"I thought suddenly that it was stupid to be so sentimental. What we needed was not a hero to worship but money. If we had money we could go anywhere. Give us the money and we would be the heroes." - 'The Last Samurai', Helen DeWitt
Raised in poverty by a depressed single mother, Ludo is convinced he can solve all their problems, if only he can find his father. His epic quest takes him from East London to the Arctic Circle, from mediaeval Japan to the depths of his mother's sadness, all without ever getting off the Circle Line. Based on Vulture's book of the century 'The Last Samurai', 'We Never Get Off at Sloane Square' is a smart and hopeful play, set simultaneously in 1990s London and inside the mind of an extraordinary child.
- Book Release 2001: Helen DeWitt's novel 'The Last Samurai' is released. A fifteen-year-old borrows it from her friend to read on a plane. This is the first of about twenty times she will read this book over the coming years.
- Rights Agreement 2017: The fifteen-year-old, now grownup actor and playwright Amy Garner Buchanan, graduates from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She procures theatrical adaptation rights from Helen DeWitt.
- Rehearsed Reading 2018: Amy, a team of actors, a director and a dramaturg stage a rehearsed reading of 'We Never Off at Sloane Square' at The Pear Tree pub in West London. The audience laughs, loves it and has to move inside when it starts raining like billy-o.
- Script Accelerator 2018: The team participate in four weeks' rehearsal and development at the Park Theatre, culminating in a public showing of the first twenty minutes of the play. Positive and constructive feedback abounds. We begin to plan for the future.
- Funding Freeze 2020: Producer Niall Dingle diligently works on several successive funding applications in order to set up further rehearsal and development periods. The last of these is cancelled when a little thing called COVID-19 brings the arts industry to its knees.
- Sloane Square Project 2021: The story of a depressed mum stuck at home with her child has a new resonance. Amy and actors Lewis and Charlie form the Sloane Square Project, with the dual aims of supporting stressed-out parents and producing the play in Autumn 2021.
- Amy Garner Buchanan - Writer, Producer, "Sibylla"
- Lewis Bruniges - "Ludo" + Community Engagement Content Creator
- Charlie Ives - "Chorus" + Social Media Designer
- Niall Dingle - Consulting Producer
- Hayley Ricketson - Dramaturg
- Rosie, age 7 - Graphic Design Help
Due to pandemic-induced life changes, our previous Director is pausing her involvement in this project. Once we have funding, we will be able to confirm a new Director, another Chorus member, and a Stage Manager. Our goal is for at least two of these positions to be held by British East Asian theatre-makers.
It's likely that by the time we open, vaccinations will have reached critical mass, but even if they haven't, we are confident, or dare we say it, excited, about working within safety guidelines. As with all creativity, parameters provoke inspiration. What if we act from a 2m distance, remaining in separate parts of the stage, never touching, like stations on the Circle Line? This opens up all kinds of possibilities for abstract movement. What if we get to blur the boundaries between theatre and film by live-streaming our show? No matter what, we will bring this story to the stage. Theatres are planning reopening seasons and we are determined to be a part of it.
We want to connect with the people our play is about. The mental health charity Mind is partnering with us, and we've already started creating and sharing resources for parents and children. We also plan to explore partnerships with organisations related to solo parenthood and brainstorm ways in which we can engage with this often marginalised group.
We are so proud of this play, and others who have seen it so far agree. For example, film industry professional Evelyn Xing (who reads a lot of bad scripts for a living) says: "Just like DeWitt's novel, Amy brings us a theatre project awe-inspiring in content and truly innovative in form. At the staged reading, the genius characters, quick-fire dialogue, and mind-bending structure effortlessly dazzled, flirting with the audience's expectations and challenging our perspectives on life, on the world, and on ourselves."
Amy and Hayley's work has been reviewed elsewhere (for their 2019 production 'Bruised Fruit', ****) as "a robust and effective collaboration...both Buchanan and Ricketson have a keen eye and ear for the power of storytelling". We are confident in our team's ability to do justice to this story!
'We Never Get Off at Sloane Square' promises to bring so much to its audiences, artists and community partners. But none of our plans is possible without money. If we are to join in the theatre industry's reopening, we need to plan now. We aim to come out of lockdown with a deposit for a venue ready to go, so that we can begin negotiations with theatres and larger funding bodies as soon as possible. If we exceed our target, we will also be able to fund a rehearsal and development period and a full programme of community engagement. Will you back us to get this thing off the ground? There are rewards for all levels of donation, too - make sure you click 'select reward' rather than 'donate' if you would like to get your perks. We are so grateful for your support!