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

 

 

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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

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

 

 

 

 

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

Connect 14

At the start of 2014, I find myself in a reflective mood.

I still have a (small) handful of days before I have to get fully into work-mode and I am mostly enjoying the unusually quiet pace of life:

– lie-ins
– cinema trips – American Hustle was good!
– reading -among other books, a birthday present of Simon Callow’s Being An Actor, which I first read at university and then lost, is a delight – like re-discovering an old friend
– DVD box sets – we’ve finally begun Game of Thrones (no spoilers, please!)
– seeing friends- I love feeding people (and being fed);
– twitter-ing…

Now I love twitter. Really love it, in fact, in what I am sure could become an unhealthy way if I could afford a pricier mobile phone contract, which allowed me more internet access. I love following people, especially theatre/arts people – interacting with them, finding out about their projects, reading their blogs.

I love it, but I also find it confusing and sometimes intimidating and this is at least part of the reason for my reflective mood, that and a natural – for me at least – slight new year/new beginnings angst. There is so much out there (banal statement of the year award!) that, although I see a lot of theatre and other live performance, I sometimes feel as if I am missing all the really important shows and am not entirely sure where my own (largely northern England-based) work fits in… The possible opportunities can also sometimes seem endless, which, while fantastic, can be scary, as knowing exactly which route to follow (no twitter pun intended) can be very hard to determine – and that’s without having to consider the practical money-making aspects…

So, where does this leave me at the start of 2014?

Well, to be honest, better off (I think/hope) than at the start of 2013. Aided and abetted by twitter – and other social media – ELART and The Rose Company shows were well-supported and well-received in my Lancaster home-city and a range of places around the country last year and we have a new set of dates for Lady Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia starting on January 12th (please see http://www.therosecompany.posthaven.com for full details and ticket links). Twitter also allowed me to have some conversations with people I would never have dared to contact via any other means and gave me the means to contribute to some important arts discussions (albeit in a tiny way) that I would never have had access to in any other way – I hope to continue this type of involvement in 2014.

However, as well as online connections, in 2014, I hope to further the face-to-face contacts that have been hugely valuable in 2013. These include (but are certainly not limited to):

– rehearsal rooms, which clearly abound with face-to-face-ness – I can’t wait to start working with talented performers in rehearsal rooms this year – Iphigenia and beyond
– the freelancers gathering, which started in summer 2013, and has brought about a range of possible projects and useful professional connections; it’s been a great addition to Lancaster life and I look forward to experiencing its development in 2014
– open space conferences – these have been a revelation to me and I can’t get enough of them! I loved the Fun Palaces one in October – and fully intend to play my part in making sure Lancaster has a fun palace in October 2014. I’m also really looking forward to D and D 9 in London at the end of January, which looks to be by far the largest open space I will ever have attended and is likely to give some face-to-face time with some twitter connections

So, on balance, I’m looking forward to meeting and working with an exciting range of people both online and off in 2014 – and hopefully making high-quality work, which resonates with a range of audiences – arguably the most important connection of all (but that’s for another blog post…)

Let’s connect!

elaru xx

Shameless Plugs

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I’m tired. I’ve spent almost the whole day publicising Lady Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia, a Rose Company production and this blog is the final thing on my to do list.

I’ve contacted: two radio stations;  two local newspapers and (very scarily) one national paper; several schools and other educational establishments; some theatres; an online local website; as well as family, friends and any and every person I can think of who might conceivably be interested.

Word of mouth comes next – and I will be talking incessantly about Iphigenia between now and the show in a month’s time. (If you meet me over the next few weeks, you have been warned!)

I started by saying I was tired, though: I am; I don’t find publicising shows easy. Not easy at all – and I never have. Publicity has to be done early in the rehearsal process in order to give an audience time to organise diaries and buy tickets, but as it is early, it always feels strange to me because the show has yet to really take shape, so I generally don’t feel absolutely certain what it is I’m publicising and I don’t want to give mis-information or to under-sell. This time is a little easier because November’s Iphigenia is a revival of July’s show, so I have much, much more idea than I sometimes do!

I also find the self-promotion aspect of publicity difficult – and I know I’m a long way from being alone in this. Many performance artists/makers are essentially private, even shy, people, but in order to gain the audiences they need/crave, they have to confidently promote themselves and their work. As a director, I try to look at it as largely  advertising the talent and work of my team, which I find much easier to do than focusing on myself. To help with this, I aim only to work with people whose talent and commitment I rate and on projects/productions in which I really believe.  The Rose Company’s Iphigenia is no exception to this and I’m already excited about – and proud of – its cast and designer.

So, onto the shameless plug of the title – you knew it was coming! Please make time to see The Rose Company, Lancaster’s new all-female company, perform Lady Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia this November.

Lancaster Castle – November 19, 20, 21 – 7.30pm

Homerton College, Cambridge – November 23 – 4pm

UCL, London – November 24 – 3pm

 

Running time is approximately 70 minutes and tickets are £5 for all venues. They can be reserved by contacting The Rose Company on rosecompanytheatre@gmail.com and payment should be made in cash on the door of the production.

Don’t miss the chance to see this extremely rarely performed gem – the first piece of dramatic literature by a woman in English and the first known translation of Euripides into English.

Hope to see you at one of the shows – and please tell your friends!

Thank you.

elaru xx