STEP UP Creative ensemble: Goldfish rehearsals by Matthew Heseltine

My name is Matthew Heseltine but most people call me Matt. I am an Actor, Performer, and Artistic Director within my own theatre company, Impulse Collective.

Matthew Heseltine I was very happy at being given the opportunity to work with and alongside New Perspectives Theatre Company in October 2011 as a part of the STEP UP Creatives ensemble. Many months in, I have not only developed as a performer, but have met and created some very exciting work with some of the best practitioners from the East Midlands.

Our latest session, on 3rd June 2012 was more fragmented than usual, but within a rehearsal process this always means that some in depth work is happening. Shortly after arriving, I went into the rehearsal room to have a good look at The Unsaid with Ollie and Tilly. We worked through the scene little by little to find the true intentions of each character, (James for me and Geoff for Ollie). We had fun finding the opposing rhythms between us, and the contrasting elements in character. We looked at the script in great detail, and discussed how we can move forward effectively. You’ll be surprised how fast an hour and a half can go when you are so focussed.

Later in the day, after a short lunch, myself, Lesley, Subika and of course Tilly, the director of Goldfish, felt it necessary to look in great detail at the basic story of False Witness. It is certainly one of the scripts that I have had some trouble getting my head around. We looked at the different ways in which we can clearly convey to an audience the idea of rapidly switching ages and seeing someone’s memory in performance. It was crucial that we establish the way in which Lesley’s character Rachel can easily choose to show a memory to an audience and choose to become a part of it, then leave it again. We used one of the most basic yet important of theatrical conventions, levels/space to help us as an ensemble realise the full potential of the scene.

The final part of the day was spent looking at If I am that lucky and the character simply called The Girl, who appears in the scene with Kevin Carter. It was helpful to focus mainly on the feelings of The Girl today, and how we could use improvisation with the script to help Selina, who is playing the part, find the natural points at which The Girl shows that she is clearly in control of the situation. We still have a huge amount of work to do on the scene but it is undeniable that today was a huge step in the right direction.

I don’t, and won’t give too much away. Come and see the fantastic Goldfish to see what the excitement is all about. Looking forward to an incredible two weeks of devising and rehearsing before our first performances.

Goldfish is a brand new piece of theatre created by the STEP UP Creatives Ensemble from a selection of the winning scripts from the DREAM UP Writing Competition.

The piece explores the blurred and murky realm of memory through a series of stories – diving deep into our ability to remember and examining the powerful part played by others as memories resurface over time.

Guildhall Theatre, Derby Thursday 21 June 7.30pm

Lakeside Arts Centre Friday 22 June 7.30pm

Glentworth Village Hall, Lincolnshire 23 June 7.30pm

Thomas Cranmer Centre, Nottinghamshire 24 June 7.30pm

For more information and to book tickets visit


STEP UP Creatives ensemble: Goldfish rehearsals by Lesley Emery

Saturday 26th May. Sun shining, top down on the mini and Mumford and Sons playing loud: the perfect start to another exciting day working on Goldfish. After a discussion with Tilly (the director of Goldfish), Tallie and Beth, the two designers for the show, had posted images online to inspire the staging so we started by looking at these.

Ink stains  Blurred train window

Water, blurry images, staining all combined to help us see the many faceted world of the piece. We then started playing with materials and looking at how these could work for particular characters and situations. What could we use to wrap tear or obscure? Melissa stepping under and over sheets of plastic to enter Sue and Johnny’s murky world and Geoff ripping a hole to expose James’ ”real “ life. As an actor you wouldn’t normally be exposed to this process but for me it was a great tool for looking at my characters from a feeling rather than a thinking perspective.

Lunch over we started the thinking work.  Ollie, Jenny and I started to turn the blurry world of You, me and the rest of them into concrete by building up the sights, sounds and smells of Sue and Johnny’s world: the rubbish outside the door, the barking dog, the children playing in the distance. Was there an ulterior motive for Johnny to be with Sue or did they just fall in love?

Becci and I then looked at Rachel in False Witness. She tries so hard to be good as a child but never succeeds in her mother’s eyes. Religion is obviously a key part of their family life but does that lead to an excuse for cruelty on her mother’s part?  Are Ella’s fat fingers mocked or just the cute symbol of a toddler?

