Auditions Callout

20th June 2022

Out of Kilter Theatre are inviting applications from performers to work on the development of a new, multimedia work incorporating spoken word, movement, music and film/digital art.We’re looking for a diverse group of performers reflective of contemporary urban life. The ability to move with confidence in a performance context is essential.Auditions will be in a group/workshop session and will take place in a central Manchester venue, early/mid-July (details to be confirmed).We are currently in the process of submitting a funding bid to support the project.

Please send CV + headshot (and Spotlight link if you have one), to by 3rd July 2022.

Small Histories Edinburgh Plans Cancelled

7th October 2021

Sadly, due to the continuing uncertainty around Covid we’ve decided to shelve our plans to take Small Histories to the Edinburgh Fringe.

‘after/before’: live performance online@thespaceuk

2 July, 2020

Saturday 8th August 2020: 7 – 9 pm
online@theSpaceUK LIVE

Too long alone in lockdown Alicia is struggling with her feelings of loss and detachment; when she wakes from a vivid dream she is confused and disorientated; is she awake or is she dreaming? And is her sense of isolation just part of the dream? When she meets an unlikely companion she is offered an opportunity to find an answer … and perhaps a chance for the human contact she craves. 

‘after/before’ is a new short piece by Out of Kilter Theatre for the online@thespaceuk festival. The work explores the space between the real and the surreal and absurd; even when the world is normal there is a sense that a slight shift in the angle of our view and our perceptions can feel strange and unsettling; now, that gap between the real and unreal feels almost non-existent.

It feels like the unknown, like we’ve never been here before … have we?

Callout – tell us about your experience of the lockdown

16 May, 2020

What has been your experience of Coronavirus and the lockdown (both positives and negatives)? What impact has it had on you emotionally and financially? Has it affected your physical and mental health? Have you been at work or self-isolating? Do you work on the frontline?
Out of Kilter Theatre are looking for your stories/reflections on the current situation to be used for a new production (online and, potentially, performance at some point in the future) on how the pandemic has affected individuals, in particular in the North West. All material will be used anonymously.
Please send your words in an e-mail (not as an attachment) to by 5th June 2020.

New cast member for Small Histories Edinburgh shows

10 February, 2020

We are pleased to announce that Anna Chell will be joining the cast of ‘Small Histories’. Anna will be performing the parts of Jessica and Sandra and is replacing Kailey McGowan who, for personal reasons, won’t be available for our Edinburgh performances.

Anna Chell

Edinburgh run for ‘Small Histories’

10 February, 2020

After a successful short run of performances in June/July 2019 we are delighted to announce that Small Histories will be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. Performances will be 10th to 15th August 2020 in Space 3, part of the Space on the Mile venue.

Powerful play about broken women and shattered dreams triumphs at Burnley Youth Theatre (Burnley Express Review of ‘Small Histories’: 10th July 2019)

10 July, 2019

A powerful play depicting the shattered dreams of strong yet broken women proved to be a triumph for a former Burnley actress.

Small Histories – an elegant exploration of love, dreams, identity and family – showcased the talents of Salford-based performer Kailey McGowan.

Kailey cut her teeth in the drama world by playing in shows at Burnley Youth Theatre but she has since blossomed into a fine professional actress with a wide repertoire of skills, nailing both her comical and tender scenes.

In Small Histories, which finished its Northern tour with a showing at Burnley Youth Theatre, Kailey starred as the youngest of the clan, 21-year-old Jessica.

As the character pores over a suitcase of old, inherited items, the heart-breaking lives of her female ancestors dance around her.

The production is the brainchild of writer and producer Mark Murphy, who co-founded Out of Kilter Theatre Company.

Mark has beautifully woven together several upsetting and uplifting snapshots of six women’s lives into one stunning collage.

Balancing tenderness with comical clout, his tale presents six generations of women in the Aspinall family.

Spanning 100 years from the final months of World War One to the present day, it reflects the historical changes in equal rights affecting both women and the LGBT community.

Using a vibrant palette of monologue, dialogue, music and physical theatre, Mark paints a striking picture of love and loss, allowing the audience to understand the joy and suffering of these characters in a way that words alone cannot always sufficiently express. And it makes for a potent emotional blow.

The job of executing his vision belonged to director Kerry Kawai, who expertly brought life to these interesting characters, arranging song, speech and physical theatre into a gorgeous dance.

This combination was perhaps at its most successful during depictions of mental illness.

