Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Spain Dec 2009 'Spiral'

On the first day of Spiral, Bielva gave to me...

We set off on 13th December on a lovely Ryanair flight, to the Cantabrian mountains to set foot in a small settlement called Bielva. With only 150 inhabitants Bielva is a quaint village full of wonderful and beautiful Spaniards all willing to make us feel extraordinarily welcome. I didn't bring enough clothes as per usual, as I did not predict the snow we were welcomed with on the first morning. Jennie assured me that her 4 dresses, high heeled boots and many pairs of tights were enough, which she kept her word to! We arrived quite late at night on the Sunday but Spiral never failed to feed us even at this time of night, as they do so well! Chris rustled up a Spag Bog for the 13 of us and we said goodnight after a long day travelling, ready to start our first day in Bielva.

Spanish days are a little different to our English ones. The mornings are from the hours of about 10am til 2pm. They then have a large meal, which we would usually have in the evening and a siesta if needed. The afternoon is about 2pm til 7pm and the evening is then onwards in which they have a light meal. So we tried to adapt to the Spanish times and eating habits to make sure that we were on top form every day. We were fed impeccably by the villagers and by mama-Martha a la carta, a nickname she acquired which translates as Mummy Martha of the menu! We picked up fresh bread from our door every morning, we were given the feast that was used in the actual performance on Saturday (they used real food to re-inact the feast of Fausto's return) and enough eggs to make plenty of omelettes each. We were thoroughly made to feel that our presence was welcome in this tiny community.

The mornings consisted of learning about the history of Spain and how Theatre became part of the Spanish culture which was really interesting and we had lots of questions in these lessons. Martha, Chris and Carolina (The 3 musketeers of Spiral!) are all so talented and intelligent in their own specific fields that when they come together, they produce something spectacular as they complement each other so well. Martha is an Archaeologist, Carolina used to be a journalist before Spiral and Chris is a Theatre Writer and Director.

So anyway, we then broke for lunch everyday at 2pm where we cooked as a house. This was quite difficult at times as our guest house was on the lowest band of electricity. So much as using a hairdryer was impossible and fused the whole house. The sly ones using the straighteners as they didn't make noise were soon found out...Hannah! You can imagine what cooking a roast dinner for 14 people was like, which we managed on the Friday night! So we soon napped and then watched and joined in on rehearsals with the company in the evening. There were 19 people in the Company in total, but the younger children in the cast only came to the village on the Friday as they attend school in the city of Santander, and so stay there during the week. So everything seemed to come together on the Friday as we got the whole cast together. Although we could not talk to each other directly due to the language barrier, we quickly formed such an intimate bond with these people that they did not mind us going in on their rehearsals and listening every night. Remembering that none of the villagers had ever done any acting on stage before we had to be sensitive, kind and aware at all times. We might have been laughing with them at times but because we couldn't explain unless translated, it was quite often that they became self conscious.
The play is about a man called Fausto who leaves the village and his family and girlfriend when he is 15, and returns when he is rich 50 years later with what he thinks is a fantastic idea of building a ski station at the top of the mountain in the village. Much to Fausto's dismay his family and friends say to him that he can't just turn up after so long and flaunt his money to win everyone back; he has to earn it back. The way Spiral worked with this project is with improvisational games and exercises and using their own personal stories and experiences and so created something relevant to everyone and the village. The community worked together with guidance from Chris, Carolina and Martha, making their own rehearsal times, making food for each other and generally looked out for each other. The 9 of us from St. Mary's aided the cast with our technical knowledge of lighting, stage managing and sound. As a gift we dressed the old bar that they performed in, with white sheets for the performance and on the night I was Stage Managing the event. As an appreciation of all their kind generosity we wrote a song for the villagers and sang it to them at the after-show party on Saturday which was an emotional goodbye. However the mood was heightened with some bag pipes and a tambourine and we danced til the early hours of the morning.
What was so lovely about this project was that we came together as two different year groups from St. Mary's that did not know each other and created a bond so strong that we will never forget our experience in Spain with Spiral. We lived in each others pockets for a week and now we each have new friends that we will take back to University. I improved my Spanish speaking to the villagers and we have made friends in Bielva that we are hoping to create an exchange with the other young performers that we can stay with in the future. I feel that we all came so far in just one week as individuals, and I am now in a far better position than I was a week ago in myself. I am thinking whether doing a PGCE next year is the best step for me right now. So many thoughts at the moment that I need to go away and think more about the future.
Thank you Spiral...
Thank you Year 2 drama...
Thank you Year 3 drama...
Thank you Mark...
Thank you Ryanair...REALLY???
Thank you Bielva...
Fantastic week in Spain.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Monday 7th December 7AM TO 7PM


O M G!!!