As always the time had flown and we had to finish when it was just getting really interesting. Back into the mini, mind racing with homework, body buzzing with excitement. Can’t wait to do it all again on Sunday. Talented people, brilliant writing, so lucky to be part of it all. Goldfish is going to be an amazing show.

Goldfish is a brand new piece of theatre created by the STEP UP Creatives Ensemble from a selection of the winning scripts from the DREAM UP Writing Competition.

The piece explores the blurred and murky realm of memory through a series of stories – diving deep into our ability to remember and examining the powerful part played by others as memories resurface over time.

Guildhall Theatre, Derby Thursday 21 June 7.30pm

Lakeside Arts Centre Friday 22 June 7.30pm

Glentworth Village Hall, Lincolnshire 23 June 7.30pm

Thomas Cranmer Centre, Nottinghamshire 24 June 7.30pm

For more information and to book tickets visit the New Perspectives website

STEP UP Creatives ensemble: Goldfish rehearsals by Subika Anwar

Goldfish rehearsal – Sunday 13th May (Click here to read a blog about the previous rehearsal)

Sunday’s session started with a read through of the third draft of the script, an amalgamation of the submitted DREAM UP entries put together by our Dramaturg Gareth.

After the reading, the group discussed their thoughts and liked an idea created by Gareth and writer Hugh Dichmont,  based on the concept of a map in relation to our thoughts on memory.

We pack our plans away, and like that map that lives in the well beneath the driver’s seat with a furry purple fruit pastel and four biros, our plans become dog-eared, crumpled, worn; every time we fold it up and put it to the side it gets new lines, new folds.’

We were then given the pleasure of a presentation by our designers Tallie and Beth. Mandy, New Perspectives full time Production Manager also joined us to gain insight on our progress, and talk about her role as Production Manager on the show and tour. The designers had explored ways to link the title of the show: Goldfish with the concept of memory as water, and with how the set will reflect the concepts at the heart of the show. They talked about the idea of ‘goldfishing’ as a concept:

– fishing for gold nuggets of valuable memories from a raft or

– jumping from crate to crate to keep from drowning or

– using a map to navigate those lost thoughts or

– actually drowning from painful memories or

– toe dipping/being pushed into the murky waters of a bleak past or

– wringing out clothes as a way to forget our past and start a new future or

– opening a door to new memories

A map of the concepts in Goldfish, by designers Bethany Wells and Natalie Ellis

We are all a part of this conceptual world and accessing it never seems to leave these characters. We discovered that the element of water plays a big part in our devised piece from a design aspect.

Whilst the designers continued to discuss their ideas with Mandy, Jenny (Stage Manager and Assistant Production Manager for the ensemble) and Tilly; the rest of us decided to work on ways to stage Monika Johnson’s script If I am That Lucky. By asking many questions about Kevin Carter, we decided on a few emotions he may be experiencing during this conversation with The Girl. The different Kevins we discovered included:

– Idealistic

– Angsty

– Angry

– Arrogant

– Haunted

– Caring

The actors each stuck to one emotion and chose lines to perform thinking about that particular emotion. Upon performing this back to the rest of the ensemble, we understood that it was important to maintain the claustrophobia Kevin may be feeling during some moments in the scene as the actors had opened up the space when delivering lines. This way it creates dramatic tension and illustrates the characters power and control or lack of it in Kevin’s case. Something we will continue to work on.

Finally the day ended with a Sound workshop – we were asked to bring various instruments to the session to explore the musical talent within the group and possibly create original pieces of music for specific scenes.

Upon having a ‘play’ Tilly decided to call out moments which take place in the script and asked us to try and be mindful of the soundscape being improvised  according to what is going on in that moment.

Check out some of the fun we had:

Eli from Achievable and her sense of time being drifty:

Geoff and James from The Unsaid on the Train

Watching Ella touching things in False Witness

Rachel from False Witness killing a tadpole

Kevin from If I am that lucky after The Girl leaves his car

STEP UP Creatives Ensemble: Goldfish rehearsals by Selina Scott-Bennin (Actor)

After spending a substantially unhealthy amount of time hunting for opportunities, I was extremely excited to be accepted onto this year’s STEP UP Creative Ensemble. It has genuinely been a refreshing process to have freedom of thought and access to so much knowledge in one room….or two. Each meeting presents the group with a dream playground for all types of theatre maker.

