Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Bunker Returns

It is such a delight to announce our return to the Adelaide Fringe this summer (or winter if you're left behind in the United Kingdom). The Bunker Trilogy will be making its second journey to the South Australian festival - the largest in the southern hemisphere - after its success in 2014.

We'll be performing the entire run in an incredible venue just a stone's through from the city centre in Adelaide's stunning Botanic Gardens. We're the only theatre taking place in the building, but we've partnered with SA's own Blanco Food & Events who'll be running an outdoor bar/cafe throughout the festival.

The Adelaide Fringe Festival, and Adelaide itself, is fast becoming a home for the company as much as Edinburgh has been over the years. It's an experience that revolves entirely around the local community and depends on the support of this community who work tirelessly to make our time Down Under even remotely possible. This community has opened their hearts and doors to us over the last four years; sharing their tables with us, sharing their homes with us, sharing South Australia with us.

The excitement that grows as we prepare for The Bunker Trilogy in Adelaide is not that of adventure or new experiences, but that of returning to the city, to the community, and to the people who we are now honoured to call our friends and family.

Take a look at the website: www.TheBunkerTrilogy.com for booking information and keep an eye out here and on Twitter for details, updates and behind-the-scenes info.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Brief Interview with BEBE SANDERS

Here's a brief interview with Bebe Sanders, who performed in The Bunker Trilogy throughout 2014 and is currently performing in The Fronter Trilogy. 

Jethro Compton's Frontier Trilogy

What was it that made you realise you wanted to be an actress?
I think I just always knew I wasn't interested in a normal job... I have always just wanted to have fun with my life. And I've always loved stories and dressing up... That's basically it!

What’s been the highlight or your career in theatre so far?
I played Billy Elliot's grandma in school and quite honestly that's the most fun I've ever had. But in my professional career... Taking a bow at the National Theatre has to be up there. And travelling the world with The Bunker Trilogy. Pure joy.

You joined the company in The Bunker Trilogy once the shows had already been performed, how different is it being in a brand new trilogy?
It's totally different! Joining The Bunker was great but there was a lot that had already been established so it was strange to feel like I was filling someone else's shoes. With the frontier you know that you are the first person to be that character and everyone is in the same boat which is lovely. I love teams.

Which character in The Frontier Trilogy most excites you?
I love them all but Miss Lilly from The Clock Strikes Noon is so different from anything I've done before. She excites me the most, because she's fabulous.

Which play in The Frontier Trilogy is your favourite?
I can't choose! They are all so fab in their own way. I actually can't choose.

What’s your best experience working with Jethro Compton Productions?
Making friends that will last a lifetime.  Every day at work is like going on a play date and having the best fun and getting overexcited and silly. And spending six weeks in Australia with The Bunker was life changing.

What’s the thing about Edinburgh you most look forward to?
This is only my second time going to the Fringe! But I think I am excited about returning to that atmosphere... And I just love that feeling of something new. I'm a bit weird in that I even love the set building, the being over tired, the getting coffees for everyone. I guess it's the team spirit. The feeling that we are all doing something special together.

For more information on The Frontier, visit www.TheFrontierTrilogy.com 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Interview with our Stage Manager MAEVE BOLGER

Here's an interview with Maeve Bolger. Maeve is the stage manager for The Frontier Trilogy. This is the second show she's work on with the company, after 2014's Edinburgh and Seoul Performing Arts Festival run of The Bunker Trilogy.

Jethro Compton's Frontier Trilogy

1. On a project like The Frontier, what does a Stage Manager actually do?
Its a very varied job! I start out in the rehearsal room with the company and keep whats called the Book. This is a copy of the script in which everything is written from the movements the actors make to what props are needed and where they are kept. Its essentially a blueprint for the show. Once we get up to Edinburgh, I'll be helping with building/dressing the set and sourcing any last minute props. In technical rehearsals, I work with our lovely sound team, Ella and Dylan, to write down the sound cues in the Book. The same goes for the lighting cues decided upon by Jethro. This is also my opportunity to learn how to operate the shows. Once the shows are up and running, I'm in a little earlier to set the props and make sure that the cast are happy to begin.

