Doctor Who and the Series 7 conundrum- Some New Evidence

Today we’re casting away the restraints of a theatre blog altogether and letting Jack Synnott write 700 words on something we’d all much rather be hearing about anyway: Doctor Who!

Doctor Who first aired on BBC1 at 5.15 P.M. on the 23rd of November 1963. From the first adventure, the eerie, creeping an Unearthly Child, fans were taken on an extraordinary adventure through time and space. Occasionally however, the opportunity presents itself for fans to dig deeper, to look deeper and ultimately to do what fans love best: theorise.

One such theory, and one that has particular grabbed my attention is one involving the entirety of Series 7A ( or Season 33 part 1, if we’re to be particular). These 5 episodes, originally screened in the latter part of 2012 see Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor and his then-companions Amy and Rory Pond travel from a dangerous Dalek asylum to a Weeping Angel filled New York, facing Dinosaurs, Cowboys and killer cubes along the way (it’s a lot better than I make it sound).

The theory goes, that the five episodes (Asylum of the Daleks through to The Angels Take Manhattan) take place in reverse order to that in which they were screened. In other words, from The Doctor’s perspective, The Angel’s Take Manhattan comes first, and Asylum of the Daleks last.

There is a huge amount of evidence to support this theory, all of which sadly trivial and in no way definitive, but it is evidence nonetheless. I’ll take the most obvious example, this exchange from episode 3, A Town Called Mercy:

RORY: It’s a street lamp.

DOCTOR: An electric street lamp about ten years too early.

RORY: It’s only a few years out.

DOCTOR: That’s what you said when you left your phone charger in Henry the Eighth’s en-suite.

This could simply be construed as a humourous throwaway line, a silly exchange thrown in for comic relief. And this would be an acceptable viewpoint, if it weren’t for episode 4, The Power of Three. In this episode, we see a montage of The Doctor and the Pond’s adventures. One of the clips takes place in Henry the Eighth’s bedroom, and what does Rory leave behind? A phone charger.

There are other clues as well. Lights continuously flicker without explanation in the first 3 episodes, a classic visual indication of a disturbance in time, and potentially, a visual clue that The Doctor is crossing his own timeline.

To flesh the idea out a bit more, the theory goes that The Doctor, after witnessing the eventual demise of the Ponds in The Angels Take Manhattan, travels back through his own past to enjoy a last few adventures with his good friends. This explains his melancholy nature in many of the series’ episodes, and also his new found viscous streak throughout this series. Having “lost” the two people closest to him, The Doctor becomes cold, unforgiving and harsh. This ideas are summed up in episode 2, Dinosaurs On a Spaceship, when The Doctor converses with the brutal space trader Solomon:

SOLOMON: Those are very emotive words Doctor.

DOCTOR: I’m a very emotive man.

Here we get a fleeting insight into The Doctor’s psyche at this late stage in his own personal Series 7 timeline. The Doctor knows that he has only a few trips left with The Ponds, in fact this could even be his last.  He has no time for criminals or villains, so consumed is he by his grief that he will kill without a thought, and won’t let anyone stand in the way of his adventures with his friends.

To find more conclusive proof of what I will from here-on call the Angels to Asylum theory, we need to go beyond Series 7A. Or indeed, before.

Pond Life is a series of online mini episodes (later shown on the BBC Red Button) that details the everyday lives of Amy and Rory before in the run up to Asylum of the Daleks. In this mini series, The Doctor contacts Amy and Rory mainly by telephone ( barring one brief interruption, which I’ll get to in a minute). Through these telephone conversations we get a glimpse of The Doctor’s adventures, while seeing Rory and Amy’s home life in detail. We also, crucially, see The Doctor changing the bulb on top of the TARDIS. This may seem like an insignificant event but, when we consider the ending of The Angels Take Manhattan it becomes infinitely important.

In the final moments of Angels, River Song, The Doctor’s long time friend and sometime wife informs him that the bulb on the top of the TARDIS needs changing. This is the exact event that we witness in Pond Life. Also, it is during this phone call that The Doctor learns the Ponds have divorced, the event that leads into Asylum. The look of dismay on The Doctor’s face upon making this realisation could easily be read as sympathy for his friends, but it could also be seen as the realisation that he will never see his friends again. Upon phoning the Ponds during their divorce proceedings, The Doctor has reached a point in the Ponds’ timeline where he can never visit them again, he has gone too far, and sealed his own fate. Knowing that changing time would be catastrophic and aware that he has reached a point in the Ponds’ timeline where there are no more “gaps” for him to take them on a trip, The Doctor has finally lost his friends.

