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

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

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

 

 

 

 

#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

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…

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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

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