Year of the Producer: Caitlin Albery Beavan’s Eureka Moment for Shivered

Philip Ridley returns to the Southwark Playhouse’s main house, following the success of Tender Napalm last year, with the world premiere of his latest play Shivered, which continues until 14 April 2012.

Here, as part of our ongoing Year of the Producer series, Caitlin Albery Beavan tells us the story behind the production.

Caitlin Albery Beavan: Whilst working at the Edinburgh Festival in 2010 on Theatre Ninjas, an app that I co-founded with friends that helps promote theatre and encourage audiences, I met director Russell Bolam, whose previous two shows The Road to Mecca and The Roman Bath (both at The Arcola) I had been impressed by.

I subsequently met him several months later in London to talk about potential projects – I remember distinctly that we were in a cafe in Clapham when he handed me a draft script of Philip Ridley’s new play Shivered. It was an incredible sensation – I have always been attracted to new writing and was a massive fan of Philip, having seen previous shows and been to Q&A’s where he’d been speaking. Here was a script that was still unfinished, from a writer whose back catalogue of work I adored.

I had read the script within a few hours and knew that it was something I wanted to produce and bring to the London stage. I was impressed by the new direction his writing had taken, a state of the nation epic, which had been fractured and broken and then re-set and structured to tell something new. The story was utterly heartbreaking and themes of voyeurism, the broken family and war made me realise how important it was that it was staged immediately and that now, before the regeneration of the East End, was the right time.

I went to Aron Rollin, a great friend who I had previously been working for in production management roles on Baba Brinkman’s Edinburgh shows. We read through the script together and assessed the costs of staging the show, possible venues, how much money we would need to raise and from who. I had previously produced several London Fringe shows but not at this level and so began the journey to the launch of Shivered at the Southwark on 7 March.

Joseph Drake & Olivia Poulet in Shivered

The extraordinary cast who have made this play come alive are all endlessly talented and work brilliantly as an ensemble. The cast have collaborated closely with Philip Ridley, with telling the story and doing the play justice being of extreme importance to them all. To be able to watch this happen has been a once in a life-time opportunity. It was exciting to watch Philip with the cast during rehearsals, working with them to rewrite the script and help them develop their character and hone the play.

When we went into previews it was especially nerve wracking sitting at the back and watching the audience, not knowing what their reactions would be. However, I was not disappointed and would watch as audience members filled with passion, gasped, cried and occasionally had to look away. These reactions and the responses we’ve been receiving after the show is why I want to make theatre.

The process hasn’t always been smooth – it’s an epic play and we are working on a fringe budget but I am so proud of everyone involved who have all given their best to bring Shivered to the stage and create a truly staggering production. I hope that everyone reading this will take the opportunity to come and watch Shivered and that it moves you as much as it has moved me. It’s on until the 14 April 2012 and I’m nearly always in the bar afterwards – so do come and have a drink and a chat!