© 2018 Melissa Todd

Hags Ahoy Theatre Company, Broadstairs.

Hags Ahoy is a theatre company that was founded in 2018 by Steven (always known as simply 'Todd') and Melissa Todd. 

This is what Todd has to say about its genesis.

Hags Ahoy has existed theoretically for thirty years, doing which time I’ve been involved in a variety of projects, both professional and amateur, while I worked as a postman to support myself.

 

I stumbled into acting in my late twenties and realised it was something I could do. Bypassing the drama school route, I tried to be cast in anything I could, in an attempt to learn what you must know to hold an audience, and communicate ideas to them. The early days were grim - badly adapted whodunnits, and Dickens novels - but then I met a chap called Bill Hall, who taught drama. He cast me in Caryl Churchill’s play Vinegar Tom. The whole experience was a revelation. Allied with this, a lady called Frances Moran was bringing cutting edge theatre to our local venue, Island Arts, and I threw myself in, watching everything I could. The experience was dizzying and exciting. I directed my first play within a year of my first performance, and discovered that I intrinsically knew how to get the best from people, and how to deal with egos, or the lack thereof. Within a few years, I began to be offered more exciting projects, improvisations, newly written material, freshly directed things,  at one point touring an adaptation of Gogol’s The Nose around Kent. Come the nineties, although projects still came along, I found acquiring venues difficult and expensive, and less open to new material, so for ten years entered plays into a Kent One Act Festival, gaining access to the stage through that route. But the adjudicators were dusty, rusty and shorn of imagination, generally obsessed with which genre you were working in, and utterly non-plussed by anything that didn’t fit their agenda. I didn’t feel what I was doing was particularly avant garde, but it may as well have been from the reception I received. But in the face of this I still managed to build up something of an audience. 

 

Come the millennium, a man called Tristram Kent, in the process of opening a performance space/museum/restaurant, invited me to make use of his venue. Inside a year I had staged three productions to great acclaim, but sadly Tristram died very suddenly, and the venue folded. At this point Norman Thomas and Christine Tongue stepped in, allowing me to stage productions in their Red Hall in Broadstairs. But not being designed for drama, the hall could sometimes be a challenge, and audiences often complained it was too hot. After collaborating with a local drama group, for whom I created a play about South African journalist and composer Todd Matshikiza,  and finding them uninterested in what I had to offer, I decided the only way forward was to go full-time, and hit the road, jack, this time without a mailbag.

Steven and Melissa - second row

 

Portrait of a Playwright

Listen to Steven Todd share his thoughts on theatre, writing, acting and touring a production.

An Interview with Stephen Todd - Melissa Todd
00:00 / 00:00

Our revels now are ended.

These our actors, as I foretold you,

were all spirits

and are melted into air, into thin air:

and, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

the cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

leave not a rack behind.

 

We are such stuff as dreams are made on,

and our little life is rounded with a sleep.