QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 80 - Page 23

A TALENTED GROUP OF bright young writers and actors have put a new twist on going to the pub. Rather than just propping up the bar with a pint and exchanging pleasantries with the regulars, the Village Pub Theatre project has ensured that locals and visitors are treated to a cultural experience which is far more intriguing than that of the traditional pub quiz. Caitlin continued: “The team works collectively, but the writers have a lot of control. This allows them to take their work in the direction that they want, rather than always working to a director’s programming priorities.” The idea behind the project was to support and inspire dynamic new writing whilst also encouraging a wider audience to experience drama in an informal and accessible environment. With similarities to the highly successful Glasgow born initiative ‘A Play, A Pie and a Pint’, the Village Pub Theatre offers an intimate and raw live theatre experience with gatherings taking place once a month, and the audience being treated to short snappy plays, some of which last no longer than 10 minutes. Rather than a pie, the group often shares a delicious selection of home baking, which ensures the audience feels welcome and encourages them to come back for more. Looking at some of the stand out moments from 2014, Caitlin recalls the days following the referendum. She said: “The writers had to script a play before the 18th September, about the referendum but knowing it would be performed the day after the result was known. For me, there was no better place to be the day after that event than in the pub, making theatre and reflecting on what had happened. It was an amazing experience – a bit of a healing process.” She explained: “These days, arts funding for theatre and touring is changing and it’s been tough trying to build and sustain a career in directing. However, I’ve always been determined to steer my own path and I’m now working as a full-time freelance director, juggling a mix of my own projects with working for established companies.” Caitlin works with QMU graduates on a wide variety of drama projects, but it is her Village Pub Theatre collaboration with Louise E Knowles and Morna Pearson, also graduates of Queen Margaret, that has captured the attention of theatre critic Joyce McMillan. Joyce described the collective as having developed “a brand new vortex of powerful theatre activity in Edinburgh”. It doesn’t really get much better than that! Unsurprisingly, there is a smattering of QMU talent involved in the Leith based drama project that aims to share cultural experiences with different audiences. Twenty-nine year old Caitlin Skinner is one of the driving forces behind the project, which was initiated by playwright James Ley in 2012. The model encourages the actors and writers to be experimental. Each month there is a different theme. In March 2012, the team extended a challenge to fellow writers on social media platform Twitter to write a play in one tweet. There was a massive uptake of people who attempted to produce a story in 140 characters. The social media theme was so successful, that the company collaborated with the Lyceum Theatre to produce two performances of Tweet Plays inspired by the main stage productions on the Lyceum stage. Caitlin, a Drama and Theatre graduate from QMU, is Artist Director of the Village Pub Theatre. Following graduation in 2008, Caitlin went on to New York to study an MA Applied Theatre, before returning to her home city of Edinburgh and beginning a directing career in the capital. Directing the Village Pub Theatre is just one of Caitlin’s jobs. In 2014 she created devised show ’Sanitise’ co- created with fellow QMU graduate Melanie Jordan and was awarded a Fringe First. The play is now touring Scotland. She also directed ‘The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde’ with Lung Ha Theatre Company, which was performed at the Traverse Theatre and Dundee Rep in March. Discussing the pub-based theatre project, Caitlin said: “James wanted to create theatre that was cheap, quick and informal, but was based on excellent writing. The project now has a core group of writers who have developed a specialism for short plays. The raw emerging storylines allow the audience to enjoy the buzz of live theatre with new and exciting work virtually unfolding in front of their eyes.” For more details of the Village Pub Theatre visit: https://www.facebook.com/PubTheatre ❒ A core group of writers have developed a specialism for short plays QMYOU / Graduate Interview 23