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In Conversation With… 3B THEATRE

BONDED BY BLOODI was in the audience last night of a new self devised piece, premiering at the Edinburgh festival fringe of a new ‘musical’ about the Infamous Moors murderers, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. I was so intrigued by the piece, that we decided to interview 3B Theatre, the company behind the show about their influences and the journey of the production. I met with Henry Dell and Alana Armstrong, founders of the company, to chat about their inspiration and influences behind such a shocking subject matter.

Firstly let me ask, how did you both meet?
We met when we did an acting degree in Bournemouth, we studied together, and have known each other four years, we graduated last year, then I moved up here to Edinburgh, and Henry moved to London, so we’ve had to work out rehearsal times, while I was up here and he was down there, its been very hectic!

Why did you devise this piece in particular?
Henry: For our third year piece at university, you can basically do whatever you want, you can do a known play or you can do something you wrote yourself.  Me and Alana instantly knew we wanted to work together, because wed jammed together a lot, we literally just sat down and said, ‘What interests us?’ We wanted to do something that would make people think., Rather than just do something that had already been done, like another Hamlet, or another play that had been done a million timeS. We wanted to do something that would make people leave and question.  So we sat one evening talking through all the stories that had interested us and one of us brought up the moors murders, and I think the reason we gravitated towards it was how obsessed she was with him, and how obsessed he was with her, and how if you’re in love with someone that can become your obsession, and from there we wrote ‘Why’, the song that opens and closes the show. It’s always been there as its what we want the audience to leave thinking ‘Why?’

So were either of you interested in the Moors murderers beforehand, who thought it up?
I think it might have been Henry, but we were both interested in the psychology behind it and the criminal mind.
H: My Grandma is a drama teacher, and she’s mentioned it to me a few times that she doesn’t like to talk about it, she cant. She obviously had children about the same age at the time and it kind of interested me to look into it a little bit. Then we both researched it, I got a book that was about all the people in Ian Brady’s life and Alana got the biography on Myra Hindley’s life, then we both came back to each other and said ‘there’s so much material here’, and what’s interesting is some people have come to see it and said we shouldn’t be doing it, but its ok if you were doing a show just about child murder, but the second you make it real, and put a name to it its wrong. But its 50 years ago now.

Well, look at London Road, a hugely successful production about the Ipswich prostitute murders, done by the National Theatre, which is currently in production as a film…
Well yes exactly
A: I think its easier for people if they can disassociate from it, a lot of people who have enjoyed it the most are the American audiences, because they didn’t grow up around it or around the time it happened, they don’t come in with a preconceived feeling.

What was your angle when you did it, what did you want the focus of the piece to be?
I think from writing the music we knew quite quickly that the main focus was going to be obsession.
A: and their relationship, rather than the acts, I think some people expected us to talk about or sing about the crimes on stage more, but we were more interested in the relationship, and what drove them both.

Why make it a musical and not a straight play?
probably because we both love music and we both have musical theatre backgrounds, we think it’s a great way to tell a story and it makes people listen.
A: And I find it sometimes easier to communicate through music.
H: I find also when were both playing Myra and Ian on stage, from the very beginning we have never played them humanistically, we’ve always kind of made them alter ego characters, and I feel doing that through gothic music makes them seem less human
A: we didn’t want it to be a straight representation of what went on it was more our sort of take on it.

So more of an abstract take on it?
Yes rather than, this is exactly what happened, this is the way it was.  Apart from the number where they return to their childhoods , where they adopt the regional accents, the piece is done more stylized, they’re not human, they’re singing and speaking in a sharp almost emotionless tone.

Did you write the music?
 We co-wrote it, i’d come up with different harmonies and melody’s and then we co wrote the lyrics, but myself and Alana have always just come together and worked out harmonies and just really worked together on that aspect aswell.  You couldn’t go through this process, with someone who you weren’t really close with, the Fringe is very intense.

Had you ever discussed or thought about doing it more from the angle of the crimes or talking more about the children? Or was that never on the agenda?
 Actually we wrote a song that was from the manuscript of the tapes, but thought if we were going to go down that route then we would have tochange the whole piece and it didn’t feel right actually making it about the actual murders, it felt right making it about how far would you go?
A: And taking something real like the manuscript and turning it into a piece of music seemed a bit too far, like we were glorifying them

It’s a 40 minute piece was it originally longer, have you cut it down for the festival?
 It was 15 minutes, so weve made it longer for the fringe festival.

And are you planning to making it longer again?
I don’t know, we’ve spoken to people about it, we were talking to people on the mile this morning and there’s so much story it could easily be stretched out but the thing is we have people who have come and absolutely loved it, then we get people who walk out and hate it, we get very few in the middle
A: for every bad response we’ve had we’ve had a good one, so its been a very tough run, but also very rewarding.
H: I’ve learnt more in the last two weeks than probably three years of drama school, having to get out there and do it.

So do you think there’s life for the piece after this?
Yes definitely I don’t want this to be the end.

This is your first piece as 3B Theatre company out of drama school do you plan on keeping it together?
 Yes, we definitely want to do something else and come back to the festival next year, probably with something new, we’ve thrown around a few ideas, but there’s lots of exciting things in the mix.

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Bonded by Blood, runs until August 16th 2014 at Spotlites at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

For more information on 3B theatre or ‘Bonded by Blood’ you can follow them on Twitter @3Btheatre

Interview by Sally Bowles.




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