There’s a new production of “Macbeth” coming to Stratford and it’s not the one with that chap from Doctor Who.
This one is from Stratford’s newest Fringe Theatre Company – “Bits and Bobs Theatre”
But while there is something reassuringly unstructured and Fringe worthy about the company’s name, there is a crystal-clear vision and ambition for the company from its founder Hannah Perrin
Hannah will be familiar to regular Fringe goers – like most of the cast of “Macbeth” she has featured in multiple productions and was until recently a key part of “Civil Brawl” who have now passed into theatre history following the cancellation in November of Kitty Harper’s racy updating of Midsummer Night’s Dream – “Drugged Love”. From the bits and pieces of one theatre company has emerged the bits and bobs of the new one.
“The cast are all actors I’ve worked with and trust”
says Hannah and a look at the cast list confirms this including as it does two on our Fringe Award short list – Baz Stilinski and Abbie Deehan not to mention stalwarts of Second Chance, The Bear Pit and New Stuff Theatre. This is what, in the nicest possible way, Hannah means by bits and bobs.
The clarity of Hannah’s vision is on display when we question whether a Fringe company performing Shakespeare in the same town as the RSC is not a mighty, possibly overwhelming, challenge. Hannah disagrees.
It’s about “the love of the plays” she says and making the opportunities for actors who want to perform them available.
“Not everybody wants or is able to see Shakespeare performed by the RSC” hinting at ticket prices which are on the high side. Bits and Bobs “Macbeth” is somewhat more affordable and accessible to audiences and performers.
So why start a new company we ask, after all as we point out to her, she has been kept busy performing for other companies, so why a new one? “I didn’t want to wait” is the short answer. “I wanted to direct and act in the plays I wanted to do and not have to wait for someone else to do them”. But she is quick to add that it’s not all about what she wants to do, she wants the actors she is working with to have a similar chance to choose the work they want to do.
Following Macbeth later this year will be Romeo and Juliet – not Hannah’s proposal but one from her cast.
A new Fringe theatre company might have chosen a less ambitious opening production than the Scottish play but for Hannah it was a question of unfinished business having previously directed a production which in her own words “ I didn’t really do justice” We’re promised more witchery than is usual with the weird sisters and even a bit of gender switching of male characters – “this gives some scenes a whole new sense” Hannah explains.
And it’s not going to be bard all the time, Hannah adds as we end our conversation – there are plans for new writing. Hannah is also a writer as are several members of the cast including Baz Stilinski who’s debut play “Hey Li’ll Man” was one of top Fringe events of 2017 and for which Baz was nominated for a Fringie.
Bits and Bobs pretty much seems to represent our idea of what makes the Fringe – determined and versatile performers, a creative energy but most of all big ideas and ambitions. We look forward to seeing more bits and bobs from Hannah and her company in the months ahead.
BITS AND BOBS production of Macbeth is on at The Shakespeare Institute 14 - 17 February at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford. Tickets are £10 / £8 concessions and can be purchased here:www.ticketsource.co.uk/bits-and-bobs