Interview with Ellen Gallagher, Producer of Bad Bat Productions

This week I spoke to Ellen Gallagher from Bad Bat Productions (@BadBatUK) about their latest show 'King Chaos' which is on at The Tristan Bates Theatre this August as part of the Camden Fringe. Here we talk about the show, Sci-Fi and breaking stereotypes...

1. Tell us a little about Bad Bat Productions, their ethos and the work they make...

Bad Bat Productions was born from the 'DIY' ethos. Both myself and writer/director Steve Jordan wanted to get more experience in putting on plays on the London fringe theatre scene, as we'd had a lot of fun doing so as part of ManMoth Productions previously. So far, we've done arguably sitcom-influenced genre comedy work, as there aren't many outlets for that sort of material in theatre unless you're prepared to roll up your sleeves and get it out there yourself. The audience responses have been excellent so far, as sci-fi and fantasy fans are an enthusiastic and loyal bunch, which is wonderfully encouraging. We started out with two-hander plays for practicality's sake; we didn't want to bite off more than we could chew in terms of logistics and finance for our early work, but now we've hit our stride we're making plays with larger casts and, importantly, more female characters. Our first play's only female character was a voiceover, played by yours truly because we were really on a shoestring at that point, but we're redressing that balance these days.

2. Your new show King Chaos is on as part of the Camden Fringe this year, could you tell us a little about the show?

It's a one-hour science fiction comedy play about morality, power and corruption (in space), and successor to the critically-acclaimed ‘Pilgrim Shadow’ and ‘Dead Static’, written and directed by Steve Jordan. King Jeffrey, compassion-vacuum and ruler of a evil galactic empire known as 'the Syndicate', commands the universe with an iron fist of idiocy and self-obsession. His reign's about to come to an end, but what now? Just who are the good guys, anyway?

The show runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden as part of this year’s Camden Fringe Festival, from Monday 10th August to Saturday 15th August 2015, 7.45pm. The show stars Cliff Chapman, Adam Joselyn, Emma Stirling and Robert Dearn.

3. Sci-fi is traditionally seen as quite a 'male' genre, and in the past has been less targeted at girls and women, have Bad Bat productions been interested in shaking this stereotype and appealing to a broader audience? (If yes, how...)

Speaking as a woman (which is how I generally tend to speak, being a woman and all), it's great to be able to work in a genre which has historically been so male-dominated. With the surge of 'Geek Culture' and the wonderfully vehement backlash against outmoded and outgunned misogyny-fuelled campaigns therein (Gamergaters, I'm looking at you), I am truly heartened. No longer is it quite so broadly tolerated for women to be present in gaming, comics, genre literature and movies solely as set dressing or being shoved into refrigerators to motivate the male characters. That said, there have always been strong, talented female writers in genre media - I count Margaret Atwood, Jane Goldman and Octavia Butler among my many personally influential figures.

Bad Bat shows carefully avoid sexist stereotypes and jokes, and we have great fun thinking of ways to subvert these sorts of tropes when we're at the script-writing stage. Audiences may notice that none of our plays has a blandly 'heroic' male character. We don't believe in masculinity being equated with a strong moral compass and 'saving the day', so we don't put that in our sci-fi comedy adventures. We don't want to make our male nor our female characters that simplistic, I certainly don't know anyone in real life who is that one-dimensional.

4. What's a typical rehearsal like on the show? Was the piece devised or scripted?

All of our shows are scripted by Steve Jordan, who is very open to script notes and discussions (which is good since I'm his script editor, producer and also happen to be his significant other). In rehearsals, we tend to try scenes and jokes in several different ways, initially trying it the way Steve envisioned it, but then testing out other interpretations and methods which might suit our actors even better. We select our actors based not only on their performance skills but also on how well the group 'gels'; our rehearsals tend to involve a lot of laughter and comedy experimentation, so we don't want too much of a formal or regimented atmosphere.

5. What messages do you hope an audience will take away from watching King Chaos?

Without giving too much away, we hope people will really question the true nature of power and how it can corrupt... and also think about how they treat their PAs!

6. Have Bad Bat got any more projects in the pipeline for this year?

We did a comedy sketch show earlier this year, which was a lot of fun and gave us the chance to work with our biggest ensemble cast yet. So we'll be taking a few months out to plan our next collaborative venture in March 2016, which we can't talk about too much yet but which will involve some pretty big names... watch our website for info when we can share it!

7. Describe the theatre you make in three words...

Subversive comedy sandwich.

8. Where can we read more about you and the show?

Our website, www.badbat.co.uk, contains our news, cast and creative bios and information about our present and past shows. You can also buy tickets for King Chaos via the links on there, or by going straight to the Tristan Bates box office: http://tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/king-chaos--camden-fringe-2015

Interview (C) Amie Taylor (@spoonsparkle) 2015

King Chaos by Bad Bat Productions runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden as part of this year’s Camden Fringe Festival, from Monday 10th August to Saturday 15th August 2015, 7.45pm
http://tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/king-chaos--camden-fringe-2015

Author's review: 
0