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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Memories

A year’s end is a natural time to look back and reflect. And, as 2013 has been such a busy and exciting year professionally, there’s a lot to reflect on – far too much for a blog such as this, so I’m just going to focus on the most significant moments-as they seem from this vantage point.

As always in the middle of winter, I find it hard to believe that summer existed (or could exist), but it did, and 2013’s summer had in it one day I will never, ever forget – ELART’s All the World’s A Stage, performed in the RSC’s The Dell at Stratford-upon-Avon. Thinking back about that day, I can still re-create almost every moment:

– Meeting up with the cast on the banks of the Avon – all of us excited about the day ahead, slightly cloudy at that mid-morning time, but soon to become gloriously sunny -the first of many hot days ahead, though we didn’t know that then so the weather seemed particularly special.

– Sitting under a small tree, operating the sound, taking photos and really enjoying watching my cast perform two well-received shows – I’ve rarely, if ever, felt quite so proud.

– Lunch-time frisbee, with its wonderfully surreal quality, also looms large in my memory – I was highly amused by the woman, who, watching 7 men dressed in black (most of the cast) walk purposefully out onto the grass in front of The Dell stage, said excitedly to her friend, “Ooh look – I think they’re going to perform!” and then watched bemusedly as they spent 10 minutes throwing said frisbee around!

It was a truly great day and one that I not unreasonably thought at the time would be the absolute pinnacle of my year. In some ways it was – putting on a Shakespeare show is Stratford is hard to beat – but, astonishingly, The Rose Company’s Iphigenia’s adventures have at least equalled it in terms of their place in my 2013 memories – and in terms of public interest and future potential for an individual show, they have surpassed it.

I have really loved working with Lady Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia in the latter half of 2013 – July to November- and it has been a delight to watch The Rose Company start to bloom.

Highlights have included:

– Our very first show at Reading – I remember just feeling hugely proud of all involved -and, having overcome a range of difficulties, including illnesses, we really felt like a team.

– Fantastic days in Cambridge and UCL, London -a particular thrill was finding out we were performing in the beautiful main UCL building with all the columns at the front – such an appropriate view for anyone coming to watch Greek tragedy!

– The wonderfully warm local reception we have received from Lancaster audiences and critics, who seemed to enjoy our shows in the fabulous Lancaster Castle setting as much as we enjoyed performing there – cells for changing rooms and all!

– Our radio interviews – we were truly grateful for interest from Radio Lancashire and Woman’s Hour and relished the opportunity to be on the shows.

Through all this year’s projects, I have also found the support of friends and family really special and quite humbling. Thank you to all who have come to shows, “liked” on facebook, shared links, re-tweeted on twitter, spread the word about us, sponsored us etc – you know who you are!

And a huge thanks to all who have worked in any way with me on any show/project in 2013 – not just the two productions I have focused on in this blog. I can’t wait to work with you all again next year – and with other friends as well. (You know who you are too!)

A year’s end is a natural time to look back and reflect and a new year is a natural time to look forward. Here’s to 2014 – let’s make more memories!

elaru xx

The Dell, Part 3 (more clips)

Welcome to part 3 of my coverage of our day at The Dell. This will probably be the final post specifically about The Dell as I start rehearsals tomorrow with The Rose Company (introduced in an earlier post) for Lady Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia, a play we are performing in The Minghella Theatre at Reading University on July 9th.

More on that soon, but, for now The Dell: here follows a series of video clips (once again filmed inexpertly by me – apologies for poor quality at times and some strange cut-offs; a quick cut-off generally means I had to be somewhere else to do something!). However, they certainly give a flavour of our work, so I hope you enjoy them. One of the things I am most pleased about when I view them is the fact that audience laughter and appreciation can clearly be heard – there is nothing more satisfying for a director to hear and sense positive audience response; it’s what we strive for!

The first one is one of the most serious scenes, which worked beautifully on the day: Lord Capulet berating Juliet for refusing to marry Paris.

And now a couple of short clips of the 3 witches in action. Crazy witches!

A burst of Cleopatra (very poor sound quality, I’m afraid, but the acting is fab!).

And finally some Mechanicals – the whole company in action.