Selina Scott-Bennin

Approaching the scheme as an actor /deviser and get stuck in type; I have not been disappointed. Cramming a lot into an 8hr session is something I have become blissfully accustomed to. Sunday 6th saw us thoroughly discuss and bring the 2nd draft of our upcoming performance ‘Goldfish’ to its feet. We are working with the winning and running up scripts from the New Perspectives DREAM UP scriptwriting competition, which respond to the question “How can I remember things I never knew?”,  taken from The Honey Man.

Although we labelled it so, it was not just a read through- the brilliant casting truly came to light. It works, hallelujah it works- not that I had little faith of course! I don’t really want to give too much insight into what we are doing, but enough to wet your palette.

Topics of discussion started with: What are the revelatory and confessional aspects that we can highlight and the difference between memory and knowledge?

Memory diagram

know-ledge (From the dictionary of Selina)


Noun: Intelligence, Information & skills attained through one’s experience or education;

That which is perceived, discovered, or learned in a particular field. A sum of facts; understanding and an array of awareness.

When we initially read the chosen scripts they all took on unique stand-alone ownership. I couldn’t imagine them playing straight through as they do now. Gareth our dramaturg has masterfully blurred the writer’s scenes so that they merge into a metaphysical delight. I don’t want to sound like I am reviewing our work so far, but the genuine excitement of getting to mix a broad range of stylistic approaches, with naturalism and potentially forum theatre, I feel is a satisfactory defence.

Forum Theatre:  Forum theatre involves the enactment of a scene that perhaps presents a problematic situation that is written/devised to stimulate the intervention of the spectators to either find a solution or propose an alternate action to the given circumstance by taking the place of the protagonist.

We played around with members of the ensemble in turn taking on the character of Kevin Carter in Monika Johnson’s script  If I am That Lucky’: Creating an echo of a part in various ways. Several times with a continuous flow and at times where the Girl (the other character in the scene) controls the intervention.

Following our afternoon full read through we clarified individual concerns, which was lovely because it gave us a chance to visualise moments in the scripts physically and gain fresh ideas of what we might later do in future meets.  Tallie and Beth  (the ensemble’s two designers) had worked separately for some of the session and presented back to us in mind-maps and sketches around integral aesthetics. Naturally with a small tour of various sized venues, there is the huge challenge for our designers. Flashbacks of Art Attack, SMart and How2 slapped me in the face all at once- in all honesty I think there was a side serving of Pinky and the Brain, because I was truly impressed with their ideas for the opening sequence and scenographic possibilities. Melissa arriving at Sue’s door in Jane Upton’s script You, me and the rest of them,  and the transition into the blurry, dream like world of memory… The idea of knowing exactly where you are, with Geoff from Hugh Upton’s script The Unsaid as a tour guide; and whether or not we let our audience see that other worldliness? We talked about a sense of claustrophobia that had emerged, which we could adapt to form anticipation, as if walking on thin ice over murky water.

The latter of the session also formed a review of characters to highlight individual thoughts, motivations and feelings as well as past memories and background stories. It was really helpful I felt, because we seemed to keep discovering lines in the text and fresh evidence that helped to bring it together as one without taking away from any writer’s individual story.

Our next mission- to watch ‘The Bang Bang Club,’ ‘Adjustment Bureau’ and ‘Fish Tank’ …not just for fun- but because we feel they are related to the texts and may inspire us.

A few links in case you want to read up on Kevin Carter, a South African freeance photographer; winner of the 1994 Pulizer prize, for a picture of a starving Sudanese girl who collapsed on her way to a feeding centre while a vulture waited nearby readily to attack. A central character of ‘If I am that lucky’, which I am mentioning quite a lot for the sheer fact that we spent a lot of this session working on this text in particular. I can’t recall working with a text that feels so semantic and at times uncomfortable- maybe there is a sense of unease due to the vast background history of his effect on apartheid and his subsequent suicide. This is a part of the performance where we are all set to be heavily involved at one time and I must say I am VERY EXCITED and therefore grateful for the boon of challenge. The writer has in our eyes created the Girl as a last person who spoke to him. I really can’t wait to work on all of the scenes we have on offer. Being a part of this ensemble is my current focal point in my development as an actor- This experience I know is one I’m going to remember at least until the age of 90….unless my memory fails me like a hash tag, hash tag #GOLDFISH. Until next time….

Follow Selina on twitter: @S_is_for_Selina – or the whole STEP UP Creatives training ensemble in one handy list.