Yesterday I awoke at 5.30am to finally commence what Jennie and I had both been organising for 3 weeks....the creation of a musical in 12 hours! We all met at 7am and Jennie was sent off rapidly to start her writing, which she had to finsh at 10.15! Only a mere 3 hours. Whilst she was doing that the choreographers choreograhed the opening and closing numbers with the cast, auditions were held with the directors for characters, costume was looked at etc etc. After recieving a brief overview of the script from Jennie at 11am, we were told the cast which was quickly followed by the writing of the songs. Jennie told us what each song was about and in groups of 3 we wrote like crazy and all 7 songs were written at the same time. After lunch was where it started to really kick in that we were doing this in 6 hours time. We still had all the songs to put together and words learnt...The cast needed to rehearse and block scenes as well as be off script, and the dances needed choreographing.

I don't know how we managed to do it all but we did! Although some parts were rough on the edges I think we did a fantastic job! Characters improvised very well and lines in the songs were made up on the spot and I think the audience had a good laugh!

The majority of the people involved were being assessed, however there were a few just doing it for fun...I know, how crazy are they???! So it was an assessment for our 'Musical' module, however unfortunately due to unforseen circumstances Michelle our lecturer could not have been there. So Trevor kindly watched it in her place, and Mark and Patsy were sitting next to him. I hope that because Michelle couldn't watch it will not lower our mark. I know she feels awful for not being able to see it so I feel so sorry for her.

We decided to write it on facebook after seeing a presentation from Eyndia the other week. Eyndia spoke about the social media as it is today. In our 'Facebook the Musical' we wanted to portray how today we are so wrapped up as a community in facebook. Everyone has it, if you don't your weird. It is a community where so many things matter and we care so much about what others think and people can actually become addicted on it. Applications such as farmville...what the hell?? I even had to make sure that I didn't log onto facebook that evening, as I'd phoned in sick to work and said I was at the hospital, in fear that someone was going to see posts, comments, photos. I had to delete a comment just now that said 'how did the twelve hour musical go??' The fact is, is that people learn too much about us from facebook. We tell far too much about ourselves on facebook.

Our musical wasn't everyone's cup of tea, as Jennie's sense of humour isn't for everyone either...but it was relevent and funny to us as a cast so we created it for us I suppose. We enjoyed (mostly!) making it and if we enjoy it, then we will portray this on stage. As someone once told me, 'if you create something with the audience in mind, you will not create something that is truly innovative'

Would love to hear your feedback on this blog or the performacne if you saw it, so please comment!

Zoe x
p.s. To sing is to heal

Sunday 06.12.09 21:20pm

Well. After another fantastic day at Ham House Jennie, Hannah and myself all popped off to Nando's for a bite to eat. I recognised one of the families that had been at the house today in there but they didn't recognise us. It would have been quite nice if they had recognised the characters as Mrs. Clause and Poppy as we could have carried on the story that they were off duty and Nando's is their favourite restaurant when they're travelling around....

Anyway....things changed a little for today. We didn't use the education room and the kitchen as they are too big for one person to tell stories in them. So we narrowed it down to the corridor with the rugs and pillows on the floor, the small room by the kitchen, the buttery and the bathroom.

Two of the company couldn't make it this morning so we had to have people taking less breaks and we even had Mark facepainting to his surprise! He painted some lovely fairies :) Thanks Mark for your help.

Gary was so appreciative of our work so far that he bought us some cupcakes from the craft fayre in the tent! It was such a nice jesture and really made us feel like we were doing some good work.

I think that's all I have to report from today.

I love working in this beautiful house especially in winter...

