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

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Memories

A year’s end is a natural time to look back and reflect. And, as 2013 has been such a busy and exciting year professionally, there’s a lot to reflect on – far too much for a blog such as this, so I’m just going to focus on the most significant moments-as they seem from this vantage point.

As always in the middle of winter, I find it hard to believe that summer existed (or could exist), but it did, and 2013’s summer had in it one day I will never, ever forget – ELART’s All the World’s A Stage, performed in the RSC’s The Dell at Stratford-upon-Avon. Thinking back about that day, I can still re-create almost every moment:

– Meeting up with the cast on the banks of the Avon – all of us excited about the day ahead, slightly cloudy at that mid-morning time, but soon to become gloriously sunny -the first of many hot days ahead, though we didn’t know that then so the weather seemed particularly special.

– Sitting under a small tree, operating the sound, taking photos and really enjoying watching my cast perform two well-received shows – I’ve rarely, if ever, felt quite so proud.

– Lunch-time frisbee, with its wonderfully surreal quality, also looms large in my memory – I was highly amused by the woman, who, watching 7 men dressed in black (most of the cast) walk purposefully out onto the grass in front of The Dell stage, said excitedly to her friend, “Ooh look – I think they’re going to perform!” and then watched bemusedly as they spent 10 minutes throwing said frisbee around!

It was a truly great day and one that I not unreasonably thought at the time would be the absolute pinnacle of my year. In some ways it was – putting on a Shakespeare show is Stratford is hard to beat – but, astonishingly, The Rose Company’s Iphigenia’s adventures have at least equalled it in terms of their place in my 2013 memories – and in terms of public interest and future potential for an individual show, they have surpassed it.

I have really loved working with Lady Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia in the latter half of 2013 – July to November- and it has been a delight to watch The Rose Company start to bloom.

Highlights have included:

– Our very first show at Reading – I remember just feeling hugely proud of all involved -and, having overcome a range of difficulties, including illnesses, we really felt like a team.

– Fantastic days in Cambridge and UCL, London -a particular thrill was finding out we were performing in the beautiful main UCL building with all the columns at the front – such an appropriate view for anyone coming to watch Greek tragedy!

– The wonderfully warm local reception we have received from Lancaster audiences and critics, who seemed to enjoy our shows in the fabulous Lancaster Castle setting as much as we enjoyed performing there – cells for changing rooms and all!

– Our radio interviews – we were truly grateful for interest from Radio Lancashire and Woman’s Hour and relished the opportunity to be on the shows.

Through all this year’s projects, I have also found the support of friends and family really special and quite humbling. Thank you to all who have come to shows, “liked” on facebook, shared links, re-tweeted on twitter, spread the word about us, sponsored us etc – you know who you are!

And a huge thanks to all who have worked in any way with me on any show/project in 2013 – not just the two productions I have focused on in this blog. I can’t wait to work with you all again next year – and with other friends as well. (You know who you are too!)

A year’s end is a natural time to look back and reflect and a new year is a natural time to look forward. Here’s to 2014 – let’s make more memories!

elaru xx

Iphigenia Pics

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The last three weeks have involved: rehearsals; a Rose Company mini-tour (Lancaster Castle, Homerton College, UCL); a feature on Woman’s Hour (here if you missed it – about 16 mins from end –http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03jfk1v); and the booking of new mini-north-west tour for January – King’s Arms, Salford, January 12; The Continental, Preston, January 16; Lancaster Castle, January 17; The Lantern Theatre, Liverpool, January 18. It’s been busy (and I haven’t thought about Christmas shopping yet…).

Here are a few pictures of the story so far…

 

Dress Rehearsal

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The Chorus

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Menelaus and Senex

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Clytemnesta and the Chorus

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Agamemnon and Iphigenia

Lancaster Castle

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Achilles and Iphigenia being recorded for radio

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Whole cast being recorded for radio

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The green room!

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The whole cast.

Homerton College

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Warming up.

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Clytemnestra and Orestes

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The touring cast.

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Clytemnestra, Nuntio (and me in background!)

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Iphigenia and fans – lovely audience members who wanted a photo with the hero!

UCL
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Iphigenia, Orestes and Chorus

Iphigenia weekend tour 054
Agamemnon and Senex

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Chorus and Orestes

Really hope to see you at one of our January shows!

elaru xx

Running in the Family

My mum and I look nothing like each other. I’m 5 feet 10 and fair-ish, while she’s 5 feet 2 (and a bit) and dark. People are often surprised to find we are mother and daughter as, as far as appearances go,  we appear to be unrelated. Family likenesses and traits can run much deeper than appearance, though, and, I think most people who know us, would actually say my mum and I are very alike. We certainly share a sense of humour and outlook on life, as well as a range of mannerisms and expressions. We also – obviously – have a shared history and a very quick shorthand when talking to each other about things that have happened in our lives. My gran, who we lived with throughout my childhood, is also a part of this – and I sometimes pity my husband when he has a meal with us and has to endure all three of us talking quickly and extensively about a range of family – and other- issues, jumping around from topic to topic in a way that must be bewildering to anyone who doesn’t know the links that we no longer have to voice to each other.

I’m always interested in looking for these family ties/links/mannerisms when watching plays too. I vividly remember, as a 6th form student, watching a production of “Death of a Salesman” in which Biff Loman mirrored some of his father Willy’s gestures and ways of speaking, really communicating to the audience how influenced he was by his father, and adding to the sense of tragic inevitability surrounding aspects of his story.