2. How does it compare to managing a more traditional show?
The main difference is that I can't see what's happening! The nature of these shows is that the audience is totally immersed in the world of The Frontier Trilogy. The set is a room which we will build and decorate to make look like a church in the wild west. Having someone sat in a corner with modern technolgy operating the lights and sound would ever so slightly distract from this! So, I'm set up outside the room listening in for my cues whether they are on actors' lines or doors banging etc. Its very strange at first because I am devoid of one of my senses so I really need to depend on my hearing. It sounds crazy, but it works!

3. How does this affect your role?
I depend on the actors a lot more than I might on any other show. If anything goes wrong in the room like and actor injury or an audience member becoming ill, I need them to be able to let me know. In any other situation, I would be able to see what's going on first hand and make a judgement call on what needs to be done. Fortunately, the group I'm working with are more than able to deal with the worst should it happen – fingers crossed it doesn't!

4. What's the hardest part of the job?
In general with stage management the worst thing is the odd hours I work. My partner and a  group of close friends work outside of the industry in "normal" jobs. It makes finding time to spend with them difficult. Its important that I can find people I enjoy spending time with to work with. I can definitely say its true with these guys! One thing that leads from this is that making plans can be a nightmare! As I work freelance, I mostly never know what I'll be doing from one job to the next. But that's equally as exciting as it is daunting!

5. What's been your favourite experience as an SM?
I have been really fortunate to travel with my job and work in some beautiful places like Pieve in Italy and Paris. But my favourite has to have been when I went to Seoul in South Korea with The Bunker Trilogy last year. Having never been to Asia before, it was such a treat to be able to go there to work on one of my favourite shows. The people, the food – not the spicy food! - and the city were simply amazing and I'd go back in a heartbeat!

6. What advice do you wish you'd been given when starting out as an SM?
The most improtant piece of advice I've ever been given about work was this nugget of knowledge from Mammy Bolger - Don't expect people to coming knocking on your door to offer you work. No one knows how great you are unless you tell them so don't be afraid to.

The Frontier Trilogy opens in Edinburgh at the Fringe this summer. For tickets and more info, click here. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Branding a Show: Making a Poster

Designing the artwork for a show can be an incredibly time consuming process, but it's something I love doing. Whilst most companies outsource their graphic design, and leave it until quite a long way into the process, it's actually one of the first things I do when starting a new project. When I'm coming up with an idea for a show, I'll often find myself sat into the late hours of the night messing around with ideas for how the artwork might look. I often feel embarrassed talking about a concept for a show, or an idea for a play; it's a mixture of worrying if the idea is any good combined with the fear that, even if the idea is great, I might never actually be able to deliver it. For some reason, once I've made a draft poster I feel that I can talk more openly about my idea. As if the (normally dreadful) draft artwork somehow makes the project more real than it was when it existed only as an idea.

I sometimes provide graphic design for other companies, but it's not my favourite pastime. Creating the artwork for a show is, for me, no different to writing it, producing it, or directing it. It's a significant part of the creative process that fills me with confidence.

Sometimes people can worry too much about a poster. The best poster in the world can't save your show if the show is no good. But a terrible poster probably could harm a decent show. I always set out to create something that I want to represent the company, the show and the brand. Something that would make me get up and go to the theatre. 

The following is a mood board of posters that I loved and felt would be a good starting point when I came to creating the artwork for The Frontier Trilogy. There's something similar in all of them, as I suppose there is in all Western posters. I enjoyed the washed-out, gritty texture of DJANGO, the sense of mystery and danger in LONGMIRE, the wanted poster paper effect in 3:10 TO YUMA, and the impression of distance and scale in HELL ON WHEELS

The final artwork for The Frontier Trilogy. Whilst clearly influenced by the examples above, I hope it achieves its own style and impression. 

Jethro Compton's Frontier Trilogy

A challenge I have always faced designing the brand for a trilogy, is that each show has its own voice, and yet the artwork must cater for all three voices in one image. Had I been making a poster for only one of these plays I imagine it would have looked very different. 

