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In September, we welcome AmpersandMedia launching their twice monthly news reading group (Papers at the Lounge) followed shortly after by Storylines which will use the headlines discussed that morning to develop a theatre piece which will be performed that evening in the Lounge. From choosing the headline, to shaping the staging – everyone can get involved.

Artistic director and man of long hair, Mark Stevenson talks stories, newspapers & shampoo…

How did the Storylines concept begin?

I really wanted an excuse to read the newspapers (something I never have time for), so we started developing a show based on them (whenever we do the show now it’s the one time I feel like I know what’s going on in the world). I also work developing shows with community groups and I really enjoy collaborating. I genuinely believe that the more you allow people to input into a theatre rehearsal the more brilliant ideas that will be created. Even working with kids I always figure that they are going to come up with better ideas than I ever could, so creating a show that empowered and allowed audiences to input ideas was a natural extension of that.

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What is the project hoping to achieve?

We hope first and foremost to create great pieces of theatre that are relevant and accessible to all. At the same time we’d like to give the opportunity for anyone who doesn’t think theatre is for them to come and experience how brilliant it can be, and to let everyone in to enjoy the excitement and play of a rehearsal room (it really is one of the nicest most fun places to spend time).

Can you talk us through a typical Storylines day at the Lounge?

We’ll start with the newspapers, choosing the stories that most interest everyone, and then we’ll jump into trying out scenes and characters. Then we’ll develop these through the day until the actors are ready (or we’ve worn them out). By the end of the day we’ll have a play to perform. It could be on a stage, parading around the library space, or on location in Deptford – we don’t know until we develop each days show what the performance will be.

And what sort of people are you hoping to attract? Any particular interest or skills?

We truly want everyone to come. Anyone who has ever watched the news, or has an opinion about the news, or is interested in theatre, or would like to come and hang out with some very nice people and have a social and thoughtful time.

What shampoo do you use?

Heartbreakingly they don’t make my favourite any more and I can’t find anything as good as mint and tea tree – help. Bring shampoo.