What we’re looking forward to: Teechers

Presented by Blackeyed Theatre in association with South Hill Park

“there is only one fitting description of Teechers…winner” ~ Daily Telegraph

Teechers Brochure Image 2 (Dec 12) 640

Fast-moving, inventive and highly entertaining, Teechers is John Godber’s brilliant take on life at a modern comprehensive. Through their hilarious end-of-term play, three Year 11s exuberantly sketch the new drama teacher’s progress through two terms of recalcitrant classes, cynical colleagues and obstructive caretakers. Disillusioned, he departs for the safe waters of a private school, and leaves behind his students, whose youthful irreverence gives way to despair.

Brought to the stage by highly acclaimed Blackeyed Theatre with high energy, break-neck comedy and breathtaking ensemble performances, Teechers is a modern classic with something vital to say about education for the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.


The Stage

“The effusive cast of three execute Adrian McDougall’s direction with timed precision and hilarious interpretation. Donna Preston’s facial variations are wonderfully expressive from her portrayal of head teacher Mrs Parry to the sniggering student Simon Patterson, while Nicole Black injects excellent physicality into each of her characters from PE teacher Miss Prime to school bully Oggy Moxon and deputy head Mr Basford. Jacob Addley is the lynchpin of the piece as new drama teacher Jeff Nixon and all three actors switch effortlessly into Scott Jenkins’ brilliantly choreographed interludes.”

The Good Review  ★★★★

“All three actors project the kind of presence that says they’re completely comfortable on stage, with bags of energy, ingenuity and impressive physicality. Entertaining song-and-dance set pieces punctuate the evening, including a memorable Gangnam style routine and a hilarious take on Glee’s Don’t Stop Believing.Teechers Press photo 4 640

On the night I attended, most of the audience seemed to be school pupils of around the same age as those depicted on stage. From what I saw, they absolutely loved it, particularly the bit just after the interval when they, and some of their teachers, were urged by the cast to get up and dance. Amidst all the fun, and frenetic energy, this play carries serious messages about education and art, and how they can give hope and direction to otherwise listless lives.”

Bracknell Times

“A mass of energy is needed to keep this fast-paced show going and the three stars did not fail to disappoint, with stellar and flawless performances from Jacob Addley, Nicole Black and Donna Preston… I wouldn’t want to see another production because I doubt any three actors could match the performance of Addley, Black and Preston.”

Tempted? Tickets can be purchased online here or via the Box Office on 01432 340555


Dashing through the Jungle: Diary of a (rogue) Director

Written by: Grant Brisland, Learning, Participation & Programming Manager

We’re coming very close to the production weeks now where the young people will start their intensive rehearsals, the set will be built and the final alterations to the costumes are done. The process in all takes about a year, once we have been able to agree a title, and the time has flown by. This is my third year in the producing seat for our Junior Youth Theatre production and the process is different every time. This year is particularly special and there haven’t been too many bumpy rides so far (famous last words?!).

Jungle Book rehearsals

Jungle Book rehearsals

I don’t often attend many rehearsals – I tend to dip in and out and mainly ensure that everyone is happy with how things are going. However, this year, whilst David was celebrating a good friend’s marriage, I was not only in the producing seat but the directing one too. For a director to hand over the reign, even for a day, is a difficult one. This is ultimately David’s (metaphorical) baby (his actual one is due during the run!) and it is my responsibility to ensure that this rehearsal is as productive as the previous weeks. After all, the young people only have 48 hours in the rehearsal room before we start the production week and there is a lot to learn in a very short space of time.

So, at 7am on Saturday 23 March when my alarm went off I jumped out of bed and eagerly awaited what the day had in store. Now, for anyone who knows me will know that this level of excitement and anticipation is not my regular response to having to get up early (yes, getting up at 7am is early!). However, I knew that I was going to enjoy getting to know our Youth Theatre members better as well as seeing their talents on display. At the end of an exhausting day with a wine in hand and some time for reflection it was clear that we have another great production on our hands. The commitment, passion, enthusiasm and drive shown to me from the young people throughout the whole day was extraordinary. This has only been mirrored by David and the rest of the production and creative team who are working tirelessly to ensure that The Jungle Book is a huge success.

Jungle Attack

Jungle Attack

The production and design team have been in situ (in a freezing cold warehouse at Rotherwas) for just over a week and the early results are very exciting. Working with Carl Davies, a friendship I forged on another Courtyard Youth Theatre production for Alice in Wonderland in 2005, has been a real pleasure. Originally from Herefordshire but now living in Sheffield, Carl is creating what looks to be our most colourful set to date and although this isn’t a blog entry to thank people I should also credit Richard, Adam, Jules and Les for their assistance in the first week too. Indeed, I even got my own hands dirty on Friday!

