STEP UP 11 – 12 Alumni: Matt Heseltine

Hello and welcome!

Firstly, thank you very much coming here and reading this post.

You have got absolutely no idea how long I’ve been trying to write this… Take a guess?

Image

This blog has been 1 month and 5 days in the making to be precise… Why so long you ask?  Well, needless to say I’ve been at Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the whole of August and everytime I have sat down at my laptop to even write just a few bullet points – I’ve found myself drawn away to do another task. We’re 17 days on now and I’ve still got the post-Fringe blues.

The Impulse Collective

As you may or may not know, I was a part of The STEP UP Creatives Ensemble between 2011-2012 with New Perspectives Theatre Company. While there I learnt a huge amount of skills from comtemporary devising to acro-balance. To cut a long story short, I met an amazing group of people who I will always be able to turn to and learn from. We created a performance called Goldfish which toured to theatres and village halls throughout the East Midlands.

As always, it was a pleasure to see Tilly Branson pop up in my email. She asked me to write a short blog post to see how I was getting on as a STEP UP alumni… and here I am.

I won’t blabber on and bore you senseless but rather give you a quick overview of what I’m up to.

So, over the last year I have been working my socks off to create my own theatre company  with 4 other graduates… and we have actually pulled it off! Nowadays, with the lack of £££ for the Arts (insert whinge here) it’s no easy feat. Working 3 other jobs is really the only way to pay the rent (unless you have a rich uncle).

There are two strands to my business- The first is Youth and Talent Development, the other is National Touring. Our first show ‘Riot’ has been performed in several different parts of the country in schools and youth centres. We have also run workshops to look at the Young Persons skills as well as the issues discovered in the piece which looks at the 2011 UK Riots.

Riot - The Impulse Collective

The other strand to my business is National Touring – (Exposed) – The show was originally developed as a dissertation equivalent performance which takes a look at our impulses and how we experience them in everyday life. That was May 2012. It’s now September 2013 and the show that exists is a completely new beast. It’s packed full of Ensemble movement, physical theatre, comedy, experimental projection and intense drama. Essentially, we pose a question to the audience to make them reflect, think about and consider their impulses and how they are restricted. After a full run at Edinburgh Festival with very good audience sizes, Impulse Collective are ready to expand the show using more complex technology for a tour in February/March 2014. Watch this space.

Exposed - The Impulse Collective

If you’re interested in seeing the reviews of ‘Exposed’ there are plenty here including a very good ★★★★★ review from FringeGuru http://www.impulsecollective.co.uk/reviews.html

If you made it this far in the blog – thanks!

That’s all from me for now. If you fancy getting in touch please do so- I’m always up for meeting new people and chatting about everything from theatre to life in general.

Take care!

Matt Heseltine

Email – heseltine23@gmail.com

Twitter – @heseltine23 / @ImpulseCollect

Facebook – www.facebook.com/ImpulseCollective

Website – www.impulsecollective.co.uk

Advertisements

STEP UP 11-12 Alumni: Becci Hooper

Becci Hooper

Becci is a director and was part of the first ever STEP UP Creatives training ensemble from 2011-2012. Here’s what she has been up to since:

So where am I now? Thinking back to how I felt this time last year is mind blowing. When I started the STEP UP scheme I was a performer with no confidence or self belief. I ended the scheme as a director, with bounds of confidence and enthusiasm, ready to go out into the world and start making a career for myself. STEP UP was an amazing experience for me because it made me realise who I am, what I want, and what I am good at. Somehow during the process I realised that I want to direct and I always have! Since then I have been taking any opportunity to learn a new approach, collaborate with other artists, develop my knowledge and skills and direct stuff!!

