5 Ways to Be Creative in January 2021

I discovered the idea of “everyday creativity” a few years ago – though, in fact, it had always been a part of my life, I just hadn’t labelled it. It is exactly what it sounds like: being creative and playful in some way everyday and finding fun and joy in the ordinary. The organization Innovation-Creativity define it this way “Everyday creativity is finding ways to be creative in your everyday life. Being creative isn’t restricted to the glittering ideas of geniuses within big companies or musicians, artists, and poets. Anyone can be creative simply by adding some imagination and flair into their daily routine. It’s about adding some originality and meaningfulness to your routine.”

I find that everyday creativity can brighten dull days and help lift low moods and I love the reminder that we are all inherently creative beings. Lots of people who write about everyday creativity note that some of the very first things most children do are sing, dance, draw, make without inhibition, but that we often lose this and become self-conscious as we get older; everyday creativity (and indeed, the #funpalaces movement I am passionate about) gives us permission – if we need it – to play and focuses on process rather than product. I, for example, am certainly never going to be the best painter or dancer or crafter, but I might – and do – get joy from trying all of these things from time to time, as well as enjoying the art forms with which I am naturally more comfortable.

Anyway, the real purpose of this post is to share some of the everyday creativity techniques and organizations that I enjoy in the hope that some of them brighten up your new year. In every case, you can do and share (on or offline), do without sharing or simply look at the offerings of other everyday creatives. Whichever way you do it, have fun!

  1. 64 Million Artists #TheJanuaryChallenge

I have started every new year since 2014 with this challenge. It is 31 days of creative prompts of all kinds – all designed to take around 10 minutes (though you can take as long as you want) and use very limited equipment/resources – often a pen and paper is enough. You can sign up at any point during the month and there are lovely online communities on all platforms to share, if you wish. You can sign up here: The January Challenge – 64 Million Artists

Here is the poem I wrote for my challenge today:

2. Cook something new

Cooking is hugely creative – and as January tends to be about eating more healthily, it’s nice to make this less of a chore by trying new tastes etc. Maybe Veganuary? (We’re not doing this fully, but are going for 3 vegan days a week, hopefully beyond January.) If you are on twitter (and instagram, I think) the #cookjan hashtag is full of people trying to eat healthily, economically and interestingly – loads of recipe inspiration. Or why not arrange a recipe swap among friends and family? (Please share with me, if you do!)

3. Read an old favourite (yours or someone else’s)

I struggled to read much during 2020 – and believe that this was quite a common reaction to the pandemic. One of the ways I have started to get back into reading again is via audio book while walking and also by reading books I have loved in the past – I’m currently rereading Little Women for the umpteenth time! My husband and I also have a new year tradition where we give each other 3 titles that have made an impact on us to read during the year. I’ve just been given my 2021 titles and will be reading “The Seige of Krishnapur” by JG Farrell, “God Help The Child” by Toni Morrison and “The Mission House” by Carys Davies. (I might even read my husband’s hardback copies of two of them as long as I promise not to read them in the bath!)

4. A Little Each Day

The Guardian has published a “something a literary a day” throughout January and I am going to dip in and out of this and read/watch/listen to at least some of them, I hope. For me, there is something great about these (mostly) short bursts of creativity each January day; they help to make being creative a regular part of life and build a creative muscle that makes it easier to sustain throughout the rest of the year. Feed your soul: the 31-day literary diet for January | Books | The Guardian

5. A Photo A Day

This is something that has been recommended to me by a couple of friends: take a photo a day in the same place/of the same thing. They say it helps with really appreciating small differences and changing seasons and recommend using something natural as the subject matter. I doubt that I will actually take one every single day, but I have got my eye on a beautiful tree in Fairfield Orchard, Lancaster, that I pass often and that I might take photos of this year.

So, those are a few suggestions as we start a new year. If you do find any of them useful and enjoyable, please let me know. I can be found on twitter and instragram at @elartpro and on Facebook at ELART Productions. I would love to share in a creative January with you.