I also owe a huge thank you to our Assistant Director, Jack Spreckley, for his help throughout the rehearsal day on Saturday. Having come up through our Youth Theatre and taken on main roles in previous productions, it was great to see him in action with the young people. He has been a great asset to David throughout the whole production and I was very grateful for his support on the day. We’ll miss him later in the year when he goes to Camp America but know that we have trained him in good stead to carry The Courtyard flag on US grounds.

I just hope David likes the alterations I have made to his direction… Mwhahahahahaaaaa

Jens Lens – The Open Mic Comeback

Last night I had the pleasure of acting as photographer and general aide for the re launch of The Courtyard’s Open Mic night.

The Open Mic night has been an event The Courtyard have persevered with for approximately 4 or 5 years now, and one that has seen many a talented Herefordian showcase some hidden and undiscovered music, verse and comedy.  It has been my pleasure to work with Nicky Jaques of The Music Pool in revamping the Open Mic night and bringing local music in through The Courtyard’s doors.

Nicky plays with her brother Tom in a band called KeyGreen, (check them out on Facebook) and the two did a great job of producing an atmospheric evening which struck the right balance between chilled and lively.  The sound and technical equipment was handled efficiently, and each act was introduced personally.  KeyGreen were the first to break the musical ice, and played us three songs that blended vocal harmonies with melodic guitar and wind/brass instrumentation.

KeyGreen (Nicky & Tom Jaques) hosting Open Mic

KeyGreen (Nicky & Tom Jaques) hosting Open Mic

The night saw a total of 10 performers over the course of 2 hours, who brought a diverse and varied range of performances along with them.  The Cafe Bar was full of attentive listeners who soaked in folk melodies from Sally Stamford, some classics on harmonica from Robin Shaw and some brilliant covers from Chris Rooney.  Johnny got the audience going with his powerful vocal chords and Tom Dillon delighted with his own material.  Bym and his Steel pan band of Ben and Jo bought a slice of Tropicana with them as they beat out covers ranging from Jason Mraz to Louis Armstrong!  Phil Rochard took to the stage and played some amazingly beautiful guitar pieces using harmonics, some seriously skilled finger picking (I don’t know how he does it!!) and percussion.

Bym, Jo & Ben on the Steel Pans

Bym, Jo & Ben on the Steel Pans

It was a great evening that really established Hereford, and The Courtyard as a growing hub for local music and performance.  All this engulfed within the appetising aroma of the kitchen’s meal deal of Bangers ‘n’ Mash, which more than a few couldn’t resist.

Tom Dillon plays to a full bar

Tom Dillon plays to a full bar

Do make sure you come down to the next evening, either as a prospective artist or as a punter.  The next Open Mic LIVE SESSIONS will be held on Tuesday 5 March at 8pm.  The same meal deal of Bangers ‘n’ Mash plus a half pint of draught for £5 applies. (Seriously, who can resist that bargain?!)

To be the first to hear about The Courtyard’s Open Mic news, The Music Pool and Nicky’s LIVEWIRE project,  to ask questions about the night or pre-book a slot please like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CourtyardOpenMic, call 01432 278118 or email openmic@courtyard.org.uk.

I look forward to seeing you next month!

Free pint for folkies with your ticket to Sproatly Smith, Thursday 3rd January

Sproatly Smith are a seven piece psych folk band from Herefordshire. Their fourth album The Minstrel’s Grave on Folk Police Recordings has been winning critical acclaim since it’s release last year, and has been regularly played on Radio 3’s Late Junction.

“The Minstrel’s Grave is an album to cherish, enjoy, and play over and over again. I really like this band. Their sound world of bucolic, psychedelic folk, referencing late ‘sixties Floyd, Circulus and Gorkys, is a joy to listen to. Original, engaging, marvellous.” ~ TerrascopeSproatly Smith album cover - The Minstrel's Grave

Their new album is called Times Is n’ Times Was, which will come out as a download and on vinyl in the new year.

Sproatly Smith’s hugely evocative and atmospheric sounds will have true folkies whisked away along their melodic pagan paths. Mystical lands of ‘yore are their speciality along with a progressive use of foley to enhance their soundscape of the abstract rural world.

Because we’re especially lovely, Sproatly ticket holders will get a free pint of Wye Valley’s Butty Bach, widely corralled as the pint for ale drinkers. Download and print off this coupon, bring it to the bar and you can claim your tasty freebie.

Sproatly Smith Ale Coupon – download, print and bring it to the gig!

And if you haven’t bought your tickets yet, you know what to do: Buy tickets to Sproatly Smith here