Archive for the ‘Build’ Category

Photographs of the set-build.

October 13, 2009

Just a quick post to show you some of the amazing work our creative team are doing, although these pictures are already outdated as the set is growing and changing by the minute! Check in here for more pictures in the next few days….



The window display

The window display

working hard

working hard

The Sweet Shop Vision!

The Sweet Shop Vision!


The Next Stage Begins

October 12, 2009

the set takes shape

the set takes shape

Lights up.  An empty shop unit.  From beyond the roller shutters the faint sound of shopping centre music can be heard. Over this, hammering and tapping.   Production managers, designers, and builders are painting and constructing.  They are wading their way through paint pots and tools, making a dark disused shop look colourful and beautiful.

Enter directors, musicians, performers…

So here it is.  The beginning of rehearsals for The Corner Shop.  The designing and making team have been working in the space for a couple of weeks now, and tomorrow the performers will arrive for the first day of rehearsals.

It’s immensely exciting being in the space in its current state of development.  It’s surprisingly quiet.  Muffled sounds float up the stairs from the workshop area on the floor below. There are hushed voices of the production team as they focus on their tasks. Heads are down, overalls donned, and the large shop shell is filled with the smell of paint, the gentle sound of drilling, and quiet swishes of paint rollers rolling.

Standing at the end of where the ‘street’ will be, you can see familiar spaces, rooms, and shops begin to unfold.  Gigantic wooden boxes containing memories of acid pink sweet shop walls, 1980’s living rooms and market stalls.

Whilst the team are hard at work inside, outside on the floor of the shopping centre intrigued passers by stop and investigate the window display, which invites them to step inside the corner shop.

Upstairs, the set is taking shape and downstairs, the props are collected and stored.  There are empty suitcases everywhere.  Shelves and side units are stacked alongside one another, waiting to be placed in their rooms and filled with records, books, and family pictures. Black and white chequered lino floors, mats and rugs are ready for unrolling. Giant foil wrapped sweets await hungry eyes. Clocks lie redundant on table tops, waiting to be hung on walls, to be wound on and watched.

And, in another room at the back of the shop space, a costume rail holds a 1960’s mini dress, a bright orange body warmer, brightly coloured scarves and shop keepers overalls.  Aside from this, the room is empty.  That is, until the performers arrive tomorrow morning with fresh newly printed scripts in their hands. Another layer will be added to our growing world of The Corner Shop.  The next stage begins.

I’ll be blogging on a daily basis from now on, so keep looking in on us for regular updates on the ever changing set and the rehearsal process.

Rochi Rampal, Performer

The Build Begins

October 2, 2009
The first of many

the first of many (flats)

There is now a furious sound of hammering and drilling coming from the unit in the Mander Centre – or more strictly, there is the furious sound of hammering and drilling in the unit. No sound must escape and disturb the shoppers. It was one of the restrictions on using the space, that we only found out about quite late, but in a way, we should have realised it earlier – you never see shop fitters at work in the normal run of things. When the shopping centre is open, you can’t be banging and crashing about and destroying the shopping experience of the public. That’s why shop fitters have to do night shifts – or twilight working.

Some of the many flats we'll use

lots of the many

Our original intention was that the public would be able to come into the unit, to a viewing area, and see it as it gradually developed from an empty space to the newly created set. The noise restrictions make this unlikely now. Most of the building is being done downstairs to keep the noise limited, then the team will bring it up stairs and put it into place.

So everyone is working away like ants in a nest, in the bowels of the Mander Centre. If they are good they will be allowed out to see the sunshine every once in while – but only if they are good.

Uzma arrives

Uzma arrives

The design team is a mixture of people who worked on it last time and new faces. Already they seem well set and busy, with basic flats being knocked out at an astonishing speed. By Monday the first bits will go into the space and then the designers will get to work finishing. The rooms will be different to last time, because of the new people, but also because so much stuff is scavenged to decorate them; so each time it is going to be different – it will be what ever the charity shops and auctions have to offer on the day.

The hope is to have as much done as possible before the cast arrive in a few weeks. I have faith.

Steve Johnstone, co-director

Getting down and dirty in Wolves and West Brom

September 14, 2009

Just spent the day with the design/making team in our new shop in the Mander Centre, Wolverhampton and our old shop in the Queens Square, West Bromwich.

This run of the Corner Shop (for those of you who don’t know) is a remount of the original production which took place almost exactly a year ago in West Bromwich.

Rob and Johnny discuss the options

Rob and Johnny discuss the options

Remounting a site specific production in a new location is bound to bring with it difficulties – the original show had been specifically made around the venue you were using then. It utilised the unique features of that space and tried to use them to make something that seemed utterly at home in that location. Inevitably, then, a remount elsewhere throws up a number of problems.

Our intention this time is to create something that is less reliant on the space we are using physically, but drawing on its relative location and what that means to the audiences who attend. We want, this time, to create a show that can be toured to other similar locations, if people want it. Therefore, the show’s significant relationship to its current location is based around the shopping centre itself, and what that means to people coming in to see a show about small local shops there.

But we’ve still got the complication of taking the original design and fitting it onto a new, differently shaped space.

Originally, we had a large shop with pillars every 3-4 metres and a staircase rising to a second floor about two thirds of the way back.

Our new location has pillars as well, but not so regular. It has a staircase, but it is right in front of the main entrance and it descends to a lower floor.

What they do have in common is that they are both a little grubby at the moment.

We are also working with new designers, as Purvin is busy on another project (luckily he is still involved to a degree and was with us for a short while today).

After much discussion between Rob (who is the principal designer/builder), Johnny (who is leading on the design/making), Deb (who is production manager) and me (one of the co-directors) we seem to have found a place for everything and a route for the audience that makes sense.

Following this discussion, we uprooted ourselves and went to West Brom, to the original location to see if there was anything that could be salvaged from there for the remount.

Walking into that space was odd, it still held the echo of the original production. The partitioning had been stripped out, but wallpaper still ghosted on the walls. The patina that the original design team had laid down around objects was still there, but the objects themselves had vanished. In the sweet shop, there was still the sickly sugar smell of mouldering confectionery.

Johnny in the old shop in West Brom

Johnny in the old shop in West Brom

For Johnny, who didn’t work on the original production, it was good to see what remained and how it related to our earlier chat, for us it triggered memories in a way that images can’t.

It feels like we are really getting into motion now.

Posted by Steve Johnstone co-director