Beyond creating the image for the three shows, there is also the brand of the company to take into consideration. Our previous shows (and their posters) have been seen in Edinburgh for some years, and it's important to me that an audience can recognise our artwork in the overcrowded streets and bars across the city. But it's also vital that the image moves forward, changing and improving each year (as hopefully the shows do). Despite the similarity in branding, The Frontier Trilogy is as different from The Bunker Trilogy as The Capone Trilogy was. I trust in our audience and followers that they'll know the shows by the brand, and know that we'll deliver something even bigger and better than than we've done before.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Brief Interview with SAM DONNELLY

Here's a short interview with Sam Donnelly, who has performed with the company since 2012 and is currently rehearsing for The Frontier Trilogy.

Jethro Compton's Frontier Trilogy

What was it that made you realise you wanted to be an actor?
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I realised that I wanted to act professionally but it have been when I was around seventeen and applying to university. I was originally looking to study history when I also applied for drama school.

How did you get into acting professionally?
I had quite a traditional route. I went to drama school and trained for three years, then after graduating got an agent and went from there. All of my family work in the construction trade so it was a bit odd that I chose this path but they are incredibly supportive.

You were also in The Bunker Trilogy, what challenges are there as an actor performing across three different shows each day?
Doing three shows a day can feel like running a triathlon on a daily basis. You get tired, run down, and have very little time for any sort of socialising outside your crew. But you have to embrace that with shows like we make at Jethro Compton Productions. They are detailed, intricate and you have to commit everything. I’m pretty sure I’ve knocked a couple of years off my life span doing these shows but they are worth it.

Which of The Frontier Trilogy plays is your favourite?
Its hard to say which of the Frontier shows is my favourite as they are all great stories. But I do have a slightly more invested interest in Blood red Moon. I have a younger brother myself and can’t imagine finding myself in position so far removed from his that the sort of conflict that happens in the show would drive us apart so its fun and interesting to play out that possibility.

What’s the best show you’ve seen at Edinburgh?
Two shows stick out to me from what I have seen at the Fringe. They are ‘Missing' by Gecko Theatre that I saw in 2013 and 'Young Pretender' by Nabokov which I saw in 2011. Both wonderful stories and strong performances. I'm also a big fan of Camille O’sullivan who works the Cabaret scene each year.

What’s the thing about Edinburgh you most look forward to?
Edinburgh has an energy that I’ve not experienced anywhere else in the world. Everyone is hopeful and optimistic and the festival atmosphere is so contagious. It's exciting.

Click here for more information and tickets for The Frontier Trilogy.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Our First Adventures in Cornish

In autumn 2014 I moved back to Cornwall, where I spent the first eighteen years of my life – a place that is still very much my home. My plan was to lock myself away in the attic and write as much as I could before spring. Most of what I’ve written has been set over a hundred years ago in the American West, but a handful of the stories, plays and ideas have gone back to the routes in my life by the sea.

It was when writing one of these plays, Sirenia, set in a lighthouse off Cornwall, that I started thinking about Cornish culture, heritage and, most specifically, the Cornish language. Before last week I spoke only a handful of Cornish words; ‘Kernow’ meaning ‘Cornwall’, and my old school motto, ‘Fast Yn Mesk Tonnow’ – ‘Firm among the waves’.

Jethro Compton presents Sirenia

Cornish isn’t taught in schools; it’s barely known by more than a few hundred speakers, but it is a language that is heavily embedded in Cornish culture, in our names, and our history. The brutal past that surrounds our former language, Kernowek, is a story well known to all the Celtic nations – a tale of English fear that turned into a vicious, blood soaked quest to crush a people’s independence.

There are a handful of people working in Cornwall who are fighting to bring the language back to life, to ensure Kernow’s past is not buried, that its culture is not forgotten. I approached one of these people, Pol Hodge, at the start of 2015 with the idea of developing Sirenia as a play spoken entirely in Cornish. Pol is a writer, poet, performer and Cornish Bard. His work is ‘living proof, if proof were needed, that Cornish is a living, breathing language.’

