STEP UP Creatives Ensemble – Performance Development – Early Sessions

So, we couldn’t avoid it any longer. We’ve been happily getting together for our STEP UP sessions for months now, each time looking forward to meeting our guest workshop leaders and wondering what fun was in store that day. But now, as the sun tentatively breaks out from behind the clouds, we are aware that summer is soon and summer means show time.

Last session was our first grown-up, serious talk. We had spent the previous meeting reading through the winning DREAM UP scripts, and now we needed to decide how we wanted to use them to create our final performance. If this wasn’t enough, Tilly also challenged us to come up with a name! Not an easy task, even with an ongoing supply of tea and biscuits at hand.

The DREAM UP theme had been Starting out in the East Midlands and this meant we had a wonderful collection of scripts, all with very different interpretations of what that theme meant to them. Our discussion tried to draw out the common threads between them and so we spoke about everything from our frustrations with the East Midlands (are we North or South? Is the Midlands suffering an identity crisis?) and London (does everything really have to pass by the capital to mean anything?) to rivers and waterways (school Humanities lessons came in handy at this point). We ‘ummed’ and ‘ahhed’ and ‘ummed’ some more until we finally felt that we had a strong enough vision for the performance to give it a name: Due Course.

As Sunday’s session approached, I readied myself for another intense day of brainstorming, but Ellen emailed the night before asking if we could bring along the neutral masks we’d used previously. Intriguing…

As part of her Theatre Studies degree, Ellen has been focusing on masks in performance and needed some extra material to study as evidence for her coursework – we were happy to oblige! Highlights of the morning included the slow motion race where Dickie and Sam heroically battled it out for last place – more a match for Laurel and Hardy than Bolt and Blake – and the intense performance by Sam, Chris and Laura as, masked, they acted as though they had awoken for the first time ever. Lunch time was tasty time – it was Debs’s birthday and Jen’s earlier in the week (Happy Birthday!), so Emma H. had made some cute little iced fairy cakes to celebrate. I may have had one. Or two. Or three. Shush, don’t tell anyone!

After lunch we got back to business. Dickie took on the mantle of being our ideas scribe, a difficult role as he needed to translate our weird and wonderful thoughts into manageable notes. However, some thoughts that had seemed weirder and more wonderful than the others at first hearing, may actually even make it into the show…although, let’s just say that we really don’t want to hear the term ‘river-people’ ever again.

We’re starting to see the show in a new light now. We know its name, we’re getting close to discovering its form and now it’ll be trial and error until we find it complete and ready to perform. Time is ticking!

Elanor Parker, STEP Creatives Ensemble 2013, Production and Stage Manager

Bonus!

Wholly rejected and vetoed show names:

  • Voices of the East Midlands
  • **** London!
  • Pooh sticks
  • Passing through

   Would you go and see any of these shows?!

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