Since STEP UP I have been up lots of weird and wonderful things! Here are just a few highlights:

  • I have worked on a project with Australian Theatre Practitioner Rosie Dennis on a devised theatre project which we performed as part of Dance 4s Nott Dance festival.
  • I directed two plays as part of the quickest theatre festival in the world at Leicester’s Y theatre where we rehearsed and performed 14 plays in 48 hours.
  • I also worked as assistant youth theatre leader to The Gramophones Theatre Company at Lakeside Arts Centre in Nottingham and am now running a group of my own from September as part of The Spect-Actors Theatre Company – a company which I and Lucina Thorpe formed this year! We formed the company as part of Curves Young Arts Entrepreneurs scheme, a scheme for artists in Leicestershire that have creative ideas for projects which can be turned into arts enterprise. As part of this scheme we were awarded a grant to create our first original piece of theatre as well as loads of mentoring and support. At the moment we are devising a performance with professional actors which we will perform at Curve in Leicester in October – so watch this space!

The Spect-Actors

  • I am also currently directing a play as part of Mashed, a new writing festival in Leicester organised by Original Ink.

The Spec-Actors

It has been an amazing year, I do not think I would have achieved half as much without the support of Tilly Branson and the STEP UP programme. STEP UP helped me to develop the confidence to call myself an artist and put myself out there. This past year I have won funding bids, directed plays, facilitated workshops at festivals, delivered education projects in schools, collaborated with lots of amazing artists, been to see loads of theatre and more. I feel so lucky to have been part of Step Up; I had a great time, and learnt loads about myself, theatre-making and arts business. I developed my confidence to get out there and try it and most of all I made friends for life!

Thanks New Perspectives!

Find out more about The Spect-Actors

Follow The Spect-Actors on Twitter

STEP UP 11-12 Alumni: Georgina Elsom

Georgina Elsom was part of the first ever STEP UP Creatives training ensemble from 2011-2012. Here, she reflects on what she learned by taking part and the work she has been creating since her time with New Perspectives:

I took part in New Perspectives’ STEP UP Creatives ensemble as a performer/deviser. That was the direction I wanted to take and had trained in, and I felt that Step Up could provide that step up I needed. However I also have a strong facilitation side to my work/life as an artist and try as I might to gain more performance experience, I find that I am constantly drawn back to creating work with or for the community. That is right back where I am now. Recently, I have been reflecting on what I have achieved since Step Up and what impact the programme has had on me.

Georgina Elsom headshot

I was in a very unstable place before beginning the programme. This I kept to myself. I was physically unstable due to a severe knee injury that had been causing me trouble for a few years; this had only been recognised by doctors at the time as a sprain, now I know that it was a snapped ligament. Yet I was determined that I would create some physical work. I also had very low confidence despite an outgoing personality and I was dealing with subject matter through my character that has had a profound impact on who I am today. It was these things that were the challenges, and it was these things that I overcame and came to terms with as I connected with people and saw their struggles, their worries, frustrations but also learnt from the boundless enthusiasm, and confidence in their ability to achieve, moreover to stay vital in the arts community. I couldn’t quite believe sometimes that I was selected to be one of the few people to have such an opportunity.

Georgina Elsom lion puppet

Because I am not currently performing, does that mean that I haven’t achieved what I anticipated achieving with the programme? No. Without Step Up I would still be creating small scale work in schools – essential and rewarding but not public, and there are things I want to say, I do want to be seen. I have a new confidence in my body as thankfully I have since had an operation and taken 3 months out for recovery, and I am now able to physically perform and teach in the way that I want to. I have added the experience I gained with Step Up to my CV, which ultimately has validated that I can and have continued to make work/performance. I have been to Russia and Italy to devise work with schools, putting my name in countries I never thought it would reach. I am working on the largest project I have ever done, I have been successful in funding bids, I have just moved into a director’s role. I am making puppets, I will be performing with them, and through them I will tell the story of the Ramayana at Curve. My large scale work will be seen by members of the public, I am working with schools, actors, engineers and I am delivering the Arts Award. I have had my own shop unit, I have told stories on a daily basis. I am working on a summer school in London and I have just managed Lounge on the Farm Music Festival’s Family Zone and made more contacts, been loved by and been rewarded for it being the best year for families yet at the festival.

