Pembroke English student, Charlie Bindels (2010), was once on the periphery of Pembroke theatre but this summer, with help from the Pembroke Players, will be taking an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book to the Edinburgh Fringe.
I grew up making plays and trying to be part of theatre in any way I could, so arriving at Pembroke, where theatre is such a big part of the community, was amazing. With the business of first year Cambridge, I actually started out very much as an onlooker of the theatre scene. That all changed when I was cast in ‘Zombie Haiku’, a play written and directed by another Pembroke student Chloe Mashiter, which was selected for the International Student Drama Festival. It was at the festival that I properly got to know Elizabeth Schenk, Homerton (2011), and we quickly connected over sitting in cafes for hours and brainstorming show ideas.
We got back to Cambridge after the festival and we knew we wanted to create a show that was part-theatre part-project, based on interviews with other students about their experiences of mental health issues. As soon as we had the idea, we knew almost immediately that New Cellars was the right venue for it. We pitched the idea to the Pembroke Players and they were incredibly supportive from the off. When the show opened in February 2013, we had an amazing response from audiences and reviewers and sold out every night. By the final performance we had such a queue that we were desperately trying to squeeze extra people into chairs!
From there, we decided to take not one, but two, productions to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Pembroke Players funded ‘Snap Out Of It!’ to transfer there for the whole of August. We had an amazing run, with glowing reviews, sell-out shows and ‘Snap Out Of It!’ was even featured on BBC 3 Free Speech.
Out of this, we formed Strung Up Theatre, a company that focuses on creating ensemble theatre that tell stories in new ways. We’ve tried out a number of different styles and methods since then, always refining the way we work, but the heart of it has stayed the same- that our team work collaboratively and that the final production is created by the group, not the individual.
I’ve continued to work in theatre since graduating, I’m now the Project Assistant at Streetwise Opera and was the Assistant Producer for The Passion in March, which received a 5* from The Times and was broadcast on BBC 4. Alongside this, I continue to run Strung Up Theatre with Elizabeth and the shows always start with us hunched over notebooks in cafes.
This summer Strung Up are taking our production of The Jungle Book: Cobwebs and Moontalk to the Edinburgh Fringe. The show is a transformation of Kipling’s stories, combining traditional story-telling with original music, aerial acrobatics and puppetry. The story is seen through the eyes of Kipling’s daughter, Elsie, as sets out on an adventure into the Jungle and stumbles upon the animals of her father’s books who clamber through trees made of aerial silks and hoops.
New Cellars was the place where we first cut our teeth as a company and I’m thrilled that we still have such strong links with the college and society who were so supportive from the very beginning.
The Jungle Book: Cobwebs and Moontalk is showing at 3:45pm, 4-21 August at C south, Edinburgh.