Yarns

I have just completed a fortnight working on the Kendal Yarns festival of new writing. I loved it – and am in complete awe of the ambitious, inclusive, original vision and the way it was carried out by a brilliant organising team (huge congratulations to any of them who read this). Arranging for 58 new 15 minute plays – written by a wide, wide range of writers: some school children; some written by groups; some experienced writers; some adults writing for the first time – to be performed by approximately 80 community actors of all ages and experience levels in a range of outdoor and indoor venues is no mean feat… I was one of the directors of Team 6 and it was an absolute privilege to be a part of it all. My team – writers, actors, co-director, stage manager – were fantastic and made the work a pleasure – thank you to any reading this. I came away more certain than ever of the vital importance and value – for all – of real, inclusive, community theatre (arts) and can’t wait to do (initiate…) more. Here are a selection of my favourite pics from the festival week.

 

Long live Kendal Community Theatre and all community arts. We need them!

elaru xxx

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Tomorrow…

I’ve been in rather a state of shock since yesterday morning – and I know I’m joined in that by people from every part of the political spectrum. What a strange new world we are living in.

This afternoon, I had the chance to escape into Fairyland for a few hours as I rehearsed A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the final time before our first performance tomorrow. I relished it. It was wonderful – helpful – to be in Shakespeare’s Athenian wood, where all kinds meet, share experience, change. It reminded me, again, of the power of theatre; the power of community; the power of laughter; the power of possibility. And I emerged more hopeful and peaceful. We are a complicated, flawed life-form (no-one knew that better than Shakespeare), but I believe we will find a way forward from this divisive time and, though there are certainly many, many challenges ahead I am no longer (quite as) fearful of all our tomorrows…

 

elaru xx

Dream Team

One of the great joys of putting on a play is working with a group of great people. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is proving no exception. Here are ELART’s Dream Team in rehearsal.

The Fairies

 

The Lovers

 

 

The Mechanicals

 

The Court

Shows: June 26th St John’s Hospice 2pm  and Lancaster Library July 1st 7.30pm.

Hope to see you there!

elaru xx

Dreaming

Life is busy and complicated. Again. So, trying to put even a short production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream together is a challenge to say the least. Having said that, it’s a challenge I’m very pleased to be undertaking, not least because one of our two forthcoming performances is a charity performance for St John’s Hospice (2pm Sunday June 26th) and the other is at one of my favourite community spaces – Lancaster Library (7.30pm Friday July 1st).

I’ve got a talented and committed cast. They’re hard-working and lovely to create with – willing to trust me and each other and try almost anything, which is vital in a process of this nature. I’m expecting a lot of them, I know; rehearsal time is at a premium, so I need them to work out of rehearsal, individually,  in a really professional way, learning lines, thinking about and developing character, finding characterisation and then bringing all that work to rehearsal to play and refine further. They’re coping, pulling together – and there are some lovely things happening already. With an intensive week ahead, I think we’re going to be ready. Just!

We really hope you’re going to join us.

Tickets are –

£7.50 (lower for children) for St John’s Hospice, available from http://www.sjhospice.org.uk/event/a-midsummer-nights-dream/

£5 for Lancaster Library, availailable from Lancaster Library or by emailing emma@elartproductions.co.uk

Or just turn up on the door!

To whet your appetite, here are a few rehearsal pics from a fun rehearsal last night:

Sweet Dreams.

elaru xx

 

 

What Did You Do Today? #FunPalaces

 

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I’ve just arrived home after a day at Lancaster Fun Palace.

Today I have:

  • made music using a hardback book (rhythmically slamming it was particularly therapeutic!)
  • listened to jazz, show tunes and more
  • watched people making lanterns, jelly prints, craftwork and maths structures
  • played with words
  • staggered through a few steps of a dance routine (it wasn’t pretty!)
  • clapped along to a samba drum band
  • witnessed babies and toddlers singing and playing with toys, puppets and bubbles
  • learned that a radio image of a mouse’s tumour looks very similar to a distant galaxy
  • sung harmony to a pop song with a  scratch choir
  • met a local author and listened to him read extracts from his books

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Yesterday, I did a lot of the above, plus I:

  • taught several people to juggle (or at least gave them the basics to practise at home)
  • became absorbed in a graffiti artist at work
  • met the Mayor (and posed for a picture with him and a skeleton…)
  • saw a schoolfriend and her family for the first time in years and years
  • watched some people drawing comic panels and learning Bollywood dancing (I wasn’t brave enough- I will be next year!)
  • tapped my feet to a ukulele orchestra alongside my mum, husband and mother-in-law
  • listened to a winning Write Science poem
  • played theatre games with a father and daughter
  • worked with friends to make a 15 minute show in just under 2 hours and performed it to an appreciative (small and select!) audience

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And there was lots more I could have done, but I ran out of time…

Throughout it all, I:

  • made some new friends and caught up with people I don’t see often enough
  • marvelled at the friendliness and flexibility of Lancaster Library
  • had FUN!

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Can’t wait for next year! Long Live Fun Palaces!

elaru xx

At the Helm (Mr Gross)

Leading on from my last blog post, another major idea explored wittily in Memorandum is leadership and management. What is good leadership? Who makes a good boss? Is it a person with ideas s/he is willing to drive through at any price, or one with emotional intelligence and an empathy with his/her employees? Linked to this, should the leader carry the weight of responsibility for everything that happens in his/her organisation – even the things of which s/he is unaware? (Should s/he be unaware of anything – or is that a weakness…?) Mr Gross, the Managing Director – as he often announces – has to grapple with these questions and more during the events of the play. He certainly has a busy few days!

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Power Play (Mr Ballas)

It’s been a good weekend of rehearsals – two lengthy ones – all afternoon of both Saturday and Sunday – and it feels as if things are starting to come together. Lots and lots of photos have been taken, and today we also had a little filming done – not of the play, but of a few rehearsal moments and some interviews with the cast. I was interviewed too, and asked about why the play Memorandum resonates with me. There were lots and lots of answers I could have given, but I found myself talking about power and power shifts and people who don’t “play straight” and don’t reveal the games they are playing in order to achieve power. I’ve met a few people like that – haven’t we all…? In Memorandum, the character who most exemplifies all this is Mr Jan Ballas, the Deputy Manager of the company – at the start, at least. You’ll have to come along to see how his power playing works out for him… Here are a few pictures of him in action in rehearsal this weekend.

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