Georgina Elsom puppet 2

The Step Up programme has contributed to my development as a practitioner, taught me new skills, provided me with contacts, been an ear to listen to concerns and taught me how small scale and larger scale theatre operates. Would I have achieved all this without Step Up? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t have the same aspiration I have now. I watch, follow and spy on (facebook and twitter) the journeys of the amazing and talented company I had the opportunity to work with. I see their achievements, I see them making work and I know that it is possible to carve pathways in devised performance. I’m just not ready yet. If I created work now, it would be self indulgent, it would be about me. For now creating work for the public, which is about them, for them, supporting religious festivals, history and heritage I can focus on giving and when I am ready to create devised theatre, for adults, I will.

Check out Georgina’s company Lover of Literature here

Lovers of Literature

Subika Anwar – STEP UP 11-12 Alumni & Edinburgh 2013 street team

Subika Anwar is and writer and actor who was part of the very first STEP UP Creatives training ensemble in 2011-12. Here’s what she’s been up to since:

Since being part of the STEP UP Creatives ensemble in 2011-12, I’ve left acting to one side. My play Black Men Don’t go to Therapy was a runner up in the DREAM UP writing competition in 2012, and since then New Perspectives have supported me to develop the script by commissioning Kate Chapman (former Artistic Director of Theatre Writing Partnership) to work with me as a dramaturg. This, alongside encouraging support from New Perspectives’ Associate Director Tilly Branson during my STEP UP evaluation process, made me want to develop as a playwright.

Subika Anwar (Actor)

Since STEP UP I have been on attachment as a Literary Associate with my local theatre The Royal and Derngate in Northampton, where I have set up The Writers’ Forum – an autonomous collective for emerging Playwrights to share and develop their writing. I’m currently in the process of creating a new writing event to showcase their work. I was commissioned to write a short play for one of the youth groups – a response to A Midsummer Night’s Dream – which was one of the productions The Royal and Derngate put on as part of their summer season. I am also working as a script reader and I have recently been asked to assist as a dramaturg on a development day for young playwrights developing their scripts with the theatre.

This summer Subika has returned to New Perspectives to be part of the street team promoting The Boss of it All in Edinburgh. Here are her thoughts after arriving, and her review of the show:

All four seasons rolled into one, the annoyance and pleasure of over enthusiastic actors, flyers galore and lots and lots of walking. It can only be the Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

I’ve arrived, for two weeks and am working with the fabulous New Perspectives theatre company on their new show The Boss of it All – which I have been plugging as ‘the first ever Lars Von Trier adaptation to hit the stage.’ And its working wonders.

The Boss flyering

I’ve ‘flyered’ before for a production company (handed out leaflets whilst chatting and meeting some really interesting characters and still had time to fit in about 5 shows a day) but never for a theatre company. So naturally I began to sweat in trepidation as I was whisked away to the venue upon my arrival into Edinburgh and to be given an array of clear instructions of what needs doing. This is a different ball game altogether. By this time I’m thinking why the fuck don’t I want to be a banker and have my own office overlooking a skyline and getting Mary the secretary to do everything for me through a speakerphone? Almost 30 and I’m still jumping at the chance to spend my summer in a cold country and humid studio spaces for hours at a time, watching actors sweat and spit their guts out at the chance to perform to an audience. One of the instructions was to do just that – watch the show. The daunting fear very quickly begins to dissipate. And in answer to my question above…definitely not!

So lets get straight down to it:

The Boss of it All (Originally by Lars Von Trier) Adapted and Directed by Jack McNamara

A voiceover with a Danish accent opens the show telling the audience what to expect from a group of actors about to perform on stage. Meta theatre!! It’s EVERYWHERE.

The Boss of it All

By commenting on the nature of theatre itself this technique holds up a mirror to the artificiality and reality of our own ordinary lives. They are characters like ourselves after all so the engagement to relate is ever present. The Boss of it All offered a ‘hipster-esque’ hilarity that the audience felt proud to chuckle at. And so with this self permission to laugh at oneself the giggles kept rolling in.
Ravn, the boss of an IT company, hides this fact from his employees whose attention and love he craves, especially when money is tight. So when a prospective buyer and his translator insist on only negotiating with the boss, Ravn of course hires an actor Kristoffer to take responsibility of signing over the power of attorney and various other unpopular decisions in a bid to make money.

