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

 

 

Story and Song

It’s been a strange time (again) – hasn’t it? I’m trying to react to international events by recognising what I can do in my life to make a positive difference to the world around me. Fun Palaces seem even more relevant than ever. 2016’s Lancaster Fun Palace was a great weekend – here are a few of my favourite pictures from it.

We’ll be getting underway with planning 2017’s early in the new year – hope you can join us.

ELART’s next event is also very close to my heart: “Story and Song” –  an informal, short concert in aid of Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary. It will be performed on Saturday November 26th at 6pm in Lancaster’s Storey building and comprises a capella British (mostly) music from madrigals to the Beatles and stories from around the world. Pay what you want – all proceeds to the charity.

Hope to see you there.

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

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

 

 

 

 

#LoveTheatreDay

The #LoveTheatreDay feed today is inspiring. Clearly, there are lots and lots of us about who do love theatre – heartening in these challenging (to say the least) times. Despite being besieged on so many sides, it seems, many people still recognise that theatre – and its cultural sisters and brothers – has an enormous amount to offer to individuals, communities, societies, nations.  By being part of live performance, on-stage and off, we feel connected, united, strong; we have our experiences broadened, our prejudices challenged; we laugh; we cry; we share; we live. What’s not to love?

Lancaster Library (including Lancaster Fun Palace), The Melodrome at The Eden Festival, The Devonshire Cat, Sheffield (with Drunken Chorus) are just some of the places ELART Productions has enjoyed making theatre this year so far…

 

#LoveTheatreDay

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

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…!

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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?

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What a weekend!

elaru xx