Family is vitally important in my current project with The Rose Company – Lady Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia. Mother/daughter and father/daughter relationships are at the very heart of the play and the first half of the text, which was the focus of today’s rehearsal, has an explosive interchange between brothers: Menelaus and Agamemnon. We really started to explore this today, thinking about them as brothers and about the history they have shared. By the end of the rehearsal we had found a shared movement/gesture – clapping someone hard on the shoulder in order to dominate – which both use to effect: Menelaus to threaten Senex and, later, Agamemnon to prevent Menelaus leaving. We also worked with the content of their argument, so that it felt as if they were really “pushing each other’s buttons”, raking up issues from the past and deliberately taunting each other – in a way that often only family members can! We will continue to work further on this in rehearsals later this week, but a promising start was certainly made and the final run of the argument late this afternoon was excitingly charged.

Here’s a photo of them, with Senex, in rehearsal today, just before the argument begins.

 

 

 

Shameless Plugs

Flyer-Front-Final-72Flyer-Back-Final-72

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

 

Iphigenia by Lady Jane Lumley

It’s happened! The Rose Company’s first show – Iphigenia by Lady Jane Lumley – the oldest known dramatic work by an English woman and the earliest known translation of Greek drama into English. It happened- and it was well-received – and it was fun!

I travelled to Reading by train and so was the first to arrive at The Minghella Building at Reading University. I was impressed with the space – very new and with great facilities – and had a brilliant time being shown all around by one of the space’s technicians. (The highlight of this part of the day was getting to walk on the steel-wire mesh above the theatre to play with the lights (see photo below)!)

When the cast arrived, they too were pleased with what they saw and we got straight down to an intense rehearsal afternoon, really finding out how to use the space.

And then – seemingly in a flash – it was time for the show. Although some of the cast were suffering from colds and coughs (I feel to blame for passing one around…), Doctor Theatre worked its magic and everyone performed with huge energy and skill – I was really proud of them all!

The audience – an academic one, staying at Reading for a conference – were responsive and clearly relished seeing such a rarely performed piece. We enjoyed performing such a rare text too – and are really looking forward to playing with it again when we revive it in autumn.

 

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Agamemnon and Menelaus

Agamemnon and Menelaus

Drirector on the lighting mesh as the cast warm up.

Director on the lighting mesh as the cast warm up.

Do take a look at The Rose Company’s site for more photos – http://www.therosecompany.posthaven.com

As one of The Rose Company’s founders said on twitter this week: “Watch this space; this rose has only just begun to bloom!”

elaru xx

Every Picture Tells A Story

I love rehearsing. It’s probably my favourite way to spend my time, which is lucky as it’s a huge part of my job! I love the focus a really good company has in rehearsal and how everyday issues melt away in the challenge and fun of exploring a text or devising a show – discovering the best way to tell stories.

I’ve been very fortunate with my last (ELART Productions’ All the World’s A Stage – Shakespeare/Rucastle) and current show (The Rose Company’s Iphigenia – Lady Jane Lumley) to have 2 willing – and able – photographers to capture some rehearsal moments. Do take a look:

 

Introducing Iphigenia to her baby brother Orestes!

Introducing Iphigenia to her baby brother Orestes!

Some directing - at least, I think that's what I'm doing.

Some directing – at least, I think that’s what I’m doing.

Clytemnestra and Senex

Clytemnestra and Senex

Clytemnestra and Achilles

Clytemnestra and Achilles

Iphigenia

Iphigenia

Clytemnestra

Clytemnestra

The Chorus.

The Chorus.

Agamemnon confronted by Iphigenia and Clytemnestra

Agamemnon confronted by Iphigenia and Clytemnestra

Agamemnon isolated.

Agamemnon isolated.

Clytemnestra and Chorus

Clytemnestra and Chorus

Iphigenia and Agamemnon

Iphigenia and Agamemnon

The Mechanicals dance.

The Mechanicals dance.

Looks like I want to join in! (I didn't.)

Looks like I want to join in! (I didn’t.)

Directing the dance.

Directing the dance.

Having fun.

Having fun.

Lord Capulet - scary!

Lord Capulet – scary!

Waiting in the wings (well, sort of)

Waiting in the wings (well, sort of)

The witches (trying to fly?)

The witches (trying to fly?)

Portia- deep in thought

Portia- deep in thought

All the World's A Stage

All the World’s A Stage

Applauding my own show!

Applauding my own show!

"Our revels now are ended."

“Our revels now are ended.”

Waiting to dance

Waiting to dance

Lion!

Lion!

Pyramus and Moon

Pyramus and Moon

The Mechanicals perform

The Mechanicals perform

Wall, Pyramus and Thisbe

Wall, Pyramus and Thisbe

The Mechanicals prepare

The Mechanicals prepare

Portia, Antonio and Bassanio

Portia, Antonio and Bassanio

The witches

The witches

Cleopatra on the run.

Cleopatra on the run.

Cleopatra on the attack

Cleopatra on the attack

Cleopatra's tantrum

Cleopatra’s tantrum

Clarence's death

Clarence’s death

The Fool

The Fool

Hamlet

Hamlet

Richard 3

Richard 3

The Rose’s Company’s Iphigenia happens in 9 days from now, so lots more rehearsal hours beckon.

That’s great!

elaru xx