon Clark, Literary Producer at Bristol Old Vic says “When Natalie first bought us the first draft of Coasting we recognized, even in its early draft, a truly unique theatrical voice - bold, evocative, mesmeric, with a language that we had never heard before - a rich weaving of Polari, hip-hop and pop lyrics. Natalie was encouraged to develop the play through Bristol Ferment, which resulted in a series of rehearsed readings and some time spent in a rehearsal room with directors and actors. We are thrilled to continue this collaborative journey by producing Coasting’s premiere.”

Natalie McGrath is a South West based writer. She is currently working on two new plays The Peace and Rift. Her short play Spey was developed at the National Theatre Studio and presented at Soho Theatre in January 2011. Last year Natalie was commissioned by Bristol Old Vic for the Short Fuses season where she wrote Wild Doves. She was also commissioned for Paines Plough’s Come To Where I’m From, where she wrote Scottish Kiss. Her first full-length play Metal Remains was shortlisted for the 2009 Meyer Whitworth Award.

Ocean is played by Tom Wainwright, well known to Bristol audiences for his solo work and writing and currently under commission by Hull Truck Theatre. He is joined by Nadia Girscir as Pearl and Helena Lymbery as Falcon, who has worked extensively in theatre and TV, including Women of Troy, Attempts on her Life, and His Dark Materials at the National Theatre.


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