Last time Accidental appeared at Pick 'n' Mix back in 2009 no one knew our name, we were brand new, unusual, an oddity and we sold out both our shows (only company to do so that year, though having a audience capacity of 60 helps). This June Pick 'n' Mix was back and so were we! Did people know who we were, what we do, why we do it? Probably not. But damn it was great to be back!
Pick 'n' Mix is special for us, the first time we applied to be a part of Pick 'n' Mix 2 we were turned down. I was still a student at Queen's and they wanted to keep the Mix for the more emerged of emerging companies. We were disappointed by that but not deterred! So we applied again for Pick 'n' Mix 3 and this time I had a plan! A lot of established companies show works in progress, rehearsed readings so as an emerged emerging company I wanted us to put on as full a full show as we could. So we created DEATH (on a shoestring) by Dave Kinghan. A musical comical extravaganza about death, religion and political correctness. It was a lot of fun to make, and hopefully to watch, but we only had two weeks to make it and it was a little too ambitious to pull off in that time. It was a beautifully flawed production from my point of view and it did what we wanted it to. As we exposed ourselves to the Northern Irish theatre community in all our rough and flawed glory. And had a lot of fun doing it.
So now we've just finished Pop-Up Pick 'n' Mix after its one year hiatus but this time we entered it with a new plan. Again we wanted to show a full show as we did before but now we wanted to show our quality as much as our enthusiasm and ambition. We created The Writers' Room by Michael Shannon, a compact, claustrophobic and fantastic one-act play that was not only challenging for us but also allowed us to aim for a standard of performance and production quality that we haven't yet achieved. So we went as all out as we could afford. With a gorgeous little set, check out Emily's blog for some of the fun she had building it, and a cohesive and dynamic performance. We tried to push ourselves with this one-act play as far as we could and we were all really excited by the resulting show.
With this Pick 'n' Mix more than any other I've attended so far there was a great feeling coming from the other emerging companies, and I got to see a brilliant range of new and varied work. Whether it was Sumaire with Little Sounds of Pain or OfftheRails with S(e)nsored in a gripping double dip session or the fantastic solo work of Mary-Frances Doherty with her A Love of Goodbyes. It was a great weekend that I wish I could have seen more at, but time and my budget held me back. Of added note was Guerilla Therapy with a reading of Almost Stockholm by Caoilfhionn Cassidy a really gripping play that I was lucky to see when I was at Queen's. Also Feet off the Table and their performance of Sir and finally Finbar's Private Netherland by Carol Murphy staring the legendary Fra Gunn. Those are only a few of the acts that played over the three days, only a snippet of the talent on offer and with the exception of Mary-Frances, all new to Pick 'n' Mix! My personal highlights were found in the seminar room from both TheatreofPluck (D.R.A.G) and Tricky Disco (Tales from a Lancashire Lad) with two very different but enthralling shows, I also loved the small intimate performance space that the seminar room offered, a really great choice of space to be included.
It was a long weekend and a very exciting one for us but our time with The Writers' Room isn't over yet. In fact its just begun, soon we'll be taking it to London as our first show outside of Northern Ireland and then hopefully we'll be coming home again to perform it towards the end of the year. With DEATH (on a shoestring) we didn't get to perform it after Pick 'n' Mix, not having the resources to do it justice. So this year we wanted to make sure that our Pick 'n' Mix offering lived on after the weekend. With me being based in London right now it gave us the opportunity to begin to take our work outside Northern Ireland and challenge ourselves in an entirely different way and in a much larger place.
We're only a few weeks away from the first London show, and my anticipation has been building ever since Pick 'n' Mix closed, by the opening show I may just be a wreck, but hopefully a happy wreck!