This is a show about me

A new devised performance about film, fame and misfortune told through the eyes of a Hollywood icon

Thursday 7th November  – Saturday 9th November 8pm (Friday 9pm start)
EGO, Cook Street Coventry, behind Coventry Transport Museum

For a fourth year we have collaborated with final year students of Coventry University’s Theatre and Professional Practice degree and this year we present This is a Show about Me! a Hollywood story.

Coventry University in collaboration with KILN presented This is a Show about Me! a devised performance about the life of a Hollywood star who shoots to the lofty heights of celebrity, fame and fortune only to crash into the depths of personal despair, loss and loneliness.

Join us as we trace her life from young starlet to faded icon in a whirl of cigarette smoke, perfume and costume changes. Performed by an ensemble of 37 this show bursts to life with an energetic dance number, live band and song inspired by the big names of a bygone era: Busby Berkley, Django Reinhardt and Ella Fitzgerald.  Grab a drink from the bar, stay a while and listen as we retell her story in the atmospheric venue of EGO on Cook Street, Coventry.

‘This girl is a modern day Queen Midas. She has the whole world at her feet, everyone is clamouring to see her, know her, be her! But then we see the other side …’

This is a Show about Me! examines what it means to be in the glare of the public eye, to be celebrated and adored by millions but ultimately forgotten when the glamour fades.

Poster design: Ben Richards
Huge thanks to Georgina Egan and Corinne Emerson at EGO for letting us take over the space.

This is a Show about who..?

Heather Gordon, James Marlow-Smith and Simon Overington-Hickford are third year Theatre and Professional Practice students from Coventry University. These three students are part of a 37 strong ensemble and we asked them about the production…

Can you tell us what it’s all about?

Heather: The show is an ensemble based performance about the life of a Hollywood icon, placed on a 1930’s film set and told through the mediums of film, song, dance and live music. The piece is eclectic in that it covers many Hollywood decades; fading in and out of past and present, crossing different realities to bring a truly diverse piece of theatre.

James: The play is about the rise and fall of Hollywood stardom, told through the medium of dance, song, live music and multi-media. Focusing on the actress Gloria Swanson, we are taken through her life and the difficulties that come with fame along with many other aspects of Hollywood peppered throughout the progression of the piece, from the bumbling actors on set who never finish their scene, to strong choral parts involving the whole company.

Simon: The show is about the life of a Hollywood Icon and her rise and fall. It explores the glamour of her life but also the darkness and the cost of that glamour.

What role do you play?

Heather: I play the role of Roberta (lovingly known as Bob!) a maintenance gal who has worked on the film set for many years. Bob uses her own memories and experiences to narrate the story of Gloria Swanson’s life, helping the audience understand the through-line of the piece.

James: I am Tone-deaf Tony, a member of the ‘The 1930’s Hot Jazz Players’ alongside my co-musicians ‘Frankie Blue Eyes’ and ‘Jonny Two Sticks’, providing the audience with smooth Jazz throughout the performance. I am also featured as an actor in the Director’s film, playing Ashley from ‘Gone With The Wind’.

Simon: I am playing a director on a 1930’s film set. It’s a really fun role because I get to manipulate the piece from inside and I find that really theatrically interesting. My character seems to experience a lot of highs and lows during the piece. I hope it will be engaging to see him change between extremes of emotion.

So this is a new play, how have you been making it?

Heather: We have devised our play mainly through set exercises and improvisations. One of the really exciting things is that we have had utter freedom to make the show what we want it to be, and explore whatever we deem necessary. There has been a real sense of childlike play which has fuelled our devising process, again enabling us to explore what we feel is important.

James: From the start we have been creating work through a series of improvisations and exercises, finding what works and what ideas can come out naturally and as an ensemble. I have found that through this method, we have created some very interesting work.

Simon: It’s been a very different way of working than I’m used to but it’s been lots of fun. We have been creating material from exercises and then working them into longer improvisations. We have used a range of stimuli, including extracts of script from famous movie scenes. I will admit that sometimes I feel a bit lost in rehearsal, but I’ve learnt to trust the process and my instincts.

What can the audience expect from This Is a Show about Me!?  How will it make them feel?

Heather: I think audiences will go through a range of emotions when watching our piece, as there are moments of sincerity where I believe they will empathise with the characters on stage, moments of comedy and flashback scenes which will give historical insight into the rise and fall of a Hollywood icon. There may also be moments of madness where we almost trick the audience, but hopefully this will all go together to give them an exciting and interesting theatrical experience.

James: Throughout the process we have questioned what the piece is about, and whether the performance, being quite abstract, would be welcomed warmly by the audience.  As the rehearsal process has progressed, I believe we have something which is interesting and visually thought-provoking.

Simon: Hopefully the show will make people feel excited because there is sense that anything could happen next. Maybe some people may be confused at times but I think that’s ok because I think it makes them empathise with the confusion of the protagonist. All in all, I think it’s a heady mix and an exhilarating show.

You’re not performing in Ellen Terry. Can you tell us what it’s been like working in EGO?

Heather: Working at EGO has been unique in that I personally had never even been there before, and I have to say I have enjoyed working somewhere different. At first I felt slightly out of my comfort zone being in a new space, but after a few rehearsals I felt at complete ease, and have really enjoyed having a space where we can solely work on our piece, as I feel it’s helped give a more professional company experience.

James: Working in EGO has been a positive experience, and is a much more intimate space than in Ellen Terry. Given that we are working on creating the piece in the style of a ‘Cabaret Jazz club’, the space lends itself to the piece flawlessly. It is definitely a venue that lends itself to the avant-garde style of Kindle Theatre.

Simon: EGO is a very interesting space. It’s very sparse and barren. It has unique acoustics but I think the space really compliments the show… I can’t imagine it being performed anywhere else. I think the space juxtaposes the glamour of the show and I like that contrast.