5 Ways to Be Creative in January 2021

I discovered the idea of “everyday creativity” a few years ago – though, in fact, it had always been a part of my life, I just hadn’t labelled it. It is exactly what it sounds like: being creative and playful in some way everyday and finding fun and joy in the ordinary. The organization Innovation-Creativity define it this way “Everyday creativity is finding ways to be creative in your everyday life. Being creative isn’t restricted to the glittering ideas of geniuses within big companies or musicians, artists, and poets. Anyone can be creative simply by adding some imagination and flair into their daily routine. It’s about adding some originality and meaningfulness to your routine.”

I find that everyday creativity can brighten dull days and help lift low moods and I love the reminder that we are all inherently creative beings. Lots of people who write about everyday creativity note that some of the very first things most children do are sing, dance, draw, make without inhibition, but that we often lose this and become self-conscious as we get older; everyday creativity (and indeed, the #funpalaces movement I am passionate about) gives us permission – if we need it – to play and focuses on process rather than product. I, for example, am certainly never going to be the best painter or dancer or crafter, but I might – and do – get joy from trying all of these things from time to time, as well as enjoying the art forms with which I am naturally more comfortable.

Anyway, the real purpose of this post is to share some of the everyday creativity techniques and organizations that I enjoy in the hope that some of them brighten up your new year. In every case, you can do and share (on or offline), do without sharing or simply look at the offerings of other everyday creatives. Whichever way you do it, have fun!

  1. 64 Million Artists #TheJanuaryChallenge

I have started every new year since 2014 with this challenge. It is 31 days of creative prompts of all kinds – all designed to take around 10 minutes (though you can take as long as you want) and use very limited equipment/resources – often a pen and paper is enough. You can sign up at any point during the month and there are lovely online communities on all platforms to share, if you wish. You can sign up here: The January Challenge – 64 Million Artists

Here is the poem I wrote for my challenge today:

2. Cook something new

Cooking is hugely creative – and as January tends to be about eating more healthily, it’s nice to make this less of a chore by trying new tastes etc. Maybe Veganuary? (We’re not doing this fully, but are going for 3 vegan days a week, hopefully beyond January.) If you are on twitter (and instagram, I think) the #cookjan hashtag is full of people trying to eat healthily, economically and interestingly – loads of recipe inspiration. Or why not arrange a recipe swap among friends and family? (Please share with me, if you do!)

3. Read an old favourite (yours or someone else’s)

I struggled to read much during 2020 – and believe that this was quite a common reaction to the pandemic. One of the ways I have started to get back into reading again is via audio book while walking and also by reading books I have loved in the past – I’m currently rereading Little Women for the umpteenth time! My husband and I also have a new year tradition where we give each other 3 titles that have made an impact on us to read during the year. I’ve just been given my 2021 titles and will be reading “The Seige of Krishnapur” by JG Farrell, “God Help The Child” by Toni Morrison and “The Mission House” by Carys Davies. (I might even read my husband’s hardback copies of two of them as long as I promise not to read them in the bath!)

4. A Little Each Day

The Guardian has published a “something a literary a day” throughout January and I am going to dip in and out of this and read/watch/listen to at least some of them, I hope. For me, there is something great about these (mostly) short bursts of creativity each January day; they help to make being creative a regular part of life and build a creative muscle that makes it easier to sustain throughout the rest of the year. Feed your soul: the 31-day literary diet for January | Books | The Guardian

5. A Photo A Day

This is something that has been recommended to me by a couple of friends: take a photo a day in the same place/of the same thing. They say it helps with really appreciating small differences and changing seasons and recommend using something natural as the subject matter. I doubt that I will actually take one every single day, but I have got my eye on a beautiful tree in Fairfield Orchard, Lancaster, that I pass often and that I might take photos of this year.

So, those are a few suggestions as we start a new year. If you do find any of them useful and enjoyable, please let me know. I can be found on twitter and instragram at @elartpro and on Facebook at ELART Productions. I would love to share in a creative January with you.

Onwards…

elaru xx

Tis The Season

Last week, 18 performers, in 17 homes, livestreamed a rehearsed read of A Christmas Carol to facebook. We’d only zoom-met for one rehearsal beforehand (my choice to make it very light touch!) and we were all delighted it went so well. Here are some of my favourite screenshots from that performance – definitely a Christmas show to remember…

The shots above were collected when I arranged the video for youtube and the link to the whole performance can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnZbi2zyuUg – if you watch and enjoy, please let us know on social media by using the hashtag #elartproductions

So, with only a very few days to go until Christmas, my thoughts are now starting to turn to projects that I’m hoping will happen in 2021 (though I hope to have a little break first – with an out of office on email and everything!). 2020 has taught me (probably all of us!) to take very little for granted, but I had a lovely boost a couple of weeks ago when a creative project for young people that I am a part of received funding from Curious Minds and also yesterday, when I became one of the very lucky recipients of an Arts Council Develop Your Creative Practice grant. The DYCP grant will, I hope, enable me to further develop my skills and network in inclusive theatre work, especially of the kind I have been discovering through TramShed Theatre Company, the GRT project with The Dukes Theatre and #funpalaces. I have a range of exciting conversations lined up with some brilliant people and I can’t wait to share ideas with them and learn from their experiences. All these conversations – and lots of hard work on my part – will hopefully lead eventually to some more inclusive theatre and arts events of all kinds, both on and offline. (If any one reading this would like to hear more -and/or be involved in what are incredibly fledgling ideas at the moment – please get in touch – the more the merrier.)