I hope you enjoyed getting a taste of the show. Next time (I really, really hope there’s a next time!) come and see The Dell for yourselves.

elaru xxx

The Dell, Part 2 (some pics and clips)

If you read my first blog about our day in The Dell, you will probably have sensed my enthusiasm and excitement! Here are a selection of pictures and video links, which will hopefully give you a sense of why it was such a great day.

I know I put this image in the last post, but, come on, we're right under the RSC logo - you can't blame me for using it again!

I know I put this image in the last post, but, come on, we’re right under the RSC logo – you can’t blame me for using it again!

Our first (and only!) rehearsal - a speed-run pre-show. Saturday 8th June 10.30am.

Our first (and only!) rehearsal – a speed-run pre-show. Saturday 8th June 10.30am.

A physical warm up: how many actors does it take to put up a gazebo?!

A physical warm up: how many actors does it take to put up a gazebo?!

Action amidst the audience

Action amidst the audience

Lear, Kent and the Fool (with a raging storm from my laptop and mini-speakers!) I love this action shot!

Lear, Kent and the Fool (with a raging storm from my laptop and mini-speakers!) I love this action shot!

Lord Capulet and Juliet.

Lord Capulet and Juliet.

Portia takes charge of the courtroom

Portia takes charge of the courtroom

Two Mechanicals waiting for their turn!

Two Mechanicals waiting for their turn!

Pyramus and Thisbe with "vile Wall".

Pyramus and Thisbe with “vile Wall”.

The cast between shows.

The cast between shows.

The Merchant of Venice (taken from under the tree from where I operated sound effects and music.)

The Merchant of Venice (taken from under the tree from where I operated sound effects and music.)

Team ELART! Mum, my cousin and me.

Team ELART with Pimms! Mum, my cousin and me.

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And here are three short video clips of bits of the show (apologies for some of the rubbish filming – I was ineffectively multi-tasking!). If we are luck enough to go again (or do anything similar), I’d love to film a show properly (volunteer film-makers, please?) Or, preferably perhaps, take a techie and stage manager (Daniel and Mike, if you’re reading this, you’d be first choices!) so I could just film…

There are more videos, but I’m out of time for today. More uploading soon.

Hope you’ve enjoyed sharing our amazing day!

elaru xx

The Dell, RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon!

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ELART top left - directly under RSC logo!

ELART top left – directly under RSC logo!

It’s been a very exciting weekend, with yesterday – our day in The Dell –  amazingly exceeding expectations (and my expectations had been high!). The weather was incredibly kind, and the audiences for both shows were large and appreciative.

There were many highlights and simply watching the cast perform with skill and energy, clearly charming and engaging the crowd, was a fantastic experience – one of my very best theatre experiences ever. I could hardly believe where we were – performing Shakespeare in Stratford under the auspices of the RSC. Wow!

Neither show ran without a hitch (when do they ever?!); indeed, a handful of lines were dropped (no prompting, just very quick recoveries); one witch’s speech was inadvertently cut; and the chorus boy actor’s balloon boobs blew away in the second show (don’t ask!). But none of these things affected the way the shows came across and the lovely, helpful and friendly RSC team told us audience feedback was great. Several audience members went out of their way to tell us themselves – a couple as we were sunning ourselves in the beer garden with our post-show pints!  A number of them also asked about our crowdfunding (link – just in case anyone hasn’t seen it: http://www.sponsume.com/project/elart-productions) and clearly would like to support our future work. It felt great to make new friends!

Another highlight, though, was the support of old friends – ELART regulars: my mum and cousin travelled to see the show as did some family members of  some of the actors, and I had a lovely surprise when a school friend of mine suddenly appeared in The Dell before the second show; I had had no idea she intended to be there!

Additionally, I (and I’m sure my cast) learned an enormous amount from the experience. I’m not particularly experienced with outdoor theatre, and certainly getting into a brand new outdoor space less than 2 hours before a show is a challenge to say the least. It was a real privilege to learn  in such a wonderful setting.

Finally for now, thank you so much to any of my cast who read this: I’ve loved working with you and look forward to doing so again. I hope all the other companies performing in Stratford this summer have as good a time as we did, and I will certainly be applying to The Dell again in the future…

Whew!

elaru xx