Skip directly to content



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.

Lessons of a Waterfall

on Mon, 08/18/2014 - 22:52

Lessons of a Waterfall

By Emma Deakin

So I was at a waterfall yesterday. I'm in South Korea, staying on an island called Ulleungdo off the country's east coast. In a little port called Dodong. There is a waterfall a short walk from the port, up through a forest and past a 'natural air conditioner' - seriously, you stand in this cave and it's just like standing in front of an air conditioning machine on full. Lovely as it's so hot here, and hot to go walking or hiking! Don't ask me to tell you HOW this wonderful cave creates an actual natural cold air blast inside, I love these occurances in nature but can never remember why they occur.
Anyway, I digress... Past the forest and the cave we came to the waterfall, a picture I took here (scroll down to see the pic)...
I sat staring at the waterfall for sometime. I'm often the kind of person who takes a gazillion photos of water, when I'm near it; a beach, a river, a port, the sea, a lake...and yesterday a waterfall. Funnily enough yesterday I didn't take loads of pics of the waterfall, about three. Very few. I sat and took it in instead. 
Watched the the higher tier of the waterfall, also the smallest (you can see it at the top of the above picture). Actually the island I'm on is a Volcano so there is a lot of pretty interesting geological stuff to read about whilst exploring different parts of the island - again, don't ask me regurgitate any of it! But it's cool. I did sort of remember something about the upper and lower tiers of this waterfall though...
So the upper part of the waterfall is made of a harder rock and the massive main waterfall (that's the main bit of the waterfall pic) is a softer rock so eventually the whole rock face will erode and fall away allowing for the water, as water likes to do, find a more

7 Ways to be a good Open Space - er

on Mon, 08/11/2014 - 23:52

By Connie TB Girvan


Shaky Isles Theatre Company rehearses and works in Open Space - condensed it’s 5 W’s, 2 feet, Surprise, bees and butterflies. Expanded it’s:


Whoever comes is the right people

Whatever happens is the only thing that could have

Whenever it starts is the right time

Whenever it’s over it’s over

Where it happens is the right place


Bees (cross pollinating)

Butterflies (still observation) 


The law of two feet  (walk your two feet back in, or somewhere else)

Be prepared to be surprised


Here are 7 tips I have found useful. 


1. Trust the process


This is just chatting. 

Nothing is happening. 

We’re having too much fun. 


These are often reactions people have (myself included) in the early days of an open space process. I tell the grumbling voice to quiet down. I remind the grumbler that the philosophy “if it’s hard it’s good so if it’s easy it’s bad” is bosh and just to calm down and trust it.




What does preparation for openness look like to you? For me I find thinking and saying phrases like “I’m curious” help. Also breathing before I speak as I’m apt to hop like a cricket to share my thoughts. You can’t plan the surprise but you can sit up and look around. 


3. They are the right people even if you don’t like them


But I wanted the shiny, cool person, who has lots of ideas, likes my ideas and can climb trees really high! Instead who came to my session: Chirpy McChirpness, Clammy Shyshush, and TiredCynicalMe. There might be magic or there might be not be, but there probably is.


4. Take notes


The moments whisk one into the other and the playing is flowing. Write that stuff down! I will forget but want to remember. So type it, write it, video it, record it.


Dyslexia in the Acting Community

on Tue, 08/05/2014 - 08:26

Dyslexia in the acting community

Tom Cruise – My Struggle To Read 

By Michelle Witton

This week I was fortunate to attend an event also attended by Tom Cruise. I witnessed ‘star power’- a huge crowd ardently clamoring for his autograph and ‘selfies’. I admired his patience and humour. Tom Cruise is known for his stellar film career. Less known is his self-described ‘struggle’ with dyslexia, describing himself as ‘functionally illiterate’ at the time of filming Top Gun. Though he’d long dreamed of learning to fly - he withdrew from lessons. He attributes overcoming dyslexia to an educational programme developed by L.Ron Hubbard. Much of his charitable work has been providing access to such programmes for dyslexia youth. 

I approach this topic with humility, conscious there are many more well-informed than I. I am writing on this, keenly aware dyslexia is an on-going challenge to some actor-friends, due to which some have been denied opportunity – an injustice. Fortunately, understanding regarding dyslexia is increasing. For the past year, the Actors Centre has conducted workshops for dyslexic actors seeking to mainstream discussion and new approaches to script-learning etc. 

I am not dyslexic though have ‘right-left confusion’. Given a split second, if you asked me to raise my right hand - 50/50 I’ll raise my left. While not presuming to say I ‘understand’ dyslexia, there is some common-ground which makes me ‘alive’ to the topic. 

