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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

ELART at Eden

It’s been a crazy weekend (in a crazy year so far…). A few weeks ago I was invited by the Melodrome stage to take some Shakespeare scenes to The Eden Festival. I said yes – not really knowing what I was letting myself in for! – and I am so glad I did. The Rose Company performed scenes from Richard the Third (detail to follow on http://www.rosecompanytheatre.com) and ELART Productions performed scenes from my “All The World’s A Stage” show – a devised piece which links a range of famous scenes from various Shakespeare scenes with an original, humorous narrative. “All the World’s A Stage” is a show that (pleasingly) refuses to die as the version for The Eden Festival was its fifth incarnation; before this, it has been performed in two different venues in Lancaster, filmed for an Australian fringe theatre festival and presented in Stratford-upon-Avon in the RSC Dell. At the Eden Festival, as has been the case before, the Mechanicals were a hit with all ages, and the manically humorous witches also went down very well, as did a range of Shakespearian insults! It was fantastic to perform on The Melodrome stage (I couldn’t resist performing myself – mainly singing) – and I really hope we can do this all again…!

Eden Festival 2015 my camera 133 Eden Festival 2015 my camera 143 Eden Festival 2015 my camera 129 Eden Festival 2015 my camera 064 Eden Festival 2015 my camera 038 Eden Festival 2015 my camera 044 Eden Festival 2015 my camera 075

As for The Eden Festival as a whole: where else could you see Mr Motivator, Ms Dynamite, The Cat Empire and an eclectic range of other talented groups on a range of stages (one sound system powered by bicycle!) as well as hear Storytelling, watch Improv,  take part in a Bush Rush, juggle, stilt walk etc etc etc?

Eden Festival 2015 my camera 010 Eden Festival 2015 my camera 020 Eden Festival 2015 my camera 088 Eden Festival 2015 my camera 097 Eden Festival 2015 my camera 098 Eden Festival 2015 my camera 111 Eden Festival 2015 my camera 106Eden Festival 2015 my camera 115

What a weekend!

elaru xx

Fun Times

The last few weeks have been all kinds of fun, not least because of Fun Palaces. In case you missed it, see here for all details about this fantastic initiative: http://www.funpalaces.co.uk. It happened for the first time last weekend and I was part of the organising group (nothing so formal as a committee!) for Lancaster’s Fun Palace, which was held in Lancaster Library. The photos below will give some sense of the event, which, though relatively small in many ways – certainly compared to many of the Fun Palaces taking place nationally – seemed to be really enjoyed by all who took part as organisers/event co-ordinators/participants; as the “/” hopefully suggests, the lines between roles were often delightfully blurred.

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The great photos above were taken by the talented @fotometer_uk.

And here is a small taste of the fabulous Sue Parish ukulele orchestra in action. For me, almost more than anything else, they encapsulated Fun Palaces – such a wonderful mix of people of all ages having fun performing, watching and, later, having a go in the workshop section:

Sad you missed it? Don’t worry – Fun Palaces will be back in Lancaster and elsewhere next year. Save the date -first weekend of October; look out for taster events throughout the year; join in the conversation and be part of it – we’re on Facebook and twitter (@lancasterfunpal @funpalaces). We’d love input from anyone about anything!

So, that was Fun Palaces. For Now.

But there’s still fun coming up. I’m waiting for a licence before I can start my next ELART show (news as soon as…) but The Rose Company has been active post-summer. We filmed Iphigenia a couple of weeks ago – an exhausting, but hugely fun time. Editing has still to be done, but it seemed to go well…

And, most pressingly in mind at the moment, on the 19th of October The Rose Company is going to be performing a very short two-actor excerpt from our “I Have A Speech Of Fire” show, a show that we performed at Lancaster Castle in March. We’ve been picked to be part of an evening of Shakespeare and Gender, hosted by Smooth Faced Gentlemen (a fab all-female Shakespearian company) at The Pleasance Theatre, Islington. We are thrilled to have been chosen (filming our audition piece on the canal towpath was “fun” to say the least – Ruth’s later hashtag #interruptedbybikes being entirely apt) and we are looking forward to performing, seeing the work of other companies and meeting some great people. We’ll be rehearsing next week and I can’t wait. Looking forward to revisiting and refining Richard…

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elaru xx

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

P1110290 Richard 3

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

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