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There Is A Light That Never Goes Out


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There Is A Light That Never Goes Out


There Is A Light That Never Goes Out: Scenes From The Luddite Rebellion
by Kandinsky Theatre
at The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
July- Aug 2019.

 

Creators: James Yeatman & Lauren Mooney.
Direction: James Yeatman.
Performer/Devisers: Amelda Brown,
Nisa Cole,
David Crellin,
Ruben Johnson,
Daniel Millar,
Katie West.
Co-Design: Naomi Kuyck-Cohen & Joshua Gadsby.
Sound Designer: Pete Malkin.
Stage Manager : Sophie Tetlow.
DSM: Phillip Hussey.
ASM: Sarah Barnes.
Dramaturgy: Lauren Mooney.
Associate Sound Designer: Dan Balfour.
Production Manager: Richard Delight.
Production Photography:Manuel Harlan.

‘Remember, we have given you Both time and Warning and if you pay no attention you Must abide by the Consequence’

The Industrial Revolution was the original Northern Powerhouse, but not everyone bought into the future it promised. In mills and factories across England, angry workers smashed the new machines that threatened their way of life. These workers – the Luddites – were written off as enemies of progress. But their 19th-century complaint, that bosses were using technology as an excuse to beat down the workers, resonates now more strongly than ever.

Using 21st-century artefacts and technology, this vivid and passionate production shows how the Luddites helped inspire the birth of Manchester’s radical political identity – and how their long-misunderstood protests remain massively relevant today.
 
 

When we came together to interrogate how we might stage this story of collective action it was clear that our job was––somehow, to conduct a seance and bring back to life the recorded history of Manchester’s radical past.

It was clear from the research and development process, that Pete Malkin’s sound design would be heavily used to summon up the horrifying chaos of the industrialisation of the north west. So scenography then, had to work on a differing axis. Manchester’s Royal exchange is a wildly intimate space––if not idiosyncratic with it’s ever present architecture.

This story, of here ––[some of the story takes place in the very room that the theatre stands within] , and now ––[a story of the profit over people is achingly relevant in the era of zero-hour contracts and the burgeoning new technological revolution]––and of then ––1812… belongs to the people of Manchester, so it was important for us to instil some sense of an inbuilt acknowledgement , a sense of  democracy in space. A collective gathering to summon the ghosts of yesterday.

The red wedge was our attempt to provide a sense of violence, danger and sheer bombastic intervention––Just like the mechanisation of weaving would have felt to the small groups of artisan weavers throughout Lancashire and beyond. 

a wonderful, thoughtful play, beautifully performed by a fine cast which breathes new life into an important, yet often overlooked part of working-class history
— ★★★★★ Morning Star
This adroit use of technology to illustrate the story of people mainly remembered as machine-wreckers is just one striking feature of this devised show... With sound and lights creating scenery and atmosphere, the visual emphasis is always on the human body ...movement evokes images.
— ★★★★ - The Observer
What stands out about this arresting retelling of a turbulent period in Manchester’s industrial history is the restraint in its staging.

The frenetic action is marshalled unfussily by James Yeatman on and around Naomi Kuyck-Cohen and Joshua Gadsby’s sparse, catwalk-like set. But there’s also admirable restraint in Yeatman and Lauren Mooney’s storytelling, which weaves together real testimonies, historical accounts and fictional flourishes to recreate an emotive period in England’s history without ever hectoring its audience.
— ★★★★ The Stage
 
‘... the design is beautiful as you would expect seeing as its Kuyck-Cohen and Gadsby. There’s this sort of trapezium-shaped catwalk, and it’s all glossy and red like blood or boiled sweets. It’s so exposed but finished – it’s like a slash across the stage.
... this is a devised process ... It means no time for waste, ultimate efficiency BUT that is found through centring people. Both the people making the work in the room and the people that is about. It’s breaking the frame of making theatre, and that’s a direct link to the Luddites breaking the frame knitting machines.’
— Francesca Peschier, Exeunt Magazine
 
The stage is bare except for a raised red slope across the centre, on which everything is an uphill struggle for the weavers and mill workers...once we’re tuned in and let our imaginations run, Naomi Kuyck-Cohen and Joshua Gadsby’s design becomes absorbing.
— Quays Life
...delivered up on a striking stage comprising a large ‘Red Wedge’, a subliminal nod to Soviet era collectivism and a Constructivist symbol of rebellion...

