A Very Odd Birthday Party Program
Audio Description Production Notes
A Note From the Director
A bit more about Hawkseed Theatre...
Well this has been a long time in the making hasn't it! Hannah and I first decided to work together at the start of 2020 (yes, before the world went upside down. We know, not ideal timing!). Cramped waiting for the toilets in a pub in Manchester we decided ok, we'll try this! We had absolutely no idea what 'this' would entail. What we did know was that we loved theatre, wanted to make the work we couldn't see, and...well if I'm honest, that was about it at that stage. Fast forward 2 years and we're onto our second project generously funded by Arts Council England, among other fantastic organisations. We're proudly developing, supporting, and celebrating new writing for the stage. We aim to constantly raise the voices of those under or misrepresented on stage. And we are working really hard to create theatre with creative access at its heart. We are young. (Well - Hawkseed is young. It depends who you ask whether we're young or not!). We are learning a lot as we go and of course we won't always get it right. But here we are, giving it a really bloody good try.
We're on an incredible and absolutely JOYFUL journey working with communities around England including artists at the beginning of their career, people aged 65 and over willing to share their wonderful brains and humour with us, and Irish community groups. Not only that, but we've been privileged to work with absolute gems at every step of this journey, from the first read, to the R&D, to this show. If you need any help finding lovely artists, we've got plenty of suggestions! Read on to find out more about the creative team on this production...
If you're reading this, I can only presume you bought a ticket to see A Very Odd Birthday Party by the very, very clever Hannah Donelon (she'll kill me when she reads that). So, if my Sherlock skills are correct - thank you!!!
This play is like a treasure chest of memories and lived experiences of what it means to be a 1st and 2nd generation immigrant in England; what it means to have a funny looking name, or a different upbringing; what it means to feel a little out of place in every place you visit. We'll also dance along that fine line between being cared for and becoming the carer as we witness all the characters balancing their needs, and the needs of those they love.
Working on new writing is always an incredibly exciting challenge. Supporting a text come to life that has never been shared before is a process that takes time, and care, and asks a lot of vulnerability from a lot of people. I'm so grateful to our incredible creative team for supporting Hawkseed's first full scale production of new writing. New plays mean new voices, new stories, and new ways to see the world we live in. Here's to future full of new ideas.
As part of this production, we have worked with the incredible Chloë Clarke to embed audio description into the script. This has been an incredible learning curve for us and a way of working that I can't wait to take into future script developments. This, alongside our workshops, and Pay What You Decide tickets reflects our real ambition to create work that breaks down the typical barriers that stop people accessing great theatre. I hope you enjoy your night at the theatre.
Role: Young Care Worker
Jessica's acting credits include 'Zara' as guest lead in Sky's 'Wolfe', Sonal/Joy in 'An Adventure' and other notable projects that have yet to come out in 2023. She trained at The National Youth Theatre of Great Britain back in 2018 as well as, most recently, The Actor's Training Company. She is really looking forward to being part of A Very Odd Birthday Party and being part of such a fun, heartfelt and beautiful story!
Timothy studied Actor Musicianship at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. His professional career started in 2017 and since has had the privilege to perform around the UK and Europe with ‘A Midsummer night's dream’, 'Cinderella' 'Peter Rabbit's Garden Adventure', 'Pygmalion’, ‘This is Elvis’, ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘Dirty Dancing’ to name a few. Screen credits include 'Memories of Mommy and Daddy' ‘Home for aged time travellers’, ‘Traces’, 'The pitch' and 'Mind the Gap'. Tim is thrilled to be working with Hawkseed and hopes you enjoy the show!
Patrick was born in Edinburgh but grew up in Manchester, and has lived in different parts of the city and its surrounding areas.
He has worked in theatre - often involving music, his first training - all over the country but mostly in the North, and has toured from Canada to Singapore.
Teresa Jennings will tour Ireland Spring 2023 playing 85 year old Faye in “Seven Letters” by Rian Flately.
Other roles include Joan of Arc, Ariel (The Tempest), Vesta Tilley (one woman show). Teresa is also a writer and contributor to The Soho Theatre Comedy Project and sings with various bands.
Hannah is an actor, writer, and folk singer from Manchester. She studied at UCL and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Recent acting credits include: Bridgerton (Netflix), Gentleman Jack (HBO/BBC), In Camera (BBC/BFI). She is also an award-winning Sean-nós singer who has supported the likes of Mike McGoldrick and Eleanor McEvoy and performed at venues such as Band on the Wall, The Green Note, and The Royal Exchange. In partnership with The British Council, she was selected to become a fellow with FolkConnect: this sees her musically collaborate with Phad artists in India. Through her music and writing, Hannah strives to interrogate the complexities of identity, home, and memory. For more, see: www.instagram.com/hannahmariedonelon.music
The Creative Team
Director Anna Berentzen
Writer Hannah Donelon
Audio Description Consultant Chloë Clarke
Set & Costume Designer Ellie Light
Sound Designer Charlotte Barber
Lighting Designer Charly Dunford
Stage Manager Sophie Rushworth
Assistant Producers Sara Abanur & Lauren Cresswell
Musical Supervisor Emma Sweeney
Photographer, Videographer, & Marketing Support Aaron Howell
Production Assistant Nick Barber
Our really wonderful partners
With a huge and special thanks to:
Arts Council England; Tricia Coleman and David Agnew who basically taught us how to be a theatre company; The Met and EVERY single member of staff who has gone above and beyond helping get our work off the ground; Sarah Mangan and all who supported us through the Consulate General of Ireland, Manchester and the Irish Embassy; Emma Smith (and her incredible brain!) and our wonderful partner the Liverpool Irish Festival; The wonderful and generous Jacquie Davies at The Liverpool Everyman and all the staff there who have supported us; Rob and Mark at Liverpool Scenic; the Irish Traditional Music Archive for providing us with the recording of Donnacha Ó Dulaing. The recording is taken from The Brian Lawler Collection courtesy of the Irish Traditional Music Archive. Liv Dowd, Jay Mailer, Payal Mistry, Kieran Cunningham, Susan Twist, Keith Dunphy, Penny Layden, Daina Karai, Adam Woolley, and Christopher Brown for bringing this play to life and contributing to the development of the play through its R&Ds; Andy Smith, Paul Hine and all the gang at Made by Mortals; Andy Barry and The Royal Exchange Elders Company; Carys Williams; Nicola Schofield; Nick Barber; Tom Saunders; Kris Overand and Davinia Jokhi at HOMEmcr; Maria Maloney at Movema; Colin and Florrie Wilby at The Production Exchange - A Very Odd Birthday Party was initially developed thanks to funding and support from The Production Exchange; Arupa Lahiry and Dhruba Basu at FolkLog, Amardeep Singh Dhillon, and Jessica Kaur for all their help and advice on the music in the show; to all the community groups that participated in the ROOT R&D of the script: working class Irish & Indian diaspora communities, healthcare professionals, Dementia Friends, and Mothers (your input was invaluable in shaping the script and informing authenticity); to Suzanne Bell at The Royal Exchange for really detailed and helpful feedback on the first draft of the script; Matt Hassall for training us, empowering us, and telling us to work together (and for bobbitybobob); And, finally, a huge thank you to all our friends and family because we really wouldn't have been able to do this without your emotional and physical support (letting us raid your wardrobes for costumes, going to pick up stage weights, cooking us lunch when we were weary...We're incredibly lucky to have this network and we've often wondered how great art could be made without it).