However when Kristoffer goes off script and convinces Ravn that his over-intellectual improvised techniques are what his character would do, panic ensues as Ravn is forced to sit back and watch as the boss decides to take that company vacation along with its luxurious treats after all.

Politically I also found the play offered something relevant and now. With so many companies and organisations either ascending an economic spiral staircase or scamming the system by avoiding tax, it poses an array of unanswered questions of our current financial system and shines a spotlight on corrupt decision makers sitting at the top.

Overall a snappy and quick paced performance by the cast who presented very different individual personalities within each character – all of which were 4 dimensional and well rounded, making for some delightful and necessary writing choices by Jack, including one female employee’s nymphomaniac tendencies. Rated 14+ for a reason.

Now to check out the film.

The Boss of it All runs until 26th August at the Assembly Roxy at 4.15pm.

From STEP UP Creatives to Charles Dickens

Having the chance to work on New Perspectives touring production of A Christmas Carol is altogether exciting, hard work and a valuable experience of working on a rural touring show. And I get to be part of a well formed,  slick-working team made up of Stage Manager, Jack Robson, Actor Kern Falconer the Actor and myself; the muscle… Well, not really but it’s certainly a work out, and hopefully I’m bringing a bit of festive cheer (and updates on I’m A Celebrity Get me Out of Here) whether they like it or not!

Stage Manager, Jenny Crowder

As part of last years STEP UP Creatives  Ensemble 2011 / 12 we toured to four venues with our production Goldfish. We visited two theatres which were comfortable and familiar and we also visited two rural venues that New Perspectives had strong relationships with. The days when we visited these rural venues were longer and involved more set building, but we considerably more exciting and rewarding. It was also great to meet the local promoters and hear about previous shows that had toured there –  ultimately we were made to feel particularly welcome and appreciated.

Getting a call from New Perpsectives Production Manager,  Mandy Ivory-Castile with the offer to work on the show for the six week tour of A Christmas Carol was both nicely timed (having just finished working on two shows in Sheffield) and an amazing opportunity to learn about touring into a broader range of venues. The bonus ingredients were the classic Christmas story, the way it had been so wonderfully presented for the stage and  a few cool magic tricks thrown in. The team have welcomed and supported me and as an extended bonus of being part of the Creatives Ensemble, I’m getting more experience, confidence and technical knowledge… Oh and I got to drive a van to and from Warwickshire.

New Perspectives Van

On our travels we’ve met some lovely venue promoters, visited modern and renovated village halls and churches, and had quite a selection fo soups and sandwiches! We’ve also been grateful for the height of the New Perspectives van, particularly on flooded roads.  Early starts and long drives are familiar and while the ‘get-outs’ each night (which is when we dismantle out sets) are  getting tighter and tighter, the offer of an extra hand for loading up is welcomed – as is a promoter poised and ready with a Henry vacuum cleaner!

I write this during the preset of the show awaiting Front of House clearance in one of our most northern venues on the tour.  I’m fully embracing the festive spirit that the show instil…  so Merry Christmas to you all!

Jenny Crowder, Assistant Stage Manager on A Christmas Carol and participant of STEP UP Creatives 2011/ 12

STEP UP Creative ensemble: Goldfish rehearsals by Matthew Heseltine

My name is Matthew Heseltine but most people call me Matt. I am an Actor, Performer, and Artistic Director within my own theatre company, Impulse Collective.

Matthew Heseltine I was very happy at being given the opportunity to work with and alongside New Perspectives Theatre Company in October 2011 as a part of the STEP UP Creatives ensemble. Many months in, I have not only developed as a performer, but have met and created some very exciting work with some of the best practitioners from the East Midlands.

Our latest session, on 3rd June 2012 was more fragmented than usual, but within a rehearsal process this always means that some in depth work is happening. Shortly after arriving, I went into the rehearsal room to have a good look at The Unsaid with Ollie and Tilly. We worked through the scene little by little to find the true intentions of each character, (James for me and Geoff for Ollie). We had fun finding the opposing rhythms between us, and the contrasting elements in character. We looked at the script in great detail, and discussed how we can move forward effectively. You’ll be surprised how fast an hour and a half can go when you are so focussed.

