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But Enough About me...

on Tue, 05/26/2015 - 01:58

I’m about to;  re - Produce Kava Girls (origins festival London June 12 -14), co - create the GAFA Arts Collective Fun Palace:  StOP-HIT (Oct 3) an opera and sport day taking a stand against domestic abuse, I am co -writing R’Otello (Oct 2&3) - the rugby opera - also part of our Fun Palace, R’Otello an adaptation of Otello, Carmen and Tosca set at the rugby world cup (our fun palace is to raise funds and awareness for victims of domestic abuse). 

It’s all been my every moment. Literally.

I’m very boring during these work periods - I can be often found in a daydream- like state; stopping mid-sentence to adjust a lighting cue in my head or resenting being at a social engagement when I could be rolling around on the floor divining a unique way to deliver a line.

I find I do the Lion’s share of the work from pitching ideas to would be investors (which is getting easier) to making the cafe for everyone: I do have surplus energy in these highly active times but sometimes I crave the solace found in channel hopping or spending quality time with my duvet. My learning curve is steep and I ascend with a mix of terror and aplomb. I grapple with the concept that ‘no man is an island’ and even though I feel like my borders are open, in practise, it sometimes is not the case!  A work in progress. 

Reviving a piece is very rewarding. This is true for Kava Girls. It can also be sobering. I’m often faced with many moments of ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ to ‘if it ain’t broken why am I changing it?’ Then I change it. Then un-change then change it again - and so on and so forth.

Props and costumes are like old friends they emit a history, and tell a warm familiar story. I feel like I should be having a cup of tea and asking said prop what have they been up to?

Sarah vs Blank Page

on Tue, 05/19/2015 - 00:28

BY SARAH ROBERTSON

Blank pages can be a pretty brutal. They might seem fairly innocent and harmless, like a kitten but it’s a ruse. Don’t be fooled.  I came face to face with the blank page demon recently and I won. For now at least. It’s an ongoing challenge that even when one page is destroyed with 500 words, another lines up to take it’s place.

A short play I wrote about five years ago is having a new lease of life as a film script.  I had talked about re-writing it for TV and did nothing. I had planned to re-write as a longer play. Nothing happened. Then the film script discussions started. I felt confident and ready. I had written the play, I could do this no problems.  I’d like to point out now that this is crazy talk. What you are reading is delusion. For some reason I thought that writing a feature film script would be easy. I thought I could cut and paste my little thirty pages of theatre into 110 pages of film. Yup. I’m not sure if it was the chorizo and cheese I was nibbling on as the initial discussions about the script took place but I soon realized I was mislead.

I had plans to write on my honeymoon but I did nothing. Another weekend or two went by. I did nothing. Sensing the trend here? I’m sure you can see now why it was five years from the play being on to attempting to write this film.  Sometimes it’s easier to not than to face the blank pages. Anyway finally I knuckled down and had the laptop open, about six hours cleared to work and an empty house. Then things got real. It was a stand off between me and Microsoft Word (or whatever the version is for Mac.) And Word won. The page remained blank. Any handful of words I typed were swiftly deleted. I really felt like I couldn’t do it.  I simply couldn’t write anymore. I was lame. I cried.

Anyway

Running Away to the Circus

on Mon, 05/11/2015 - 20:38

BY MICHELLE WITTON

Three times in life I’ve been fortunate to experience the wonder and joy of Roncalli Circus (www.roncalli.de). The first was in Munich, while backpacking. The second, totally by chance, was backpacking through Hannover. The third, 2 weeks ago, was also totally by chance and, in a different phase of life, while working in Luxembourg. Walking across the bridge spanning the chasm-valley that divides Luxembourg, I was thrilled to see Roncalli’s bright hoardings of clowns and acrobats on its rails. The circus was in town!

In comparison with Cirque de Soleil or Moscow State Circus, Roncalli is intimate - it’s a small Big Top, you can smell the sawdust. The thing I love most about Roncalli is that it is abundantly joyful. Entering the circus ground audience are transported to a place of fun and laughter. On arriving, a clown draws a love heart on your cheek – who can’t smile looking at someone with a heart on their cheek?

Roncalli is a German circus established in 1976 by European theatre clown and director, Bernhard Paul, and his business partner, Andre Heller. Based in Koln, this summer the circus is touring three different shows through multiple central European cities. The quality of Roncalli’s shows – their staging, precision, timing – grounds an evening of spectacle – a magical fusion of light, music, costumes, glitter – brilliant comedy and breathtaking acrobatics. Roncalli has a strong tradition of clowning – featuring such great clowns as David Larible, Genis Mestres and Bernard Paul himself – while fostering younger talents - male and female - in its clowning-ranks. However, moving with the times, Roncalli is now much more than a circus...

With Bernard Paul’s vision, Roncalli are bringing the circus to a new generation.