So, workwise, that’s 2020: a sincere thanks to anyone who has been involved in any way with any of my work this year. Strange as it has been, I have found much to love – and feel very thankful for that.

Merry Christmas.

Onwards…

elaru xx

ELART 2020-style!

So… it’s been a while since I wrote. Lots and lots has happened – to us all… and I and ELART have had to evolve to continue to create in a covid-2020 world.

Over the last few months – after the initial shock and panic about lockdown, covid and all that it could entail wore off a little (it couldn’t have continued at the pitch of the start!) – I have been enjoying getting to grips a little with online possibilities and have now created several online pieces, including verbatim audio collages and a devised zoom play, as well as regularly running live online workshops and setting drama challenges via zoom, facebook and more.

Full details and links can be found on the Online Theatre tab of my webpage – http://www.elartproductions.co.uk – but here are a few pics to whet your appetite!

More blogging of all kinds again soon.

Keep well and safe.

elaru xx

 

 

Next Week!

The Passion Play is next week. We’ve been working hard over the rehearsal period and the cast of 23 (not all performing in every venue), ranging in age from 8 to over 80, are ready. Just about. I hope! Dress rehearsals over the next few days should cement moves and music and then I am hoping we and the audience will have fun; fun, with some pause for thought about the immense story that is the Passion narrative and its relevance to our lives today.

Our Passion Play is contemporary in dress and style and is, hopefully, entertaining and humorous as well as being moving at times. Suitable for all.

Hope to see you at one of the shows – free entry! Thank you to the Passion Trust for their support, which has enabled us to offer the shows freely this way.

Thursday 11th April 7.30pm Warton, St Oswald’s

Saturday 13th April 2pm Torrisholme, Church of the Ascension

Saturday 13th April 7.30pm Lancaster Priory

Friday 19th April 12.30pm Market Square, Lancaster

elaru xx

About to Start… Are You Going To Be Part of It?

The first rehearsals for the Passion Play I mentioned in my last blog post are getting closer and this post is partly to give full details of rehearsals and performances and partly an extra call-out to anyone who would like to take part.

Peformances will be in three venues over two different dates – April 11th, 7.30pm in Warton, St Oswald’s Church; April 13th, 2.00pm in Church of the Ascension, Torrisholme and 7.30pm in Lancaster Priory – and  with a final, fourth, performance on Good Friday (April 19th) in Lancaster city centre also being planned for 12.30pm.

Performers can take part in any or all of the performances and just need to attend a minimum of four rehearsals between February and April (there will be a range of dates in each venue) and a Dress Rehearsal for each venue in which they will perform. I am keen to work around everyone’s availability – so get in touch with any problems at all.

First rehearsals are:

Sunday 10th February at 2pm -Warton St Oswald’s; Tuesday 12th February at 7pm – Lancaster Priory; Wednesday 13th February at 7pm – Torrisholme, Church of the Ascension. Try to come to one of those if you would like to be in the cast.

I hope to see lots of people there – everyone welcome – of all levels of experience. (No prior experience necessary, just a willingness to have a go!) Young people very welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult at all rehearsals and performances. It’s going to be exciting! Don’t miss out – come and see what it’s all about – and get in touch if you want any further information.

Finally for now, here is our Passion Play logo (thanks, Ben!) – look out for it on posters and on social media.

passion play logo

More very soon.

elaru xx

North Lancashire Passion Play

ELART’s next big project is a Passion Play for Lent/Easter 2019. I am currently in the devising/drafting/writing/planning phase and it is feeling very exciting so far. It will (I hope) hope be a large-scale community production – open to all as performers – and free for audiences to watch in one of three north Lancashire churches and/or in Lancaster city centre. A full schedule of performances will appear on my website very soon.

Much more will follow here soon as I blog the process – and see how it fits alongside all the other varied work I am currently undertaking. 2019 is getting fully underway!

A to Z

This morning I sang on top of a church tower (video evidence below). It was to celebrate May Day and we (6 of us) sang Madrigals from 6am-6.30am to a remarkably large and wonderfully supportive ground-level audience of around 40 people. I worked out, on emerging from the tower, that I had just performed on my highest stage to date. This, coupled with the 64 Million Artists’ A to Z challenge this week, got me thinking about the range of places I have been lucky enough to make theatre and music.

