Great Expectations – Getting to know Victoria Hamblen

Victoria Hamblen Headshot

Victoria began performing at the age of 3. As she grew up, Victoria tried a diverse range of dance styles from ballet to hip hop. She expanded on this, performing in many professional and semi-professional theatrical productions as a teenager. At university, Victoria participated in various productions at the Greenwood Theatre, such as Fame, and Hot Mikado ‘Pitti Sing’, then concluded her amateur run with touring productions of The Taming of the Shrew (2013), where she played the role of ‘Bianca’, and ‘Jacqueline’ in Moliere’s The Reluctant Doctor. Since then Victoria set up, and has been running Cyphers theatre company with Marcus J. Bazley, also performing in many Cyphers productions to date.

 

Quick Questions…

1. What’s your favourite scene or character from ‘Great Expectations’?

When Pip leaves Estella forever. It’s so poignant, and makes me cry every time!

2. What’s the last project you worked on?

The Cyphers Chekhov Double Bill (‘The Proposal’ and ‘The Boor’)

3. What’s the last book you read?

‘Villette’ by Charlotte Bronte

4. Not a lot of people know that I…

speak Mandarin.

5. What really grinds your gears?

When people talk when watching a film.

 
You can hear Victoria Hamblen playing Estella / Mrs Joe in our upcoming radio adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hourfrom Sunday 3rd January 2016.

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Available to download or stream here.

 

Great Expectations – Getting to know Alexander Pankhurst

Alex

Training: Royal Holloway University of London

Recent Credits include: ‘Jack’ in Staying Alive (Pleasance Theatre with Blackshaw), ‘Demetrius’ and ‘Bottom’ in A Midsummer Nights Dream, ‘Boy’ in Panther, ‘Gerry’ in Dearly Departed, ‘Mal’ in Captcha, ‘Arnold’ in I’ll take a Dozen Accountants…with Sprinkles, ‘Christopher Marlowe’ in Death of Marlowe, ‘Major Steve’ in Love in Freefall, ‘Ash’ in A Million Things, ‘Borachio’ in Much Ado About Nothing, ‘Mercutio’ in Romeo and Juliet, ‘Valentine’ in Two Gentlemen of Verona, ‘Thomas Carnacki’ in Audience with the Ghostfinder, ‘Tom’ in Rabbit, ‘Richard III’ in The Shakespeare Conspiracy, ‘Jamie’ in Airport and ‘Dr Alfred Prunesquallor’ in Gormenghast: Titus Groan.

Quick Questions…

1. What’s your favourite scene or character from ‘Great Expectations’?

It would have to be Will’s Miss Havisham. Delightfully deranged!

2. What’s the last project you worked on?

Blackshaw’s ‘Staying Alive’ at the Pleasance in November.

3. What’s the last book you read?

Malazan Book of the Fallen 05 – Midnight Tides – Steven Erikson, if you like fantasy you will love this series. I cannot recommend it enough.

4. Not a lot of people know that I…

once ate two foot long subs in one sitting.

5. What really grinds your gears?

Slow walkers and people who are rude. (But not those who are rude to slow walkers)

 

You can hear Alexander Pankhurst playing Sergeant / Jaggers in our upcoming radio adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hour from Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

 

Great Expectations – Cast & Creatives

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Adaptation by Marcus Bazley

CAST
Narrator – Jeremy Drakes

Magwitch / Pumblechook – Dylan Lincoln

Compeyson / Porter / Galley – Marcus J. Bazley

 

Estella / Mrs Joe - Victoria Hamblen
Estella / Mrs Joe – Victoria Hamblen
rupert sadler headshots
Pip – Rupert Sadler
Christopher Anderton
Joe / Wemmick / Drummle – Christopher Anderton
Alex
Sergeant / Jaggers – Alexander Pankhurst
© Michael Wharley Photography 2014
Miss Havisham – Jessica Brien
Will Holyhead Headshot
Herbert Pocket – William Holyhead
Rosie
Biddy – Rosie Marsh