Onwards…

elaru xx

Tis The Season

Last week, 18 performers, in 17 homes, livestreamed a rehearsed read of A Christmas Carol to facebook. We’d only zoom-met for one rehearsal beforehand (my choice to make it very light touch!) and we were all delighted it went so well. Here are some of my favourite screenshots from that performance – definitely a Christmas show to remember…

The shots above were collected when I arranged the video for youtube and the link to the whole performance can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnZbi2zyuUg – if you watch and enjoy, please let us know on social media by using the hashtag #elartproductions

So, with only a very few days to go until Christmas, my thoughts are now starting to turn to projects that I’m hoping will happen in 2021 (though I hope to have a little break first – with an out of office on email and everything!). 2020 has taught me (probably all of us!) to take very little for granted, but I had a lovely boost a couple of weeks ago when a creative project for young people that I am a part of received funding from Curious Minds and also yesterday, when I became one of the very lucky recipients of an Arts Council Develop Your Creative Practice grant. The DYCP grant will, I hope, enable me to further develop my skills and network in inclusive theatre work, especially of the kind I have been discovering through TramShed Theatre Company, the GRT project with The Dukes Theatre and #funpalaces. I have a range of exciting conversations lined up with some brilliant people and I can’t wait to share ideas with them and learn from their experiences. All these conversations – and lots of hard work on my part – will hopefully lead eventually to some more inclusive theatre and arts events of all kinds, both on and offline. (If any one reading this would like to hear more -and/or be involved in what are incredibly fledgling ideas at the moment – please get in touch – the more the merrier.)

So, workwise, that’s 2020: a sincere thanks to anyone who has been involved in any way with any of my work this year. Strange as it has been, I have found much to love – and feel very thankful for that.

Merry Christmas.

Onwards…

elaru xx

ELART 2020-style!

So… it’s been a while since I wrote. Lots and lots has happened – to us all… and I and ELART have had to evolve to continue to create in a covid-2020 world.

Over the last few months – after the initial shock and panic about lockdown, covid and all that it could entail wore off a little (it couldn’t have continued at the pitch of the start!) – I have been enjoying getting to grips a little with online possibilities and have now created several online pieces, including verbatim audio collages and a devised zoom play, as well as regularly running live online workshops and setting drama challenges via zoom, facebook and more.

Full details and links can be found on the Online Theatre tab of my webpage – http://www.elartproductions.co.uk – but here are a few pics to whet your appetite!

More blogging of all kinds again soon.

Keep well and safe.

elaru xx

 

 

Next Week!

The Passion Play is next week. We’ve been working hard over the rehearsal period and the cast of 23 (not all performing in every venue), ranging in age from 8 to over 80, are ready. Just about. I hope! Dress rehearsals over the next few days should cement moves and music and then I am hoping we and the audience will have fun; fun, with some pause for thought about the immense story that is the Passion narrative and its relevance to our lives today.

Our Passion Play is contemporary in dress and style and is, hopefully, entertaining and humorous as well as being moving at times. Suitable for all.

Hope to see you at one of the shows – free entry! Thank you to the Passion Trust for their support, which has enabled us to offer the shows freely this way.

Thursday 11th April 7.30pm Warton, St Oswald’s

Saturday 13th April 2pm Torrisholme, Church of the Ascension

Saturday 13th April 7.30pm Lancaster Priory

Friday 19th April 12.30pm Market Square, Lancaster

elaru xx

About to Start… Are You Going To Be Part of It?

The first rehearsals for the Passion Play I mentioned in my last blog post are getting closer and this post is partly to give full details of rehearsals and performances and partly an extra call-out to anyone who would like to take part.

Peformances will be in three venues over two different dates – April 11th, 7.30pm in Warton, St Oswald’s Church; April 13th, 2.00pm in Church of the Ascension, Torrisholme and 7.30pm in Lancaster Priory – and  with a final, fourth, performance on Good Friday (April 19th) in Lancaster city centre also being planned for 12.30pm.

Performers can take part in any or all of the performances and just need to attend a minimum of four rehearsals between February and April (there will be a range of dates in each venue) and a Dress Rehearsal for each venue in which they will perform. I am keen to work around everyone’s availability – so get in touch with any problems at all.

First rehearsals are:

Sunday 10th February at 2pm -Warton St Oswald’s; Tuesday 12th February at 7pm – Lancaster Priory; Wednesday 13th February at 7pm – Torrisholme, Church of the Ascension. Try to come to one of those if you would like to be in the cast.

