Monday, 26 October 2009

Shooting Rats/ Our Own Little Piece Of Shit Paradise

This week in the lesson we had a talk from Harvey Edgington, the National Trust's Film Unit manager and Ham House's film conservator Milla. I found the talk really interesting, not realising that Harvey was in charge of ALL NT properties in the UK, not just Ham. His job is extremely hard work but I'm sure really worthwhile. The amount of enquiries that they receive every month for work is huge, so no doubt he is always busy.
Harvey mentioned an opportunity to possibly come in an help with the preparation for their next filming project which would be a fantastic opportunity to see first hand what they do. Looking forward to seeing how this develops. :)

On Friday night i took a trip to London town to see Fanshen Theatre Company's 'defiant new drama', Shooting Rats. There is so much to talk about so I'll break it down:
The Venue
The venue was part of The Oval House's Elsewhere project, using non theatre spaces around the city. The assembly hall of the Lillian Bayliss Old School Site was amazing! It is a huge octagonal hall with the audience looking down onto the stage from a raised platform that goes all the way around. As the space is so high, the acoustics weren't brilliant, but the actors really worked hard and i heard every word. This space has so many possibilities for all kinds of work. I saw it as a great space for physical theatre and movement work as there is so much to play with and it's also a unique and interesting environment for the audience to walk into.
The Play
Evie and Ads are going on a date... to a rubbish dump! As the night continues and they begin to get to know each other, they discover more and more about their own lives and the disguises they put on to hide their real problems. The play was originally written by Peter Turrini and Willard Manus in 1967, and it was described as 'a desperate attempt at self cleansing'. This production was adapted by Rachel Briscoe.
The actors were fantastic, really capturing the emotions of their characters and clearly portraying their struggles to fit in and find themselves in an increasingly materialistic world. Themes that are universal and extremely relevant in today's society where young people are struggling to find work and become independent from their parents.
The performances were really powerful and i found myself forgetting that i was watching a performance, really believing in the characters and their stories.
Our Own Little Piece Of Shit Paradise
Following the performance of Shooting Rats, their was a work in progress piece formed in response to Shooting Rats. Directed by Steff O'Driscoll and performed by 5 young actors including Monsay Whitney both graduates of St Mary's, the work was a series of short devised performances depicting each characters lives and the way they interlinked with each other, infused with current songs and images from popular TV programmes.
I really enjoyed the performances and i felt that it was a great example of how inspiring other plays can be when looking at creating new work. It was also really great to see the work of previous students as it gave me an insight into what people are doing after graduating.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Ive been quite busy since my last blog. Tuesday was Cardboard Citizens in the theatre. I hadn't seen any of their work before but i had heard about it and knew that it was going to be an interesting evening. The 3 stories they performed were very different but all were easy to relate to and i had hoped that we would forum all 3. Unfortunately we only had time for one. The one that i was drawn to the most was Emma's story as i felt that her story had the most potential to forum. However when we spoke about the evening on Friday, a lot of people disagreed. They felt that it was too easy to change her situation and that they couldnt empathise with her at all.

When speaking to the actors after the show, they told us about their experiances with the work and the response that they get when performing in hostels. I can see how the work has a positive effect on those who are possibly in the same situations as the characters, they are able to see how their choices might make a difference in their lives and are not being patronised by people who have no understanding as all the actors have been through similar experiances. I'd be really interested to work some more with CC and am looking forward to attending some of their workshops. I saw the potentials of forum theatre as a really good way of connecting with groups of people who wouldn't normally watch theatre.

On Wednesday i attended Amici Dance Theatre's workshop at the Lyric Hammersmith. It was amazing! The performers are all so friendly, open and welcoming and seem to relish the opportunity to show new people what they do.
Amici works with disabled and non disabled performers and its incredible to see how some of the participants interpret the music. Run by Wolfgang Stange, the work is all based on improvisation from a piece of music or a mask or piece of material etc. Performers are picked at random to dance in groups/duo's; however many people the group as a whole decides. One of the most beautiful improvisations was a duet by a blind performer and a performer in a wheelchair. The movement was simple but i could see their connection with the music and with each other. Another performer joined in the dance and started to touch their faces. The performer in the wheelchair really responded to this, and later when we were dancing with fabric and cloths he seemed to really enjoy the feel of it on his skin.
Dancing with the members of Amici was really inspiring and quite liberating. Their energy and confidence rubbed off on me and i didnt feel worried or self concious when others were watching me. Speaking to Wolfgang after the workshop, he told us about their future productions and invited us to go along to more workshops. This is a really great opportunity to see how they work.

Both of these companies have shown me completely different ways of delivering theatre to people who wouldnt normally access it. I think that we could take this idea when looking at our work at Ham House. Looking at people who wouldnt normally visit a National Trust property and trying to get them thinking about it in a positive way as somewhere they would like to visit and enjoy visiting. Gary was saying that there is a school next door to them who don't do anything with the house, they have no connection with something that is right on their doorstep. I think that it is something we could look into with our future projects at the house. What do people think?

Sorry if i have rambled on a bit.. got carried away!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


I've been thinking quite a lot about the christmas project over the last couple of days and have had a few ideas.
When i was in Edinburgh there were a lot of childrens shows and one that had a huge amount of success was Room on the Broom by Tall Stories theatre company. This is a well loved story and Tall Stories adapted it into an interactive, fun filled show.
I had an idea that for the christmas event we could possibly take some classic childrens stories and adapt them into short performances that continue throughout the day on a sort of loop. This would mean that visitors could wander around and see all the performances as well as enjoy other activities. It would also mean that children and parents of all ages could enjoy them. They could be interactive as well so that children can get involved in telling the story with costumes and props.
Jorge was saying that they wanted to focus on family fun so i think its important that everyone can get involved, not just the kiddies!!!
What do people think?

Monday, 5 October 2009

Been a bit unsue as to how to get going with my first post but thought the best idea was to just dive straight into it.
I'm really looking forward to the community projects this year. I'd never been to Ham House before but i wasn't dissapointed. Its a really beautiful setting to create work in and i think that everyone was getting inspired just from being there.
I'm still trying to decide which project to work on. I am excited about the big project at the house and know how much fun they can be from speaking to people involved last year, but Turtle Key Arts, Amichi and Ockhams Razor also sound like great companies to get involved with to. Especially Amichi and their work with disabled performers, as i have always been keen to work with people with disabilities as i know from personal experiance how rewarding it can be and how much you can learn from it.