The Doctor can only travel with the Ponds’ at certain points in time, points when he knows that no established facts prevent him from taking them on adventures. In Asylum we learn that The Doctor hasn’t seen the Ponds since before they split up, so upon realising that their marriage is breaking down, The Doctor has sealed his own fate.

But this is not the only kernel of evidence that Pond Life offers us. The Doctor also bursts in on the Ponds in the middle of the night telling them that he needs their help. He is alluding to the events of Dinosaurs On a Spaceship, but when the Ponds respond in bemusement, The Doctor realises that he has come at the wrong time. He tells them that “It happens sometimes” but also seems to imply that he chooses the times to bring them on specifc adventures. The Ponds don’t require any prior knowledge to help The Doctor on this adventure, but he knows that in travelling back through their timeline he must tread carefully. All of this gels perrfectly with the Angels to Asylum theory, and if anything almost completely reinforces it.

To conclude, if we look to Pond Life, we can find hordes of conclusive evidence that the Angels to Asylum theory is true. And if it is, we can look on series 7A, and The Doctor, in an entirely new light.

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Young Critics with NAYD

This week we have guest writer Thomas Caffrey, regaling his experiences as part of NAYD’s Young Critics programme!

When I first heard about the Young Critics earlier this year, I must say that i was intrigued to say the least. Free tickets to major productions and free accommodation in Dublin? Count me in! An important question I sook the answer to was; “what is a critic?” Not a miserable pile of secrets surely? Surely there is more to the tradition than simple miserablism?

We as a group met on the Friday by the GPO and absconded hastily to the Marino Institute(nowhere near as sinister as it sounds) where we participated in a workshop outlining the basics of “criticism” and what exactly it means. Is criticism just spewing hatred indiscriminately? Is it simply the dissection of a piece of art? The second definition may be a little more correct- it is about taking apart a piece of media or art and evaluating it. What worked, what didn’t? Its as much an exercise for the reviewer as it is for the reader. However it is most beneficial to the creator of said media or art, highlighting just what to expand upon in future works and what to excise. The following day, we attended two performances- Pals, The Irish at Gallipoli and Wayne Jordan’s Romeo and Juliet. Both pieces had positives, and both had problems. Our identification of both was key to our task of criticism. Criticism seems as much about self revelation and discovery of what one likes and dislikes as anything else. I won’t criticise either piece here, for fear of over indulging myself or alienating any potential readers. All in all, the weekend provided a glimpse into a fine and noble tradition oft falsely criticised(ha!) and granted a new set of skills to utilise in the future. For better or for worse, I can no longer watch anything quite the same way. This course has changed my perception of art in general, and has as such succeeded in its task

A week of Good Times and Memories: a blog, by Gavin Byrne

This week our guest blogger is Gavin Byrne, giving us an account of his transition year work experience with our Artistic Director Christina Matthews. Enjoy!

Aloha reading people. So, I’ve asked to do one of these blog things. This shall be an adventure as they say, so I’ll be doing it based on the pleasant experience of my work experience with Christina. Well, one thing for sure, it’s a lot more exciting than doing boring Stuff in a shop. Even if this time I didn’t get any candy…. But despite the lack of expired candy, it was a super fun experience! For sure. On the Tuesday of the week, me and other Droichead Youth Theatre members went down to the best, and possibly only Conference venue, Dublin Castle! We performed our very special Dochas Piece for all the viewing persons present. It was a very moving piece to do with development, and Aid, and such concerning stuff. Some may say we had the Acting Force of an Almighty Mountain! Cause we were tremendous in Acting Prowess. After our amazing spectacular performance, we went and got Ice-Cream from Murphy’s on Wicklow Street. It was fantastic with a side if brilliant. They had oh so many flavors to choose from, from scrumptious ‘Sea Salt’, to totally bonkers ‘Brown Bread’! We embarked upon great fun, dashing through Trinity College on a Photograph Frenzy! From Stromtrotters to impersonating structures, all the way to Building Pointing, oh we had it all!

