A Theatre of Symbolism

Blog by Alexander Knott (Co-Director, Resident playwright) 

 Fringe is brilliant.

“You know - maybe this is Theatre of Symbolism”, I said to the cast of LOOP in rehearsals one day last week. And, naturally, I was met with a bunch of blank stares, and James saying “What are you on about now?” in that dry, blank, Northern ragamuffin intellectual way he has about him.

 Now don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t trying to be some big arty type, sat there with my play about music and family, thinking that I’d coined a brand new term, and invented a new type of theatre (though let’s be honest, we’ve all thought that at one time or another, right? Right? Only me? Fair enough. Moving on.) 

But it got me thinking about Fringe. Not just Edinburgh, the whole fringe side of theatre. Now I love fringe – I think, at it’s best, it is infinitely more exciting, experimental, brave, bold, collaborative and satisfying for both audience and performers than the West End can ever really be.

And that’s not just because the West End shows have to be big, certain hit, gold-plated money spinners (although often they do); it’s because, in the fringes, above the pubs, and inside the black box studios, there is a real ‘throw everything at the wall, see what sticks, let’s do it anyway, even though we have no budget and no set and no actors’ attitude that resonates more powerfully, more immediately with people.

And, while we’re here, that’s what theatre has that film doesn’t.


You’re in the same room as the people you’re telling the story to. There’s no getting away. You have them there, they’re not leaving (hopefully) and you can talk right to them, there and then, in that small dark space in Camden or Dalston or Camberwell. Or Stratford, in our case.

The reason that fringe can be so exciting and experimental is because, although everyone always wants to break even, there’s often no producer demanding that the show makes thousands upon thousands, although that’s always going to be the long term aim.

So you will see people down the Vaults, or at the Camden or Clapham Fringe, taking risks and creating shows that no one in an office with a chequebook would consider a goer. But that’s what makes the fringe scene the most diverse, and the most engaging.

So when you see a set that’s using black cubes as a living room, as a nightclub, as a bus, and a tube carriage, and a hospital, or come across a company that’s decided that instead of shelling out on a particularly tricky or cumbersome prop, they’d just mime the bugger – then that’s the Theatre of Symbolism.

Conjure it in the audience’s imagination, and they’ll buy it. And you didn’t have to buy that prop.

Make do and mend. Because a bare stage, with a light pointing at it and a few bodies walking and talking at the same time, that’ll hold the audience’s attention. Then the words just have to be the right ones.

Props that come out of nowhere. Props that don’t actually exist, but with that flourish the actor just did, you think for a second you saw something that wasn’t there. That’s it. That’s the one. That’s why huge fancy sets are never going to be as good as something you’ve had to make do and mend with.

That’s why Fringe is brilliant. And if, one day, we’re sat on a big expensive, fully realised, bells and whistles set, I’d like to think we’d be able to go “We did this with four black cubes once.”

That’s why Fringe is brilliant.

20th February 2018


We are bringing LOOP back and going on the road! 

We are delighted to announce our two venues for our tour. 

First up: Our first stop is Gerry's Studio, the exciting new writing space at Theatre Royal Stratford East! GerrysTRSE 

22nd - 24th March 

£12 /£10

Tickets: HERE

Second up: Our second stop is with our friends in the north ! We are over the moon to bring our show to Manchester's hottest new arts venue! Lets get our northern soul on!  

8 - 12 May


Tickets: HERE

We are so excited to get this beautiful show another airing and take it to new audiences in and down the country. New Cast and bigger northern soul moves! DONT MISS IT!

22nd May - 29th May 2017


We had a busy first week of intensive rehearsals, in the heat wave and all. All our actors worked incredibly hard, through the sweat and it resulted us in setting all of the physical movement in four days, which meant we could attempt a stumble through on the Friday. (Which turned out not to be as bad as we thought it would be!) 

From Northern Soul, 80's Jam and beating up in Slow motion...

It's going to be such a great show! 

14th May 2017

It was a sunny Sunday morning and the Artistic Director thought it was a good idea to shoot a film... trailer. 

It was such good fun to make, if even we were battling the sun dipping behind the clouds every five minutes. I think we got some good shots and the cast look amazing all together.

After 'Zöe Spielberg' wrapped the trailer,  we had our first FULL cast rehearsal and the actors found it great to be able to show each other their scenes and monologues they had been working on separately and we started to add other people to each scene to really bring that ensemble effect into play. 




9th May 2017


Today we introduced the past to the present and worked on some of the last scenes in the play. Emily Thornton and James Demaine here working on bonding as grandson and grandma with Co- director Alexander Knott dishing out the notes. 

1st May 2017

Today we had the wonderful Aaron Price and Rubie Ozanne working on the 80's section. As they are reprising 'The Boy' and 'The Girl' was when they last performed the parts all the way back in September 2016, it was a real test to see if they could remember the words.... Luckily it went swimmingly, bar a fit of giggles from everyone in the room (it was a long day!) and we managed to delve deeper into the characters and explore different choices from when we did it last time. 

Its very exciting and the guys are really bringing the characters to life! 


30th April 2017


Working with a minimalistic set was always in the idea for LOOP, letting the movement and words do the talking. 

These were constructed by the wonderful 'Big Stevie G', who knocked them together in as little as five hours. WHAT A LEGEND 




"We ARE aware of the Irony of these boxes, as many have already stated that BoxLess is now BoxFull. We would like to make it known that our company is focused on thinking outside of the box and not conforming to the restrictions of a certain dancer stereotype. Whereas, the boxes for LOOP are easy moveable pieces of set and pedestals for the actors." 

We understand it is extremely ironic, but we know you'll get over that. 


26th April 2017


Today we had Actor, James Demaine in to rehearse the 00's section, where he is playing 'The Young Man'. It involved 2 hours of thumping Techno music but he's a joy to work with, always comes into rehearsals prepared, rehearsal garments and lots of ideas! 


Make sure you're booking your tickets before its too late! 

19th April 2017


Today we got our posters and flyers for LOOP, designed by our friends Old Glory Design Co. and Amy Goffin, who did a fab fab job, don't you think?! 

Look out for the flyers popping up around London! 


14th April 2017

Friday night we had our first read through, which went incredibly well. We worked our way through the script and got use to the characters. Played music through the era's and I scared the boys with the fact they will have to learn how to Northern Soul. 

It's all very exciting.

Zö x 


14th April 2017

BIG NEWS: BoxLess Physical Theatre's Brand New Production LOOP, will be coming to @TheatreN16: 6th - 10th June!