My name is Riz Maslen and I am the composer working on Benny and The Greycats.

For me this is a new challenge, having never worked in Musical Theatre before in the role of Composer. I have however worked with Suzanne on a previous Theatre production The Corydon Avengers, but as a Sound Designer.

We are about to go into Day 3 of the R&D at the Crucible and today the actors will be starting rehearsals, its a bit daunting as I am in a new sphere and not really knowing what to expect.

This has been an amazing experience so far and I have learned a huge amount already which in my book is a very big positive.

Having spent most of my career as an electronic musician, this has definitely been a baptism of fire into the world of Musical Theatre, at times a little against the clock but so far been an amazing adventure.

– Riz Maslen, Composer for Benny and the Greycats
Riz_Maslen_Comp   DSC_9193

Having not worked in theatre before, I had an interesting and fulfilling experience recently working for 2 days as part of the development team for Maya Productions forthcoming musical Benny And The Greycats.

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In my normal world as a gigging session musician and composer/arranger with a wide variety of bands over the years in many different genres of music, I’m used to working to a specific brief: i.e. learning a set of music for performance, or writing and/or arranging some music in a particular style, which enables the channeling of one’s creativity effectively to address the situation at hand, sometimes requiring an amount of consultation, sometimes not. Obviously I knew that working in theatre (like film of which I have some experience), the music is there to serve the script, but what I found particularly enlightening was the amorphous “workshopping” process in which the script and music are read/listened through, examined, discussed, distilled and eventually shaped into a more finished product by a group effort of engagement, consensus, and objective evaluation; and all this before the actors are even given a read through.

Quite an eye opening experience, and very rewarding to help create music in such an environment. It does remind one that contrary to the popular cliched perception of the lone artist creating in isolation, the actual “artistic process” is if anything, a multifaceted entity that embraces many different undertakings, challenges, problems and solutions, which in the end, by hook or by crook, result (hopefully) in a worthwhile piece of work, which the creators of, and the experiencers of benefit by it’s existence.

– Mike Gorman, Musician/Collaborator for Benny and the Greycats

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Off to Sheffield!

It’s with great excitement that we are bringing the next stage of development of Benny and the Greycats to my home town of Sheffield, as we spend a week at Sheffield Theatres.

This new piece of theatre is inspired by my family who were Jazz musicians in South India. When they emigrated to Sheffield in the 1960s, they continued to be part of the local music scene.

Here at Maya Productions, we are always looking to find new ways of telling compelling stories about diverse communities. We like to experiment with how theatre works and who it’s for. Exploring the story of Anglo-Indian Jazz musicians, in this city with its own tradition of music, brings something rather unique.

In recent months the play seems to have taken a life of it’s own. We’re looking at it as musical theatre. This means lots of lyric writing  for me, as we tell the story though song. Riz Maslen, our composer, has been picking up these lyrics and transforming them into songs that keep going round and round in my head. Can only be a good sign.

Next week we will be joined by Mike Gorman,  a fantastic musician, and also my cousin, who has already started creating evocative piano motifs to add to Riz’s compositions. And to keep us on track with our musical theatre form, is award winning writer, musician and dramaturg Paul Sirett who has been a key part of this process from the start when we started exploring ideas at Barbican Open Lab.

From mid-week onwards we are then joined by a group of actor singers.

I can’t wait to get into that rehearsal room. Watch this space for more!

Suzanne Gorman – Artistic Director

 

Maya Productions is partnering with Theatre Deli to run an exciting new arts project ‘Routes to Roots’ with young artists in Sheffield.

We are looking for a Project Facilitator to lead a series of creative arts sessions culminating in a sharing of work as part of this years Migration Matters Festival in June 2019.

For more details on the role and how to apply please download the information pack and monitoring form below.

Deadline is 5pm Monday 25 March

Routes to Routes Project Facilitator info Pack

EO Monitoring Form Nov 2018

Maya Productions are looking for a Producer

 

We are looking for a Producer to work with us on  Benny and the Greycats, our exciting new play in development.

This is a migration story set in 1960s Sheffield. The play brings together theatre with jazz and 60s pop and connects the sounds and atmosphere of the industrial steel city of Sheffield with the landscapes and railways of South India.

Following a Barbican Open Lab earlier this year, we will be developing the play further through a weeks residency at Sheffield Theatres in March 2019.

More details about the research and development can be found on our Benny and the Greycats Page

For more details on the role and how to apply please download the information pack and monitoring form below.

Benny and the Greycats Producer Job pack

EO Monitoring Form Nov 2018

Being in The Croydon Avengers makes you feel like you’re a real-life superhero! When the sound affects and lights kick in your heart starts beating faster; you know it’s time to fight crime! The play has got a fantastic pace to it that sweeps you up and throws you into the heart of the action. It’s go go go; from fighting moped thieves one moment to fighting amongst ourselves in the next.

What’s great about being in the show is it’s really a team effort. We all have to work together to keep the ball rolling. Being a young superhero’s means we all get to bounce off what the other characters are doing; whether its what they’re saying or unleashing their awesome powers!

I love that we get to interact with the audience in this show; it just makes it so fun and playful! It’s great to really engage with people directly, whatever their age, and to involve them in our story and develop a relationship between them and our characters. Hopefully it means they’ll be rooting for the Avengers! The audience really are as important as any one of us.

Playing Petr is such a joy because he lives from moment to moment. He’s sparky and excitable and energetic and constantly keeps me on my toes. Although, because he doesn’t speak the best English, that lack of fore-thought can land him in a bit of trouble, but his hearts always in the right place. We all got to learn karate during rehearsals, and it’s so much fun to take that work and put it on stage; I think the fight scenes look really brilliant!

