In order to execute our vision, we knew we would need to curate other like-minded artists with collective musical experience, an enthusiasm for literature and a yearning for human company. We knew the script/musical/scenographic development would be the result of collaborative dramaturgy, therefore it was ideal for us to work with people we had prior experience in our fields of interest. This led to us recruiting the wonderful Sarah Shear (; a New York performer, composer, lyricist, writer and director with a background in musical theatre, specialising in body neutrality work. Our other recruit was the amazing Danny Romeo! ( With a BA in Musical Theatre, Danny is a performer, director and producer originating in Michigan where his work explores ‘redesigning theatre to become more accessible, safe, and intimate’ - with community and immersivity at the core of his work.
With their expertise, we knew we had a solid team to create an immersive experience which would unite audiences by sparking discussions about meaningful change for the future.

In our first ZOOM meeting - we established the rules of the room (see an extract in the video below) as if we were devising in a physical space. We knew our, and the world’s circumstances, would affect the nature and trajectory of the piece; however, as it was always intended for a live audience we wanted to develop as best we could for that space, adapting ZOOM to suit our ambitions rather than tailor our work to suit ZOOM. To that end, we decided to commit fully to Zoom as our two-dimensional rehearsal space. 

It was established that Manda and Octavia (as it was our SIP - plus being the co-founders and co-directors of CrushRoom) would have the final say on creative decisions, however it was a non-hierarchical company with artistic ideas and production notions invited from all.
Working in collaborative dramaturgy reflected the intended sociality of our eventual performance, together we would ‘cooperate to foster [a] particular impression of reality’ in all of its ‘complex system[s] [...] and interactions.’ [3] (Kivisto and Pittman, 2012) Due to our professional backgrounds, roles were naturally established - Manda being the director and Octavia, James, Danny and Sarah the performers. Octavia and Manda would write the original components of the text and adapt the script, whereas James would be the musical director and composer with Danny and Sarah being musical contributors and dramaturgical outlookers. All company members would undertake multiple roles and, by turn, observe and give feedback from the spectators' point of view. We will demonstrate how our R&D, and these roles, manifested virtually in later blog entries.

Beginning with the name - “CrushRoom” - we wanted something that summed up our creative ambitions and matched our aesthetic. Our official research and development process began over ZOOM, yet we always envisioned materialising our eventual work in a physical space. The sensation of being in a room with people, the ingrained sociality of humankind i.e. what are ‘the conceptual mechanisms of human communication’ (Gavins & Lahey, 2016) [2] and how do they materialise in the euphoria of a live music event.
These are the dramaturgical facts which initially intrigued and bonded intrigued us as creators. These aspirations were the conception of the name “CrushRoom,” after much discussion over ZOOM where we talked about our  aims and vision, we finally settled on this name found in 'The Cassell Companion to Theatre' [1]

We knew it was the perfect moniker for our ipseity - a space where conversation can occur, people can gather with a common ambition (appreciation of the arts) and most importantly, alcohol can be served. So whilst the idea of adapting our material onto a virtual platform was present, it was rejected in favour of our ultimate ambition, to question who we can be and how we can tell stories again after the world has changed so dramatically - in our own words ‘we’ve survived and a night out is in order.’ 

  • We work in a non-hierarchical fashion - all ideas are valid and have the potential to be explored (no matter how silly - the sillier the better) - the audience are on the same level as us, by being in the space we are creating work together
  • Music of any kind is encouraged - any musical inspiration found MUST be shared with the group, no matter how embarrassing or “lame,” keeping your songs to yourself is UNACCEPTABLE 
  • Respect each other - encourage each other - lift each other up - we create together and we share the same vision
  • Be prepared for anything, come with an open mind and an open heart


CrushRoom was founded, “officially,” on 10th August 2020 - we registered with the UK government as a working body - but our actual origin story came much earlier. On approximately April 20th, Manda Joensson, Octavia Fox and James Christensen discussed their mutual ambitions and inspirations as theatre makers; common enthusiasms were the merge of theatre and musical performance, i.e. gig theatre and literary adaptations.
We discussed the work of companies such as
‘Not Too Tame,’ (, 
Noveltease Theatre (,
Middle Child ( - and our favourite musical artists such as GodSpeed You! Black Emperor, System of a Down and …. We noticed a throughline of melodramatic musical performances (almost theatrical in nature) and creative, excessive stage presence.

Our commonality was also evident in our previous collaborations: Manda and Octavia had worked together in an experimental, abstract adaptation of Hedda Gabbler. James and Manda worked together as a company creating ‘100 Seconds to Midnight' devising a piece symbolising the finite nature of time and the human relationship to the world’s mortality. Octavia and James are in a band together, arranging covers of artists like My Chemical Romance and Caroline Polachek. Therefore, we have a history of successful and innovative association - together, we knew we would make something great.


CrushRoom has a simple creed; we come from everywhere - UK, Australia, Denmark, USA - and our dedication to the arts stems from a multitude of different places - literature, music, comedy, musical theatre etc.

We wish to blend and dive into each facet of the arts which excites and inspires us - creating new forms of theatre which pays homage to performers and creatives across the globe.

    CrushRoom is proud to be creating the theatre of tomorrow by challenging preconceptions of post-pandemic work.

    By contextualising thorny humanitarian issues in a safe space, we hope to make lasting change in the industry, hosting both a good night out and one that allows the audience to question why the world is the way it is and what we can do to change it. 

    • We create theatre which rises from the ashes of the post-pandemic world (in the least pretentious way possible). We want to tackle the tough questions of what can theatre look like once nearly destroyed, and how can it be used to change the landscape of our new creative future.
    • The place of art in this new world is contentious, thereby we will continue to stress how vital it is for the wellbeing of humanity. Politics, history, socialism are often subjects that seem out of reach - art is an accessible way to recontextualise these issues - thereby our work is intended for people from all demographics. Everyone is welcome.
    • We prioritise taking care of the audience. Your comfortability is crucial to ensure that everyone is having a good time at a CrushRoom show. We welcome feedback about how to accommodate everyone's needs. 


        1. 1997, p. 127. London: Wellington House
        2. Gavins & E. Lahey, ‘World Building: Discourse in the Mind,’ Bloomsbury Academic, 2016
        3. Kivisto & D. Pittman, ‘Goffman’s Dramaturgical Theory: Personal Sales and Service in a Commodified World’ in Illuminated Social Life, SAGE Books, 2012