Rhythms and Interconnectedness

on Tue, 05/05/2015 - 07:00

BY EMMA DEAKIN

Everything has a rhythm. All life has its own rhythm. And each rhythm connects to other rhythms which make new rhythms and connects all things. That’s what I believe anyway. The interconnectedness of things. Well, of EVERYthing really.

I’ve thought a lot about rhythm lately as I have recently moved back to New Zealand after ten years in London. Lately I’ve often found myself thinking, and saying the words, “I’m just still finding my rhythm here…” Meaning finding my groove I guess on this new journey of mine, this year I have committed to being in NZ for the birth of my sister’s baby.

I’ve also been on a search for ‘my people’. Those like-minded creative types here in Christchurch and North Canterbury who I could connect with, find a rhythm with, be inspired by and fire off new connections.

It’s all taking time, and I am inherently impatient, so it’s a good challenge. And it’s worth things are moving, the rhythm is manifesting. Of course it’s always there, just sometimes it feels more latent than other times – or I am being more impatient than other times. Ha! But I am seeing and feeling the rhythm and interconnectedness of my life. It’s fab!

So tomorrow I am going to be a panellist on a TV show for a local station. It’s a kind of talk show; a few women talking about some local issues and also giving their opinions about personal questions that come in from the viewing audience.

I have never done ANYTHING like this before.

It came in a round about way. After looking for some jobs here, I was not having much luck finding something that I was excited about. Then I did! I applied for a job with this tv station – a job I (really) wanted. It was a late application, but they said they’d take a look. I didn’t get it. I was disappointed.

Battersea Arts Centre

on Tue, 03/17/2015 - 09:03

By Mary Price-O’Connor

In mid January 1987 I was 22 I was told about a new theatre company that met weekly led and directed by Annie Griffin called The Junction. So I went and over the next few months we met weekly. It was my first devised show. We rehearsed and made everywhere in the building. I practiced this monologue I wrote about my violin in the scratch bar, on that little stage. Around us was Neil Bartletts ‘A Vision of Love revealed in Sleep’ . It was glorious. Our show, Ill met by Moonlight was theatre noir. We devised and toured, and in that Summer became 50 emerging artists who spent the whole of August devising a show based on 100 Years of Solitude. There were three directors, Tony Fegin, Jos Houben , Olusola Oyeleye. I made , danced, played a tango with a young actor, who became my husband for 20 years. I met the Buddhism I still practice that summer in that building . I made my first London friends , Harley and Sam. I suppose I found my tribe, and with that year of experience I found my Theatre Feet. I arrived. Everything that happened there, is connected to where I am now. It became a building of echo and resonance.

Since then, like a family home, I come and go, but always in the corridors up the staircases , is an imprint of the summer of ‘87, the procession ,the train we made. Ghosts of me, my friends.

A couple of years later I used the crèche for my first child whilst working on a show. In time I found Improbable , Cooked Chaos and experienced my first Devoted and Disgruntled. I saw work, I Scratched work.

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Where are we at?

on Wed, 03/11/2015 - 18:07

By Amie (@spoonsparkle)

I’ve found my head all in a muddle this week at the arts world.  On Saturday I went to see my very good friends'  ‘Play in a Week’ at East15.  It was very good – based on ‘The Women who run with the Wolves’ – one of my favourite books!  The thing that shocked me was that there were some 42 people on the (very expensive) MA course at East15.  This seems to be a new high.  Now I know little about the training they receive, so I am unqualified to comment on whether or not they feel they get their money's worth, but I’ve always been a bit dubious about acting MAs (sorry to everyone I cause offence to in saying this).  I understand ‘the-getting-an-agent-thing’, is the reason so many people do the MAs, but what I see is East15 training up far too many people to go in to an industry where there simply aren’t enough jobs, I wonder how much of it is just a money spinning scheme for them?  In addition I would say the course was made up of about 15% males, to 75% females, yet we know, the statistics tell us, that the jobs for women (in traditional theatre set ups) are far fewer than there are for men.

On Monday, I read Lyn Gardener’s dreadfully exciting report about theatre in the UK, whether it’s Shakespeare, or Fun Palaces, or Opera, or Theatre that’s beencreated with the community – it’s exciting.  The landscape of theatre has shifted far from what it was 50 years ago.  Projects like Fun Palaces take theatre away from the big (scary) shiny buildings and out in to the community, making arts accessible to a lot more people.

Scrap The Template

on Wed, 02/18/2015 - 15:02

By Amie

On Monday I ran a costume design workshop for a kids arts company in Dulwich.  Something you may not know about me: I worked as an assistant to two costume designers when I first moved to London as one of my many ‘paying the bills’ jobs.  So I picked up some stuff, and now I occasionally use it to deliver workshops.

I’d been collecting scraps of material, fabric and paper for weeks.  I was up late on Sunday evening, cutting out human shaped templates for the kids to draw round as a base for their costume design, and because the only human shaped template I could find online was about a size 8, and because I have huge qualms with the media (and us) consistently reinforcing to young people the fact that a size 8 is ‘normal’, I stayed up extra late ensuring I had templates of all body shapes and sizes, ranging probably from  size 6 to a size 20; because I also believe that the tiny little things we do, and think carefully about can make a difference.  It’s all about the attention to detail, consciously rebelling against ‘the norm’ and expelling the clichés.