But the very next day, I was to do classes with Christina, and after slight misadventures, I arrived upon the place of my destination! To start off with, there was a Hardy Hip-Hop class. We had the fun dancing to much! Including, but not limited to, The Spice Girls, All about that bass, and more of different kinds! It was exhausting to be sure, but it ended like most things do, and then Drama Classes began, and fun and merriment were had! From neutralness, to quick thinkingness, many useful skills were explored.

Then for reasons, I had to attend a fabulous play, called “Patrick Kavanagh, A life”. It was a one man play, about the life of Patrick Kavanagh. It seemed to be a fun life, full of growing up up on a Farm in the odd place that is Monaghan, to even more stuff. But I’m going to digress here, did you know, that Monaghan is the smallest county in Ulster, and is actually part of the Republic of Ireland. But back to the play, there was such a moment of explosive excitement, as Kavanagh made a Pyramid of Tin Cans go Boom! All across the stage! Tension was high, as one can in particular tried to crawl off the stage, no, it was stopped, by its own lack of momentum. Truly a tear jerking moment. He talked of his sad life, of struggles, hunger, ducks, children, the bishop and about poverty. Fun subjects all round.

And then for the ‘Ante-penultimate’ day of the week, (that’s the one that comes before the Penultimate one) travels brought us to the area known as Swords again. Drama was done, and Superheroes were the topic of the room. Batman is not Superhero as we all should know. And Martian Manhunter’s status as a ‘Superhero’ was questioned…. I maintain that he’s not… The option of eternal life was brought up, along with other fun, cool stuff….. Yeah, that was neat. Wow, this blogging thing has been interesting I guess. Who knows, I may do another! We’ll see. This has been the Fabulous, Marvelous Brilliance that is Gavin. Y’all are welcome.

Frequency 783 and Emperor’s Clothes

This week we have Andy McLoughlin fresh from NAYD’s Young Critics course with the first installment of his three part series of reviews and thoughts on theatre. First up, Frequency 783 by Brokentalkers!

Our second weekend of the Young Critics took a turn for the weird. Shortly after arriving in Dublin we scurried off through the rain to our first production in The Project Arts Centre. The show: Frequency 783, devised by Brokentalkers and directed by Feidlim Cannon and Gary Keegan. The plot is… abstract. The play opens with a teenage boy walking onto the set and unleashing a noose from the ceiling, more or less setting the tone for the rest of the play. Shortly after, the play’s other character, an ageing woman, walks on and what follows is a disjointed series of vignettes displaying interpretive dance, operatic hymns and impressive visual effects, all for the purpose of conveying some sort of loose message about fear of the future.

If this all seems a little disjointed that’s because it is, but in this production, the look of the show was every bit as significant as its ambiguous content. The set appears to be a recording studio, cutesy synth pop instruments and all, but its uniform, symmetrical shape and pale grey walls call to mind something as otherworldly as The Star Trek holodeck or, given the show’s fascination with death, possibly some sort of purgatory. Beyond this it conveys absolutely nothing about the actual story, but instead provides a blank canvas for the beautiful projections, colourful costumes, and yes, even some glitter.

There are a few assumptions that you might be inclined to make about this show and to be honest, I’d probably agree with you. This is probably some avant garde nonsense that people pretend to like because they’re too worried about sounding dumb to just admit they didn’t get it. Even if you don’t consume theatre, you’re probably familiar with this idea. Whether it’s a hipster trying to sell you on the debut album of a synth jazz didgeridoo quartet, or an art critic staring for hours at a canvas featuring nothing but a straight black line. These are the people who try to convince you that only a fool couldn’t see the emperor’s clothes. Too often symbolism is used not for dramatic effect, but to give a sense of depth to a production without putting in the legwork required to give it a real sense of meaning.

Now, I’ve always been a great defender of symbolism. At the best of times it’s a powerful narrative tool where enchanted objects make concrete the abstract feelings and emotions that drive us as human beings. But a symbol still has to be a complement to an existing narrative, and not just a substitute for one. The reason you don’t need an arts degree to understand the symbolism of The Emperor’s New Clothes is because there is already more to it than just the symbolism. It’s got archetypal characters, and a plot, and it reinforces our strange human desire to believe that if something confuses us, we shouldn’t take it seriously.

