Coracle in partnership with Alphabetti Theatre,
supported by Arts Council England present

DOWN TO ZERO

A play by Lizi Patch

directed by Matt Jamie

With Reaction Pieces from

Degna Stone, Beccy Owen, Claire Tustin, Allison Davies,

Draycott and Trimm and Wendy Errington

"Down to Zero is a smartly written relationship drama - sympathetic and often very funny"

Tracy Sinclair - THE STAGE

 

A darkly funny new play by Lizi Patch about two people, struggling to stay afloat as the past threatens to sink their future. 

As Steph hits the menopause, she feels she is becoming a bystander in her own bewildering decline.  Her partner Sam plans a surprise weekend away for her 50th birthday, but their determined idyll is ripped away by the arrival of a surprise visitor...

"Director Matt Jamie brings out the best in his very talented cast - beautifully judged performances"

Peter Lathan - BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE

This production showcased the work of women over the age of 40 - a demographic under represented in the Arts.  The play and all reaction pieces were written by women over 40, and the pieces featured characters and stories of these women.

DOWN TO ZERO
premiered 
18 - 29 June 2019
at Alphabetti Theatre
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Directed by Matt Jamie
Cast - Arabella Arnott
Brian Lonsdale
Samantha Neale
Design - Molly Barrett
Stage Manager Chloe Ribbens
Publicity - Melanie Rashbrooke

with response pieces from

Allison Davies & Claire Tustin, Degna Stone and Beccy Owen

 

and podcast radio plays by

Draycott & Trimm

Wendy Errington

"Arabella Arnott’s character is the most richly written, and she is particularly good at capturing the swirl of often conflicting menopausal emotions, portraying a woman who feels as though her life has slipped beyond her control. Lonsdale brings a pleasing warmth and vulnerability to his role."

Tracy Sinclair - THE STAGE

"Steph, in particular, is well-drawn; she feels as though her life is spiraling out-of-control and that she has no say over the changes that are happening to her body. It’s unusual to see a piece of work that draws on female experience in this way. Menopause is a subject I’m yet to see represented on the stage and I think Arnott’s performance captures something of the confusion and inner-conflict that comes with aging. Steph’s insecurities about her worth as an older woman are played out with poignancy and humour."

A YOUNGER THEATRE

Writer Lizi Patch with Poet Degna Stone, Actor Musician Claire Tustin, and Musician and Theatre-Maker Beccy Owen who created the reaction pieces.

THE REACTION PIECES

Alongside the production of Down To Zero, Coracle comissioned 3 response pieces which were performed after Down To Zero each night of the run.

 

 

 

 THE SKY SINGS

words by Allison Davies  music and songs by Claire Tustin

Directed by Karen Traynor.  Performed by Claire Tustin and members of community choirs.

Life is a circle, and we go spinning and spinning and spinning. 

Jem tells her story, as her hands bleed, her heart aches and she fights to hold on to the fragments of her life. If only she could hear the sky singing above her...

A SHORT PLAY WITH MUSIC

 PROBABLY

written and performed by Degna Stone

Half-way through life and the answer to most questions always seems to be the same.  Should I stop drinking through the week? Will I feel better if I exercise? Is the planet really f@*ked? Maybe I’m asking the wrong questions.

A POETIC MONOLOGUE

FANNY MAGNET

written and performed by Beccy Owen

'Fanny Magnet' is an uplifting and wry imagining of what it would be like if women didn’t have to endure the invisibility of a “civilised” menopause. In this fantasy, all menopausal women across the world - hereby known as The Ones Who Are All - are invited to spend time in their local Sanctuary of Chaos and Peace. 

 

These lovingly built spaces are devoted to providing The Ones Who Are All with various types of support, ritual, refuge and a prevailing sense of deep (ir)reverence as they go through The Fires of Change. ’Get real, snowflake! Where’s the money for that kinda programme gonna come from?’ Fear not, chaos choir member…that’s where you come in…

PODCASTS

Coracle also commissioned two short Podcast Plays to accompany the production.  Using DOWN TO ZERO as a starting point we asked writing duo Draycott and Trimm, and North East writer Wendy Errington to write us a short audio piece inspired by any of the themes of Down to Zero.  You can listen to these on our Podcast Page here

Production Notes: Women in Theatre

​For this production Coracle chose to produce a selection of work by women over the age of 40 - a group underrepresented in the world of theatre.

 

"Writing plays is, on the whole, a young person's art, and the young are mostly interested in themselves"

 Lynn Gardener, 2009  (link).  

 

Work by women playwrights made up only 8% of staged productions in 2014 (research by Tonic Theatre) - and the first play written by a woman to appear on stage at the National Theatre was in 2008.  And the National have come under fire in 2019 for their announcement of a season which has only male writers and directors, despite a 'commitment' to changing the balance (you can follow the twitter thread here)

 

"It is somehow harder for people to embrace a play written by a woman, whatever its quality. There is something slightly unseemly about filling stages with our voices, whereas men have a sense of filling Chekhov's or Ibsen's shoes. The woman who raises her voice becomes shrill and hectoring; the man becomes authoritative"

(Zinnie Harris) (link)

 

“I think older women are regarded as not valuable, they’ve always been thought of in that way, as something to laugh at.”

(Marianne Elliott). (link)

 

As an underrepresented demographic both on & off stage we felt this would be an important challenge to people’s perceptions. Not just in terms of the visibility of 'older' female characters on stage, but also in terms of writers and creatives in this demographic having their work produced.

Some links:

8 Facts about women in theatre

Does the National Theatre have a problem with women?

Women in theatre: why do so few make it to the top?

Women are being excluded from the stage. It’s time for quotas

The Guardian view on women in theatre: a leading role please, not just a bit part

The best stage roles for older women

 
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