For the list below, I limited myself to one entry per letter. I was amazed at how many places I had to leave out – and I only struggled on a  small number of letters (J, Q and X). Every one of the places on the list conjures up so many faces and memories for me. (You all know who you are if you are reading this!) Looking forward to adding more places and spaces in future…

A – Archbishop Hutton Primary School

B – Big Top Theatre Tent

C – churches

D – the Dell, Stratford-upon-avon

E – Eden Festival

F – Fun Palace (Lancaster Library)

G – the Grand Theatre

H – Hall, Leighton

I – Inns (pubs!)

J – Just wherever

K – Kendal streets and yards

L – London

M – Moscow

N – National Trust property

O – outdoors

P – prisons

Q – quiet corners

R – the Round (The Dukes, Lancaster)

S – Shire Hall, Lancaster Castle

T – town centres

U – universities

V – village halls

W – Warton

X – eXciting places – on this list and more

Y – Youth clubs

Z – zoo

And here’s evidence of the tower this morning:

Off We Go Again!

“A change is as good as a rest,” they say – and in many ways, I subscribe to this philosophy, loving my ever-changing work and not often really tiring. However, at least once a year I do try to take a full, proper break to recharge the batteries and this year’s rest was two weeks in the south of England, mostly Cornwall. We spent our time catching up with friends and family and seeing some of the most beautiful countryside and coastline in the world – including the Minack Theatre, a spectacular theatre to which I would love to bring a production…: a great holiday!

So, now it’s back to work time. Lancaster Fun Palace – back for the third year and part of the brilliant national Fun Palaces movement (www.funpalaces.co.uk) is the next major event on the schedule in 3 weeks’ time. It’s looking very exciting already – ukuleles, storytelling, hands-on maths, dance, singing, crafts, juggling  and much, much more… I can’t wait!

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

Time For Some Fun!

Drawing for all at Lancaster Fun Palace 2014.

Drawing for all at Lancaster Fun Palace 2014.

There are just 24 days to go until the second ever Fun Palace weekend.

The Reading Robot advertises Lancaster's 2014 Fun Palace

The Reading Robot advertises Lancaster’s 2014 Fun Palace

If you’ve somehow missed the Fun Palace movement, here’s a brief description/history:

” Fun Palaces is an annual, free, nationwide celebration of arts and culture, driven by localism, innovation and engagement, with a core passion to encourage communities to create by and for themselves. Fun Palaces shouts, sings, shimmies, stomps from the rooftops: arts and sciences, all culture, is a crucial part of human life, and they are truly glorious.

Inspired by theatre director Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price’s never-built vision of the Fun Palace; one venue for all arts and sciences, engaging and welcoming for all, Fun Palaces sees Makers across the UK and worldwide creating their own ‘pop-up’ Fun Palaces. 

On 4 & 5 October 2014, 138 venues, communities and locations created Fun Palaces, with over 3000 local people taking on the role of Fun Palace Makers – leading, making, creating in their own communities.

On 3 & 4 October 2015 we welcome even more involvement and engagement from even more people keen to make a difference. Fun Palaces is not just about the weekend, it is about coming together to create, celebrating localism and community in the everyday.”

The above text comes from the national Fun Palace website and lots and lots more information can be found there: http://www.funpalaces.co.uk

Bessie Blue at Lancaster Fun Palace 2014

Bessie Blue at Lancaster Fun Palace 2014

I’m heavily involved in helping to make Lancaster’s Fun Palace, housed in the fantastic Lancaster Library, and am getting excited about the events our Fun Palace will include on the first weekend of October. So far, we have a wide range confirmed, including:

  • – hands-on maths – “Build your own Structures”
  • – a variety of music – percussion, ukuleles, singing (and sing-a-long) and much more
  • – dancing workshops
  • – art and craft of all kinds – making mandalas and lanterns, large scale art, comic flip etc

 – physics and astronomy demonstrations/workshops

 – creative writing workshops

 – spoken word, storytelling and performances, including “Stories from the Souk” and “Portal 2 by 2”

Drawing fun at Lancsaster Fun Palace 2014

Drawing fun at Lancaster Fun Palace 2014

And more is still in the pipeline… Almost all the activities should be suitable for a wide range of ages, from novice to experienced and a timetable for the weekend will be published soon. Look out for it!

ELART productions is providing theatre games for families early on the Saturday afternoon and a little later will be working with anyone who comes along to put together a “Play in an Afternoon”. We’ll perform our play (!) at 6pm on the 3rd of October…

2014FunPalace1

There is still PLENTY of time to get involved. See our facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/LancasterFunPalace?fref=ts – or twitter feed @lancasterfunpal for even more details. Or contact us on lancasterfp@gmail.com – We’re open to all ideas and people!

Ukulele orchestra at Lancaster Fun Palace 2014

Ukulele orchestra at Lancaster Fun Palace 2014

It seems as if Lancaster Fun Palace is growing and growing, which is a fantastic feeling. Please don’t miss it – and tell ALL your friends! And if you’re nowhere near Lancaster, find your nearest Fun Palace on the national website and join them.

Grassroots, community, movements of this kind are vitally important in the current times. Be part of it! And have FUN!

elaru xx