...A timely and relevant message to the architects of our Northern Powerhouse.
— ★★★★ - North West End
 
On and around Naomi Kuyck Cohen and Joshua Gadsby’s striking set, an impressive ensemble weave together the frayed threads of historical record. Ghosts stir in the very walls as the actors playfully re-enact an 1812 riot that took place in the Royal Exchange. Manchester’s radical past is reanimated by the roar of disgruntled crowds...

...This is history as storytelling, filling in the gaps left by first-hand accounts. Kandinsky thrillingly evoke the rebellious hearsay of the time, as tales of the luddites pass from mouth to mouth and actors take turns in the heavy hat and coat of the mythical leader Ned Ludd. The air crackles with defiance.
— The Guardian
 
 
Visual flourishes and flights of fancy occasionally interrupt the cool minimalist staging. The Luddite’s imaginary leader General Ludd stalks the stage like a mysterious menacing figure – to those in power he has become a bogeyman, and here with his distinctive costume and deep distorted voice he could have stepped straight out of a Hollywood slasher movie.

Spotlights that elaborately manoeuvre towards their ‘targets’ like sinister surveillance devices add to the growing sense of unease.

It’s the material of countless gritty costume dramas, but here it all unfolds within a stripped-back contemporary setting. A simple wooden platform slopes upwards from the middle of the stage, covered in a glossy red surface – its vivid colour hinting at danger and bloodshed.

Design-wise, it’s initially more reminiscent of a theatre workshop than a full-blown show. Cast members sit in-waiting to the side of the audience, with the props desk, costume rail and technical support on full display. It feels like a statement of sorts – a full disclosure of the means of production, as well as a sincere invitation to join in this collective journey of discovery.
— Circles & Stalls
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Dinomania


Dinomania


Dinomania
by Kandinsky Theatre
at The New Diorama Theatre,
London
Feb-Mar 2019.

Co-Writers:James Yeatman & Lauren Mooney.
Direction: James Yeatman.
Performer/Devisers: Janet Etuk,
Hamish MacDougall,
Sophie Steer,
Harriet Webb.
Co-Design: Naomi Kuyck-Cohen & Joshua Gadsby.
Music Composition and Performance: Zac Gvirtzman.
Stage Manager on book: Hanne Schulpé.
 Dramaturgy: Al Smith.
Associate Designer: Lizzy Leech.
Consultant Production Manager: Heather Doole.
Scenic Art: Amy Pitt.
Production Photography:The Other Richard.

165 million years ago, an iguanodon is killed in the heart of a rainforest. Time passes, the rainforest becomes the South Downs, and every part of the iguanodon degrades and disappears - except one tooth.

197 years ago, in safe, affluent 1820s Sussex, a country doctor finds the tooth. But where does it fit in the story of an earth created by God just 6,000 years ago?

Dinomania is a story of scientific endeavour, bitter rivalry and terrible lizards.
 


Inspired by a question of what the landed gentry might look like today,
we set out on a journey to create a space as gentile and gaudy at that of the
first victorian geologists and palaeontologists.

Inspired by the tacky homes of the mega-rich and beguiled by the odd calmness
of funeral homes and crematoriums—we were interested in creating a playful space
to hold an epic story of humanity trying to come to terms with their place in a world
millions of years old.

 
Wildly inventive theatre company Kandinsky return with a head-spinningly smart show about Victorian fossil hunters...

...a playful, exhilarating and bloody interesting 85 minutes of skits, sketches and scenes – the imagination of their content matched by the imagination of their staging. Fossils are represented by stiff, starchy scraps of fabric. The remorseless scythe of scientific history by a plastic gun....