Zoe x

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Sat 5th 22.16pm

What I forgot to say was how well we worked as a new company. As the first day of our first project together I am so hopefully as to what's ahead of us. We were all in the same boat togther...not knowing what to expect and everyone plunged themselves into making the whole event a huge success. As I wasn't telling a story I could see how it all worked and I was so happy with the end result. Tomorrow will be even more of as sucess with even more people coming!


Saturday 5th December 21:36pm

Firstly, I would sincerely like to apologise for being so rubbish in the last 2 weeks with keeping this thing up to date. I have just seen my last post was on the 13th November and it is now the 5th December! So I think a little update is of need...

Well, I had quite a manic month of teaching swimming if I'm honest. I teach every Sunday morning at Reigate Grammer School with children of all ages. Sometimes I wonder whether trying to juggle an important job is necessary whilst doing a degree but I love it so much I don't think I'd have it any other way. I've been recruiting teachers for next term's swimming the last few weeks as well as the re-enrollments for January so I've been a bit busy with that...

Children are hilarious and I find myself in fits of laughter with the children sometimes when I'm teaching. I got asked who my bestest, bestest friend was the other day, and when I named a fewbest friends she asked me to put them in order, which obviously I couldn't. I then asked her who her best friend was and she named three, and starting doing Ip-Dip-Doo on her fingers as to who was first, second and third! It's also times when I get some really nice feedback from parents at what a good job I'm doing with their children, that I know I really want to stay in teaching. And I just saw Bri's post from the other day which put a little smile on my face...Thank you Bri :)

We had Eyndia's PR talk on Wednesday 26th which we student reps organised. He is clearly very good at his job as he gave us so many ideas that I'd never even thought of. And I''m now going to look at how to organise events in different ways, using the media and social networking just at our fingertips.

Of corse on Saturday we had Rachel and Jennie's 21st Sailor themed house party! It was definately the best house party I have been to in a long, long time. I unfortunately had to leave at 2am as my very drunk house mate was sick in my car after passing out in there for about an hour. I wasn't drinking as I had work the next day but I was totally buzzing on the 4 red bulls I had consumed in about 2 hours and didn't manage to fall asleep until about 5am anyway! I hear Jennie had a fantastic night and rocked up in Camden sunday morning in jeans and a hoody to spend the entire day at the comedy festival! I think she pulled it off quite nicely, although I must say she must have been quite drunk to get dressed that morning wearing the attire she did, as I have never seen her in jeans and a hoody in my life! Well done Jen!

Then I come to today. Today was the first day at Ham House hosting the storytelling events for their family fun weekends. I had drawn up a loose rota which I knew we would have to adapt at some point during the day. We found that the big rooms such as the kitchen and the education room were just too big to attract any stories in so we had to slowly move them to spaces that suited the story during the afternoon. We eventually have cut out these two rooms completly and are narrowing down our spaces to the corridor, the bathroom, the buttery and the small room by the kitchen. Everyone adapted so well when things didn't work today and kept on their toes :). Lovely to see the Cleevely's support! I think it went fantastically and the public really enjoyed it!

Here's to tomorrow! xxx

Friday, 13 November 2009

Thursday 12.11.09

Ghost Tour!!

7pm...we went to Ham House to be told the very legends that still linger here today. We aproached the house from the front which sat there in darkness, only lit by candles in a few of the windows. The weather was hideous which only added to the atmosphere. Now of course we were expecting things to jump out at us and to be frightened this way, but the emphasis was on the language in the stories we heard tonight and the way they told them.

Both men had very different attributes to their storytelling that both worked equally as well. The first volunteer, Ken took us around the house and his storytelling was so inspiring due to the content in his stories. The language flowed incredibly well without a sense that he had learnt from a script. The second volunteer was Raymond who took us around the gardens. The success of his storytelling were due to the methods he implied to tell them. He created an atmosphere of unease with the use of dramatic pauses and with his naturally soft voice. He posed questions to the group throughout the tour. What is a ghost? Why are we scared of ghosts? Which he answered with the fact that we as humans do not like the unexpected and unknown and if there's something we can't explain this phases us. Raymond ended the tour beautifully with his own personal touch, saying that the only real ghost is the house itself.