As a vulnerable young mother Cora, actress Rianna Windust offered a moving and polished portrayal of a woman drowning under the wave of mental illness, at a time when it existed under a shroud of shame and was widely misunderstood by the general public.

Credit must go to Mark for sensitively depicting the devastating grip of mental illness.

Emily Heyworth did a terrific job of playing closeted lesbian and Cora’s daughter, Loretta, who feels unfulfilled by the role of motherhood while carrying the pain of unspoken love and unrealised ambition.

Meanwhile, Maddie Wakeling tenderly revealed the grief of Loretta’s grandmother Maggie, who lost her first love to the First World War.

Nancy Monaghan gave a strong performance of Loretta’s daughter Helen, a mother fighting for her dreams.

Meanwhile, Maddie Wakeling tenderly revealed the grief of Loretta’s grandmother Maggie, who lost her first love to the First World War.

And completing the cast was Lindsay Eavis, who starred as Constance, the eldest female in the family. The actress gently explored the isolating heartache of ageing.

Finally, kudos must also go to technician Shaquille Walfall for finishing touches that heightened the production’s emotional potency.

10 February, 2020

No Exit (promo interview)

3 July, 2017

No Exit (promo film)

28 June, 2017

Theatre company find the perfect venue for Sartre’s vision of hell

30 March, 2017

Manchester-based company Out of Kilter Theatre has picked the perfect venue for their production of the classic Jean-Paul Sartre play, No Exit, at this year’s GM Fringe Festival.

Theatre-goers will be descending into the suitably atmospheric and oppressive vaults of The Kings Arms to watch this stark, edgy drama about three characters who find they are, quite literally, in hell.

But this is not the hell of manic devils, ghastly horrors and terrible tortures that we learned from the bible or the paintings of Bosch. As suggested by the play’s often-quoted line ‘hell is other people’, it is the conflicting needs and demands of the characters as they try to face up to the terrible things they did in their past lives, and their uncertain future together, that creates its own dramatic inferno of tension, drama and menace, underpinned by dark humour.

Director Kerry Kawai confesses she has wanted to produce the play for a number of years. ‘I’ve been fascinated by the ideas and the potential of the work and when we discussed putting it on at this year’s GM Fringe, the vaults at The Kings Arms were the first place that came to mind. It’s a fantastic drama with a brilliant cast and the venue will, without doubt, add another level of atmosphere and intensity to the performance’.

No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre is at The Kings Arms on 12th – 14th July at 7:30 pm.

Things of Darkness – review by David Chriscole

15 July, 2016

Dark tales excite me and coupled with a fantastical and surreal story, I instinctively knew it was going to be pretty darn good. I was not at all disappointed to enter the capacious arena that is Hope Mill Theatre, to see a sparsely populated performance area. In fact, quite the opposite was true.

On entering to take our seats we are confronted with Jimmy (Danny Solomon) seated in his wheelchair wearing bandages covering his eyes. Mother (Elizabeth Poole) is attending to him, washing his feet. An eerie soundtrack plays in the background to give a spooky feel to the simple yet effective pre-show display.

Once begun, the story focuses very briefly on the war-torn Jimmy and his frustrated mother. It seems Jimmy does not need the bandages, yet refuses to remove them. Once Mother leaves, we hear the sound of flapping wings, the lights flicker as if something moves quickly before them, maybe a month, or a bat? Yet neither notion prepare you for the Faery (Sophie Coward), and her graceful entrance into this suddenly enchanting scene.

Coward’s precisely choreographed movements and physical interactions with Jimmy are a joy to watch. So smooth was the pair that perhaps she really did grow wings, to fly around the scene. The childlike curiosity of Faery is spoken with unfinished sentences in the third person about “she”, herself, that need no end to understand.

The story follows Faery and Jimmy, who is “fixed” by Faery so he can see, talk and walk, through a magical yet dangerous land, populated by a manner of beasts unknown, bar one called Chilstone (Lewis Marsh).

Along the way, we meet a Tinker, Apothecary and a Beggar Woman all played by the multi-tasking Elizabeth Poole. In this delightful plot, however, these roles are quite deliberately an image of Jimmy’s Mother, and referred to at each meeting, much to the consternation of the character. Each turn we encounter themes of loss and discovery. Jimmy also finds something of his own that was seemingly lost, and a key point in the grand plot of this play I will not spoil for you.

At moments through the story, we are halted, stuck in time to see the arrival of Chilstone. His entrance was preceded by the darkening of light and a massive boom. This creepy and imposing figure is played by Marsh with a gloriously menacing tone. He has power over all, including Boy (Liam Phoenix) who lurks in the scenes in various guises, perhaps a student of Chilstone himself.

