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

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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

 

Back To…

My husband is a teacher, so, for him, today marked “back to school”. He loves his job, but this morning he was as sad as any pupil about the end of summer and the loss of freedom term-time brings with it. It won’t take him long at all to settle back, though, and immerse himself in the opportunities of school life.

September means that I am fully back to work as well – and not just with the educational commitments I too still have, which begin later in the month. Summer is always a strange time for theatre work, unless involved in a full festival production or some other event. It’s hard to plan as so many emails are answered by “out of office” messages as people are on holiday or away at festivals; hard to fully keep up with admin. because it’s sunny and warm outside (at least that’s been a legitimate excuse this year!).

So, September marks the return to all that. And I’m ready for it. I’ve already had a useful meeting this morning with Talk With Leap ( a great Lancaster-based organisation, who help emerging artists of all kinds), which has given me some tips and advice about a late-autumn story-telling event/show I’m planning for some local pubs. I’ve also been emailing various colleagues about The Rose Company, which is hopefully performing Iphigenia in Cambridge – and maybe other places – in late-November. I’m meeting with an actor soon, to talk about that and other things, and there are other contacts I need to make regarding ELART productions I have in mind for the new year and beyond.

I’m feeling energised, which is helpful.

Back to… the future!

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

Feeling Connected

I’ve just waved my cousin off on a big adventure. He’s emigrating to Australia and starting a new life with his wonderful partner. He’s one of my favourite people in the world; we’re very close and I know I’m going to miss him hugely. But I am very proud of him and thrilled about the adventure upon which he is embarking.

Technology is going to help enormously. All his family and friends will be able to email, facebook, tweet, Skype, phone etc… and once he is fully settled, we won’t feel (I hope) all that disconnected at all. What an amazing world we live in!

So, how does this link to my current theatre project with The Rose Company? Tenuously, but importantly, through the idea of connection. The Rose Company, as stated a few posts ago is newly formed, so we need to get to know each other – to feel connected as a company – to start to trust each other and each other’s ways of working. There is no quick way of doing this, but, hopefully, slowly but surely over the rehearsal period this should begin to happen.

Additionally, though, there is the connection through time to the writer Lady Jane Lumley, who wrote the play we are performing well over 400 years ago, and in her turn she must have felt a connection to the Euripides’ Iphigenia, which apparently premiered in 405 BC! It’s amazing to me how characters from such time-scales can still be so relevant and immediate today, but they are. They really are! I already feel an incredible connection to Iphigenia and Clytemnestra, to name but two – and not just because of the plight they find themselves in. In Lady Jane Lumley’s hands, at least, they are strong, passionate women about whom it is very easy to care and respond strongly to.

Amazingly, to accompany the play – or bookend really, as we are using it at the beginning and end – we are using a tune suggested by a member of the cast: Seikilos Epitaph, which is the oldest surviving complete musical composition in the world – thought to be from the 1st century BC. It’s a beautiful, haunting little melody – entirely appropriate for our production and with lovely moving lyrics which I’ll reproduce when we’ve decided exactly the form they will take for us.

I find the idea of being connected through theatre to dates like 1st century BC (and obviously 405 BC with the Ipigenia premiere) somewhat mind-blowing – and very, very exciting.  

Here are just a few photos of the Rose Company in action in our first rehearsals:

 

 

 

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Yours – connected-ly,

elaru xx

The Dell, Part 3 (more clips)

Welcome to part 3 of my coverage of our day at The Dell. This will probably be the final post specifically about The Dell as I start rehearsals tomorrow with The Rose Company (introduced in an earlier post) for Lady Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia, a play we are performing in The Minghella Theatre at Reading University on July 9th.

More on that soon, but, for now The Dell: here follows a series of video clips (once again filmed inexpertly by me – apologies for poor quality at times and some strange cut-offs; a quick cut-off generally means I had to be somewhere else to do something!). However, they certainly give a flavour of our work, so I hope you enjoy them. One of the things I am most pleased about when I view them is the fact that audience laughter and appreciation can clearly be heard – there is nothing more satisfying for a director to hear and sense positive audience response; it’s what we strive for!

The first one is one of the most serious scenes, which worked beautifully on the day: Lord Capulet berating Juliet for refusing to marry Paris.

And now a couple of short clips of the 3 witches in action. Crazy witches!

A burst of Cleopatra (very poor sound quality, I’m afraid, but the acting is fab!).

And finally some Mechanicals – the whole company in action.

I hope you enjoyed getting a taste of the show. Next time (I really, really hope there’s a next time!) come and see The Dell for yourselves.

elaru xxx