I am so glad we came on this tour as not only do we know even more about the house but we can now take these storytelling ideas and implement them in our own work. The atmosphere they created just by themselves was incredible so I can only imagine what we can do.

Zoe x

Friday 06.11.09

Tonight we ventured into central London to see a very special performance by a very special lady, Jennifer Davies. I had quite a stressful journey with Jack and Scotty as we were running a bit late, so Scotty thought it would be tactical to keep changing our route at every stop. Jack warned me if we didn't follow instructions he would sulk the whole way! So we eventually got to our destination Highbury and Islington at 7.28, we thought 'Great it's just down here'. So we took a brisk walk, IN THE POURING RAIN but couldn't find it. After a long 10 minutes and running back and forth we finally found it after Jenny came to find us with a skimpy white dress on with the classic milk bottles out!!

The night was arranged by Tanya's lil' sis Jess Morgan and was called 'Sit with Art'. There were many photographs and canvas's dotted around the room with a large canvas behind the DJ set of clouds in a very blue sky; at least it was sunny inside. Tan was serving tea and cup cakes at the front which were absolutely gorge! After listening to a DJ set we sat down to listen to some poetry and heard about some art. Then Jess left the stage and Jenny entered with stripey socks, high heels, a straw hat and a hilarious dress as if she was late for an interview. She had written the comedic set herself which was so funny and ended with her revealing her whip from her bag and saying 'right, get on your knees!' Jennie, once again a fantastic solo performance and I look forward to seeing you again soon as you clearly have found your niche!

We then stayed to hear Jess sing her little heart out with some beautiful song choices. Her voice is so pure (although with a husky voice from being ill) and is so relaxing to listen to, she should really record her work as the majority of us said we would happily buy her CD!

A lovely evening with the drama lot :)


Monday, 9 November 2009

Wednesday 28.10.09

Well, well, well. Today was jam packed with theatre! After a very productive rehearsal this morning for Physical Approaches to Playtext and then onto the first year group meeting of the year, I met my Mother Cathy and Sister Jodie for a matinee in Richmond. The journey there in Mother's car was ... interesting. We were bickering anyway because Cathy was late again and her driving isn't exactly what you'd call calm. I was in the front and Jodie was squeezed in the back with a fridge and a microwave (my Mother loves getting her bargains from the Friday ad...even when we have 2 fridge freezers and a spare microwave already) but the next thing Cathy said actually surprised me. "Oh...I forgot that pheasant was there" I looked down to my feet and saw a plastic bag with feathers poking out the end. I had been standing on road kill. "How long's that been there mum?!" She casually responded, "Oh, just since Monday" It was now Wednesday. Anyway, so I settled down at approximately 2.30pm in the Richmond Theatre to watch Rainman starring Neil Morrissey. The title for my dissertation is "How can Play help the autistic child?" so I thought it would help me to see this performance. Now I hadn't really thought about how I would feel watching an able actor playing a special needs person, and when Neil Morrissey first came on stage as Raymond it was quite a shock to see the transformation, and I wasn't quite sure how to take it. However after the first few moments I realised that he played it so sensitively and realistically that I just saw Babbitt for who he was. Morrissey had clearly spent a lot of time watching the traits and habits of adults on the autistic spectrum as it came across as such an honest and open performance. It was lovely! It was a very good set visually with a wall that moved across the stage with one door. As the walls were slided across the stage the door moved along as well representing different rooms. This is something that might be useful to think about in our Christmas activities for one of the short stories as we don't have a lot of room. So I thoroughly enjoyed Rainman.

In the evening I watched Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter by 2 of the 2nd years. There wasn't much of an audience which was disappointing but it was very well done. Simple set and the actors were good. Beg my pardon for not knowing his name but I always love watching the Scottish one perform. He is so versatile.

