If you’ve never heard of Mortal Fools before, what do you need to know about them? We asked Artistic Director, Kiz Crosbie, to explain more about the theatre company – who they are and what they do, why they do it and what’s really important to the organisation.
Mortal Fools are a group of theatre professionals passionate about making really great theatre which also seeks to help improve people’s lives. The company is led by Kiz (Artistic Director / CEO), Helen Ferguson (Creative Producer) and Zoe Anderson (Programme Co-ordinator), together with a magnificent team of Associate Artists and Practitioners who we work with regularly.
We are a company who pride ourselves on being people-centred – all our work is for the benefit of people and we work hard to always balance our business needs with human needs. The values we strive to live by as an organisation are Contributing, Growing, With Others, As Ourselves. These are things we passionately believe help people to thrive and so also help us to thrive as an organisation. They’re not for a poster on the wall – but for every day, present in all elements of our work - as a living, breathing enactment of the world we are working to create.
We are also a company who pride ourselves on crafting deep, supportive relationships with theatre artists at early stages of their careers. It can be extremely hard-going as an independent artist just starting out, so we provide opportunities for them, recruiting partly on the basis of skills and experience, but mostly seeking those who share our passions and beliefs and supporting them to develop as artists through our existing projects and their own projects.
We also believe that, when done in the right way, participating in and making great art can improve people’s lives. We love drama and theatre and work to bring the highest quality of dramatic arts into (sometimes) the most unlikely of places.
Earlier in 2017, we moved to a new base in Prudhoe, Northumberland. We’ve always worked extensively in the county, but we wanted to locate ourselves in an area that wasn’t well-served and work to change that. We’ve been welcomed by the community in the most wonderful way – met with curiosity, intrigue and perhaps a little confusion, but always with warmth.
In the last 6 months alone we’ve brought ‘Stupid’, a solo show by young artist, Sian Armstrong, to Prudhoe High School as part of a regional series of preview performances. She and director, Anna Ryder, were also in residence at the school for a week as part of the show’s development process. We’ve also delivered a leadership training day as part of our adult training programme for leaders in the voluntary, community and small business sector in the area, in partnership with Prudhoe Community Partnership. And now we’re bringing ‘Melva’, transforming a shop unit on the high street into a pop-up theatre and producing our own family theatre for the first time. We’re working with young actors, a young director, supporting a writer with her first full play script and bringing all this excitement to a community who’s had nothing like this there before.
What about Kiz? Who is the person behind the organisation?
We've got a treat for you all... We can finally tell you who are wonderful 'Melva' cast are!
KATIE POWELL: MELVA
Appearing in the title role of Melva Mapletree is local actress Katie Powell. Having developed her performance skills through Live Theatre’s Youth Theatre and Northern Stage’s Young Company, Katie has most recently appeared in South African collaboration piece Encountering The Other with Odd Man Out and The Market Lab theatre companies. She has previously appeared in Beowulf (ITV) and The Dumping Ground (CBBC), as well as being a founding member of female comedy ensemble Your Aunt Fanny. She has also appeared in A Bit of Respect (Operating Theatre), Breakfast Hearts/Choirplay (The Six Twenty) and Live Witness (Live Theatre). Melva will be her first production with Mortal Fools.
JOHN MCMAHON: GRANDPA PEBBLE
Appearing as Melva’s misbehaving Grandpa Pebble is Newcastle actor John McMahon. Following training at University of Sunderland and Northumbria University, John could be seen in a variety of TV roles including Hebburn (Baby Cow Productions)/BBC) and Wire in the Blood (Coastal Productions/ITV), as well as short film I Am Nasrine (Bridge and Tunnel Productions). His theatre work includes Blue Remembered Hills (Bubble Eye), Ballroom of Romance and Medea Medea (Northern Stage), Hamlet (Cranked Anvil) and City of Sanctuary (The Performance Ensemble).
STAN HODGSON: GIDEON and EMPEROR WORRIT
Appearing in various roles including Gideon and Emperor Worrit is musician and performer Stan Hodgson. Stan is a founding member of theatre company The Letter Room, and participated in the first year of Northern Stage’s NORTH actor development training. He has appeared in productions No Miracles Here, Five Feet in Front: The Ballad of Little Johnnie Wylo and Bonenkai with The Letter Room, but also in the title role of James Henry Trotter in James and the Giant Peach in 2016 (Northern Stage). Other theatre work includes Manifesto for a New City (Live Theatre/Northern Stage) and Breakfast Hearts/Choirplay (The Six Twenty).
EILISH STOUT-CAIRNS: Ernest, Figgis and Emperor Worrit
Appearing as multiple characters including Ernest, Figgis and Emperor Worrit is up and coming actress Eilish Stout-Cairns. After professional training with Theatre Royal Newcastle’s PROJECT A actor development scheme, Eilish appeared as Red Riding Hood in family production, The Cow Jumped into the Woods (The Customs House). She has also featured in PROJECT A productions including Road, Massage, Measure for Measure and Citizenship.
It's all go go go over at Front Street Theatre, with rehearsals for 'Melva' starting this Thursday.