I hope to see lots of people there – everyone welcome – of all levels of experience. (No prior experience necessary, just a willingness to have a go!) Young people very welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult at all rehearsals and performances. It’s going to be exciting! Don’t miss out – come and see what it’s all about – and get in touch if you want any further information.

Finally for now, here is our Passion Play logo (thanks, Ben!) – look out for it on posters and on social media.

passion play logo

More very soon.

elaru xx

North Lancashire Passion Play

ELART’s next big project is a Passion Play for Lent/Easter 2019. I am currently in the devising/drafting/writing/planning phase and it is feeling very exciting so far. It will (I hope) hope be a large-scale community production – open to all as performers – and free for audiences to watch in one of three north Lancashire churches and/or in Lancaster city centre. A full schedule of performances will appear on my website very soon.

Much more will follow here soon as I blog the process – and see how it fits alongside all the other varied work I am currently undertaking. 2019 is getting fully underway!

A to Z

This morning I sang on top of a church tower (video evidence below). It was to celebrate May Day and we (6 of us) sang Madrigals from 6am-6.30am to a remarkably large and wonderfully supportive ground-level audience of around 40 people. I worked out, on emerging from the tower, that I had just performed on my highest stage to date. This, coupled with the 64 Million Artists’ A to Z challenge this week, got me thinking about the range of places I have been lucky enough to make theatre and music.

For the list below, I limited myself to one entry per letter. I was amazed at how many places I had to leave out – and I only struggled on a  small number of letters (J, Q and X). Every one of the places on the list conjures up so many faces and memories for me. (You all know who you are if you are reading this!) Looking forward to adding more places and spaces in future…

A – Archbishop Hutton Primary School

B – Big Top Theatre Tent

C – churches

D – the Dell, Stratford-upon-avon

E – Eden Festival

F – Fun Palace (Lancaster Library)

G – the Grand Theatre

H – Hall, Leighton

I – Inns (pubs!)

J – Just wherever

K – Kendal streets and yards

L – London

M – Moscow

N – National Trust property

O – outdoors

P – prisons

Q – quiet corners

R – the Round (The Dukes, Lancaster)

S – Shire Hall, Lancaster Castle

T – town centres

U – universities

V – village halls

W – Warton

X – eXciting places – on this list and more

Y – Youth clubs

Z – zoo

And here’s evidence of the tower this morning:

There and Back Again

I haven’t blogged for ages. 2017 was a funny old year: lots of great things, lots of travelling and lots of getting used to quite a new way of life on many fronts. It definitely deserves recording, though, so here, belatedly, is a photographic review of ELART and other projects that happened. As always, thanks so much to anyone who was involved in any way. Productions/events pictured below include projects with Kendal Community Theatre (one of which involved recording a radio play in a bathroom!); Lancaster Fun Palace; all-female Shakespeare in Stratford; more Shakespeare in a big top circus tent in a park in Rotherham with a cast of well over 100 children and, finally, in December, a sell-out Christmas show in Lancaster Castle.

2018 projects have already begun. I’m looking forward to more Kendal Community Theatre – planning for their July festival celebrating women’s suffrage “The Trouble With Women” – and also to more Shakespeare and other writers/projects out and about. First, on March 3rd, comes a rehearsed reading of some Aristophanes – the opening of “The Assemblywomen” – all about what happens when women try to gain political power. It’s approximately 2.5 thousand years old and still all-too-sharp and relevant… Exciting things ahead, then.

More soon.

elaru xx

10 Things to Do

I can’t help but be political at the moment and this post is inspired by Stella Duffy’s blog, where she challenged people to write their own list of positive things to do in these fast-moving, challenging times.

Here’s mine. It’s in no particular order, just the order ideas occurred to me today.

  1. Support City of Sanctuary, an organisation opening its arms and offering practical help to refugees and asylum seekers.   Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary is my local one and it is doing incredibly important work.

2. Donate to and publicise Paper Airplanes – an organisation fostering links and relationships between American and Syrian students.

3. Be part of  Fun Palaces. Lancaster Fun Palace 2017 is holding a launch meeting on February 9th at 7pm in The Toll House Inn. Everyone welcome! With around 280 Fun Palaces made last year, there is almost certainly one near you to take part in – and if there isn’t, start your own!