 

 

CREATIVES

Staying Alive Read Through
Sound Recordist / Designer / Engineer – Andrew Crane
Helen Johnson Producer
Producer – Helen Johnson
Iasha Chapman Associate Producer
Associate Producer – Iasha Chapman

 

Listen to our radio adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hour from Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

Great Expectations – Marcus Bazley’s Adaptation

Unlike a lot of people, I never studied Great Expectations at school. From talking to friends who have, it seems to have spoilt their enjoyment of the novel no end! My only engagement with the novel before reading it, in late 2014, was the BBC TV adaptation from the previous Christmas.

There were two things that struck me immediately on reading the novel myself:

First, it was a first person narrative. This completely changed by understanding of the novel. This was not simply a story – this was a memory. A memory has the ability to deceive and distort events, making the narrative much more nuanced and complex. It also meant that our narrator was inherently fallible.

Second, it was surprisingly funny! Dickens is such an instinctively witty writer – he loves to poke fun at his characters and at his audience – and Great Expectations is no exception. (Although one would be forgiven for thinking it was a story exclusively about nasty rich people and cobwebs from the numerous adaptations.) I was, therefore, determined to reintroduce this lightness to the story and, in doing so, balance its darker moments with moments of genuine comedy.

These were the two main motivations for creating the original stage adaptation that Cyphers performed in February 2015. That and the way in which the casting perfectly suited our company of actors at the time.

The idea for a radio version first occurred to me while I was at Blackshaw’s fifth birthday party. During the afternoon of celebrations, extracts from Blackshaw’s previous radio drama ‘Audience with the Ghost Finder’ were played and a desire for more radio drama for the Arts Hour was expressed. Since finishing Great Expectations on stage, I had been desperate to do more with the script and this seemed like the perfect opportunity!

Going back to the script with a new medium in mind was an absolute joy and it gave me the chance to hone and tighten the adaptation after a bit of breathing space. Plus we would be able to explore the central Cyphers ethos of inspiring the audience’s imagination in a new way. The result, I hope, is a version of Great Expectations that is true to the original tone of the novel, bringing out both its light and its shade, as a man tells his listeners the very personal story of his life.

– Marcus Bazley

CK1ZY_YWoAAey7z

 

You can listen to Marcus’ adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hour from Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

 

Great Expectations – Getting to know Christopher Anderton

Christopher Anderton

Christopher trained at The Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre. He has appeared in a variety of productions including: The Three Sisters and Women Beware Women. He has worked in numerous productions at the the Royal Opera House, with David McVicar in Salome and Adriana Lecouvreur, and also with Paul Curran on The Tsar’s Bride. He toured Uruguay and Argentina with a new production entitled The Feather Pillow. For Sell A Door Theatre Company, he played Sherlock Holmes in The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Amos in The Man Who Had All The Luck and, last year, he toured the UK for 6 months with Kidnapped.
Chris has also recently played the title role in Cyphers’ first production, Henry V.  Following that he played the roles of Joe, Wemmick and Bentley Drummle in Cyphers’ second production, Great Expectations, and also appeared in Cyphers’ Checkhov Double Bill.

 

You can hear Christopher Anderton playing Joe / Wemmick / Drummle in our upcoming radio adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hour from Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

 

Great Expectations – Getting to know Rupert Sadler

rupert sadler headshots

Rupert Sadler is studying English Literature at King’s College London. Enthusiastic about drama, Rupert has been involved in student productions including Cabaret, Twelfth Night, King Lear, Guilty Parties and is also a member of the Running A-Mock Improv Troupe during his time at Kings. Rupert has also acted outside of university, such as working with NYT and performing Feather Boy at the Lyric, Hammersmith. Rupert has performed in two productions and one tour with Cyphers so far: Henry V (2014-2015)and Great Expectations (2015).