This month, with the support of Hall For Cornwall’s development scheme ‘Creation Space’, we spent a week developing the play at Sterts Theatre near Liskeard, in the heart of Bodmin Moor. With Pol’s translation and expert guidance, we worked with two actors, Rob Pomfret and Evie Tyler, who had never spoken a word of Cornish before, to stage the first Kernowek drama, performed to an audience of non-Cornish speakers, using English subtitles.

Rob Pomfret and Evie Tyler

I didn’t know if the project would work, if we would be able to achieve something truly dramatic in a language we were barely able to speak. At the end of the week, we presented the play to a small audience of theatre people from around the Duchy. What started as an ambitious and potentially unachievable task, I’m thrilled to say, turned into something truly magical. To hear ancient words not only spoken, but performed, transcended the story’s limitations in English and created a sense of stepping back through time to witness some enchanted moment.

I don’t know what the future of the project will hold, but I can say for certain that it will have a future. Kernowek is an exquisite language, powerful to speak and magnificent to hear. It is the language of Cornwall and our ancestors, and with the incredible work from people like Pol, it can become part of our vocabulary again. I feel incredibly privileged to have had the chance to learn from Pol, and I can’t wait until we can share what we have created with the people of our proud and ancient nation.

Jethro Compton presents Sirenia

Sirenia will be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer, where it will be spoken in English with songs performed in Kernowek from Pol’s translations. Alongside our main season, we are hoping to present two late night scripted readings of the play in Kernowek.

For more information on the show, visit our website.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Chapel of Emmanuel

Here are some basic images of the first set design plans for The Frontier Trilogy this Edinburgh.

The Chapel, known in the plays as The Chapel of Emmanuel, will house all three of the Frontier plays as well as our Mentorship Programme show, The Night Watch.

Those who have seen our work in Edinburgh over the last couple of years will recognise much of the layout. As with The Bunker, the audience will enter the Chapel and sit within the action of the stories. 

The basic structure was built of the set was built in 2012 when we produced Belt Up's Fringe Season, The Drawing Room Trilogy. Since then we have transformed the timber frame into the walls of The Bunker and the set has journeyed up and down the UK.

Throughout July our team will be working in Edinburgh to transform the build once more, transporting it into the 19th century in the dust of the American West.

For more info on the shows visit www.TheFrontierTrilogy.com

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Edinburgh Fringe Casting Announced

Thrilled to announce our cast for The Frontier Trilogy and Sirenia at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015.

With a couple of familiar faces returning from The Bunker Trilogy, we are also delighted to welcome four news members to our ensemble. 

In The Frontier we have:

Sam has worked with us since 2012 on a number of projects. Fringe goers will know him as our Lancelot and Macbeth in The Bunker. If seeing Sam in all three of The Frontier plays isn't enough, you can also catch him in his one man Star Trek show, What Would Spock Do

Chris is a new addition to the team, all the way from Australia. Alongside rehearsing The Frontier, he's co-driecting a new show Jericho Creek with his company, Fledgling Theatre. It opens 29th July at The Cockpit in London.  

Another new arrival to the company, Jonathan is a recent graduate from The Oxford School of Drama. We're thrilled to have him with us!

Bebe joined the ensemble at the end of 2013 in The Bunker Trilogy and has performed with us in Australia, South Korea and Edinburgh as Morgana, Clytemnestra and Lady M. We're delighted to have her back with us after her run at The National earlier this year. 
Jethro Compton's Frontier Trilogy

In Sirenia we have an entirely new cast. 

Rob was seen last year as Rochester in Jane Eyre at the Rosemary Branch and will be playing Isaac, the lighthouse keeper, in Sirenia

Evie has recently been working with Box Clever Theatre playing Juliet in their adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy. 

Alongside Edinburgh, both Rob and Evie are working with us in Cornwall to develop a Cornish Language production of the play. More info on this to follow.
Jethro Compton presents Sirenia

For dates, times and info on booking tickets, click here.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Early Birds...

Jethro Compton's Frontier Trilogy

For the early birds out there...

