Hello and welcome to the Broken Chair blog! We’re an up-and-coming theatre company of nine who tell stories through movement.
This blog marks our latest effort to engage with other artists and to facilitate discussion about theatre-making. To kick things off we thought we’d introduce you to our company members, but rather than let them tell you how great they are themselves we decided to have a bit of fun – each member of the company was asked to write somebody else’s bio! The results are a little bit snarky but it comes from a place of love. We hope that this gives you a sense of the personalities that drive our working practice.
Victoria Aldis as written by Emilie Sofie Johannesen.
Victoria Aldis is definitely the class clown, or rather the company clown. Not a rehearsal goes by without someone (usually herself) laughing out loud at her jokes or her improvised solo performances. She fills each rehearsal with song, dances and jokes, even the ones when she isn’t meant to be on stage at all! There is never a dull rehearsal with Victoria around and she will be brutally honest if she thinks we’re going in the wrong direction or if she simply feels its time for a cigarette break.
Jokes aside, she can go straight into serious rehearsal mode when she wants to. She is a talented dancer who we can always count on to come up with something new or at the very least to have a helpful comment on the physical scenes others create. She will not hesitate to get out on the floor to help you get where you need to be by moving with you or showing you the move she’s come up with.
Luke Bellas as written by Connor Norris.
When we started the devising process for our first show, Sonder, Luke hated physical theatre. Luke hated physical theatre for a long time – probably until he got mentioned in a review! Check it out here, he’s very proud of it.
Luke has always tried to do too much. In the run up to Brighton, Luke started to call himself the lighting designer in an attempt to usurp our then-lighting designer, Anniell. Evidently it worked, as Anniell is no longer in the company, and he is in fact our lighting designer. Watch your back around this guy.
Luke has been through many roles in Broken Chair, designer, director, performer. But on top of that Luke has been a fantastic man both inside and outside of the rehearsal room. He is dedicated, hardworking, talented and above all my best friend; and since our first conversations about working together, thankfully, I still want to work with him.
Ben Gurney as written by Luke Bellas.
We all know the story of the aged old man at the top of the mountain and the travellers who spend many weeks hiking to meet him to get a part of his wisdom.
Ben Gurney is the wise old man of Broken Chair. He’ll sit at the side while everyone is arguing about some meaningless thing, we’ll pause and look at him, and he’ll say “well, why are we trying to do this?” The answer to the question will usually lead us to finalising a scene. His ability to look at our creative process from a completely different viewpoint is valuable and appreciated by every member.
However, there is another Ben Gurney; the crazy man at the top of the mountain. If you think that I am contradicting myself then let me just say two words: humble snail. The humble snail is a character that Ben brings out usually when chaos erupts within the rehearsal space, or when the company is having a silly moment, and is constructed by Ben crouching in a ball, on his knees, with two hands above his head and him proclaiming “I am but a humble snail!”
It is with great pleasure that I can say I get to work with both of these men in the form of Ben Gurney; A great asset to the company and a great friend to myself.
Jak Jamieson-Gray as written by Ben Gurney.
Our next eligible bachelor is Jak, 21 from Colindale. His star sign is Cancer and his favourite food is a Calippo ice lolly – but don’t let that cool you off! He’s a fiery fella who loves travelling, selfies and theatre. If you’d like to break chairs with this handsome hunk, text JAK to 555-BROKEN-CHAIR.
Thank goodness we have Jak to organise the anarchy that is our company. When leadership is required to make stuff happen, Jak will step up time and again. Sometimes I see him as a parental figure, angrily herding the children to bed, while other times he’s one of the kids still up and jumping on the sofas.
He is also a fantastic natural mover, which is endlessly frustrating when we’re devising new material and I’m tripping over my own ankles. One of my favourite scenes in Sonder was just five minutes of “put Jak in the space and let him do his thing”. Perhaps for the next show we’ll just plop him on an empty stage for 45 minutes…
Emilie Sofie Johannesen as written by Jak Jamieson-Gray.
Emilie Sofie Johannesen is honestly one of the sweetest girls out there, pretty smile and an up and coming commercial actress, who holds strong opinions about what she believes in. Her passion for acting is present within everything she does, which was proven greatly when she featured in a Coca Cola advert last year as her professional debut.
It goes to say she wouldn’t hurt a fly… UNLESS you trap her with ten other theatre people, in a confined space, joined at the hip, and jeopardise her eating schedule for ONE…. WHOLE… WEEK. Which, funnily enough, is exactly what happened at Brighton Fringe last year! Do not keep this girl from her food; she is a hangry demon within a sweet, petite, innocent girl that crawls out of her mouth to devour any human who gets in the way of her healthy vegetarian 200 calorie salad. But honestly, she wouldn’t hurt a fly! Besides this, her ideas in the rehearsal space are incredible, even though it takes us a year to agree. Here’s to the next show, thanks Emilie!
Katie Lawman as written by Carl Parkin.
Katie Lawman is one special woman who is always there to give you advice about your outfit whilst simultaneously dealing with any issues you have with the world.
As a costume designer and as a friend she is a great person to have by your side. When you need a costume made within ten minutes with only paper as a material or when you just need a hug, KLaw* is the one you need.
*not to be mistaken with a sliced cabbage dish
Katie McGregor as written by Katie Lawman.
Arguably the most focused and unfocused member of the company. The most likely to be so in the creative zone you cannot distract her but 30 minutes later, likely to be found doing a silly dance in the corner of the room that you can’t pull her out of!
I’d say she was the craziest member of the company, sometimes you see Katie as herself, other times you may experience one of her many alter egos that can appear and disappear again at a moments notice! She doesn’t often get involved in any confrontation but when she does, it’s with a fantastic one line, drop the mic! She’s done. All in all, she is fabulous and crazy all rolled into one!
Connor Norris as written by Katie McGregor.
I have big hair and a bigger head… Full of theatrical ideas.
As well as Broken Chair I’m a freelance set designer. When I’m not in the theatre you’ll find me in my bedroom gaming or playing guitar. Within Broken Chair I push for new and challenging ideas, get thrown in the air (rarely getting caught) and resolve the rest of the company’s unrealistic set ideas i.e no treadmills. After graduating from Middlesex University I made it my aim to get involved with as many set design opportunities as possible, mostly because I’m always being told to “make more friends” & “spend less time indoors”.
Fun fact: during our run of Sonder at Edinburgh Fringe 2016 I came down with a virus that gradually infected half the company for the rest of our run… You can imagine how that went down, or should I say up!
Carl Parkin as written by Victoria Aldis.
Carl Parkin: a man of so many words, all of the words, maybe too many of the words. Never doubt his ability to convey one short message with four-thousand sentences. But with this great skill comes charisma, wisdom and the power to inspire.
editor’s note: Carl is taking a one man show to Brighton Fringe this year under the name Carl James. Check it out here!