Later in the day, after a short lunch, myself, Lesley, Subika and of course Tilly, the director of Goldfish, felt it necessary to look in great detail at the basic story of False Witness. It is certainly one of the scripts that I have had some trouble getting my head around. We looked at the different ways in which we can clearly convey to an audience the idea of rapidly switching ages and seeing someone’s memory in performance. It was crucial that we establish the way in which Lesley’s character Rachel can easily choose to show a memory to an audience and choose to become a part of it, then leave it again. We used one of the most basic yet important of theatrical conventions, levels/space to help us as an ensemble realise the full potential of the scene.

The final part of the day was spent looking at If I am that lucky and the character simply called The Girl, who appears in the scene with Kevin Carter. It was helpful to focus mainly on the feelings of The Girl today, and how we could use improvisation with the script to help Selina, who is playing the part, find the natural points at which The Girl shows that she is clearly in control of the situation. We still have a huge amount of work to do on the scene but it is undeniable that today was a huge step in the right direction.

I don’t, and won’t give too much away. Come and see the fantastic Goldfish to see what the excitement is all about. Looking forward to an incredible two weeks of devising and rehearsing before our first performances.

Goldfish is a brand new piece of theatre created by the STEP UP Creatives Ensemble from a selection of the winning scripts from the DREAM UP Writing Competition.

The piece explores the blurred and murky realm of memory through a series of stories – diving deep into our ability to remember and examining the powerful part played by others as memories resurface over time.

Guildhall Theatre, Derby Thursday 21 June 7.30pm

Lakeside Arts Centre Friday 22 June 7.30pm

Glentworth Village Hall, Lincolnshire 23 June 7.30pm

Thomas Cranmer Centre, Nottinghamshire 24 June 7.30pm

For more information and to book tickets visit http://newperspectives.co.uk/production/goldfish

STEP UP Creatives ensemble: Goldfish rehearsals by Lesley Emery

Saturday 26th May. Sun shining, top down on the mini and Mumford and Sons playing loud: the perfect start to another exciting day working on Goldfish. After a discussion with Tilly (the director of Goldfish), Tallie and Beth, the two designers for the show, had posted images online to inspire the staging so we started by looking at these.

Ink stains  Blurred train window

Water, blurry images, staining all combined to help us see the many faceted world of the piece. We then started playing with materials and looking at how these could work for particular characters and situations. What could we use to wrap tear or obscure? Melissa stepping under and over sheets of plastic to enter Sue and Johnny’s murky world and Geoff ripping a hole to expose James’ ”real “ life. As an actor you wouldn’t normally be exposed to this process but for me it was a great tool for looking at my characters from a feeling rather than a thinking perspective.

Lunch over we started the thinking work.  Ollie, Jenny and I started to turn the blurry world of You, me and the rest of them into concrete by building up the sights, sounds and smells of Sue and Johnny’s world: the rubbish outside the door, the barking dog, the children playing in the distance. Was there an ulterior motive for Johnny to be with Sue or did they just fall in love?

Becci and I then looked at Rachel in False Witness. She tries so hard to be good as a child but never succeeds in her mother’s eyes. Religion is obviously a key part of their family life but does that lead to an excuse for cruelty on her mother’s part?  Are Ella’s fat fingers mocked or just the cute symbol of a toddler?

As always the time had flown and we had to finish when it was just getting really interesting. Back into the mini, mind racing with homework, body buzzing with excitement. Can’t wait to do it all again on Sunday. Talented people, brilliant writing, so lucky to be part of it all. Goldfish is going to be an amazing show.

Goldfish is a brand new piece of theatre created by the STEP UP Creatives Ensemble from a selection of the winning scripts from the DREAM UP Writing Competition.

The piece explores the blurred and murky realm of memory through a series of stories – diving deep into our ability to remember and examining the powerful part played by others as memories resurface over time.

Guildhall Theatre, Derby Thursday 21 June 7.30pm

Lakeside Arts Centre Friday 22 June 7.30pm

Glentworth Village Hall, Lincolnshire 23 June 7.30pm

Thomas Cranmer Centre, Nottinghamshire 24 June 7.30pm

For more information and to book tickets visit the New Perspectives website