....No one else makes theatre quite like this.
— ★★★★★ TimeOut
Consistently smart and inventive...
— ★★★★ The Stage
 
Brilliant comic timing... I have rarely seen such an electric cast
— ★★★★ A Younger Theatre
 
 
Operatic cries of ‘Deus Omnibus’ (‘God in all things’) initiate a melodramatic tone that’s nicely paralleled in Joshua Gadsby and Naomi Kuyck-Cohen’s design – a room encircled by cream damask curtains with the piano upstage centre. The operatic register continues throughout and hilariously colours the absurd arguments about science and religion, and a small plinth at the centre of the stage evokes both a museum setting as well as a lecture hall...

... For Kandinsky, this is yet another nuanced, reflective, and highly creative approach to theatre-making. Original and perceptive, this is storytelling at its best.
— Exeunt Magazine
Kandinsky’s Dinomania takes place in a theatre—the New Diorama—but in Joshua Gadsby and Naomi Kuyck-Cohen’s design it also looks as if it might be taking place in a particularly tasteful funeral parlour complete with a pianist (Zac Gvirtzman) performing throughout.
The effect is of watching a silent movie with words.

The funeral parlour is appropriate for this story about old bones, dust and the early Victorian palaeontologist Gideon Mantell who, years before Darwin published the Origin of the Species, was already stirring up controversy with his discovery of a 165-million-year old tooth on the South Downs and his belief in evolution, or as he called it ‘progression’.

This is such intelligent work from a seriously talented company...You leave the theatre reminded that progress has to be fought for over and over again, and we are mere specks of dust caught in time’s sharp teeth.
— Lyn Gardener for StageDoor
 
 
In the brilliant custard-draped design by Joshua Gadsby and Naomi Kuyck-Cohen, organic matter is represented by clothing – a lovely, homely reminder that these debates are all, really, about us, our sense of comfort and feeling at home in the vast sweep of history. Gideon’s patients (mostly in the throes of childbirth or cholera) are jumpers and trousers stuffed like cushions. The fossils he finds in his spare hours look like the same garments but oddly flattened and freeze-dried – life with the life sucked out of it.
— David Jays, in his 'Performance Monkey' blog.
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A Kettle of Fish


A Kettle of Fish


A Kettle of Fish
by Brad Birch
at The Yard,
London
Sep - Oct 2018.

Direction: Caitlin McLeod.
Design: Ingrid Hu.
Lighting: Joshua Gadsby.
Composition and Sound: Max Pappenhiem.
Video: Tegid Cartwright.
Stage Manager on book: Devika Ramcharan.
ASM:Isobel Eagle-Wilsher.
Production Manager: Seb Cannings.
Production Electrician: Alex Ramesden.
Production Photography: Helen Murray.

She’s on a plane. She’s 30,000 feet in the air. And on the ground, back home, an emergency is unfolding.

Lisa is on her way to a new country for her work. She has spent months learning. She’s read the books, she’s watched the YouTube videos. She knows this business.

But something has happened thousands of feet below, hundreds of miles away. A disaster. A tragedy. Something that prompts her to question what is more important to her; where she has come from? Or where she is going?
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Trap Street


Trap Street


Trap Street
by Kandinsky
at The New Diorama,
London
Feb 2018.

at Schaubühne,
Berlin
Apr 2019.

Direction: James Yeatman.
Co Designers: Joshua Gadsby & Naomi Kuyck-Cohen.
Composition: Zac Gvirtzman.
Devised With The Company: Amelda Brown, 
Danusia Samal, 
Hamish MacDougall.
Stage Manager On Book: Elenor Dear.
Producer: Lauren Mooney.
Photography: Richard Davenport.

It’s 1961 and the concrete’s just been poured for a brand new housing estate. It’s beautiful, not because of the clean lines, indoor toilets and wide windows, but because the idea behind it is beautiful. This is the future, and it’s for everyone. It’s 2018 and the last tower of the estate is about to come down. The dream that saw it built has long since died and now the estate has to follow suit to make way for new buildings, based on new ideas. This is the future, whether you like it or not. 
 

In our second co-design, Naomi and I set out on a journey of creating some sort of monolithic monument to brutalism without succumbing to the sexy and visually overwhelming world of concrete-loving. Carving out a space to tell an intergenerational story of working class desire, hope, dreaming, and failure in relation to where we choose to call home. 

