A Short Story in 4 Chapters.
Once upon a time, back in the olden days of the 1970s, long before the dawn of video games and the internet, there were three young sisters seeking adventure in rural North Lincolnshire.
"Mum, I am bored", would be met with the pragmatic reply, "I will give you a job to do then." The sisters decided to entertain themselves by making up story scripts.
Costumes and theatrical sets were made up from raided wardrobes, thrift shops, and alterations care of the cast-turned seamstresses and set designers. The adopted family cat, Whiskey and four white, clandestine mice (kept safely away from Whiskey in a shoe box) made up the audience. Parents were not invited as sometimes the story contents and performances were a little risqué.
Fast forward to the late '80s or '90s, the sisters found themselves in Milan, Italy, still searching for the elusive adventure. The national pastime in Italy was learning English, so the sisters decided to take advantage of the opportunity and set up an English Theatre musical company ambitiously named One Step Kilimanjaro: They were ambitious.
Over five years, they wrote, produced and performed several original plays and adapted novels and plays for a contemporary audience. A director, musical composer and a full band joined the team. They performed plays across schools and institutions in Northern Italy and at the Teatro Del Elfo in Milan.
First Step Kilimanjaro was hard work, a thrilling adventure, and they loved it. Yet, all good things come to an end, and the natural end to First Step Kilimanjaro was marked by two sisters returning to the UK. They continued to love stories in the theatre and film, yet the emphasis was on raising their families and developing their respective careers.
Chapter 1: 2020: Rebirth.
Sister Becky, who remained in Italy with her Italian family, consistently visited the UK every summer. 2020 heralded the grounding of flights due to a novel virus called Covid 19. The world wobbled on its axis and then was stilled as most of the West went into a prolonged Lockdown. The combined wrecking ball of COVID and lockdown ravaged work, life, plays, and theatre as we knew them. Some adapted content online, and many languished or were obliterated altogether.
One June afternoon in 2020, Becky rang Cathy in London. "Let's write something", Becky suggested. Between June and August 2020, they drafted a play called the Truth Serum by meeting early every morning and spending 90 mins on the script, which followed the lives behind closed doors or the pandemic of three couples. They decided to create a new theatre company, and their names combined sounded cool (Reb), as in Rebecca and Cat, as in Cathy. RebCat Creations was born. They contracted technical help to build an online presence and sell tickets. They were back in business.
By September 2020, they asked some of the original theatre cast from their days in Milan to join the production. They realised that this play would not be in a physical but in a virtual space for the foreseeable future. All the rehearsals were online, and as in the old days, they found a musician and a composer to help them with the background music.
By December 2020, they performed to a live audience of between 350 and 400 people each night. They hosted a live QA afterwards with the audience.
Chapter 2 2021: Foundations.
The Truth Serum was followed by the New Normal sequel in Easter 2021. The tone was still comedically dark (which was their signature style), yet was more hopeful as each character realised they needed to find their own way through this. The Truth Serum and The New Normal garnered excellent reviews from the theatre community.
By the Summer of 2021, they started working on their third project, Newsworthy. This was to be serialised as an audio play in podcast form. There were 10 episodes and a cast of 17 characters, all on one side of the story. They were (positively) surprised at the number of people who wanted to be part of it, and the auditioning was whittled down to 12 actors, some of whom doubled up to take different roles.
The storyline centred around the question, what is Newsworthy? Do we trust the sources of our news? Is it entertainment, a smokescreen, or grassroots investigative journalism, bringing people the sometimes unpalatable truth? Newsworthy was produced between January and March 2022.
Chapter 3 2022: Branching Out.
2022 has been a year of growth and experiential learning for RebCat. We established two podcast platforms, one to host The Rebchat podcast interviews and the other, The Rebcat Story Collection, to host the stories.
Becky wrote a delightful short children's story published on the RebCat Collection Platform called James and his Caterpillar. We also plan to animate this and release it on our Utube channel. 2023 Becky may write some follow-up children's stories to create a series. If you have young children, we would love to know what they think!
Alongside the plays, RebCat launched a podcast series called the Rebchat, a series of interviews with people who create for a living. We called Season One The Inside Stories. The hosts were Cathy Dixon, Becky Dixon, Boris Prigmore and Lorraine Flaherty. Becky expertly and diligently edited out all the audio flaws and polished up the quality of the audio. We have completed our 30th episode and finished the first season. We cut our teeth, invested in the podcast gear, and learned much with each episode.
We have delivered storytelling workshops, attended podcast shows in London, Las Vegas, and New York and looking to grow our community of writers, editors, producers and podcast fans. We are firmly in the podcast territory that we only see growing throughout 2023.
Why do we love the podcast format so much?
Because it is a story or conversation, you can carry it wherever you are. On the computer, in the gym, on your daily walk or run, while making supper. The interview format is well-established and thriving. The narrative podcast is fast-growing, and RebCat firmly sees its future in the narrative podcast playground. We are making our own sandpit as we did as little girls and we love others to join us.
Chapter 4 2023: Onwards and Upwards.
Episode 4 is about building and maintaining our two platforms.
January kicks off with the release of The Mug's Game, written by Lorraine Flaherty and Catherine Dixon. This light-hearted novel was written between 2014 and 2020. Expect past and present lives convergence, soul mates and family dynamics all thrown into the storyline.
Lorraine narrated the story from a recording studio in Bermondsey, accompanied by Cathy. The latter tried hard not to ruin the recording by laughing out loud at some of Lorraine's interpretations of the various characters. We plan to upload the chapters into our RebCat Story Collection in January 2023.
From Winter 2022 to early Spring 2023, we are producing a play by New Jersey's Steve Gold, who writes compelling stories about our modern times. We have selected one of the three plays he has asked us to produce, Cadillac High, about the opioid epidemic in the USA. Cadillac High is compelling, provocative and funny, but the message is deadly serious.
Over the Spring to early Summer 2023 we plan on producing with Scott Davenport, a North-Western playwright and screenwriter. He wrote his play The Pav, especially for RebCat. The story's centrepiece is a much-loved Victorian Pavilion at the heart of a North West town in danger of being demolished, and the town's colourful characters all have a stake in what should become of The Pav.
We intend to produce a second season of The Rebchat podcast. This will be more of an introspective series about the creative process, complications, challenges and rewards.
Conclusion: Come Play With Us.
RebCat Creations is a real-life story of family, friendship, and a creative community that love to make performances together.
We have always created our own playground and keep inviting people to join us in the adventures of storytelling for modern times. We take our work rather than ourselves seriously.
We don't expect to win the Oscars, yet we will enter some festivals in 2023. We are in the game of life, and we learnt very early in life; it is up to you to make the story work for you. Experiment and the worst that can happen is the scenery falls down, or the story sucks. All things that can be fixed and all part of the learning experience.
We are so grateful to all the wonderfully creative people who joined us front and backstage to get to this part of the journey, and we are looking for people to join us in 2023.
So how can you play with us?
Have you got a script that you would love to come to life?
Are you a voice-over actor looking for a home?
Do you love podcast productions and would love to get involved in the more technical end of the show in this exciting, emerging and competitive field before it reaches its peak?
Are you a person who would like to be involved as a supporter in helping us backstage with promotion and publicity?
Please help us with your feedback on the content.
Can we help you with your own podcast?
We can’t wait for you to join us in 2023!