 

Quick Questions…

1. What’s your favourite scene or character from ‘Great Expectations’?

When Pip confronts Estella and Havisham after meeting his mysterious benefactor. It’s a powerful, moving scene; and I feel it has a lot of Dickens in there, a lot of personal turmoil from the author that underpins the curious relationship between Pip and Estella.

 

2. What’s the last project you worked on?

The last project I worked on was the revival of Henry V with Cyphers! A big tonal change from the radio play,but a rewarding opportunity that I got a lot out of. Plus, it’s a blast working with actors and crew, both old and new!

 

3. What’s the last book you read?

The last book I read was One Hundred Apocalypses by Lucy Corin, some chilling stuff…

 

4. Not a lot of people know that I…

Used to have an irrational fear of hoovers! Well… it seemed rational at the time!

 

5. What really grinds your gears?

It takes a lot to grind my gears, to be honest. Cold callers are the closest I guess, but I don’t blame ’em – they’re just doing their job.

 

You can hear Rupert Sadler playing Pip Pirrip in our upcoming radio adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hour from Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

 

Great Expectations – Getting to know Jessica Brien

© Michael Wharley Photography 2014

Jessica trained at The Bridge Theatre Training Company.
Theatre includes: ‘Cinderella’ in Cinderella, ‘Belle’ in Beauty and the Beast (Evermore Productions, UK Tour 2015), The Princess and the Pea, Jack and Molly and the Beanstalk (C theatre, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015), Flight (Opera Holland Park, 2015), Peter Pan, Jack and the Beanstalk (Say Two Productions, UK Tour 2014), ‘Helena’ in Shakespeare in the Garden: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Snow Queen (C theatre, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2014) and ‘Paulina’ in The Winter’s Tale.

Follow her on twitter @jessbrien

Quick Questions…

1. What’s your favourite scene or character from ‘Great Expectations’?
It has to be Miss Havisham!

2. What’s the last project you worked on?
Touring Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast

3. What’s the last book you read?
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

4. Not a lot of people know that I…
Was the headteacher’s daughter at secondary school

5. What really grinds your gears?
Radio phone-in debates!

You can hear Jessican Brien playing Miss Havisham in our upcoming radio adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hour from Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

 

Great Expectations – Getting to know William Holyhead

Will Holyhead Headshot

Will is a graduate of King’s College London, where he studied English. He was most recently seen in Cyphers’ revival of Henry V – the original production of which he made his professional debut in. Other work for Cyphers includes Great Expectations, as ‘Herbert’ and ‘Miss Havisham’. Before graduating, he appeared in a number of productions including: Flare Path at RADA Studios; Broken Glass at The Bloomsbury Theatre; The Seagull at The Etcetera Theatre; Measure For Measure at The Bristol Shakespeare Festival; King Lear; Twelfth Night; Spring Awakening and The Importance of Being Earnest. You can follow Will on twitter @WJHolyhead.

 

Quick Questions…

1. What’s your favourite scene or character from ‘Great Expectations’?

Bentley Drummle

 

2. What’s the last project you worked on?

Henry V with Cyphers

 

3. What’s the last book you read?

Operation Mincemeat, by Ben MacIntyre

 

4. Not a lot of people know that I…

Once aided and abetted my French teacher smuggling a large quantity of champagne into the UK on a ferry and was almost placed under Captain’s arrest on the same ferry for ‘borrowing’ a large quantity of salt an pepper from the ship’s restaurant to use as poker chips…

 

5. What really grinds your gears?

The jumping of red lights and zebra crossings!!!! (especially by Taxis and cyclists)

 

You can hear William Holyhead playing Herbert Pocket in our upcoming radio adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hour from Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

 

How we recorded ‘Great Expectations’ as a radio play.

Perhaps you’ve already seen the Storify of our day recording Great Expectations with Cyphers but I wanted to give you a bit more detail about the day.