Throughout, we are slowly drawn into a plot created by Faery that would appear at first sight to be a perfectly executed dash for freedom. Yet, we are minded that in these shadows, the darkness at the corner of the eyes, things are not always as they appear to be.

A hugely captivating performance by Coward and Solomon supported by the highly adaptable Poole was a great deal of fun. Marsh was a perfect villain… or was he actually a villain at all? Remember, all is not what it seems. My only tiny niggle about this wonderful and imaginative writing by Mark Murphy was that we did not see or hear more from “Boy” played by young Liam Phoenix, I was left wanting to know more about what his character was about.

But in the end, we return to the light, everything is as it should be, and as I leave the space, I cannot help but glance at the shadows… is something there?

This is a tale not to be taken lightly, despite moments of delightful humour. It is the gripping text from Mark Murphy and with direction from Kerry Kawai to be envied. The use of the large space was simple, yet managed to paint grand visions in the mind’s eye.

Loved it, bravo!

Things of Darkness (GM Fringe)

30 June, 2016

Press Release: 30th June 2016
(by Marissa Burgess)

The forthcoming debut production of Things of Darkness at Hope Mill Theatre will see a unique coming together of playwrights and artists.

In the auditorium Mark Murphy’s psychological play will explore issues of mental health and otherness, while out in the foyer and the bar will creep Teresa Wilson’s wonderfully strange puppets – otherworldly human forms and birds that hint at a hidden unknown world.

A part of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, Things of Darkness began life in Murphy’s imagination as just a single image, that of a creature unfolding, ‘like a spider descending from its web and unfurling.’ Inspired by traditional fairy tales and myths that creature became a faerie, and she was joined by another figure, a squaddie. He is home from the war but he feels disconnected; she wants him to go with her into the ‘other place’.

A conversation begins between the two characters, marking a crossing over between their worlds. As the story unfolds, leading us into a world of strange encounters, it explores the squaddie’s struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Elsewhere there are themes of otherness – particularly pertinent at the moment with the refugee crisis and the apparent increase in xenophobia following the EU referendum.

As he began writing the play Murphy became inspired by traditional fairy tales in all their visceral original forms: Red Riding Hood, The Tinder Box, Rumplestiltskin, Jack and the Beanstalk, all remembered from reading them to his children when they were young. Additional influences were the opera fantastique The Tales of Hoffmann, the works of Lewis Carroll and modern-day re-workings of fairy tales by Angela Carter. Murphy also explored the works of Freud, Jung, Julia Kristeva and the Surrealists. The title itself is taken from The Tempest in which Prospero refers to his half-human, half-devil slave Caliban as ‘this thing of darkness.’

Wilson too is inspired by myth and legend in her work. The pair met after Murphy contacted her having attended her Changelings exhibition at Salford University in 2010. A collaboration was mooted. Her human figures are made from discarded cloth and wire and they exist on the peripheries of this world hinting at something else, another place. Situated ‘to create claustrophobic environments where private dramas take place,’ the effect of her installations is as eerie and unsettling as it is beautiful. There’s an intriguing melancholy in these characters that draws you in.

Since completing her Fine Arts degree at Salford University in 2008, Wilson has exhibited widely across the UK and has recently been working on a film project in Turkey.

‘I have no doubt that the spirit inherent in Teresa’s work has seeped into the play,’ notes Murphy of the collaboration. Wilson adds, “I have always perceived my work as ‘crossing over’ in some way, to explore an in-between space between visual art and theatre. This production of ‘Things of Darkness’ is a great opportunity to bring these ideas to a physical realisation. Mark’s play brilliantly merges ideas of ‘otherworldliness’ with the psychological horrors of the here and now; ideas which constantly concern me in my sculpture and which I seek to “play out” with my uncanny installation work.’

In his day job, Murphy works for the NHS, but his desire to write was strong from an early age. Eventually, he signed up to study for the MA in Creative Writing course at the University of Bolton. Since then he has worked on projects with other writers in Bolton Octagon’s writing group and produced a play for the 24/7 festival in Manchester.

Out of Kilter Theatre Company is a brand new company run by Murphy and director Kerry Kawai. The company was set up to develop and perform new work, particularly that which exists away from the mainstream. The company seeks to focus on their own, and others’ work, that is out of the ordinary or provocative, and to create performances ‘of magic and wonder, were embarking on new journeys is possible’.

Things of Darkness: Hope Mill Theatre, 13th – 14th July
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