 
This is a timely critique of both the flawed utopianism of the Sixties and the chimera of ‘affordable housing’. Angry yet humane, it’s intended not as a definitive statement about the fraying of urban communities, but as a spur for further debate.
— ★★★★ Evening Standard
 
So intricate and subtle, not to mention enjoyable, that it takes a while before you realise your blood pressure has been rising because the housing system is so utterly fucked. The huge amount of research that has clearly gone into the show is made human, as it looks at the (im)possibility of sustaining a sense of community in close-quarters living.
— ★★★★ - TimeOut
Trap Street slips between these two time-periods seamlessly throughout, slotting in documentary snippets and small skits around the edges, and somehow managing to squeeze the entire history of post-war housing into one show. In the tale of a collapsing tower block, Kandinsky find a potent symbol for the fraying fabric of our society. This compelling, compact show is not overtly political.
— ★★★★ The Stage
 
That’s where Trap Street is most successful and most moving. Dreams mothers have for their children, visions of modernity, hopes for upward mobility and aspirations for community are all explored. It examines not just the act of dreaming, but the difficulty in reconciling our dreams with reality, including their shortcomings and enduring effects. Regardless of whether they are true or realized, dreams are like trap streets, etched into existence. Right up to its Jane Austen allusions, there in the background all along, Trap Street effectively maps the process of British dreaming, and how that process is permanently written into the landscape itself.
— Exeunt Magazine
Designers Joshua Gadsby and Naomi Kuyck-Cohen provide a plain white angular space for the modernist home that Andrea ultimately chooses to fight for, placed in front of an ironic backcloth showing a palatial mansion in rolling hills. Does it just pick up on the reference to the Pemberley House of Austen’s Pride And Prejudice or is it saying that good housing has always been the preserve of those that can afford it.

It makes for a smart and witty backdrop to a wonderfully subtle, un-preachy but inherently political play that ultimately tells us we have the housing crisis we have brought down on our own heads. And it’s time we did something about it.
— British Theatre Guide
 
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Alligators


Alligators


Alligators
by Andrew Keatley
at Hampstead Theatre,
London
Jul 2016.

Sept 2017.

 Direction: Simon Evans.
Design: Polly Sullivan.
Lighting: Joshua Gadsby.
Sound and Composition: Ed Lewis.
Photography: Robert Day.

Secondary schoolteacher Daniel Turner has been accused of the historical sexual abuse of a student. In Andrew Keatley’s  thriller, audiences are  shown the impact of criminal allegations on a small family. But the question remains...did he do it? 
 
 


In Polly Sullivan's traverse staged living room - cum - jury stand the hyper realism guides and misleads the audience.

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Returning To Haifa


Returning To Haifa


Returning to Haifa
by Ismail Khalidi
and Naomi Wallace

at Finborough,
London
Feb 2017.

Direction: Caitlin McLeod.
Design: Rosie Elnile.
Light: Joshua Gadsby.
Sound: David Gregory.
Movement Direction: Lanre Malaolu.
Producer: Lynne McConway.
Production Manager: Ben Karakashian.
Photography: Scott Rylander.

You haven’t asked, but yes, you both may stay in our house for the time being. And use our things. I figure it’ll take a war to settle it all.
 
In 1948, Palestinian couple Said and Safiyya fled their home during the Nakba.Now, in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, the borders are open for the first time in twenty years,and the couple dare to return back to their home in Haifa. They are prepared – of course – to find someone else living where they once did.Yet nothing could prepare Said and Safyya for the encounter they both desire and dread: the son they had to leave behind,and what he has now become…
 
 

Amongst Rosie Elnile’s open spacial proposition light provides a democratic and un-assuming space for the journey to unfold.  

★★★★ The Guardian
★★★★ WhatsOnStage
★★★★ The Upcoming

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dreamplay


dreamplay


dreamplay
by Sarah Bedi and The Company,
after Strindberg
Baz Productions
at The Vaults,
London
Sept 2016.


