Get to know our Starting Blocks artists!

In the autumn of 2020, we announced the six artists selected to take part in our Starting Blocks residency: Aminita Francis, Callum Berridge, Clumsy Bodies, Frankie Thompson, Nick Blakeley and Tom Ryalls.

Over ten weeks, artists meet weekly to share practice, ideas and their developing works. On this page you can get to know them better and find out what they’ve been up to.

About Frankie Thompson 

I am a clown, performance artist and emerging idiot from London. I began performing as a teenager as part of Soho Theatre Comedy Labs, The Royal Court Youth Theatre and Young Pleasance Theatre companies before studying at Goldsmiths University of London and The London Clown School. My first show Forbruker was a ‘one-woman advert break’ which originated as part of Sprint Festival 2019 at Camden People’s Theatre then went on to have two sold out runs at Camden People’s Theatre and Soho Theatre following an eight-day run at The Edinburgh Fringe to critical acclaim. My work largely exams the relationship between body and space, including my ongoing recovery from anorexia nervosa and its residual side effects.

What inspired you to create the show you’re currently developing?

The Sex Party began when I discovered a story from 2011 about an insurance company that had awarded it’s ‘100 best salesman’ with a sex party in a spa in Budapest, particularly when I found out they wore inflatable armbands so that they could have sex and float at the same time. It got me thinking about the sexual behaviour and treatment of cisgender, white men in positions of political or financial power. Once I began researching I discovered endless examples of misconduct, including Theresa May conveniently returning the whip to two MPs had been accused of ‘sexual wrongdoing’ just in time for them to take part in her vote of no-confidence. It became clear that sexual conduct in Westminster is a key part of the political chess board.

How has the Starting Blocks residency helped you?

Like everyone, the impact of the coronavirus badly affected by mental health and planned career path for that year. Starting Blocks had created a framework of support, feedback and motivation and makes me feel more like an artist again and encourages me to make work each week to bring to the sessions. I am extremely lucky to have CPT’s support going forward.

 

About Tom Ryalls 

My name is Tom Ryalls and I’m a writer and a producer. I make work that is about playing with big ideas so I often used camp and children’s toys in order to enable people to literally play with the show. I’m really interested in all things tacky right now and my biggest dream is to become a D-list celeb and be invited on “Dancing on Ice”.

What inspired you to create the show you’re currently developing?

I went to school in the 00s in one of the poorest areas of Britain, there was a big focus then on making working-class kids become more middle-class in return for a promise of financial stability. I went along with it all until the university tuition fee rise to £9K, where I realised it had all been a lie, that really unless you’re born into wealth it doesn’t matter how good you are at pretending.

When, last year, there was another exam results scandal that unfairly punished state school kids I was reading “Steal as much as you can” by Nathalie Olah where she tracks how culture has changed over the last 20 years. I realised this move towards forcing working-class kids to aspire to a middle-class life that will never offer them the financial stability their middle-class peers have, was also mirrored in pop music. That’s when I realised Karaoke, might be the secret to a revolution.

How has the Starting Blocks residency helped you?

I got diagnosed with ADHD last year so I’m using my time to re-work my creative process supported by the CPT team and figure out ways to work which is much better for my brain.

 

About Nick Blakeley 

My name is Nick and I am originally from the North East of England but now based in London.  I trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and have mainly worked in theatre since then. Recent shows include The Claim (Shoreditch Town Hall/ Paines Plough Roundabout), Twelfth Night (Orange Tree Theatre) and Brideshead Revisited (ETT). I am also an associate artist of Encounter (The Kids Are Alright, I Heart Catherine Pistachio) and am currently taking inspiration from Katie Mitchell, Beckett and Drag Race. The Starting Blocks scheme sees the development of my first solo show as a writer-performer!


What inspired you to create the show you’re currently developing?

I got to my late 20s without feeling like I’d ever experienced or truly engaged with the idea of dying and grief, having been lucky enough not to lose anyone close to me. Then I found out that my Dad was terminally ill. I prepared myself as best I could but the whole process was still entirely different from what I had expected and left me feeling that I had got grief ‘wrong’.

The taboo surrounding death and grief amazed me. There is a feeling that you’re entering a club…but surely it is the least exclusive club in the world! With the backdrop of Covid-19, it feels more important than ever to readdress how we deal with death in this country. I want Dead Dads Club to get people sharing, talking and, perhaps most importantly, laughing.

How has the Starting Blocks residency helped you?

The prospect of a solo autobiographical show is very daunting to me and quite different from the theatre work I’ve done previously. Starting Blocks is providing support, structure, resources and some well-timed validation! I feel so lucky to be part of the group and learning from both CPT and my fellow artists.