Award-winning Theatre Ad Infinitum to embark on short tour
- Credit: Archant
We never know what’s going to happen next. We don’t let ourselves get complacent and it’s like a puzzle that we want to crack each time.”
This is the approach to each play from the award-winning Theatre Ad Infinitum, one of the associate companies at South Woodford’s Redbridge Drama Centre.
Formed in 2008 by George Mann, his one-man show Behind The Mirror received lavish praise from those in the know at that year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival – also catching the eye of the drama team from Redbridge.
Over the past six years, the theatre, in Churchfields, has had a blossoming relationship with George, as well as co-artistic directors Nir Paldi and Amy Nostbakken.
Almost all of its productions since have been developed at the theatre with audiences there regularly acting as guinea pigs for early versions of shows including Odyssey and The Big Smoke.
“They seemed to really take to us,” said George of the centre. “There wasn’t anything like us in Redbridge at the time and from there our relationship has really started to grow.
“We wanted to expand our educational work and that sat really well with them. They brought a lot of students to see our work and the relationship continued to build.
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“It’s become a real home for us and, when we start a new show, we rehearse for a majority of the time there. We have a real affinity with Redbridge Drama Centre.”
The company is about to embark on a short tour with its latest production Ballad of the Burning Star – a look at a boy growing up amid the war between Israel and Palestine.
Written semi-autobiographically by Nir, the play earned Theatre Ad Infinitum The Stage Award for best ensemble at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe as well as four and five-star reviews from The Guardian and The Scotsman.
Awards have come thick and fast over the past six years but George says the group never “presume” the next production will be a success.
“There’s a lot of hard work and stress in trying to figure out how to make a certain story work,” he says. “We give ourselves the ambition of creating something different every time.
“We have been on a really good run and we will fight for that to continue. We try not to let things go to our heads.”
Fear is an important factor in the creative process, said George, who is an advocate of “putting everything on display” in front of an audience in order to improve the finished production.
Currently in the process of writing his next piece, Light, based on the story of whistleblower Edward Snowden, he staged the show at Redbridge Drama Centre last month.
“It’s quite a humbling process, because you never know what people will see,” he says. “You can work for weeks on a specific scene and then still no one understands it.
“At the show we did in January it was very clear that the audience were excited by the style, but didn’t really feel anything emotionally. That sent me back to the drawing board.
“I find it stunning that lots of theatre is made in three to four weeks because we take 12 to 14, but most of the time we manage to succeed.”
George laments cuts to the arts. “From the knowledge I have, it seems to me that the arts as a whole are making money for the country, as opposed to losing money, so I don’t understand why you would cut the funding.
“I really hope that in 2015 there will be a change for the better.”
n Visit theatreadinfinitum.co.uk or look out for upcoming shows in the borough at redbridgedramacentre.co.uk