There and Back Again

I haven’t blogged for ages. 2017 was a funny old year: lots of great things, lots of travelling and lots of getting used to quite a new way of life on many fronts. It definitely deserves recording, though, so here, belatedly, is a photographic review of ELART and other projects that happened. As always, thanks so much to anyone who was involved in any way. Productions/events pictured below include projects with Kendal Community Theatre (one of which involved recording a radio play in a bathroom!); Lancaster Fun Palace; all-female Shakespeare in Stratford; more Shakespeare in a big top circus tent in a park in Rotherham with a cast of well over 100 children and, finally, in December, a sell-out Christmas show in Lancaster Castle.

2018 projects have already begun. I’m looking forward to more Kendal Community Theatre – planning for their July festival celebrating women’s suffrage “The Trouble With Women” – and also to more Shakespeare and other writers/projects out and about. First, on March 3rd, comes a rehearsed reading of some Aristophanes – the opening of “The Assemblywomen” – all about what happens when women try to gain political power. It’s approximately 2.5 thousand years old and still all-too-sharp and relevant… Exciting things ahead, then.

More soon.

elaru xx

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Time for some FUN!

We are one day away from the third Fun Palaces weekend – in the UK, at least; Fun Palaces New Zealand is even closer! I have been excitedly following the explosion of Fun Palaces this year – 283 at the last count! I really hope that this powerful community movement, which proclaims “Everyone an Artist. Everyone a Scientist”, recognises “the genius in everyone” and preaches connectivity, inclusivity, and hands-on education, exploration and adventure through fun for all, continues to grow and grow and grow. These sentiments, which breed action, positivity and hope are vital for the world we live in.

At Lancaster, we have a packed programme planned – free arts and science events in Lancaster Library from 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday 12noon- 4pm. (Full details from @lancasterfunpal or by going to www.funpalaces.co.uk and searching “Lancaster”.) I’ve been preparing scarves for juggling and planning drama games for my workshops and I can’t wait to get going!

Here are some pictures from Lancaster Fun Palace 2014 and 2015 to give more of a flavour. Hope to see you there this weekend.

And very best wishes to all Fun Palaces around the UK and worldwide; it’s great to be part of this with you!

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

 

 

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

Going Forward

Today is one of my very favourite days of the year: the day the clocks go forward! I love the extra light, the sense of spring – and I don’t mind in the least the slightly bleary feeling due to an hour’s loss of sleep – it’s more than worth it.

This year the clocks going forward has come two weeks after the ending of my most recent theatre project – “I Have A Speech of Fire” performed by The Rose Company in Lancaster Castle’s A-Wing (the ex-prison – reputedly haunted and hugely atmospheric) – but before I have fully got going with my next show – an ELART summer production still in early planning stages, due to be firmed up in the next 3 weeks. I always find “in-between” phases a little strange and disorientating, so used am I to structuring my life around rehearsals and the rhythms of performance. I am, though, at this lovely time of year, enjoying a little extra space to contemplate exciting projects ahead.

More of those in future posts… First, though, just a few pictures from The Rose Company’s last show, mentioned above.

Prospero

Prospero

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Cleopatra

Cleopatra

Charmian, Dolabella and Iras - Cleopatra's maids

Charmian, Dolabella and Iras – Cleopatra’s maids

Julia from 2 Gentlemen of Verona

Yours in light –
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

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