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

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

Well, that’s that.

In the words of Mr Ballas: “Well, that’s that.”

I never know quite what to say (or how to feel) immediately after a play, so I’m going to let the wonderful posters which decorated our set do the talking. If you saw Memorandum, this will give you a chance to read the small print – and, if you didn’t, this will give you a sense of the surreal world you missed…

Thanks – once again – to anyone who was involved in any way and to all those who came to support. Onwards…

elaru xxx

00-barber-prototype-2.1 00-barber-prototype-3.1 00-cutlery-prototype-1 00-cutlery-prototype-3 00-do not-prototype-2 00-Extinguisher-prototype-1 00-Grenade-prototype-2 00-Hairdresser-prototype-2.1 00-Handling-prototype-1 00-lost-prototype-2 00-milk-prototype-3 00-moustache-prototype-2 00-party-prototype 1 00-Smoking-prototype-1 00-Strange Fruit-2 00-Watcher-prototype-1 Beards-final (hopefully)-2

All posters designed by Ben Brighouse – who also played Staff Watcher in the show. Many, many thanks to him – and also a special mention to Dan Charnley – http://www.dancharnley.co.uk – who created the Furious Apple found on the Strange Fruit poster.

Getting The Job Done (The Secretaries)

The secretaries in Memorandum are a great example of very differing work ethics. The secretary to the Translation Centre works hard, follows orders (for the most part) and is clearly a great employee – though this doesn’t necessarily serve her well. The secretary to the Managing Director, however, is vain, lazy and seems to do the bare minimum to keep his job. Clearly, these polar opposites, are caricatures in many ways, though Havel’s clever writing does give them each a journey through the play and more depth than my surface analysis would suggest, and both of them have features that many of us will recognise from our own working lives…

Memorandum Rehearsal 12th April 2015 012 Memorandumrehearsals19and20April 129 Memorandum Rehearsal 12th April 2015 065 Memorandum Rehearsal 12th April 2015 014 Memorandum Rehearsal 12th April 2015 084 Memorandumrehearsals19and20April 098 Memorandumrehearsals19and20April 116 Memorandumrehearsals19and20April 128 Memorandumrehearsals19and20April 175

And now, I’d better get on with my job.

As a cast member said on Facebook this week:

If you only find time to do one thing next week – VOTE!

If you find time to do two things – VOTE and see Memorandum. Wednesday 6, Friday 8 and Saturday 9 May (see – not May 7 – you can definitely do both!). Lancaster library, 7.30pm. Tickets available from Lancaster library, by contacting emma@elartproductions.co.uk  – or just buy on the door.

Really hope to see you there!

elaru xx

As easy as A B C… (Mr Lear and Mr Thumb)

Mr Thumb's A 001

I’m mid-way through painting an A. It’s a prop for Memorandum. It’s yellow. Very yellow. And it will soon be yellow and red. I haven’t painted anything for years and I’m really enjoying this simple task.

The A is used in a range of scenes set in the Ptydepe classroom. Ptydepe is an artificial language that is introduced into the company in the play with the aim of making office communications simpler and more precise. All the employees have to learn Ptydepe and, thus, they have to attend classes. These classes are taught by Mr Lear and the classroom scenes are some of the funniest in the play as – for the most part – they are sheer nonsense.

I say “for the most part” because through these scenes, I do think Havel is satirising poor teaching and useless learning. Mr Lear is the kind of teacher who simply lectures (the scenes are largely monologues). He doesn’t notice if his students misbehave. He doesn’t really seem to care if they learn, though he is very pleased to be able to give an A to the only keen student in the class – Mr Thumb – who shows off his knowledge to the teacher by simply repeating back exactly what has been said, however nonsensical . Mr Lear  just enjoys the sound of his own voice and, though commendably passionate about his subject, makes no attempt to connect with the class in front of him. He appears to live in an almost completely theoretical world and doesn’t ever use real-life, relevant examples to bring the lesson to life for the students, such as those used in the best modern classrooms today.

Here he is in action with some of his class:

Memorandum Rehearsal 12th April 2015 042 Memorandum Rehearsal 12th April 2015 051 Memorandum Rehearsal 12th April 2015 052 Memorandum Rehearsal 12th April 2015 054 Memorandum Rehearsal 12th April 2015 081 Memorandum Rehearsal 12th April 2015 044 Memorandum Rehearsal 12th April 2015 048