Adele Stanhope on…Rage

Vertigo Theatre Company have been producing their own work and adaptations of popular productions for some time now, including The Breakfast Club, Dog Sees God, M and 3sum. Their latest production Rage is taken straight from the news headlines and focuses on the issues of gun crime, but in particular the topic of high school shootings. We caught up with Adele Stanhope, co-owner of Vertigo (with Craig Hepworth and Karl Burge) to find out more.

You have adapted other material for your two previous productions. Why the change?

Craig Hepworth and I have been running Vertigo theatre productions for several years and have developed scripts for many works both from older material and new original pieces. Rage for example has been in development for four years and our first production 3sum was also an original piece created by ourselves. Our last production M, whilst loosely based on Dial M For Murder was a completely original script. We enjoy writing and developing our own works as well as resurrecting old time classics adding a modern day tone and our vertigo stamp as well as finding productions to debut here in the UK such as Dog Sees God. In the future we hope to continue this pattern with both new original works and revitalising well loved gems from the past.

Tell us a bit about Rage. What is the concept?
Rage is a piece close to our hearts and represents the unheard voice of teenagers all over the world. The main basis is why high school and College shootings happen, not from the typical generic point of view, but from the view of the people who really count, the teenagers/young adults themselves. For many years these tragedies have been occurring in schools worldwide most famously in America but have also come dangerously close to happening in the UK. The most recent one  was localy in Audenshaw where two boys were planning a Columbine style Massacre. Many reasons are discussed in the media and organisations, but the voices of the young people themselves are rarely heard. Our characters have only moments before survived this massacre at their college, their fear, anger and sadness forces them to ask questions, to finally speak out and help prevent tragedies like these in the future.

A great deal of theatre is verbatim, in the style of a documentary. Why do you think this style of theatre has become popular?
I feel people have a thirst for something new or different, this style of theatre helps involve the audience more and encourages them to sit up and take notice. This documentary style has been effective in the past with pieces such as the Laramie Project and this style is perfect for Rage. The play is not just a medium for entertainment, it needs to speak to the audience, make them ask questions and speak out. At the same time though our play does retain a set up of a traditional play. The docu-drama aspect of our play comes from the subject

You and Craig Hepworth always seem to be on the same page and make a great team with the other guys. What keeps it working so well?
Ha Ha! Erm…we argue, argue and argue some more with the occasional eye poke! Then we discuss and compromise and hopefully come out with a great end product. We are both very creative and like a lot of the same things, we are usually on the same page with the direction and writing and really bounce off each others ideas but most of all knowing we have the company’s best interest at heart. I think because we have a fun light-hearted friendship it keeps the relationship with the cast and crew on a similar level. We treat everybody as friends with mutual respect and we value their opinions which really goes a long way through the rough times and the smooth. The main reason seems to be that myself, Craig and Karl Burge have passion for everything we do, and that passion translates to the stage.

As a company, Vertigo have tackled comedy, an adaptation of an 80’s teen movie, a thriller and now this play taken directly from the headlines. What’s next?
Craig and I have hundreds of ideas waiting to be brought to life and we generally know when the time is right to stage them. We are hoping our next working will be a musical. We are currently discussing ideas to see whether it’s feasible and plan to spend the next year getting it on it’s feet. Craig and I are hoping to write the book and lyrics whilst our cast member Rick Carter will join the creative team and generate the score. It is an exciting challenge for us and we hope we can live up to our expectations and bring you a dramatic dark musical in 2010/2011. What’s it about? Well at this stage all we know is it’s like nothing you have seen before and very adult in nature…. Watch this space .Oh and I’m sure that other projects will end up on stage next year as well.

Adele Stanhope was speaking to Glenn Meads

Rage runs at Taurus from 3 – 7 November. For more information, please click here.