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Shooting Stars: A New Era of Theatre Built From The Hopes and Wishes of Fresh New Talent  

Words & Photography: Louisa Clarke

 

Whether you’re in the West End, struck by glamour and elegance, a smile painted on your face at the purely joyful sight or discovering a new, more intimate venue, experimenting with the kind of storytelling and performance you’ve never seen before, walking through the doors of a theatre, there is always a sense of amazement. Couldn’t get any better, right? What if it can? The theatre isn’t the only place where our special brand of magic conjures.  

 

Louisa Clarke speaks with the young, innovative performers and creatives of today’s theatre industry emerging from performing arts education, taking their first steps into the spotlight and ready to make an impact as writers, directors, composers and founders of their own theatre company’s.  

 

Miguel Mota & Morgan Turner

Just over three years ago, actor, Miguel Mota decided to move to the UK from Portugal where he had begun his theatre education. The language that once could be called a distant stranger became the object of genuine love.  


November of last year, he founded Trouble in the Square, a new theatre company with roots firmly planted in Portsmouth and he speaks to us now with refreshing honesty, sharing his piqued passion and remarkable understanding of theatre as a community and creative outlet. 


Morgan Turner defines himself as a prose writer mainly focused on existentialist literary fiction that favours character over plot. Through frequently finding himself in bottom sets in school, Turner found a joy in acting that brought with it a life-altering change in perspective when he decided that writing was like “acting on paper” leading him to pass English with top grades. However, it would not be smooth sailing from there. The next step came, a few years later, when, growing tired of a cliché life of rejection and loathsome culture in pursuit of an acting career, he decided to take charge and write a place for himself.  


After a while, Turner parted ways with acting all together to commit to writing, joining the University of Portsmouth, publishing small articles with the Star and Crescent and proudly winning a publication award alongside a first-class degree. 


This is when he became a playwright and dramaturg for Trouble in the Square, a path he says he never would have thought to take if Miguel had not approached him with an idea he had been pondering for years.  


“I had been obsessed with the idea of war and that the idea of warfare is closer to us more than ever now”, says Mota, inspired by the endless culture and memorabilia around Portsmouth. 


Emerging Creative

In a moment of passionate collaboration, hands were outstretched with trust and support as Morgan took the carefully gathered pieces and put them together to create what became their debut play, Il Burattino.  


After noticing a pattern of American, British and ally perspective on war, Trouble in the Square proudly showcases an Italian view of WW2 in this original demonstration of the true effect of fascism on a country’s own soldiers. 


Turner explores in Il Burattino his usual soft spot for historical writing and his tendency to backdrop his story and challenge his characters with the change and issues of war and post-war settings, asking how their culture conflicts with them.  


He says: “Deep character examinations through good lyricism can make even the most static stories greater than any police chase or gunfight ever could”.  


Mota is not shy about his commitment to his “little baby”, allocating £40,000, alongside investors and supporters. 


Trouble in the Square took Il Burattino to stages across Portsmouth, Brighton and Edinburgh, braving, and overcoming that state of scary uncertainty that unfortunately seems always determined to be the three steps back for all the dreamers that dare take one step forward.  


Miguel Mota and Morgan Turner

“It’s been chaotic, sad, but amazing at the same time”, he says. “We’re slowly getting credibility and telling people who we are”. 


Miguel Mota welcomes any opportunity to dive into a creative process for the ‘privilege’ of understanding the world in a way unexplored by others, however, has shared that attempting to incorporate writing into his theatrical career at this time is still a fearful topic. 


On the other hand, speaking of directing, he says: “I am very interested in bringing my own ideas onto the space. I’ve got a weird drive to do crazy stuff”. 


Coming up next for Trouble in the Square, plans to take a monologue to the fringe next year and for a new story, this time inspired by member, actor and composer, Luke Feechan and following again this proven recipe, established through this first show, of creativity, innovation, personal experience and true belief in theatre as a storyteller. 


“To me, there’s something I will never give up on which is the idea of a live thing”, says Mota. “I hate the word pretending”. 


He shares how they will soon be entering pre-production of this idea based in traditions and beliefs of the Celtics and Paganism, with plans to go to Ireland to conduct research and strike their audiences with unknown reality. 


Inspired by ecological, atmospheric theatre, the kind with rain and fire, the kind which “pulls you out of the chair and brings you into this world of whatever is happening in front of you”, the kind which aims simply to “show you something different”, they demonstrate a creativity and passion that has no limits, with a cost of development that climbs, even at this early stage, to around half a million and includes plans for a sizeable orchestra.  


Emerging creative

Perhaps due to coming from an outside perspective, Mota is able to grasp onto subtle frays and loose threads in British theatre including, but not limited to, a “horrible” bias towards so-called guaranteed money-makers and “what British people have to call straight-acting”.

 

“It’s a slap in the face, the number of people trying to do the same thing.”, he says. “It’s deteriorated everything that theatre has been.” 


It is clear Mota is completely disillusioned with the juxtaposed way that distance is held dear nowadays, creating crowds that he argues are hindering their experience in an unwillingness to be sensitive, cry, or allow themselves to be hurt. As he brilliantly put it, sometimes we need to fall on our knees to grow.   


His happiness today at what he has achieved with Trouble in the Square and the money currently coming into the arts is outshined only by his dreams of an artistic residence where those interested in their work can come, learn and pass on their idea of what making theatre can be, with audiences leaving in the middle of the performance in that feeling of discomfort unable to sleep for days, lines or songs or visuals playing on their mind.


Miguel Mota and Morgan Turner

A future where they could look at their programmes, open on their laps, and see the faces of Portsmouth students staring back at them instead of ready-made stars; actors from university instead of a landscape where the editing of the programme pages is simply copying and pasting the name of the same drama schools over and over again. 


“We can criticise England for whatever, but I’ve got to thank England for a lot”, he says. “It’s given me a platform, it’s given me money, ability.” 

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