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Being the Peacemaker on your Journey

on Mon, 10/27/2014 - 22:33

By Amie

Conflict, I learned a while ago is not always a bad thing.  For my entire life I had believed conflict to be a terrible thing, and avoided it at whatever cost – the cost often being my artistic or personal thoughts, ideas or beliefs remaining unvoiced.

Conflict is conflict, it is neither good nor bad, conflict emanates waves, and the way we choose to approach those waves determines positive or negative outcomes of conflict.  Some conflict results in great wars.  Some in tiny arguments, which we laugh about soon after.  But if we carefully choose our response and approach to the conflict in our lives and in our relationships with others, we have the power to open up spaces for growth, development and learning in those relationships, and to strengthen them.  It needn’t be a bad thing.

This also applies to the inner conflict we often experience on our own journey. 

I soon realised about two years ago that if I wanted to stand a chance of succeeding in the arts then it was time to start working hard, seriously hard.    Time to lock up my dreams of being ‘that’ artist - the one that raves barefoot in fields several nights a week, drinking too much wine, and writing the occasional half-play,  knowing that the ‘big break’ is just around the corner.  I used to berate myself for my naivety back then, for wasting time, but have come to feel that that was all part of my journey too

I no longer believe in ‘big breaks’.  I imagine the people we perceive to have had ‘big breaks’, felt as though their 'breaks' came to them quite slowly, little by little, through hard work and patience.  And then continued hard work and patience. If they felt their 'break' came at all.

The truth is that you just have to work hard day in day out, pasionately.

It's all about the knitting!

on Tue, 10/21/2014 - 08:27



Recently I took up a pair of needles and tried knitting again after a gap of at least fifteen years.  It wasn’t so much the restarting that was the remarkable thing it was the circumstances in which this occurred.  I found myself talking to a group of women who meet weekly to knit and to talk.  They talk and knit around a table.  The talking is lively and the knitting is effortless.  There is a great deal of laughter.


When I joined them and began chatting and finding out more about them they were curious as to my interest in them.  I told them that many years ago I used to knit a lot and had somehow just stopped and never started again.  They said that if I wanted to be taken seriously around this table I would have to start knitting again and so that is how I came to take up those needles and wool and to knit once more.  So here I was knitting and sitting around a table with a group of six women and feeling less self-conscious as a bloke knitting in public than I have ever felt before.


I drift off for a moment in my thoughts.  I am reminded of a Stanislavsky acting exercise I once did where you had to speak scripted dialogue while you were doing something requiring high concentration on a reasonably complex manual task.   It is as if somehow the effort put into the action of the hands freed the mind up enough to be able to relax into the conversation.  It occurs to me that this must be why the knitting circle has for so long been such a popular way of meeting up to talk . . . and to listen . . . and to wonder.  There is something liberating, something uplifting and something definitely tongue-loosening about chatting whilst your mind is occupied with a manual task that requires a certain amount of dexterity.  


The talking veers from

Endings Are Always New Beginnings

on Tue, 10/14/2014 - 15:00


I’ve found myself recently in a place of things ending. And at the same time brand new, exciting things, beginning.

It’s an odd place to be sometimes. In the middle. In suspension. In limbo.

One could easily choose to despair when one’s life is turned this way and that, churned about and suddenly in many ways unrecognisable from before. When massive upheaval and change takes place in life it is often painful. It is often confusing. It is often tremendously sad.

Lately I’ve been experiencing all of those things. And sometimes it comes in waves. All the emotion comes all at once. And sometimes the dimmer is turned down and it’s there but not pouring out of me, and I’m feeling lighter. And other times it’s all there, dimmer turned way up, and at the same time I am feeling absolute joy. I’m sure we’ve all experienced how tears and laughter are right next to each other. How we can get so angry we burst into tears. Or how fear makes us laugh uncontrollably. I know that when I’m going through any struggle I need to keep checking in on me. Making sure I’m allowing myself to feel all that I’m feeling, not burying it for later. Feeling the loss of something, taking the time to do that in whatever way we do, is how we move on and how we break through to the new beginnings. And it takes courage to do this. Letting the tears flow for instance certainly isn’t a weakness.

I was speaking with a wonderful friend of mine this morning, and she is struggling through so much. And for her it manifests as tears, often, and for now, but that is just where she is at. And we spoke about the image of someone crying. And how our society too often sees it as weakness and misconstrues it for something lacking strength or courage. I don’t believe this is true.

One (of the many)

How to Make a Dream Come True

on Tue, 10/07/2014 - 19:38

I forgot to write the blog. This blog. The blog I’m writing. I forgot to write it because I was making a dream come true. The Fun Palaces dream.