So all in all a very dramatic day :)

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Wed 21.10.09 21.36pm

So I found out she didn't have nightmares last night but still crept to her parents room in the night. But it's a start :)

Wed 21.10.09 11.12am

"And people who believe in God think God has put human beings on earth because they think human beings are the best animal, but human beings are just an animal and they will evolve into another animal, and that animal will be cleverer and it will put human beings into a zoo, like we put chimanzees and gorillas into a zoo. Or human beings will all catch a disease and die out or they will make too much pollution and kill themselves, and then there will only be insects in the world and they will be the best animal" The Curious Incident of the Dog in the night-time

Mark Haddon

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Tuesday 20.10.09 22.12pm

3 times a week I pick up a little girl from school and take her home to do her homework and any additional tutoring. The family moved to England from Poland when she was 4 so English is not spoken at home. She is now 8. She is an only child so the only English interaction she has at home is when I am there. She is a very intelligent child and is very good at telling porkies...I started working with her back in January. Her birthday was very soon after I had first met her. She had told me she was going to 9 years old and I had made a conscious effort to make sure I had got the right date, the right age etc. You know, I wanted to make a good impression with her. So I bought one of those 'Happy 9th Birthday' cards and a little present. Only when she opened the card in front of me and said thank you, I wondered what the smirk on her face was about. She stood it up on her desk just before her mum came in. "Mummy mummy, look what Zoe got me..." Mum then looked at the card I had got her, Oh Zoe, she's 8 today not 9! I thought you little shit!

Anyway, that wasn't the point of this blog. I wanted to tell you about the work I did with her today. She hasn't been sleeping well for 3 months now. It doesn't matter how tired she is or how much she has done during the day, every night she creeps into her Mum and Dad's room and asks to sleep with them, or they are awakened at early hours of the morning from her screaming. Last night was apparently the worst night she had had. 3 hours sleep they all ended up with. Every 20 minutes she was screaming. It doesn't help that the mother has given in for 3 months and let her sleep in their bed. So I decided to try and do something about it today. I sat her down in the play room and asked to draw a picture of what she felt like when she first wakes up in the night. It was a picture of a house with no windows or doors, just a roof and a bed that she was asleep on. There was a picture of a burgular running outside to get into the house and then another leaning over her bed. I asked her to write down 3 sentances of how she felt at this time. 1. I dreamed that burgulars were coming to get me. 2. I dreamed of someone getting Mummy, Wojtek (Her Step-father) and me. 3. I felt scared. I asked her why she thinks she feels like this and she couldn't tell me really apart from that she felt unsafe. I explained that she shouldn't feel unsafe as she lives in a neighbourhood watch area, she has doubled glazing on every window and door, the doors are locked at night and during the day when they are in the house, and every window is shut at night. She talked about the Police and how they do their job very well as she saw them arresting someone the other day. I then asked her if she knew that she had a Guardian Angel who watches over her at night. She said she had heard of this but wasn't sure if she believed it. I said if she didn't believe in her, then her angel might get upset and she didn't want to make her upset. She said she had lots of teddies as well that come alive at night so I said they would warn anyone off as well. After all of this I said could she draw a picture of how she feels now about the whole thing. The picture was of a house with windows and doors with the same bed and her asleep in the bed. There was the burgular running to the house but no burgular in the house. There was also an angel above all of this with wings and a halo and a speech bubble saying "I'm here". Without any prompting, she folded the previous picture up and put it in the bin.

I am picking her up from school tomorrow so I wonder how she will sleep tonight!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Wed 15.10.09 23.51pm

I attended Amici wokshop this evening at the Lyric in Hammersmith with a few of the students from DIC. Amici is a Dance Theatre Company that works with disabled and able bodied performers. It was a drop in session tonight where anyone could turn up (you usually have to be a member to participate) and when they were only expecting 20 people there were over 50 dancers tonight. The 2 hours was focused around improvising in small groups and bigger groups. One dance I particularly enjoyed was with a blind woman aged around 60. She was one of the happiest people I have ever improvised with; I say this as when she first finds your touch her face lights up as you can clearly see how much she enjoys the intimacy. At one point I closed my eyes too and we were just responding to each others touch and working from impulse. This dance was slower than with others as you had to listen to each others movements. After a while we even explored giving and recieving weight but it all finished too quickly. The whole evening is based around chance...anyone can be chosen and anyone can shout out the number of people dancing next or which song number to dance to.

There was another performer that was really inspiring. It was a girl of around 20 with Down Syndrome. She was a fantastic dancer as she was so sensitve to the others. She did a trio with a boy in a wheelchair and Christine (blind lady) and I couldn't take my eyes off her. She was making eye contact so nicely between the two and created such a vivid story that we all related to.

