The company was originally created
as ‘A Load of Old Cheek’ and as the title may suggest, was comprised of
former members of Cheek by Jowl.
This seemed like a good idea at the time, but was very limiting. There
were not that many ex members who were available to take part at the time.
The first production was my adaptation of
‘The Daughter of Time’ by
It had taken a few years to complete and the piece was rewritten many times,
starting off on a typewriter and completed on an Amstrad.
As no other companies were interested in it and
the constant rejection
letters were becoming depressing, I decided to put it on myself.
The rights proved difficult to get but they agreed to let me do 4
performances to see how it went.
I chose the Georgian Theatre in Richmond as the ideal venue for the show. I
felt the play’s subject matter, an investigation into the supposed murder of
the Princes in The Tower by Richard III, might appeal to the local audience.
It is also a beautiful theatre with a great pub next door, The Black Lion.
This still left me with a small dilemma, I had no money and
the bank wouldn’t lend me any.
So, this was when it helps to have a few friends.
Fortunately I hadn’t ostracised myself from everyone in the business, and
First, Pete Sargent and I built and painted the set from old scenery up at
Hanger Services. I knew I had to do this in advance and then leave it in a
corner for a few months.
I then did the poster and leaflets and started calling people to take part.
I managed to cast most of the show from Cheek by Jowl’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s
Leda was doing rep in Harrogate but Annie White, Steph Bramwell, Clare LeMay
and Paul Sykes agreed to come and play. Colin Wakefield put me on to Trevor
Penton but I couldn’t find anyone to play the lead.
Geof Towers had agreed to do it but then called to say he was filming in
Canada, apparently having made a mistake in his diary.
With 2 weeks to go I placed an ad in The Stage. I can’t say that the
prospect of doing a play for expenses only and with only a couple of weeks
to learn it appealed to many of the fraternity, especially when they found
out where we were going to rehearse.
|| I saw a few people, but nobody really seemed
have the enthusiasm which was going to
be necessary to pull it off.
With 10 days to go and convinced that the
whole project was about to
phone rang. The caller had seen the ad and
wondered if the
part was still going.
Two hours later, I was saved by Nick Frost.
He didn’t seem bothered about rehearsing in our front room, and managed to
convince me that he could learn it. So with Frostie, as we came to know him,
on board, everything fell into place.
|I had already done a bit of pre
publicity with Paul. We took some shots in Westminster Abbey of him and the
Tomb where the Prince's are supposed to
Our living room was soon converted into a hospital and rehearsals took shape
The idea was to make the show look and sound
as if it was film in the 1950's
like the old Doctor in the House series
this is the only colour shot with Trevor
had a great time. The National Theatre Costume Hire and some original period
Channel Dresses just her size
from left to right
Steph, Annie, Clare, Frostie, Paul & Trevor
I’m not convinced that Frostie ever really learnt the whole play, there were
a few times that he just glazed over, but we all had a good time. Thanks
also go to Chrissie for the costumes, Ceri and Liz for the props, Rob
for the fit up and Pete again for lighting and running the show.
Although the production was a success, I now found that we were not able to
do further performances because we were denied the rights. This was fairly
frustrating, and with nowhere to keep the set, the show was skipped,
literally. I decided the thing to do was to write something original next
time to avoid this happening again.
|Working with Frostie, I soon learnt
that he was a great storyteller and that he was at his most fruitful over a
One of his stories was about when he was a chef in the Navy and I thought
that this would make a good one man show, so we got together over the next
few months to talk.
The process was that we would go to the pub with
a cassette recorder, have a
few drinks, and he
would talk about his life and times in the Navy.
constructed a play from the tapes, which because it is set in a Detention
of a Navy Prison, I called ‘D Q Blues’.
Leda also had a project that she wanted to do. This was an adaptation of
Barbara Pym’s book
‘No Fond Return of Love’. So we decided to produce a
double bill and put it on at The Man in the Moon.
|| Unfortunately the company name would
have more relevance if it were called A Couple of
Old Cheek, so a new
one was sought.
Leda had the idea of calling it Makita Theatre
after the Makita drill, which
is used by stage
crew and is often the solution to a scenery
most common term used during a
fit up is ‘Who’s got the bloody Makita’.)
We realised that this might cause copyright
problems but then discovered
that the Greek
word ‘Maketa’ means idea or plan.
So Theatre Maketa was born.
Patricia Doyle directed Leda, Harriet Keevil and Catherine Harding in ‘No
Fond Return of Love’ with Angus MacKechnie helping out with the production
and running the shows.
|We had the usual problems with the
rights, which I still fail to understand.
You would think publishers would welcome adaptations which might open up
works to a larger audience.
They should at least give you an opportunity to try something out. It
depends on whether you agree with the Beckett Police principle or not.
Anyway, an agreement was eventually reached.
Sets and costumes were cobbled
together in the
usual fashion. Our own furniture that had appeared
in countless shows was utilised again. We still get
calls from people
wanting to borrow the chairs.
I built the set for my show at Hoxton Hall and
Mike Jackson transported it in his camper van.
Clare LeMay sorted out publicity and Frostie
blagged his uniform from Navy
The Times promised to come to the opening and
do a photo and article about the shows, and we
thought everything would be
Well, for a start, the Times didn’t turn up.
I did write to Benedict
Nightingale and complain about
this and received a promise for our next
show and although most people who
seemed to enjoy the shows, we did not do very
well at the box office.
Despite a good piece in Time Out with a photo
and ad, we still failed to
tempt a large audience.
I seem to remember Frostie warning me that we
had chosen the wrong venue,
and he was
The Fringe in London is highly
you really have to have something about your
show to pull people in.
We would have done better performing
in regional studio theatres.
He had the worst of it as well, with poor
audiences for DQ Blues.
Acting can be hard, lonely work sometimes for all the wrong reasons.
But we soldiered
on for 4 weeks, and the cast always turned
in decent performances.
Disappointed that the project was not a financial success, and with our loss
scenario far worse than expected, we decided to delay our future plans. The
Arts Council were not prepared to help until they had seen more of our work,
and we both needed to earn a living.
I decided that I wanted to write something completely original, and I had
several ideas that I wanted to pursue. However, I could never quite find the
time to finish these projects until now. Friends came up with other ideas
which were worth investing in and you always learn something from the
|| Geof had
a production of Henry V he wanted to do.
It is still a good idea and one that I'm sure we will
do at some stage. Just
because things don't work
out at the time doesn't mean that they are doomed
You can always returned to unfinished projects.
Then Iain Rogerson came up with the idea of
producing John Godber’s plays in The Middle East.
I must admit that this did not jump out at me screaming what a great idea.
With John's approval I produced some promotional work for Bouncers, as this
is the play that is probably best know, and it did created some interest.
From when we first started working on ‘Bouncers’
to finally doing
performances of ‘April in Paris’ in February 2003 took
about 3 years. Although it was
a successful show, war broke out a month later and the tour was cancelled.
We had the first reading of my new play The Balance
2003 and I am
now looking for the right venue to produce it in. It was while looking for
venues that I decided to build my own: Theatre
This was an idea that I had years ago, but never had the time or money to
build. It opened at Edinburgh in 2005 with three productions,
Talking Talking Heads and
Audience with Murder.
Although it rained for 3 weeks in Edinburgh, it was very worthwhile. We have
since taken Talking, Talking Heads to Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks and
Waterloo Place and next February, Audience with Murder will be produced by
Double Honours Productions in association with Theatre Maketa at the Jermyn
Street Theatre in London.
In January 2006, Theatre Truck will be taking part in the Belfast Festival
for 3 weeks.