The comedy writers and performers of Velvet Trumpet are bringing to their own stomping ground a unique heritage comedy all about Rotherhithe: Ken Does Rotherhithe. It’s not in a stuffy old venue but out in the freshness that is the open air and takes the form of a walking tour, led by their comedic eponymous character Ken. The three writers / actors all live in Winchelsea House in Rotherhithe and have found fame through their comedy showcase Soggy Brass at the Southwark Playhouse. I caught up with Tom (Managing Director) and Nicolai (Artistic Director) at a sunny Canada Water Café and started by asking them where they got the idea for a walking performance.
“Back in 2012, we wrote a show which involved walking from London to Swansea. The idea was that we would film the walk’s progress and events each day and publish the video online, making money from subscriptions as we went along. The whole thing got a bit gruelling when we realised we had signed up to walk 25 miles each day but the idea of walking and performing really came out of that experience.”
“…We’d like to create a space for accessible theatre – perhaps above a local pub…”
How did the whole Velvet Trumpet thing start?
“We’ve known each other as three actors with pretentions to be comedy writers for a while. We got together in 2012 and we’ve [Tom and Nikolai] been writing together ever since. We have a passion for new comedies and giving new talent an opportunity to shine. We love the humour and pathos of unexplored occupations and unexamined lives. The result has been a combination of showcasing new short funnies at the Playhouse under the banner of Soggy Brass and a series of our own darkly bittersweet yet intimate shows at different London venues such as the Hen and Chickens in Highbury or Theatre503 in Battersea where we are at the moment. Our current show is Money Womb written by Nick Smith and running 3-8 August at 19:45. And we’ve played at the Edinburgh Fringe and at the Cardiff’s Comedy Festival.”
“…for residents of SE16, we are offering the tickets at 40% discount making them £6 each…”
So how come you’ve a show about Rotherhithe next?
“We all three have a great affection for the area. Everything about Rotherhithe village reeks of heritage and the setting was perfect for doing something humorous but respectful to introduce our neighbour and visitors to the delights we know so well. We see a great hope for theatre in Rotherhithe but there’s no venue that gives us a chance to write and perform on our doorstep. We’d like to create a space for accessible theatre – perhaps above a local pub – where an audience of 60-70 people can enjoy comedy each week. And then we’d created Ken who is a character we love to write for. He’s become our mascot really! He asked to present a walking tour of Rotherhithe. He’s such a perfect guide!”
“…we realised we had signed up to walk 25 miles each day…”
How’s this show work then? Performance and tour in one?
“We plan to start at Southwark Park where Ken will start with an audience of up to thirty people. We are performing three times in all – one evening (19:00 Friday) and two afternoons (15:00 Sat-Sun). Ken will provide an introduction to the village with plenty of interesting facts and some history but he also ends up giving away a little too much about himself! The whole piece of promenade theatre is about an hour and a half and we end up at the Brunel Museum. The whole evening costs £10 but for residents of SE16, we are offering the tickets at 40% discount making them £6 each on presentation of proof of address. We keep our prices low to make sure everyone can enjoy the fun!”