Kicking off at 9am the production team (Iasha, Andy, me) and director Marcus met in the rehearsal room that was to become our recording studio for the day. We were based in a lovely big room which in itself had lovely acoustics that put a smile on Andy’s face, plus Iasha had provided tea, biscuits and croissants so I knew that we were on to a good thing. However, as was proven more and more throughout the day, Peckham is not a quiet area of London and a professional recording studio this was not. Community Radio drama – I like to think of it as the Fringe theatre of radio.

Andy got us set up with all the wires etc. while Iasha and I made the room as quiet as possible (full marks to Iasha for innovation when muzzling the buzzing from the boiler with an over glove!) and then Marcus and Andy did sound checks and the cast started to arrive.

The recording style was somewhere between a scratch-style staged reading and a formal style you might imagine from old style radio drama from the BBC or may have seen with the Fitzrovia Radio Hour . The cast were mostly script in hand, those who had performed in Cyphers’ stage version keeping a careful eye out for any amends to the script in its new seven part radio incarnation. The performers all stood – unless playing a character who would have been seated or lying down in the scene in question – then basically moved as the mood took them. This seemed to really bring the characters to life, having the scuffles happen mid scene really added the necessary tension, for example, and was much of the time far easier than recording such things separately. I like to think that acting out the scenes a little whilst giving a primarily vocal performance made the experience more enjoyable for a cast with primarily stage experience, but I did feel rather sorry for Rupert who played Pip and was therefore on his feet for the majority of the day! The exception to this recording style was our session with Jeremy, our narrator, but I’ll come to that later.

We jumped around the script, trying to complete the story of each character as early as possible in order to release our wonderful cast as early as we could. We were incredibly grateful to have them on a Sunday and I must say we were slightly grateful to see that it wasn’t the sunniest of summer days so we weren’t preventing them from whiling away the hours in a beer garden!  So we recorded the scenes for which Mrs Joe is required first of all, then switched to the scenes starring Estella and Ms Havisham. As Mrs Joe and Estella were both played by Victoria this meant that rather than switching between the two voices, Victoria could concentrate solely on one performance at a time. However, it is of course very different to how you’d perform a stage production! The cast were rather kept on their toes physically and metaphorically during recording, ho ho.

Much of the day’s recording went like a dream. The atmosphere in the room was good, the cast were brilliant – disciplined and cheerful, a perfect combination. Marcus was on hand to give tonal directions and advice on any necessary movement to add action to the scenes and the odd section had to be recorded again in order to get clear audio or because we were rudely interrupted by a gurgling radiator or siren on a nearby street but generally we threw through the script. We adjusted the time of our lunch break to avoid the chiming of local church bells and finished recording with the main cast about 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

We then recorded the narration. Older Pip gives narration throughout the story, thus it was easiest to have a separate actor and separate recording session for this. We were graced with experienced voice actor Jeremy Drakes, who according to sound guy Andy has a voice “like butter” and I must say I’m inclined to agree. We wanted the narration to have a softer, more intimate tone than the action of the story as Pip is reflecting back on his memories, so changed the physical setup accordingly. Jeremy was seated with the mic very close to his face and this gave the desired tonal effect. Additionally this set up, with Marcus, Iasha and I all sat facing Jeremy in his armchair with his soothing tones, nearly made the recording of the narration like a session of story time, especially as for this session it was most logical to just work through the script in order as there was only one character to focus on. However, this is when the nemesis of the day made itself known – the planes! I know it’s not a popular thing to say during summer holiday season, but we really could have done without the planes for a few hours! We ended up finishing the day at 8.30pm, slightly behind schedule, as a change in the wind direction or flight path meant that almost as soon as Jeremy began we were frequently interrupted by the sound of aircraft passing nearby. But in the end, slow and steady won the race.

Thank you again to everyone who helped out on the day in one form or another. It was a truly excellent day and we can’t wait to share the results of it with you all.

Helen