I ran four hour long workshops throughout the day, and in the third hour, I came up against a head-strong ten year old boy, who refused to use a template.

                “How do I draw a squirrel?”

                “Ah,” Says I, “You want to design a squirrel costume?  Well, if you just draw round the template, you can then design your squirrel costume on to the template.  How do you think you might make a squirrel costume for a human?”

He pulls a face at the template, one of the ones I was up until almost midnight cutting out.

                “I don’t want to use your template. I don’t want to design a human squirrel.   I just want to draw a squirrel.

Emerging Artists

on Tue, 02/10/2015 - 07:20

BY MARY PRICE O'CONNOR

Emerge   –L. emergere e- Ex + mergere  1.  to rise by virtue of buoyancy from or out of a liquid. -1721 2. To come up out of a liquid in which (the subject) has been immersed. Also to rise from under the earth. 1640 3.To come forth into view, issue, appear 1563    (OED) .

I would consider myself an emerging artist. I am 50. I really do feel that over the last four years, that I am rising by virtue of buoyancy from or out of a liquid. A liquid in which I have been immersed, for some time.

A liquid pool of skill-finding, listening, learning, living, gaining experience, also the earthy-grounding of raising my family, being wife, being an independent artist, being all the things I list about myself on twitter… silent film accompanist. violinist, dalcroze eurhythmics teacher, dancer, theatre maker, buddhist, feminist, daughter, sister mother, friend, lover.

In my seeking to learn, refine my practice I immerse myself again. Immerse, come forth into view. Immerse, come up for air. Rinse and repeat. And when I submerge, each time it is deeper, richer. 

Isn’t everyone, everyone who is creative and asking questions, isn’t everyone emerging all the time? 

Two Kinds of Idiocy

on Tue, 02/03/2015 - 19:06

JONATHAN BIDGOOD

I went to see a film at the science museum last weekend called 'Secrets of the Hidden World'. Divided into sections, Too Fast, Too Slow, Too Small, the film uses modern camera and microscopy techniques to make visible elements of the world around us that are completely invisible to our everyday sensoria. It's compelling watching, especially in 3D on the huge Imax screen at the back of the museum.

I noticed, however, that the film, made by National Geographic, is sponsored by Lockheed Martin. Lockheed are, of course, mostly famous for their manufacture of fighter jets, so their subtextual effort to sell themselves as great technical humanitarians throughout the films narration is a little rich. Each section ends with some speculation about the marvellous technology we could develop in imitation of the gecko's ability to climb up vertical glass, or the omnidirectional four-winged flight of the dragonfly. If all of the examples picked out look eminently weaponisable, well, perhaps that is no surprise.

Many of the best and brightest new ideas out there aren't new ideas at all. They are extensions of solutions that already exist in nature, part of the rapidly expanding field of biomimicry. Which makes total sense, really. After all, natural selection has been beavering away at these problems for millennia, with a trial and error test sample that boggles the mind and dwarfs the scale of all human endeavour. It would be beyond arrogant to just turn up and assume we can do better in our brief allotted span. Biomimicry is a sign of humility before natural process, even if using its lessons to build potentially devastating weapons is not.

We have a tendency, especially those of us who are adults, to assume that we mainly have things sorted out, that we are

Ready

on Tue, 01/27/2015 - 16:17

BY EMMA DEAKIN

The day has come. Spinning Coins, the dance/theatre show a group of us have been working on is here, it’s tonight! In literally a few hours’ time.

So, who is ‘us’: Hubert & Yuyu who are dancers and performers in the piece with me. Martyn who has designed sound & music. Dominic who has designed the lights.

I can’t help feeling ONE more day of rehearsal is needed, but hey, don’t we always feel like that before performing a piece for the first time? I was having a conversation last night with a friend about how usually the night before the first performance I’d be feeling ready and excited about an audience. Feeling it’s the right time now for the audience, the piece itself NEEDS an audience. This feeling was absent last night, and this is what I was speaking to my friend about. I tried not to let this worry me, but it was still a thing I noticed myself feel.

So I chanted this morning for an hour and a half before heading into the theatre. I am a Nichiren Buddhist and I chant to allow myself to see the potential in my life and the lives of others. I chanted for me and all of us in the project (theatre tech staff too) to have trust and confidence throughout the day with this piece. I have to be honest and say a wobbled several times during the tech. Doubted my ability and didn’t feel I was communicating all that well. Technical rehearsals can be tough for lots of reasons. Essentially though we’re all working toward the same goal, so in comes that trust and confidence again. Besides, rehearsals in general for this piece were sticky and clunky often, so it’s only expected the tech might be sticky and clunky too. Trust and confidence.

But what was great to notice was that during the first run through we got, after plotting and cuing everything, I had a

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