Sunday, 29 November 2009

Anish Kapoor

I haven't blogged for a while so a have a few things to catch up on. Last Sunday myself and Sophie took a trip into central to see the Anish Kapoor exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art. The que was huge, this exhibition has been on since September and is still drawing huge crowds which tells you how popular he is. Outside in the courtyard was a beautiful steel sculpture called Tall Tree and The Eye which consists of lots of globes of mirrored steel. They reflect everything around them in every direction which is quite a strange experience. It seems as though the globes are floating freely and unattached to each other and i was intrigued at how something so simple could throw up so many different interpretations. This was just the beginning of a truly amazing exhibition. Each sculpture gave me so many ideas and i took a lot of different meanings. It really inspired me to create performance work. The most memorable pieces were Svayambh and Shooting into the Corner. Svayambh was a huge block of red wax that moved incredibly slowly through 5 rooms. It was difficult to tell if it was even moving at some points and it takes an hour and a half for the block to reach the end and back. As the block moves through the rooms it squeezes throught the doorways and is then moulded into their shape. It was really interesting to watch this process even though it took a long time, i didnt find myself getting bored at all.
Shooting into the Corner is the most famous work of the exhibition. Sophie is working on a performance inspired by it for her creative collaboration performance. A canon fires a block of red wax into a blank white corner every 20 minutes.
The anticipation of waiting for the canon to go off was probably more powerful and affecting than when it actually did go off. A man sits with his back to the audience and every 2o minutes he walks to the canon, takes a cylinder of wax from the shelves and places it in the canon. He turns on the gas and then waits. This is probably the most tense that i have been. I knew it was about to go off so i was bracing myself for the bang. When it did go off the wax missed the wall so it did feel like a bit of an anti climax, however when we left we both found ourselves feeling really emotional. I honestly never thought that a piece of art could affect me so much. The canon is a symbol of destruction but their is something quite theraputic in watching something so clean like the white wall get destroyed or messed up. I think that we have all been in a situation where we have wanted to throw something and we find a sense of release from that. This piece really captured that feeling and it was definitely worth the long wait. I would recommend this exhibition to everyone, you will definitely come out having been moved in some way.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Christmas Stories

Friday was our first opportunity to work in the basement where the Christmas event will take place. It gave me a real sense of how the whole event will take shape and I'm looking forward to the dress rehearsal on Friday when we will hear all the stories and see what will be happening and when. I'm really looking forward to the event now and seeing the rooms full of people and the stories in full swing.

I am working with Siobhan and Emily on The Bear Who Found Christmas, which will take place in the long corridor by the stairs. We felt that this was a great space as the story is set in an old toy shop. Children will often play and create their own worlds in all sorts of weird and wonderful places that we just wouldn't think of, and i feel that the use of the corridor brings this out. Stories can be told anywhere, as long as you really believe that the chair you are sitting on, for example, is a mountain then the children will believe it too. They love to use their imagination and these stories will give them the opportunity to do this.

I was reading an article about children's theatre in Time Out which spoke about the way that the majority of children's theatre is big and loud and colourful, but actually young children are very good at seeing the beauty in small, subtle things. They are often a lot better at it than us, and many new shows have worked with this principle in mind, such as Katie Mitchell's Cat in the Hat at the National. I think that we should think about this in terms of our Christmas stories. We don't have the option of using huge amounts of props, set, costumes etc, but i don't think that it will matter. As long as we fully invest in each story and really create an atmosphere then the children will do the rest themselves.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Ghost Tour

On Thursday we were given a ghost tour at Ham House. I thought it was brilliant and really fascinating. Although we have had other tours of the house and had been told a lot of the history of it, i felt as though we were really given an insight into how Elizabeth and her family lived .... (and died!!)
Some of the rooms i hadn't seen before, and although I'm not sure whether i believe in ghosts or not ... i definitely felt a chill in the chapel! The 2 guides who took the tour were funny and clearly very passionate about the house and its history. Their anecdotes really helped to set the scene and made the tour very accessible to all ages.
If we are going to start to try and 'revamp' some of the tours then i think we should look at this one as a good starting point. It's definitely important to make the visitors connect to the material, just like a theatre audience. If you are just telling them facts then it becomes quite boring and they lose interest. Stories or bits of gossip are quite funny and mean that the visitors can start to remember that these were real people. They aren't just paintings on the wall, but actually lived, breathed, laughed and cried here and i think that appeals to all ages.
Its so much more interesting when you try to imagine how they lived and what they did in the house.
Another good example of this was on the behind the scenes tour when we were shown the graffiti on the window. A young servant at the house called John McFarland had fallen in love with another girl called Emily, but they couldn't be together as she was already engaged to someone else. He had scratched her name on a window and then committed suicide. This isn't shown to visitors of the house, which is a shame as i felt that it brought the house to life for me.
The Christmas stories are a great chance for us to do this. It will bring people to the house who may not have been before and will hopefully encourage them to come back.