4. Take part in the 64 Million Artists creative challenges. The January Challenge is almost over for 2017, but you can still sign up to take part in a challenge a week for the rest of the year. It is empowering and positive to join such a friendly, thoughtful community – and it’s huge fun too!

5. Be political. Be brave. I’m really saying this to myself. I – in company with many, many of us, I suspect – shy away from talking politics publically – even, often, with friends. When things like the Muslim Ban (yes, I know I’m using social media shorthand, but it’s that kind of short post) are occurring, I feel I have to be brave enough to speak out and say that it is wrong. I think if we all do this, in whatever way we feel comfortable (or maybe slightly out of our comfort zones, increasingly outside our “echo chambers”), explaining our views to those who disagree, then an increasingly positive and united society should start to emerge.

6. Take a look at Frack Free Lancs. Speaks for itself.

7. Read – support libraries! – and read books from different cultures. (I am not recommending the books in the previous link, necessarily; I just came across it when pulling this post together and it looked interesting.)

8. Join with like-minded people – online and off. This one links to number 5 as I do think there is strength in numbers and individual confidence can be increased through the support of friends. (We often see this with far-right groups; we need to be more vocal to challenge this.) Tell the stories that are important to you in your own way.  I’m  hoping to make more work – shows/events – that highlight some of the issues above and am beginning to identify possible collaborators – do get in touch if you have any interest at all in being involved in any way.

9. Smile. Sing. Hope. Look out for beauty everywhere – even on gloomy days.

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10. Make your own list. And Do.

elaru xx

 

 

 

 

 

2016 in Pictures

2016 has been a busy year.

In January, the Rose Company dominated with Arts Council funded Research and Development on the battle scenes of Coriolanus. Working with a talented team of women started the year off in an excitingly challenging way.

 

Both The Rose Company and ELART Productions were involved in the Bard By The Beach Shakespeare Festival in April. The Rose Company provided an afternoon workshop and a series of Shakespeare “statues” that came to life, delivering monologues when an audience appeared in front of them. ELART Productions presented Shakespeare’s Seven Ages (pictured below in rehearsal) – and this was the start of a run of ELART Shakespeare – perfect for #Shakespeare400!

 

June saw a return visit to The Eden Festival in Scotland with our Shakespeare extracts show All The World’s A Stage. We had a great time and it was a joy to perform on the fabulous Melodrome again, this time in the Chas Ambler Would.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream came next in two different venues – a charity performance in St John’s Hospice Midsummer Marquee, followed by a sell-out evening performance in Lancaster Library. This was the biggest cast I had worked with for ages and the energy and fun was fantastic all through as should be clear from the pictures below, taken in a range of rehearsals  and the Dress Run.

 

Kendal Yarns followed at the end of July  and what an experience that turned out to be – I still can’t believe how much was achieved in a fortnight! Concisely here, as blogged in much greater detail earlier, it was an absolutely brilliant community festival.

 

The day after Kendal Yarns we performed All The World’s A Stage on the Melodrome Mobile Stage again. While in some ways the timing wasn’t perfect (I was exhausted!), it was a particularly special event for two reasons: firstly, I’d wanted to put something on in Lancaster Castle courtyard for ages – what a location on a sunny day! – and secondly, two of my goddaughters were in the audience.

 

The ELART Mechanicals had one final 2016 outing and enjoyed playing in Warton St Oswald’s church for a charity 16th birthday concert for – and organised by – the youngest member (I think) of A Midsummer Night’s Dream cast. After this, the third Lancaster Fun Palace opened its doors at the start of October for the now regular (yay!) annual celebration of arts, science and community. See http://www.funpalaces.co.uk for full information – and get in touch to get involved…

 

Finally at the end of November, came an event in aid of Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary – a charity close to my heart.

 

And that was 2016. During what I’m sure many of us will agree has been a challenging year, I have managed mostly to retain a sense of positivity and hope – in no small part due to the events listed here. Thanks to every single person who has been any part at all of any one – onstage, offstage, audience etc… Theatre and the Arts could not be more important than now and there are already several ELART and other events in the pipeline for the new year, but more warmly welcomed – collaborations, commissions etc… Get in touch, however fledgling the idea. Let’s work together!

All the best for the festive season and beyond.

elaru xx