We work in a profession in which a CV, LinkedIn profile, website are important selling-tools. It is that much harder for a dyslexic actor to obtain work if no one helps them write their CV. Their skills may be every bit as good as the next person’s – but few get an interview without a good CV.

The Quest

on Tue, 07/29/2014 - 18:33

By Emma Deakin

I am in Japan right now. I have been here for one week and one day. Here for another week then travelling to South Korea. This week it was my turn to blog for Shaky Isles. I thought I would have LOADS to say in a blog after being in a new country for two weeks. And of course I think I do, but to be honest I had no idea where to start. Everything has been brand new and the whole experience thus far has felt quite overwhelming. So, this morning, I found myself on a train travelling from east to west Shikoku (Shikoku is one of the islands south if Honshu, mainland. Japan), and with my boyfriend's iPad I sat myself down and just started writing. This is what I wrote;

The train speeds along. She is being taken with it. Snaking through a valley following the river. The river reminds her of the rivers at home. Reminds her of what is hidden too. Seemingly still water, hiding a dangerous current which could sweep her away in an instant. She must stay focused, mustn't be distracted by the wonders that surround her every moment. Bright green rice paddies. Mountains covered in cedar and bamboo. It was a beautiful place, she thought. Otherworldly and ancient. She could see why he chose to come here.

She was searching. She hadn't found it yet. The key. She pondered it's location as she watched the seconds click by on the digital clock at the front of the train carriage. 7:56 - morning. She had been on the train exactly 25mins. Think! Where could it be... Was it strapped to the side of a bamboo tree? Underneath a train track? Or did the carp have it between her gills? There had been much forest explored, many trains travelled on, and the carp had whispered to her a few times. No, it had to be somewhere ahead of her. Somewhere unchartered. 7:59...that's all she can

A me by any other name

on Tue, 07/22/2014 - 09:00

By Sarah Robertson

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose /By any other name would smell as sweet

My name is Sarah Robertson. I could have been a Victoria as apparently that name was in the mix when my parents were deciding. In my opinion I’m not a Victoria, Vicki or even Tori. But then, maybe that’s just because I’m Sarah and always have been. Despite some kids in my primary school saying I looked like a Georgina (cheers guys), my name feels like it fits. 

But Sarah is just part of it. I was born a Robertson. The extended whanau gets referred to as the “Robbies”; Robbo is the nickname I get from the guys at work (funnily being the same nickname by brother has from his mates…perhaps a lack of originality?) and although I have the Elsmore chin (which means a really little non-existent one!) my other more prominent attributes (breasts and stomach) are definitely Robertson based. Well the breasts anyway…the stomach might be my fault!

Seven years ago I met a man called Neal Browne, nearly two years ago we started dating and in February next year we will be married. And thus endeth Sarah Robertson and in her place Sarah Browne. Which feels strange but absolutely what I want to do. I consider myself a feminist and rally against the sexist world we live in and all the little (and big ways) women are made to feel small or degraded. So maybe some other feminists might question why I’m not standing up for Robertson and am instead taking on my partner’s name. I don’t think I can answer fully and maybe if someone explained to me in a certain way I would feel different. But for me if you pull it back a little, my surname now is a man’s so it’s not as if I’m free of that patriarchal aspect anyway.

The Manifestation in Making

on Tue, 07/15/2014 - 06:14

I am a great believer in opening spaces for the things we desire to happen and allowing them to manifest organically in that space - giving them the chance to come forth and reveal themselves as and when they’re ready to, without forcing them.  That’s not to say we don’t work at them.  That’s not to say we don’t try our damned hardest, or sow seeds which will in time grow in to their manifestation.  But, I think it’s about allowing ourselves to be more receptive to the opportunities that arise – and not limiting our outcomes by anticipating a specific result prior to its occurrence.

About two years ago I developed a real niggle with the way a lot of theatre work was being made in London.  I heard from so many actors that were struggling to learn scripts in a week, as shows were being created, rehearsed and put on stage at breakneck speed. Of course, it’s money that plays a huge factor in this - affordable rehearsal space is difficult to find in London.  Few companies have the money to pay their actors, hence keeping rehearsal periods short so as not to impact on actor’s paid job time.  And if actors are getting paid, the chances are a lot of companies can’t afford to pay them for more than a couple of week’s rehearsal.   I made a decision about a year ago to stop making work like this, it works for some, but not for me.  It was stressful, and I began to seriously question why I was making the work under such agonising restraints.  Relying on actors being at rehearsal when not paid (and as not paid being able to cancel attendance at the last minute), was detrimental to the creation process, and ultimately, we were trying to force things to happen in a rehearsal room when they simply weren’t ready to.