So my negative feelings for Frequency 783 didn’t come when I walked out of The Project Arts Centre with that delicious dazed look on my face and I turned to one of my fellow audience members and asked them, “what was the deal with that dude wearing a mask and running into the wall while the 65 year old played synths?” and they said, “Jaysus Ted, I dunno. Symbolism maybe?” Because, as with any aspect of a play, if it makes you feel something and it’s compelling enough to make you question it, then authorial intent just doesn’t matter.

But at the end of the day, the symbols alone can’t make a piece worth watching. As an audience member I understand that when the boy in Frequency 783 puts twenty elastic bands on his face and moans it’s supposed to be an expression of his teenage angst, but otherwise it meant nothing to me. If Brokentalkers only wanted me to walk out of that theatre thinking “Wow, I really connected with that show in a way that forced me to think about these issues,” then I’d have to give a bad review. But, being avant garde as it is, this wasn’t just a piece of narrative drama, it was also a visually striking work of art, and I have to review it as such. When all is said and done, the emperor might be naked, but he still looks good with his clothes off.

How to adult: a blog which explores how you can apply lessons you learn in drama class, to real adult life.

This week we have guest writer Sophie Flanagan, reflecting on the practical applications of drama class to the quest of becoming a grown up. Enjoy!

As yesterday was the anniversary of my 19th year of being on this earth, I took time to reflect on the past 365 days of being 18; a fully-fledged adult. In hindsight, I did in fact spend most of the year acting exactly the same as my 17 year old self. However, since the completion of my leaving cert I feel I have morphed into somewhat of a “young adult”.  “How do you know when you’re an adult?” I hear you ask.. well, first you must diagnose yourself.

WARNING: If you’ve more than three of the following symptoms, you could be at risk of becoming a grown-up.

-You catch yourself watching the news.. and actually finding it interesting.

-When people ask you to hang out and you can’t be like “my mam said no”, so  you just have to change your name and move to Peru.

-When you see a child under 10, and instantly become concerned for their safety.

-Contemplating that maybe Mr. Snuggles doesn’t have feelings and it’s okay to put him in the washing machine.

– Not being disappointed when you get clothes as a present.

– Your occupation on Facebook is no longer “Being a Full Time Mad Bastard”.

I, unfortunately, have developed all of these symptoms in the past three months, but for the most part still feel some Peter Pan syndrome inside. BUT DO NOT FRET! Though, you cannot be cured, you can cope. And here are a few tricks you’ve probably already learned in drama class to do so.

“Walk The Space”- You know that strange warm up, at the start of almost every class?  Well, it’s surprisingly handy. As an adult, you want as little unnecessary communication as possible. As in, avoiding small talk, people you don’t want to talk to and people who will get in the way of your busy *schedule. In this case, you literally “walk the space”. Look for the area least people are populating and use that as your route to walk from place to place. Trust me, it works. And you might even save some time than by taking the short cut, by not bumping into people and talking about how aul Rita was “never right after **”that fall”.

*schedule- adult-y word for a to do list.

**that fall- all old people suffer from that fall, and are somehow “never right” after it.

Simon Says/Simple Simon- Knocks out the one that don’t comply with what the big man says. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being different and taking risks, but for the most part, in the workplace of the adult world, you got to just do with what the boss says. I know, I know, it’ll be hard sometimes, but in times of struggle, dealing with their every demand, just think to yourself, this is just like a really professional game of Simon Says, except this time I’m getting paid for it.

Character Building –  Name, age, location. Now build a character. This is probably one of the most useful tricks you’ll read about today. As an adult, you’ll find yourself in many scary situations. You’ll feel nervous, shy, and completely clueless. But, as always, there is a solution. If you feel in anyway uncomfortable in a situation, in your mind, give yourself a new character. On your exterior, act completely casual, but internally, imagine you’re someone else who is completely comfortable and confident in whatever situation you find yourself in. I recently found myself using this trick when I discovered it was about time I opened a *bank account. I was incredibly nervous as the people in suits we’re quite intimidating, but in my brain I just took on a new character that completely knew what she was doing and wasn’t afraid to ask questions. Trust me, it helps, and makes you seem more adult-y than you might feel.