Not Joan Littlewood’s dream, not Cedric Price’s. Mine and that of many other people and they were busy making it come true as well. This past weekend, the first Fun Palaces weekend, was a collective dream, co-dreamed, co-created.

A dream and a vision and an idea born out of a session I’d called at D&D 2013.

A dream talked into being by some people who happened to be in a room at the same time – who happened to come to the same, nebulously titled session.

A dream grown by me reluctantly taking it on ("I don’t have time, I don’t know how to do this, I don’t want to be a producer, I really can’t afford to do so much work for no money ... and yet ...")

A dream nurtured by Sarah-Jane Rawlings saying yes to dreaming it with me (long before we had any money to make it), to the rest of our team then saying yes to dreaming it with us.

A dream cared for by my wife accepting and supporting me emailing and writing and working on funding applications late late into night after night.

A dream held by good friends, almost all of them connected to Shaky Isles in some way, when I was very ill with a cancer recurrence and didn’t know where I would be on the Fun Palaces weekend.

A dream blossomed into being by dozens of other people saying yes. People who said yes to making their own Fun Palace, yes to giving something to their community - GIVING!


on Tue, 09/30/2014 - 19:46



“The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s must be beautiful; the ideas like the colours or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.”

GH Hardy “ A Mathemetician’s Apology”


Patterns. Beautiful patterns.

Breath in Breath out.

Heart pulsing heart beating

Three meals a day

A day a night

Open closed

In out

Often, but not always binary

Pattern of a life death life death

Seasons, The moon, menstruation, gestation, our gestation not our mother’s ours.

7 days a week. we have symmetry and asymmetry. We have both.

In a Dalcroze Eurhythmics lesson recently, where we learn many things, one is to see that what happens in music happens in life in the world around us, we discussed the chaos but order of conversations. Of weather where there is pattern and chaos in the pattern but rain will fall, sun will shine, words will be spoken, speak, listen, respond.

Patterns of coincidence, patterns of clusters of events. We are pattern makers, weavers, interpreters, pattern sorters. We circle towards and away. We spiral. Twist turn. 

Whoever Comes

on Tue, 09/23/2014 - 16:09

         Shaky Isles works in Open Space Technology. One of the principals is “Whoever comes is the right people.” No matter your race, gender, age, orientation, religion, politics. Shaky Isles ticks quite a few boxes on the diversity rubric. You may fund us accordingly. ;)

        One thing I love about working with and being a part of Shaky Isles is our age range. Truth be told, I hadn’t fully appreciated how special this it until a different company’s main view of me was based upon my age and other aspects of “identity.” In Shaky Isles, I rarely notice our 40 year age range. We play, we discuss, we dream, we work. Together. 

I beg for more specificity in our language.

      “You’re so old/young for your age”  This is may be complimenting you in some way. It’s also suggesting you are too different from how you should be because of the years you have lived in X's opinion.

     My actions are determined by my past experience and my past experience is not determined by my age. 

Things that are determined by age:

When you can vote (not when and if you do)

When you can drive (not when and if you do)

When you can drink (not when and if you do) 

Other legal things.


     Education (more significantly learning), employment, relationships, physical ability and the all encompassing ‘experience’ are not directly determined by age. At some time, at every time, we have and will experience pain and joy at varying levels. Need they be compared? 

Age is an unreliable meter

   I dislike saying my age. It’s often surprising because folk think I am more something or other than other people my age. This can lead to disappointment when I mess up. “Oh but we thought you were more mature.” I reply thus impervious to failure?

Adventures of an Off-Screen Reader

on Wed, 09/17/2014 - 11:43


Last year, a friend who works as a film Production Assistant asked if I’d like to work as an Off-screen Reader - reading in lines off-camera for actors unable to be on set. She couldn’t tell me the name of the film. She couldn’t tell me who or what I’d be reading. It was all very Hush-Hush, Secret-Squirrel, Have-To-Shoot-You-If-We-Tell-You. Keen for experience and enticed by a mystery I said yes. The work of Off-screen Readers isn’t much talked-of, so I thought to write of my experience. Jump Cut to….

…Catering bus on a Pinewood lot 8am on a foggy Autumn morning. Over my plate of scrambled eggs, a Runner shakes my right hand and into the left passes sides of film script, printed on luminous red paper. I’m told the film is called “Maleficent” and whoever or whatever Maleficent is, is one of the things I’ll be reading that day. Alone on the catering bus, I whip out my Blackberry, google IMDB and “Maleficent” - and read that Maleficent is film produced by Disney and that the character is played by - Angelina Jolie. Right, so, absolutely no pressure!!! Furious side-learning ensued…. (The sides are on bright red paper and have to be returned to the production office at the end of each day because there’d be litigation-frenzy if they ended up on the internet).

