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

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Going Forward

Today is one of my very favourite days of the year: the day the clocks go forward! I love the extra light, the sense of spring – and I don’t mind in the least the slightly bleary feeling due to an hour’s loss of sleep – it’s more than worth it.

This year the clocks going forward has come two weeks after the ending of my most recent theatre project – “I Have A Speech of Fire” performed by The Rose Company in Lancaster Castle’s A-Wing (the ex-prison – reputedly haunted and hugely atmospheric) – but before I have fully got going with my next show – an ELART summer production still in early planning stages, due to be firmed up in the next 3 weeks. I always find “in-between” phases a little strange and disorientating, so used am I to structuring my life around rehearsals and the rhythms of performance. I am, though, at this lovely time of year, enjoying a little extra space to contemplate exciting projects ahead.

More of those in future posts… First, though, just a few pictures from The Rose Company’s last show, mentioned above.

Prospero

Prospero

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Cleopatra

Cleopatra

Charmian, Dolabella and Iras - Cleopatra's maids

Charmian, Dolabella and Iras – Cleopatra’s maids

Julia from 2 Gentlemen of Verona

Yours in light –
elaru xx

Iphigenia Pics

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The last three weeks have involved: rehearsals; a Rose Company mini-tour (Lancaster Castle, Homerton College, UCL); a feature on Woman’s Hour (here if you missed it – about 16 mins from end –http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03jfk1v); and the booking of new mini-north-west tour for January – King’s Arms, Salford, January 12; The Continental, Preston, January 16; Lancaster Castle, January 17; The Lantern Theatre, Liverpool, January 18. It’s been busy (and I haven’t thought about Christmas shopping yet…).

Here are a few pictures of the story so far…

 

Dress Rehearsal

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The Chorus

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Menelaus and Senex

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Clytemnesta and the Chorus

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Agamemnon and Iphigenia

Lancaster Castle

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Achilles and Iphigenia being recorded for radio

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Whole cast being recorded for radio

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The green room!

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The whole cast.

Homerton College

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Warming up.

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Clytemnestra and Orestes

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The touring cast.

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Clytemnestra, Nuntio (and me in background!)

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Iphigenia and fans – lovely audience members who wanted a photo with the hero!

UCL
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Iphigenia, Orestes and Chorus

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Agamemnon and Senex

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Chorus and Orestes

Really hope to see you at one of our January shows!

elaru xx

Shameless Plugs

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I’m tired. I’ve spent almost the whole day publicising Lady Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia, a Rose Company production and this blog is the final thing on my to do list.

I’ve contacted: two radio stations;  two local newspapers and (very scarily) one national paper; several schools and other educational establishments; some theatres; an online local website; as well as family, friends and any and every person I can think of who might conceivably be interested.

Word of mouth comes next – and I will be talking incessantly about Iphigenia between now and the show in a month’s time. (If you meet me over the next few weeks, you have been warned!)

I started by saying I was tired, though: I am; I don’t find publicising shows easy. Not easy at all – and I never have. Publicity has to be done early in the rehearsal process in order to give an audience time to organise diaries and buy tickets, but as it is early, it always feels strange to me because the show has yet to really take shape, so I generally don’t feel absolutely certain what it is I’m publicising and I don’t want to give mis-information or to under-sell. This time is a little easier because November’s Iphigenia is a revival of July’s show, so I have much, much more idea than I sometimes do!

I also find the self-promotion aspect of publicity difficult – and I know I’m a long way from being alone in this. Many performance artists/makers are essentially private, even shy, people, but in order to gain the audiences they need/crave, they have to confidently promote themselves and their work. As a director, I try to look at it as largely  advertising the talent and work of my team, which I find much easier to do than focusing on myself. To help with this, I aim only to work with people whose talent and commitment I rate and on projects/productions in which I really believe.  The Rose Company’s Iphigenia is no exception to this and I’m already excited about – and proud of – its cast and designer.

So, onto the shameless plug of the title – you knew it was coming! Please make time to see The Rose Company, Lancaster’s new all-female company, perform Lady Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia this November.

Lancaster Castle – November 19, 20, 21 – 7.30pm

Homerton College, Cambridge – November 23 – 4pm

UCL, London – November 24 – 3pm

 

Running time is approximately 70 minutes and tickets are £5 for all venues. They can be reserved by contacting The Rose Company on rosecompanytheatre@gmail.com and payment should be made in cash on the door of the production.

Don’t miss the chance to see this extremely rarely performed gem – the first piece of dramatic literature by a woman in English and the first known translation of Euripides into English.

Hope to see you at one of the shows – and please tell your friends!