*bank account- a really big piggy bank.

Bollocks- On one hand, you learn some really good curse words, and on the other, the projection lesson really helps you when you’re trying to talk to your friends over really loud music on a night out. Which, trust me, is essential if you don’t want to have a hoarse voice the next morning.

Adulthood is scary, and inevitable. But with a bit of acting and pretending, we can all learn to adapt and live as normal civilized adults, even if on the inside we’re all still 14.

Louth Youth Theatre Day

This week our blog comes courtesy of Thomas Caffrey, on his experience at Louth Youth Theatre Day, a wonderful gathering of Dundalk Youth Theatre, MAD Youth Theatre and ourselves for a day of master classes and skills sharing, programmed by Create Louth, the Arts Service of Louth Local Authorities.This year we hosted the event in Drogheda, and the day focused on Stage Combat, Ensemble, Shakespeare and Musical Theatre, facilitated by two wonderful specialist practitioners, Barry Morgan and Evelyn Purcell. Here are Thomas;s thoughts on the day:

“Louth Youth Theatre Day. The prospect was tantalising- a day of theatre, great! Sign me up immediately! And so that was that. I confess, I had no idea what I would be doig as I ascended the steps of the Arts Centre that morning. Utterly clueless, apart from having read something about “Twisted Shakespeare” and stage combat. Stage combat sounded straightforward enough, but “Twisted Shakespeare”? This put me in mind of the 80s hard rock band Twisted Sister, which may have helped sway me toward expressing interest in this course. As it turns out, awesome 80s silliness played a (slightly) smaller part than expected. Which is to say that Twisted Shakespeare revolved around Bard-ified versions of speeches from Star Wars, which was every bit as….interesting as it sounds. We learnt the proper breathing techniques for such performances. It was initially tricky to find our way through some of the dialogue, but an endlessly rewarding workshop nevertheless. After a brief break filled with sorrow, heartbreak and tragedy, we returned for stage combat. This was perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the day as a whole, revolving around beating the living daylights out of our dearest friends and total strangers. We learnt the techniques of the close hand slap, long ranged slap, pummelling punch, stunning uppercut and the vicious headbutt. We displayed our own rough fights to one another and offered pointers and advice on what to fix, what to change. Once mastered, the rest of our day was spent beating our accomplices senseless and recreating famous fight scenes- from Vader and Luke, to a Mountain and a Viper, our fights were innumerable and never ending. Unlike this article- the end.”

DYT presents Around the World in 80 Days

Happy Thursday folks! As the more astute Facebook watchers among you may have noticed, Droichead Youth Theatre is back with another fantastic production! Coming May 24th for one night only, see Droichead Youth Theatre present Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, adapted for stage by Philip Brennan and Stephen Colfer. With the show a mere week away, we took a trip to rehearsals to get some cast members to tell us a little more about the production:

 

“Well the play is about an English fellow who is oh so proper! His name is Mr.Phileas Fogg. He makes a bet with the reform club that he will get the other half of the orphanage if he *dramatic pause*…. makes it around the world in 80 days! In a race against time, Fogg sets off on his journey but is stopped constantly by unsuspecting events. I really like the play. The script has a very good story line and I think it’s great for our very first play. With everyone we have involved in this I think it’ll be very good and a great play to come see for some laughs with family and friends. And for the minor characters it’s going to be fun with all the costume changes! Yay for theatre!!” -Alix Magilton

 

“If you imagine a Monty Python wrote a blockbuster about a man with OCD, a superiority complex, and mild to unacceptable xenophobia who goes around the world fighting crime with his motley crew of damsels, detectives, and moustache twirling villains. Then you imagine that blockbuster was filled with exotic locations, action sequences and beautiful costumes. Then you remember that we have a budget of about €200. That’s our play” -Andy McLoughlin

 

“A plethora of varied, somewhat racist and potentially quite attractive characters, go on an adventure Hobbit-style throughout many of the world’s exotic holiday destinations and Cork. Fun for all the family especially if you’re all racists and enjoy casual insults towards silly Englishmen” – Niall Gibbons

 

Around the World in 80 Days plays at 3pm and 8pm on May 24th in the Droichead Arts Centre, for more information check out our event page https://www.facebook.com/events/665016186880482/