But perhaps the best thing about doing the show is knowing that you’re telling an important story about these young people and about Britain as a whole. I think it speaks on many levels, and I hope the audience get to leave with lots to talk about!

Theo Toksvig-Stewart
Actor

With every new production, I get excited about the world I will inhabit with the cast. As a movement director I constantly shift between physical languages in different eras and locations.  Recently I have created football matches, the work of hard labour in a prison camp and the physicality of a character based on the 1920’s Charleston dance, all for stage productions.  With The Croydon Avengers I was tasked with helping to find the main characters special physical personas and powers.

A play with superheroes could not have been more timely and let’s face it, we all dream of having some type of extraordinary capability!  Oladipo Agboluje’s wonderful script marked out our superheroes with fighting skills and elemental qualities.  I reflected on how we would use these and remembered that above all, superheroes are cool.

So in rehearsals I worked with the cast to explore different types of elements, like soil, stone, breeze, tornado, spark or a flame, with their bodies and how each would manifest in their character’s personalities and special powers.  From there we started to shape the physical life of all the characters – superheroes and of course their nemesis.  That work was woven into expertise shared with the cast by Alton Brown our martial arts specialist and champion sportsman!

All this work did make me think about what superpower I would want.  It’s stayed the same since I was little – to fly (because teleporting would be too fast) to whip people up out of harm’s way and to soar up to the stars and look down onto our planet.

Diane Alison-Mitchell
Movement Director and Choreographer

I’m an artist based In north London and have been making comics for 4 years. I’ve had an interest in comic since I was 6 from reading the sonic the hedgehog comics, beano, marvel and DC and then some manga’s in my teen years. My style is influenced by Jamie Hewlett of the Gorillaz and tank girl comics. I started drawing from the age of 5 and never stopped.

I usually work with a fully written script that has dialogue, set imagery and page layout to consider. Fortunately, this project didn’t have dialogue, which allowed me to put a lot of visual information within the panels.

I had to approach the comic for The Croydon Avengers in a different way to give a clear understanding of the mood and story telling. To do this, I used colours to help express the moods and atmosphere in each panel. This also helps convey characters emotions. I’m happy with the end result and that the way the comic flows. I hope you enjoy my work.

The super power I would like to have is to be able to transform in to any animal, so i’d be able to fly, have great speed and change my size from a tiny ant to a massive elephant.

Shane Melisse

Comic Artist, Illustrator

We’ve had a Black Panther movie, followed by a royal wedding with the bride being mixed heritage (there is no such thing as race). But people of colour have always been part and parcel of society, even though many of our achievements have gone unnoticed. The Croydon Avengers represent those people plugging away undercover, trying to do what’s best, failing, and then failing better. They want to be part of society but they can’t, thanks to laws that place barriers in front of them. They are in an awkward situation because they are fighting to uphold the law. This leads them to question what makes a person a citizen, or who or what institution has the power to tell people who they are or where they can or cannot make a life for themselves. This has been the most challenging aspect of the play for me to write. It is hard to imagine being in such a position – it’s like being in limbo, with your life on hold. Around you, people are getting on with their lives. This is hard for young people who are full of dreams and the energy to pursue those dreams, especially if they are inspired by role models like the characters in Black Panther and by Meghan Markle.
If I could be given a superpower, I’d want to be a master of the mystic arts like Dr Strange. It would be amazing to have powers that operate on the material and spiritual planes. I could do almost anything, but I’d have to remember that with great power comes great responsibility. I would use the powers to help change peoples’ lives.
Oladipo Agboluaje
Writer

Just over a week to go until rehearsals start for Maya Production’s The Croydon Avengers by Oladipo Agboluje. It’s a celebration, as with all Maya’s work, of diversity and Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee artistry.  So I’m currently reflecting on the fact that I have a pumped up Billionaire White American man to thank for the inspiration for this play – no, it’s not Donald Trump ( although our writer Dipo has called the Media Moghul in the play –  Regina Rump!) – but the one and only Bruce Wayne – AKA Batman! It was whilst I was watching a Batman film, many moons ago, that I was struck by the lack of superhero role models for young people from BAMER backgrounds – and wanted to do something about it.

As a one-woman operation running a small theatre company it’s taken me slightly longer than anticipated to get to this glorious stage – and Black Panther did beat us to it-  but it’s been a fabulous journey. The play is inspired by young refugees and Londoners who took part in our Superheroes:South of the River Project that used martial arts, comic book storytelling and theatre to explore BAMER Role Models and Superheroes. We’ve worked with schools, youth theatres and youth clubs along the way, inviting a range of young people to take part in the process of making theatre. And now we’ve pulled together a fantastic team to make this super show happen.

One thing I’m really excited about today is our comic. Its an online introduction to the play and is beautifully illustrated by comic book artist Shane Melisse. It forms the first part of our online education resource pack we’re creating,  with Why Comics?, Central Foundation Girls School and St Anthony’s Primary School, for teachers and youth leaders to use before and after they’ve seen the play.

Gotta dash to pick up my own superhero .. my seven year old son. He can’t wait to see the full production of The Croydon Avengers in action- on stage.

Oh and if I could have a superpower myself – it would be the power to duplicate myself and be in twenty places at once, to effortlessly achieve the juggling act of work/life/family balance…bliss.

Sneak peak at some of the comic below.

Suzanne Gorman – Director

 

Images by Nadjet Ben Maghnia
Photo by Barnaby Aldrick