London Horror Festival 2021
Lovers of scary stories, unite. Adding the fear factor to increasingly popular spoken word nights, storytellers from across the Horrorfest and beyond will share their worst (or should that be best?) nightmares at Blackshaw’s sixth annual Scare Slam.
Hi Ellie thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?
Hello! We’re really pleased to be getting back to live shows, and feeling reassuringly busy in the run up to the Scare Slam.
Has this time provided you with any new creative inspiration or opportunities?
Yes - we’re lucky in that a lot of our work is in the audio medium, so during lockdown we focussed our efforts on podcasting and writing; working with our sister-podcast, Merely Roleplayers, and developing a radio play for Wandsworth Fringe, which we performed in July this year.
What does it mean to you to be bringing your new show Scare Slam to the London Horror Festival 2021, are there be any nerves ahead of your run?
The Scare Slam is an annual event for us, and we really felt that gap in our calendar last year! We’re thrilled to be back. There’s always a lot of excitement in the lead up – especially as we take open submissions for writer/performers, so at the beginning of the process, we know there’s a show, but we don’t actually know what the content of the show will be! We’re very pleased with this year’s selection - it’s guaranteed to be bone chillingly brilliant.
Can you tell me a little bit about Scare Slam, what was the inspiration behind your new show?
This is our 6th annual Scare Slam. It’s an evening of ghost stories, scary anecdotes and hilarious horror. You can expect 6 different solo performances in the hour-long show, each with their own special brand of spookiness (and sometimes, silliness). The compere provides some light relief in between scares, and will be bringing some haunted objects, for the audience to examine...
What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing Scare Slam to the stage?
Working out the optimum running order for the 6 performances is the trickiest bit for me – curating a rollercoaster of fear and relief, and the most effective fear journey for the audience, takes a lot of thought.
"...with arts funding at an all-time low, we wanted to find a way to make theatre on our terms."
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
Absolutely – my parents can attest to the extremely high quality of the plays I insisted they watch me perform in the front room.
What is it about horror that interests and inspires you so much as a creator?
I think scary stories have all the key ingredients for good storytelling and therefore, good theatre. A bit of mystery, some quiet moments leading up to a scare, and some humour thrown in can really lure the audience into a false sense of security!
How did Blackshaw Theatre Company come about and how much has your approach to your work changed since you started out?
I formed the company in 2010 as a reaction to the economic crash – with arts funding at an all-time low, we wanted to find a way to make theatre on our terms. We started with new writing nights, and from there built a sprawling network of multi-disciplinary artists and have worked on large scale stage productions, produced a podcast and live radio drama, and, of course, the annual Scare Slam. The funding situation for the arts hasn’t exactly improved, we’ve found ourselves focussing more on one-off live shows and audio dramas. Our partnership with the Merely Roleplayers podcast brings us a lot of joy! You can catch their debut stage show ‘Lights Out’ straight after the Scare Slam on Sunday 24th October.
What's the best piece of advice you would offer fellow theatre-makers?
I think it’s really all about making theatre you’d love to watch yourself, and working with artists you admire. Surround yourself with good people, and good stories, and you can make great things happen.
And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from Scare Slam?
A fantastic introduction to the London Horror Festival, and a great night of laughs and scares – a spooktacular rollercoaster of emotions!