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amendments - Tom Stabb Interview

Setting out on a Utour, amendments marks Middleweight theatre’s 10th anniversary and following a highly acclaimed tour in 2019, is back exploring the diminishment and arguments of language within the workplace, sexism, gender/s and much more on a journey of dazzling word play and (sometimes), controversial debate - over what is and what is not acceptable to say.

Situated within a stringent office environment, the drama begins smack in the middle of Kenneth, the company manager, reprimanding his subordinate colleague, John, over the hot-topic of harassment.  From the first second, audiences are exposed to unrelenting bombardment of dialogue and comedy - delivered with sniper-like precision that is guaranteed to split opinion and ask the questions: Has 'political correctness' gone mad? Is censorship overshadowing common sense? Or are they vital components to protect our vulnerable from prejudice?  
amendments: A Play On Words is presented by Middleweight Theatre.  Regular attendees of the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Middle-Weight Theatre made their production debut with, original comedy ʻSound Biteʼ, in 2013, and have since gone on to perform all over the United Kingdom in various well known (and unknown), venues and arts / theatre festivals. It is written by Matt Roberts, and directed by Tom Stabb. Other core members include: Al Wadlan, Chrissy Slevin and Jen Wetherhead - covering all various and crucial roles in the development of the company - such as performing, stage management, set / prop / costume design, LFX and technical.

I caught up with director Tom Stabb to discuss the production.

What first inspired the creation of the piece?
amendments first came about due to our usual and typical method of sitting around the kitchen table, spit-balling ideas about our next production venture or more fitting - what had typically annoyed us that day. The company (Middle-Weight Theatre) as a whole had a hand in creating the first steps of the writing period, with each of us bringing our own personal experiences of language being marginalised and observing a creeping encroachment of politically correct dialogue being introduced into the workplace. Being self-employed for a fair amount of years now, I found myself automatically siding, quite categorically, with the notion that language should NEVER be curtailed or diminished under any circumstances. Yet Matt, the author of the play - made a compelling argument that whether we as a society require political correctness to protect those that have historically been under-represented in today's workforce climate. It made for such a decent debate and it became swiftly apparent - a great excuse to portray each of these points via a comedic and theatrical process. 
How has it changed and developed since you first performed it?
The play began in 2018, so you imagine how many transformations, and ironically, script amendments it has had since. The funny thing is, due to the subject matter and its foundation of performance is surrounding comedy - there's absolutely no shortage of material! Every day you hear or read interesting, controversial or down right horrific stories of work-place disputes or over-zealous offences being taken by individuals - we've certainly used or reformatted examples to help strengthen our perspective. It's to be noted that the #METOO movement was established throughout our first tour run of the production, so we've tried very hard to make sure the play hasn't turned into another attribute towards 'wokeism' or 'idealism.' Or any type of 'ism' in fact. 
The show marks 10 years of Middleweight Theatre, how do you reflect on that period?
Aside from reflecting into a pool of Jack Daniels and red wine, you mean? 

It's quite strange, yet joyous to think about when put into perspective. I've been incredibly lucky in having be able to work, survive and surround myself with endlessly creative people. We have a few core members of the company and it's purely due to their dedication, hard work, perseverance and sheer good-will of their time and effort that we can implement our collective ideas and aims onto a stage / in front of an audience.
Not less forgetting the audiences that have continued to grow and grow over the years. They and including the venues that have supported us from very early on in our learning curve of theatre-making - ambitiously as well as financially. Cue the award play off music now... 

What would you want an audience to take away from seeing the production?
We believe in producing thoughtful and funny theatre that’s both topical and culturally relevant to our audience. Our aim with any production is to encourage debate and exploration through a variety of topics, in this case the use of language and political correctness. Leading people in one direction and turn that on its head at a hinge point in the show which may lead them to question both theirs and other attitudes in quite a probing way.

Or they could just leave us cash... That would be equally nice. 

Can you describe the show in 3 words?
Relentless, provoking & hysterical (If we don't say so ourselves). 

amendments plays at The Old Stock Joint in Birmingham (26th August), Oxford Playhouse (8th September), The Ploughs Art Centre, Great Torrington (22nd September) and Barnfield Theatre in Exeter (20th and 21st October). Visit for tickets and more information.

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