Off-screen Readers are sometimes used for film reshoots. ‘Name’ film actors being expensive and busy they’re not recalled if not in front of camera i.e. if the reshoot involves shooting a reverse. Usually, I’d be shown the scene originally shot on as a reference-point for the reshoot – the objective not being to copy the original but to get a sense of story and emotion.

Day 1 involved reading-in for the Motion-Capture filming of a trio of actors who were playing fairies.

Gold Rush

on Wed, 09/10/2014 - 15:33


In the 1500s, you could hardly move in South America for conquistadores scouring the land for the legendary city of El Dorado. The Spanish had noted the prodigious quantity of the precious metal in the various kingdoms they had pillaged, and it became their conviction that somewhere in this vast continent, there must be a source, a rare and unusual place from whence all this gold originated, a city made of gold, paved in gold, overflowing with gold, and, just for good measure, a fountain at its heart that could confer eternal life on whomever drank from it.

In retrospect, it seems crazy, but at the time this vision was compelling enough to fuel numerous expeditions into vastly inhospitable regions. The dream of gold, of a mysterious source of gold previously unknown to mortal man possesed the minds of adventurers and monarchs alike. The path they followed led to no end of misery for the indigenous populations of the region, but no one ever found that mythical city.

In the 1800s, a similar but far more populist gold rush took place. Reports of gold being found in the mountains of California inspired huge numbers of prospectors to sell up and head out into the wilds, hoping to strike it lucky. You know the type I mean, that crazy bearded gentleman with the pickaxe and the dynamite who still hangs around american cultural memory, always convinced that he’s going to hit the motherlode any day now.

Why this rather facile history lesson in a blog that is ostensibly about the art of theatremaking? Because I believe that these two stories help us understand a lot about how we approach creativity.

You see, most of us in modern western culture think of creativity as a sort of El Dorado.

Beyond Myself - by Sani Muliaumaseali'i

on Thu, 09/04/2014 - 14:56


I have just returned from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where my first ever play,  with songs,  Kava Girls,  had a 16 show season.  Now, I am no stranger to ‘putting on a show’ – take that any way you want to - but this was a level that was entirely new to me (and I have had a few lunches in my time!) - 

To see your vision appear nightly is brilliant: To see audiences love and less than love the piece - perfection. 

Observing the nexus of the cast, the joy of finding truth and the tribulations of challenge form a wonderful life. 

On the whole  the 'writing-producing-composing-arranging-directing-choreographing-marketing-dogsbodying- experience has left me invigorated. Ironic as I could also sleep for a month, but most adventures will do that to you. I also I know the more I do, the more I get to understand the edges of my gifts and abilities. 

'Let's put on a show'

I have been duped by those sunday afternoon showings of the Andy Hardy movies with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney

Where on less than a nickel, they managed to produce an all singing, all dancing extravaganza - in the local barn - with a full symphony orchestra.

Duped I say,  but I what I really mean is I'm  well trained in the art of optimism.

I've always known of course, that its not as easy as Rooney and Garland would have you believe.

Its hard. And harder. Then harder again – but oh my. Its worth it.

 Which way is up?

I had no preconceived ideas on what was going to flow from my electronic quill with Kava Girls:  I just kept pressing the keyboard and trusting the scribbles would make more than sense. That they would connect – to the actors and out into the world.

I wanted the heart to feature in Kava Girls. Twinning the heart of the piece with that of the audience. For the most part I succeeded. 



on Tue, 08/26/2014 - 07:56

By Mary Price-O’Connor






On Saturday 16th August I went to day 55 of Marina Abramovic’s 512Hours.






I stepped into the space, noise cancelling headphones on. Everything , excepting the clothes I wore (including my shoes , my choice, to be barefoot)  in a locker;  the key in my bra. And I made a choice to engage. I stood, sat, lay,watched, smelled. Felt. Went into the room of wearing blindfolds. Twice. The second time I was braver. I moved, noticed how I moved barefoot, blindfolded in a room of silent people. Was reminded of  Café Muller (dance theatre piece by Pina Bausch, two dancers have their eyes closed throughout the piece) how difficult that must be to perform. Decided how I could experience this, how safe could I feel? I played. Walking backwards, is that better? In the other two rooms I noticed when I was present, active, and when absent, watching and how different were they? Time, space, energy. Am I audience? Performer? Who else is here? Why did they come? I sat in the room where Marina was sitting. She sat still the whole time I was there. When I watched her video diary of that day, day 56  at midnight, I learned why. And I think I probably had the best experience because of that. I was lucky. Because she removed herself , was present and yet absent. 


Marina had felt that as Friday , day 55, had been “such a difficult day” she decided to sit in one place most of day 56. During 512Hours her status had become an obstacle,  people went to meet her, be touched by her, and because of this they were really protecting their own experience. Protecting their own experience.