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

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

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

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

 

 

I’ll Do It Tomorrow…

Procrastination isn’t generally one of my flaws. (Trust me, I have plenty without it…!) In almost every case, I prefer to tackle things on time, if not early, and get on with jobs that need doing.

There is, however, one area where I’m a huge procrastinator, and I am, in fact, engaging in procrastination at the moment. This is because I have a show to devise and pin down. A show, to be precise, for the Bard By The Beach April Shakespeare festival.

This show is going to involve a (hopefully) wonderful marriage of Shakespeare and wine-tasting – and there are a huge number of appropriate scenes, characters, lines, to read, consider, play with, when creating the script . So there lies the problem: there are so many possibilities that, as always at this stage in the process, I’m reluctant to shut things down and impose a structure, an order – even tentative. (Thank goodness, Shakespeare’s written the words and I only have to make selections; I dread to think what I’d be like starting from scratch!)

However, I currently have a fab actor waiting for a draft script, and, exciting as possibilities are, it’s also exciting to find out exactly what a show will be. In any case, especially in a production like this, collaborative decisions will continue to be made (probably) right up to performance day; nothing is ever completely shut down.

So, I’ve wasted enough time on here and must now get to work! (If you want to see the result, do come along and see us in Morecambe on April 22nd. Full details – and tickets -can be found here.)

elaru xx00-Sip, Swirl-prototype