If you book a ticket today (Thursday 4th June) or tomorrow (Friday 5th June) for any of The Frontier Trilogy shows we'll reward your eagerness. Despite being a trilogy, there are more than three parts to The Frontier, one of these is a short story prequel that we'll be releasing in the coming weeks titled San Sebastian

Follow us on Twitter @JethroCompton, tweet us saying you've booked a ticket (include your booking reference) and we'll share a link to download the story (for free) in advance of its official release. 

Take a look at www.TheFrontierTrilogy.com tickets page for links to booking. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

THE NIGHT WATCH: part of our inaugural Mentorship Programme

The Fringe has been incredibly kind to us. As a company, we make work we love and each year are fortunate enough to share this work with audiences in Edinburgh. We wanted to share our experiences with a younger company, at the start of their journey, in the hope that they might be able to learn form our experience and avoid our failures.

Whilst attending the Durham Drama Festival as a judge earlier this year, I saw a play that I felt fitted with the work we have been making for the past couple of years. I loved the story, the world created by the writing, the ambition of creating a play set in a distant, unknown land. I'm delighted we're able to help this show progress and offer an opportunity to the company behind it to bring the show to Edinburgh.

The show will be performed on top of The Frontier Trilogy, each day of the Fringe. In addition to the show using our space, our creative team and associates will be working with the team behind The Night Watch to provide support, advice and guidance throughout the process.

Take a look at their gorgeous trailer here.

NightWatchDraft1 from True Glass Film on Vimeo.

For more information on the show, or to book tickets, visit www.NightWatchPlay.com

If you'd like to hear about other aspects of our Mentorship Programme, please follow @JethroCompton  or check back here for updates.

Edinburgh Fringe Season 2015

We're thrilled to announce our 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival season.


After the success of The Bunker Trilogy (2013 & 2014) and The Capone Trilogy (2014), we're creating a brand new immersive triptych for the Fringe this summer.

Continuing our work in the Wild West, that began last year with the première of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance in London, we are thrilled to present three original plays set against the backdrop of the American Frontier.

Jethro Compton's Frontier Trilogy

The three plays, loosely inspired by Biblical legends, take place in a worn down chapel in California between the winter of 1855 and summer of 1866.

Expanding the world of the Frontier, we will be releasing three additional stories that continue and complete some of the characters' journeys. These will be in forms of an online short story, a second short story published alongside the playtexts, and a short film. We'll announce these as soon as they're available.

Read more about the shows via www.TheFrontierTrilogy.com.


In addition to our main season of shows, we are also presenting an intimate, site-specific play inspired by Cornish folklore. We are taking over a space, never before used at the Fringe, high above Edinburgh that will become the setting for our story.

Jethro Compton presents Sirenia

Sirenia tells the story of the a lighthouse keeper, trapped at sea as a storm approaches. The play runs at just over half an hour and will be performed twice daily across the festival.

We are also developing a production spoken entirely in Cornish. More details of this to follow.

For more info on either production, to book tickets, or to see what else we're up to, visit our website www.JethroComptonLtd.co.uk and follow us on Twitter @JethroCompton.

and finally...


Alongside our four shows, we are presenting a new production, as part of our inaugural Mentorship Programme.

Working with Antonia Goddard Productions, a student company from Durham University, we are delighted to present The Night Watch.

You can read about the Programme, and the show, here.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Summer Casting 2015

Following the success of THE BUNKER TRILOGY and THE CAPONE TRILOGY in Edinburgh and THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE in London, we are presenting a new triptych of immersive shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, set inside a chapel in 19th Century California - the Wild West.

Alongside the new trilogy will run a second, immersive show based on Cornish folklore and mythology. This play will run twice daily for a limited capacity (10-15) in a site-specific location. In addition to the dates in Edinburgh, the show will also be undertaking a week’s R&D in Cornwall at the end of June in partnership with Hall for Cornwall where we will be working with a translator and dialect coach to stage a section of the play in Cornish.

We are casting for a total of four roles across the two shows to complete our ensemble.

For a full casting breakdown for the season please follow this link.

To apply, please submit a CV and headshot by no later than 12 noon on Monday 25th May.

Please include, in the email subject, the name of which show (or both) you are applying for.
We will ask applicants to prepare a short scene from one of the plays.