Thank you.

elaru xx

 

Iphigenia by Lady Jane Lumley

It’s happened! The Rose Company’s first show – Iphigenia by Lady Jane Lumley – the oldest known dramatic work by an English woman and the earliest known translation of Greek drama into English. It happened- and it was well-received – and it was fun!

I travelled to Reading by train and so was the first to arrive at The Minghella Building at Reading University. I was impressed with the space – very new and with great facilities – and had a brilliant time being shown all around by one of the space’s technicians. (The highlight of this part of the day was getting to walk on the steel-wire mesh above the theatre to play with the lights (see photo below)!)

When the cast arrived, they too were pleased with what they saw and we got straight down to an intense rehearsal afternoon, really finding out how to use the space.

And then – seemingly in a flash – it was time for the show. Although some of the cast were suffering from colds and coughs (I feel to blame for passing one around…), Doctor Theatre worked its magic and everyone performed with huge energy and skill – I was really proud of them all!

The audience – an academic one, staying at Reading for a conference – were responsive and clearly relished seeing such a rarely performed piece. We enjoyed performing such a rare text too – and are really looking forward to playing with it again when we revive it in autumn.

 

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Agamemnon and Menelaus

Agamemnon and Menelaus

Drirector on the lighting mesh as the cast warm up.

Director on the lighting mesh as the cast warm up.

Do take a look at The Rose Company’s site for more photos – http://www.therosecompany.posthaven.com

As one of The Rose Company’s founders said on twitter this week: “Watch this space; this rose has only just begun to bloom!”

elaru xx

Feeling Connected

I’ve just waved my cousin off on a big adventure. He’s emigrating to Australia and starting a new life with his wonderful partner. He’s one of my favourite people in the world; we’re very close and I know I’m going to miss him hugely. But I am very proud of him and thrilled about the adventure upon which he is embarking.

Technology is going to help enormously. All his family and friends will be able to email, facebook, tweet, Skype, phone etc… and once he is fully settled, we won’t feel (I hope) all that disconnected at all. What an amazing world we live in!

So, how does this link to my current theatre project with The Rose Company? Tenuously, but importantly, through the idea of connection. The Rose Company, as stated a few posts ago is newly formed, so we need to get to know each other – to feel connected as a company – to start to trust each other and each other’s ways of working. There is no quick way of doing this, but, hopefully, slowly but surely over the rehearsal period this should begin to happen.

Additionally, though, there is the connection through time to the writer Lady Jane Lumley, who wrote the play we are performing well over 400 years ago, and in her turn she must have felt a connection to the Euripides’ Iphigenia, which apparently premiered in 405 BC! It’s amazing to me how characters from such time-scales can still be so relevant and immediate today, but they are. They really are! I already feel an incredible connection to Iphigenia and Clytemnestra, to name but two – and not just because of the plight they find themselves in. In Lady Jane Lumley’s hands, at least, they are strong, passionate women about whom it is very easy to care and respond strongly to.

Amazingly, to accompany the play – or bookend really, as we are using it at the beginning and end – we are using a tune suggested by a member of the cast: Seikilos Epitaph, which is the oldest surviving complete musical composition in the world – thought to be from the 1st century BC. It’s a beautiful, haunting little melody – entirely appropriate for our production and with lovely moving lyrics which I’ll reproduce when we’ve decided exactly the form they will take for us.

I find the idea of being connected through theatre to dates like 1st century BC (and obviously 405 BC with the Ipigenia premiere) somewhat mind-blowing – and very, very exciting.  

Here are just a few photos of the Rose Company in action in our first rehearsals:

 

 

 

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Yours – connected-ly,

elaru xx

The Rose Company

Just a quick blog post to introduce a new venture: The Rose Company, a newly-formed all-female theatre company, of which I am a founder member – one of four.

We already have a project – Iphigenia by Lady Jane Lumley, not only the first known dramatic work by a woman in English, but also the first known translation of the Greek into English. What a great play for a group of female creatives to begin with! I’ve read and re-read it several times so far and am delighted with the immediacy of the story-telling and how “modern” it somehow feels; many lines cut through time, making a strikingly powerful impact. I can’t wait to hear how they sound when performed.

We also have a date and a venue – the Minghella Theatre at Reading University on July 9th, as part of an academic conference. (I’m a little scared about how knowledgeable our audience will be, but we can only do our best!)

Now the real advert bit: although I will detail some Rose Company activity and progress in this blog, most of the information can be found at http://therosecompany.posthaven.com/ and we can be followed on twitter at @therosecompany.

As usual, at the start of a project, I’m itching to get going! (And there is also going to be some very exciting ELART Productions news soon too – I’m just waiting for some final details. Watch this space…)

elaru xx