We found out that Tina is working on their next show with them in June. There is a long waiting list to join the company so Wolfgang (the director) said we could pop in and out ocasionally to join in seeing as we know Tina ;). I would love to carry on visiting this company and dancing with them.


Monday, 12 October 2009

Monday 12.10.09 11.28am

Have just re-read my blog from last night and I apologise as it makes no sense. Was clearly very tired! I was trying to explain that Spiral had inspired lots of thoughts for me and that their use of image theatre had relevance in our work at present. Am very excited!


Sunday, 11 October 2009

Sunday 11.10.09 23.03pm

I have been reading about 'Spiral' the theatre company that is based in Spain that we were introduced to on Friday. Their website provides a lot of information about the diversity of the projects they hold The project they are running in December uses Image Theatre. It is very similar to a method of theatre we are looking at in Physical Approaches to Playtext at the moment; playback theatre. Playback theatre creates personal memories into performances. By having this played back to you it hopefully might be able to provide answers or help you make decisions. Just in our lesson on Friday, one exercise was to smell something blindfolded and then create a playback performance. Of course everyone faced with the same smell were not going to produce any same image and for one actor the smell conjured up such a physical memory that we were faced with her in tears after the performance. Both of these types of theatre are designed to analyse and share lived experiences in a way that acts as a form of change in real life. I also like the way that the workshop leaders from 'Spiral' only encourage artistic development and do not enforce any of their ideas. 'The content is in the hands of the group, the participants have the power of creation and reflection'. So the community creates work as a team to reproduce real experiences that other communities, and their community can relate to.

Just thought I'd share my views on this amazing company that we have been introduced to :)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Saturday 10.10.09 11.30am

Sorry it's taken me a while to get a post on here. I don't have a lot of time of friday's to put my thoughts on paper so I scribble them as I am travelling from place to place.

I'd like to start with telling you all it is 'Learn to sign week' so I want to teach you one that I find useful when working with children who cannot speak. Lift your right hand and hold your index finger and middle finger very close together, almost like a gun. Bring these two fingers to your chest directly above your heart and rub up and down like you are rubbing a coin. If you see someone who is profusely doing this action it means that they really need the toilet!

Imagine this...Thursday night Graham (boyfriend - will talk about him more in other posts) and I went to the theatre to see a show called Alison's House at The Orange Tree theatre. We had managed to get some of the free tickets from anightlessordinary so £1 on the bus there and back, we were like BARGAIN! Get there a bit early so we can pick up our tickets then have a drink in the Orange Tree pub next door. We walk back to the theatre at about 6.50 ready for it to start at 7.15; it's unreserved seating so we wanted to ensure a good seat. Much to our surprise there is a foyer full of elderly couples. We get handed a leaflet and asked if we are with the event tonight. At this point we are looking at each other very confused and both wondering whether we are in the right place. I ensure Graham there is only one Orange Tree theatre in Richmond and only one theatre here. The oldies are looking at us and we are looking at them. All flustered, we skuttle off to the toilet to waste some time and I wanted to read the leaflet to see what was actually going on. I quote "For anybody new to this event, Relate provides counselling and psyco-sexual therapy (PST) for couples or indivuals who come to us for help with troubled relationships". GREAT! So now everyone thinks that we're having problems too. It's a bit weird. We find some seats and we're definately the only ones under 65. NO WONDER THERE WERE LOADS OF THESE FREE TICKETS! A few other students join us and to be honest I can't wait for the lights to go down. But before that happens the organiser of the event apologizes for some of the general public getting caught up in their celebrations and introduces the night for the charity. Apparently they have trips like this all the time and after this they are auctioning off a lot of things to raise some money which we are invited to as the public. "It's quite alright!"

Other than the drama of the night, the performance was OK. Very serious performance about Alison Stanhope, the country's foremost poet that died 18years ago, and now the family house must be sold as it holds so many of the family's memories. It is set in America (with some very dodgy accents) in 1899. Not one of my favourite theatre performance I have seen here.

I hope you can humour my first post....:) Z