Actual Proof

on Tue, 07/08/2014 - 11:07


So I head to Japan on Saturday. I am going with my boyfriend and we are flying into Tokyo, spending three weeks in Japan and then heading over to South Korea and spending three weeks there. I am very fortunate. I feel very grateful. Not just for the trip, which is amazing – I’ve never travelled to these places before! But I feel grateful for how this even came about. The struggle we, as a couple, went through to get to this place.

Some readers will know that I had a miscarriage in January 2011. It was an unplanned pregnancy, but realised I wanted to keep the baby. There is a whole other story of how much I learned about myself, how I dug very deep within to overcome the grief of this experience. The experience is now one I will treasure for the rest of my life (my Buddhist practice helped me enormously to see it in this way – I practice a chanting Japanese Buddhism called Nichiren Buddhism and have done so for almost four years). Six weeks after the miscarriage I met Dan, the lovely man I am about to go travelling with for six weeks. What the miscarriage showed me is that I do desire to have a baby. But not just to have a baby, have a baby WITH the person I love. Which happens to be this lovely man, Dan.

This time last year conversations about marriage and children came up in our relationship. Through having these conversations we came to realise we wanted different things. This was difficult. We went through several months of talking, and talking, and then talking some more. Digging deeper and deeper sharing how we see our lives, what the future may or may not hold. Coming to the point where we thought the solution was to probably break up. It seemed clear to me at times that if we want such different things how can we stay together?

Sustainability and Story

on Tue, 07/01/2014 - 16:55


Pictures of polar bears sitting alone on sinking icebergs and satellite photos of retreating glaciers and ice shelves are among the defining images of our time. For the next generation, at the current rate, we'll need 1.5 planet Earth's to sustain the world's population and its consumerism. Problem is - we've only one.   Life on our planet optimally flourishes within certain temperature ranges. Beyond this there are limitations to adaptability. Governments which have recognised this challenge are committing to try forestall a 2% climate increase. Many scientists argue even 2% is unsustainable. Beyond this, there will be a Tipping Point for many species and terrains, beyond which there is no turning back - exponential change will not be able to be stopped. This is why I am studying Sustainable Business.   Thinking and action on sustainability happens at a macro-level when governments and industry change their approaches to manufacturing and energy use. Yet we can all make no less valuable a contribution as individuals and communities by simple change of habit - turning off lights, closing curtains, recycling waste. We have to shift the paradigm of think about 'home' as our address to 'home' as our shared planet.   In achieving habit change on sustainability I believe there is a huge role to be played by 'story'. 'Preaching' on climate change will fall on our time’s media-saturated and therefore largely ‘deaf’ ears. However, humanity is hard-wired for 'story'. Elisabeth Beresford's Wombles were sustainability characters before this issue really had a name. What do we all know about Wombles? Their ‘culture’ is picking up rubbish on Wimbledon Common.

Things I have learnt...

on Tue, 06/24/2014 - 14:32


It's a very common tale. Heading back to New Zealand for 3 months to visit, and staying.

I remember feeling like an alien when I first arrived. It had been 9 years. My friendships were frozen in time, I was tucked away in my parent's basement in the heart of suburban Auckland, completely broke and I did not speak the language.

My home in Brixton felt very, very far away.

Fast-forward 3 years and here I am; beaming in from the Mother Ship. At the risk of sounding like an article from that an old school mate posted on Facebook and you absentmindedly clicked on, here is my report from the last 3 years…  

Things I have learnt (and am prepared to unlearn, as is my wont) :  

*I believe beliefs are a dangerous thing. *The more specific a place or story, the more universally it speaks. *1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar is the secret ingredient to an awesome chicken stock. *New Zealand is on the other side of the Earth, not a Black Hole. *Financial debt and worry is my greatest creative block. *Smoking rollies and drinking red wine does not equal creativity. *Stealing with respect is a very useful pastime. *Talking, talking, talking; blah, blah, blah. JUST DO IT. *A small community is wonderful but it's important to get a long, deep breath of fresh air at regular intervals. There are many other small communities satelliting mine that are worth a visit now and then. *Grandparents don't last forever. They are precious time capsules and a direct link to my hiSTORY. *To speak from my authentic, truthful voice is ALWAYS the answer. *A room full of people who REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING, rarely do. *The ratio of Great Theatre : Boring Theatre is better in London.