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