WHAT'S NEW? The Grand Theatre of Lemmings have just returned from their Indian Adventure, performing 'King Kong' in the Smallest Theatre in the World. The Tamil press described it as 'Mesmerising' and you can see video of the results by clicking on the link below.
The legendary Smallest Theatre was taken on by the Lemmings after fifteen years of lying derelict. They restored it and reinvented it with the help of Essex County Council, Heritage Lottery and the Arts Council then took it on its first tour of the twentyfirst century last summer.
"I absolutely loved seeing the Grand Theatre of Lemmings performance of 'King Kong' delivered from the 'Smallest Theatre in the World'. The company are brilliant at engaging new audiences, unsuspecting passers-by, families, young and old. They delight, entertain, perform their hearts out and bring a smile to the faces of everyone who encounters them."
Matt Lane, Head of Royal Opera House, Thames Gateway 2014.
MADURAI, February 26, 2015
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With its first ever performance in Madurai, The Smallest Theatre in the World threw open an entirely new dimension to staging plays.
It can be a bit confusing initially. For, it is not street theatre as we understand – simply performing small skits on social issues without many props. This one is like literally carrying a mini theatre to the streets!
"It is a fully functional theatre that can be mounted on the side car of a Bullet Enfield," declares Dave Denzig, the proprietor of The Grand Theatre of Lemmings, London. It is actually a wooden box measuring six by five feet and perfectly designed for accommodating two people inside to be seated as the audience. And it is complete with stage, proscenium arch, luxurious interior that includes velvet cushion seats and changing sceneries on the exterior. "We can boast that our performances our always houseful!" chuckles Dave, also one of the performers.
The smallest theatre in the world was conceived and built by legendary Marcel Steiner four decades ago. At a time when many theatre groups were performing inside swanky auditoriums, Marcel grabbed people’s attention by bringing the proscenium to the streets. “In England, we call it as outdoor arts and can include anything from dance, music, painting sessions to dramas,” he says, adding such performances are very popular in coastal towns. With the death of Marcel Steiner, the smallest theatre also disappeared. Dave, a faithful student of Marcel, stepped in after 14 years to revive it. "I had no idea about drama when Marcel picked me up from a group of people watching his plays because he saw. I was the only one laughing my heart out," says Dave, who with another performer Mandy Medlicott turned the fortunes of smallest and also the funniest street theatre. Some of the plays Marcel staged in U.K included A Tale of Two Cities, War and Peace and Titanic and Dave was gradually drawn into the rhythm of life in theatre.
At present, the Grand Theatre of Lemmings has a star cast of four actors who produce and stage outrageously funny plays following every convention such as well conceived script split into two acts and five scenes. While the small virtual theatre has only two seats, the show provides a hilarious view of the backstage and on-stage antics for the real audience in the front."It is like a play within a play as we perform two shows simultaneously, one for the people inside the theatre and one for those outside," says Mandy.
To Madurai, the team bought the hilarious adaptation of the legendary story of King Kong. It was presented at different venues across the city. In Lemmings style, actors played multiple roles like Mandy played a sailor, a glamorous film star and a member of the air force. The other members of the group are Cassie Catchpole and Rose Lucas. There is plenty of hat-switching with props galore, like aeroplane toys hung on a stick and swirled over the audience to show how people are transported from the Fog Island to New York City.
Cassie as the giant ape and expressive Mandy were outstanding. The way Mandy and Dave introduced the theatre to the audience deserves appreciation. From Dave preparing lemonade for the people during interval to Mandy demonstrating the cosy interiors of the Smallest Theatre in the world, the group kept audience connect intact. "Everything is part of the act," says Dave. "That is the great advantage of street theatre as there is every chance of making up the mistakes we commit while we perform," says Mandy.
Alex Dellow an independent filmmaker joined the group to document the performances.
The group is visiting India to interact with indigenous theatre groups and initiate a fruitful cultural exchange. They were brought to Madurai by the Russ Foundation and Nigazh Theatre Centre.
2015 ~ 'King Kong' will continue to tour throughout the summer with a special return trip to Hamburg in August and in addition the next epic production from the Smallest Theatre in the World will be previewed at Yarmouth 'Old Gaffers Festival' at the end of May. The next show will be a spine chilling, stage version of 'Jaws'. Not only that but back at Lemmings base they are about to launch a festive summer with a series of mini-events featuring phone boxes and sheds, leading up to the return of the fabulous 'Manningtree Festival'. Watch this space for further details
ABOUT THE GRAND THEATRE OF LEMMINGS ~ For thirty years the lemmings have pioneered street arts taking productions as for a field as Japan and India as well as touring indoors for the UK Rural Arts Networks. In recent years they expanded into Educational work as producers for Creative Partnerships conceiving and creating such wonderful projects as the original 'Garden of Curiousities'. They also produce and direct Harwich School's Carnival as well as a the hugely popular Manningtree Street Festival.
These ventures into education and events have not dented their enthusiasm for touring and with the support of the Arts Council they have produced two multi-media touring shows. In 2012 they we were co-directors of the Essex Olympic Project "Sparks Will Fly" working alongside Walk the Plank and they also produced a Anglo French version of their last outdoor show, the 'Illusionarium' for Atelier 231, Sotteville, France in February 2012. In 2013 they took on the Smallest Theatre in the World and in 2014 it went on its first UK tour in over fifteen years. In 2015 it toured in India!