3th June 2013.

Hello there! Welcome to Hot Coals Theatre Ensemble's first ever blog!

As it’s our first, we thought we should introduce ourselves and get you up to speed with where we are at. After that, we will share with you insights into our working and devising process as we create our first show, Trapped. We hope to bring you our thoughts as a new company in London, our approach to funding, articles relating to our research, and our experiences as performers creating characters. We hope you find it entertaining, inspiring and, at times, useful.

So first, who are Hot Coals and how did we meet?
Hot Coals is an ensemble company currently comprising of myself, Clare-Louise English, Margot Courtemanche, Jo Sargeant and our Agent Provocateur, Alice Robinson. We all met at RADA where Margot, Jo and I were studying on the brand new post-grad acting course, MA Theatre Lab. Alice was studying for her MA Movement Studies at Central and came in to do a placement with us, in our final term.

Our year at RADA was an incredible experience. With just 14 actors on the course, we worked closely as an ensemble, honing our skills as actors, physical performers and devising practitioners. We studied the practises of Meyerhold and Grotowski and worked with such practitioners as Annabel Arden of Complicite, Amit Lahav of Gecko and Ian Morgan of Song of a Goat, so it is easy to see how we were inspired to set up Hot Coals, to continue the work we had started.
If you want more info about MA Theatre Lab here’s a link;…/acti…/ma-theatre-lab/course-overview

After leaving school, we wanted to be the kind of actors who didn’t have to wait for the phone to ring before we got the opportunity to perform; we wanted to be truly pro-active, making and breaking our own rules and creating our own work. And so Hot Coals was formed, the name born out of our desire to move forwards and never stagnate.
In our final term at RADA we devised a production, from scratch, around one word, ‘Possessed’. With Hot Coals, we are doing the same. Using the word ‘Trapped’, we are exploring what it is like to be trapped by our bodies. We started looking at three strands of this idea: being trapped in the body by hearing loss, being trapped by the body and mind with depression and being trapped or restricted by the body in old age. After some research and playing with ideas we decided to focus our attention on the body in old age and started to explore this idea, physically, in workshop rehearsals. We pulled on everything we had learnt at RADA, to play and experiment with physicality through exercises and improvisation. We also invited other actors to take part in a Clown and a Mask Workshop. These workshops were a great way of getting us started as a company and took the pressure of creating off we three core-members; it gave us the freedom to play, with the guidance of someone outside. It was this that helped us realise that we were missing an element of the rehearsal, someone to be our outside eye, and Alice joined us for the project as exactly that. As we are not a traditional company, working on a script with the hierarchy of Producer, Director, Performer, we thought it most appropriate to give Alice the title of Agent Provocateur.
So, we now had the company, the idea and even the title, we just needed a story! It was at this point that we started to look around for a pre-existing text or story that we could use as a springboard into our show, with the knowledge that this may also help us to sell the show later on. Chekhov’s Three Sisters seemed the obvious choice and we decided to base our old ladies on the characters of Olga, Masha and Irina, in their twilight years.

By Clare-Louise English

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© Jo Sargeant