Naughty Corner Productions formed in Edge Hill University in 2013 and are taking not one, but three shows to the Edinburgh Fringe this summer – but not before a preview run at the Unity next week. MADEUP found out more…
Hello, Naughty Corner. Tell us a bit about yourselves.
The company is ran by myself, Mike Dickinson, as artistic director, and we are a theatre (and now film) company who work with professional actors from many different places and specialise in ‘busting boundaries while thoroughly entertaining’.
Where is NCP based?
I live in Ellesmere Port myself, but we are still based in Edge Hill University as their resident theatre company. We hold our auditions for the all shows there and rehearse for all shows there as well.
Edge Hill seems to really be making strides in the quality of its performing arts, so what was your experience there like?
Well they have just achieved Gold, the highest rating in the national Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). So yes, it’s not bad at all, I’m proud to be resident company there.
The lecturers in the performing arts department are all artists themselves, and absolutely top level with their support and teaching. You feel like you’re getting the best, and frankly, you are. It’s a pleasure to do workshops as a company for the students and to give them all chance to audition for our shows.
Was it a big decision to go straight into making your own work from uni or was that where your passion was from the start?
I always knew I wanted to direct, that was always going to happen whether it was my Nan’s back garden or the Unity Theatre. I never thought I’d write shows though, I didn’t think I could, and still not entirely sure If I can. There just shows that I would love to watch and luckily some other people do. I think you should always make the show for yourself or how can you believe in it. Aim to entertain yourself first.
We did our first show The Bastard Queen! as my dissertation in 2013, and then at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014 it won the Sunday Times National Drama Award for best new writing and transferred to London.
Since then we’ve continued to do the fringe every year as well as a north-west tour and an upcoming Unity Theatre mini season. I’ve written four shows: The Bastard Queen!, Not The Horse, Dirty Glitter, and now Church Blitz. We’ve also chosen to produce a show by Callum Forbes who has just graduated with a Masters in making theatre from Edge Hill University. His show is called The British Idles and will also be shown in our Unity Theatre mini-season and this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
Your plays are described as dark comedy – who or what are your influences?
Mainly films if I’m honest. I like making quite filmic plays if that makes sense, in the way that my transitions are always snappy and I like giving the play a soundtrack. I use the soundtrack as a form of narrative and way of telling the story. I’ll never pick a song for no reason. I love Tarantino films, and the way he uses his music. The same with Scorsese. The writing style of Tarantino as well is always something to look up to. You don’t always have to to rush telling a story, sometimes people just talk. I love Wes Anderson’s style and I would watch the Coen Brothers direct a film about the opening of an envelope. I wouldn’t say they are all dark comedy but I do love telling stories with humour, and sometimes it is in a dark way. It’s a great way of getting through real issues and expressing real issues.
You have something of a mini-season coming up at the Unity – why did you want to present your work that way, and is it a big challenge for you?
Doing three different shows in one week was always going to be a challenge. So is taking the three of them to the fringe this year. We have a good relationship with thr Unity Theatre and have done for a few years when Matthew Linley started coming to see our work. Eventually he agreed to give us two nights there last year showing three shows in two days, which completely sold out, and so this year we agreed to make it a week and hopefully every year we’ll be having a sort of ‘week residency’ deal.
We’re looking forward to it very much, it’s a great space and a very important theatre in Liverpool. It’s one of few places that give people a chance.
Can you tell me the story behind Not the Horse and what you have enjoyed about it as it has developed?
Not The Horse is a crime comedy that follows a group of students that owe a gangster £250,000 after losing an illegal horserace. In their attempt to gather the money they plan to steal horse semen from the champion racehorse Zorba, who belongs to none other than the gangster they already owe money to. It doesn’t really go to plan. We’ve had people crying laughing through the show and I can promise you a fun night out. It’s just pure outrageous escapism. The cast are outstanding and you can see the amount of fun they’re having.
Not The Horse has won two awards had endless 4 star reviews, and sold out it’s entire month’s run at Edinburgh Fringe 2016. We’re also in the process of turning it into a feature film which will be sent into film festivals all over the world. It’s insane, really.
And finally a little about the newer works – what are your plans for them?
The new show I’ve written and directed is Church Blitz. It’s about seven strangers trapped in a church convinced that something dangerous is outside after seeing strange flashes in the sky. It’s a game of paranoia – people lie about who they are, people are planting seeds, it’s very funny but very tense as well. It builds and builds into explosive violent conclusions. Our first preview at the Oldham Coliseum last month sold out and had the audience laughing from the start and left them speechless… hopefully in a good way.
Then there’s The British Idles written and directed by Callum Forbes and follows five graduates and how they cope with life after university in an ever changing world. So two very different shows not to be missed.
We will take them to the fringe after the Unity and then they will go on tour around the North West. Church Blitz will also be performed at Bombed out Church later in the year, that will be one to remember.