 Direction: Sarah Bedi.
Dramturgy: Emma Luffingham.
Scenographers: Naomi Kuyck-Cohen & Joshua Gadsby.
Music: Laura Moody.
Choreography: Ffion Cox-Davies.
Performer / Devisers: Colin Hurley,
Michelle Luther,
Laura Moody,
Jade Ogugua.
 Stage Manager: Libby Spencer.
Producer: Georgina Bednar.
Associate Producers: Liz Counsell,
Catherine Baliey.
Production Electricians: Dom Cook,
Jack Berry,
 Phil Burke,
Lara Davison,
&Robbie Butler.
Design Assistants: Alice Cousins,
Jessica Skyes,
 Sasha Tanvi Marni,
 Alex Purvis,
Rebecca Hallen.
Costume Supervisors: Rosemary Maltezos,
Lia Webber.
Construction: Felix Gillies-Creasey,
Grace Craven,
Harley Kuyck-Cohen,
Sebastian Cannings.
Photography: Cesare De Giglio.

Strindberg's epic play 'A Dream Play' is reimagined in a new contemporary devised production. I co-designed this production with
Naomi Kuyck-Cohen, in an attempt to explore what happens when you remove the boundaries in design roles. 

We enjoyed a long process of interrogation with director Sarah Bedi before the production was taken into rehearsals. It was imperative for us that the visual design of Dreamplay didn't distract too far from the extremely vibrant talents of the playful and energetic cast.
Working to embrace the cavernous, characterful and sometimes absurd Vaults we set about a language of directness and simplicity.

A special thanks to: Sparks, Hampstead Theatre & Arcola Theatre. 

Read// About The Process of making dreamplay.   

See// Visual Documentation from the process of making dreamplay.

Naomi Kuyck-Cohen and Joshua Gadsby’s set is phenomenal, almost art rather than a set, and they use The Vaults to it’s full potential. The diversity of the set and the way it was tailored to each scene was the very foundation of the show.
— West End Wilma
dreamplay’s sequence of disjointed scenarios is abstruse yet provocatively familiar, at times mischievously amusing, at others deeply discomforting.
— The Stage
This reimagining feels like a presentation of the original fever dream as might have been experienced by Strindberg himself. Here the audience becomes Agnes as they descend into the depths of The Vaults.
— The Upcoming
Crammed with memorable snippets, this ambitious adaptation is free enough to pin down the theme precisely. And if it’s deep meaningful questions you like, these are packed in with forceful proficiency.
— Once A Week Theatre
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Still Ill


Still Ill


Still Ill
by Kandinsky Theatre
at The New Diorama,
London
Nov 2016.

Jan 2018.

Direction: James Yeatman.
Lighting : Joshua Gadsby.
Video : Harry Yeatman.
Composition: Zac Gvi.
Deviser/Performers: Sophie Steer,
Hamish MacDougall,
Harriet Webb.
Stage Manager On Book: Maia Alvarez Stratford.
Producer: Lauren Mooney.
Photography: David Monteith - Hodge.

As common on neurology wards as MS, Functional Neurological Disorder looks and feels like a problem with the workings of the brain. Sufferers can experience tremors, seizures, blindness, paralysis – all with no physical cause.

With three actors and live music, Still Ill looks at the search for meaning that follows a difficult diagnosis – and how it feels to be told there’s nothing physically wrong with you when your brain is telling you you’re sick.
 


Playful, funny, eloquent and emotionally devastating. It's the closest I've ever got to my pipe dream
of work that plays with form and theatricality and still allows room
for heart-clenching emotional honesty.

 

An intricately-layered, exquisitely detailed piece from rising stars Kandinsky
— ★★★★ - TimeOut
Fascinating, layered, intelligent
— ★★★★ The Stage
A sophisticated, intriguing and enlightening production
— ★★★★ London Theatre1
Brilliantly crafted, exacting, and endlessly inventive, Still Ill is a complex and meticulous journey into the world of undiagnosis
— Exeunt Magazine
Breathtaking stuff… an enormously affecting bit of theatre
— ★★★★★ London City Nights
Still Ill doesn’t attempt explanations—there are none—but shows just what it’s like.....Kandinsky show how it feels. Still Ill demands our tolerance and understanding.
— British Theatre Guide