Emerging Perspectives Company | Devising Techniques| Louise White

We’re now starting to get to the meaty part of devising our piece, so we had a very full day ahead!

We started with a couple of writing exercises where we had to think of a character and decide what they like to wear, where they work, what their personality is like… etc. We then had to think of a second character and do the same for them. We then created a scenario where these two characters would meet, deciding how they might interact and what their impressions of each other were.

Writing exercises

The second writing exercise was more self-reflective. We were given the task of writing down what our 5 senses – taste, touch, hearing, smell, sight – were picking up in that moment.

We moved on to creating still images that depicted truth and lies, first individually, then as a group and finally creating a moving tableau. There were some really interesting images conjured up that potentially could be used in our devised piece.

Next, we told each other stories about truth and lies taken from our own lies. We then had to pick one of the stories and create a narrative for it. We admittedly got a little side-tracked and instead we managed to note down the common themes in our stories, such as stealing, and feelings of shame, embarrassment when caught, and the thrill of getting away with it… writing narratives is hard – apparently!

Looking through past pieces...

We moved on to looking at all our past material – used in other sessions – which had been placed around the room. We were asked to pick out common themes or images and bring them together as a group, to see which ones fitted together. We decided that the connotations of colour, masks/make-up, and song lyrics were images that had come up a lot in our past sessions. After deciding on these, we were asked to put these images, and pieces from previous sessions, in an order on the floor – in the hope that they could be turned into a narrative. This was hard! There were a lot of different creative voices and it took a while for all of us to get our heads around the narrative being created, and also having to agree on what should go where. It was eventually decided that it would be best to come back to it after lunch, but we did managed a provisional title: S(he) Be(lie)ve(d), and a tag line: A couple are stuck in their own dystopia.

Creating a narrative
After lunch, we continued to create a narrative for the pieces we’d picked out. Eventually the story looked a little like this:
A man attempts to commit suicide in a lake, but is saved by a woman, who then accompanies him to hospital. In hospital the man reveals he is unhappy in life but lies about the real reason why. As he rests and sleeps, a transition happens and we follow the woman’s story. A more abstract, almost dreamlike, sequence follows where there is a ‘seesaw’ of control between the man’s story and the woman’s. There is a tug of war going on between their existences. The man decides to take action to stop the conflict and decides to become a woman. We learn he was unhappy and had tried to commit suicide because he couldn’t face to struggle of being a man, but wanting to be a woman.

Devising scenes...
We then improvised the scenes and made bullet points of any interesting or fruitful happenings. We also experimented with how all of us could be involved in a story which essentially only had two characters. We pondered on the idea that all of us could become the characters at any one time, and this could be balanced by scenes where perhaps only two of us are onstage.

Mirroring actions...
We then experimented with mirroring and moulding each others faces to see how we could realise the notion of masks and pretending to be someone you’re not. Looking at the conflict controlling the woman and man’s stories, we tried the shuffling execise that we did as part of the Forced Entertainment Masterclass. We also discussed the potential of smearing our faces with colour – a mask, but not necessarily make-up.

Louise White, Performer, Emerging Perspectives Company

Playful Acts of Rebellion | A Rehearsal Run with The Gramophones | by Ellen Hart

Since beginning my placement at New Perspectives, I have been privileged to engage with the company and its work in a variety of ways; I have sat in on a play’s read through, devised and edited a teaser trailer for Him with His Foot in His Mouth, and even been let loose on their website. Throughout, I have been astounded by the company’s multi-faceted programme – not only do they seem to constantly be churning out high quality, innovative work of their own, they also devote a commendable amount of time and effort to the investment in, and development of, new writers and performers from the East Midlands. It’s for this reason that I jumped at the chance to sit in on a rehearsal of The Gramophones touring show, Playful Acts of Rebellion, in order to see, first-hand, how members of the company’s alumni have developed and prospered, since engaging with the Mentored Company programme in 2011-12.

Although I had not yet met the company, who still frequent rehearsal space at NP from time to time, I had written some copy for the website about their work, and knew them to be sharp, playful, and interactive theatre makers. The Gramophones’ founders are three women from captivating professional backgrounds, ranging from classical to circus training, who came together through a like-minded ‘quirkiness’, and a desire to make theatre. This show deals with the exhilaration and fear of standing up for what you believe in, and the effects that these actions have, not just in the world but, also, in the self.

What I loved about the piece was its youthful, courageous approach to huge issues – capitalism; the inherent sexualisation of women; the human neglect and abuse of the planet and its resources – which can, at times, seem so institutionalised and inevitable, that it is very easy to feel powerless. I felt – and I challenge anyone else not to feel – deeply moved by the characters’ personal stories of grappling with a yearning to effect change, and the ambiguities, complications, and moments of sheer, rhapsodical empowerment that accompany this. This show is not didactic, nor is it a guilt-trip (here, I am reminded of a handful of educational performances I saw at Primary school, an age where I didn’t feel particularly empowered to change my mum’s supermarket preferences!), but, instead, involves the audience in a lively conversation, providing a safe, friendly environment to unpack these ethically stimulating issues – this is bold, brave and sensitive stuff!

How do the Gramophones manipulate these unwieldy topics on stage? Simple, colourful props – painted step ladders, white sheets, and fold-out stools – become barricades, hide-out trees, conference rostrums, and provide the sense that both performers and audience members are work-shopping these grand issues, exploring their weight and depth, together. One of the most commendable successes of this piece is the effortlessness of mixed media play. The use of a portable projection device brings each moment to life in a way that is both playful and poignant, setting stories in time and space – there’s a also a super cute cat slideshow, if you like that sort of thing (which I do!) – allowing enormous flexibility for the show’s ‘visual storytelling’; intelligent stage architecture frames these visuals cleanly and imaginatively. These playful elements combine to create a space that effortlessly necessitates audience involvement; by the end, I was so on board that I actually wanted to chat about my own thoughts and feelings!

Playful Acts of Rebellion is gloriously human, and wonderfully balanced. If you’re interested in the answers to these questions – ‘What makes something worth standing up for? Can I change the world from my living room? What if I’m protesting, my costume rips and a picture of me naked goes viral?’ and are looking for a lively, entertaining platform to unpack the things that are close to your heart, go and see this show.

 

Playful Acts of Rebellion is touring now to theatres – visit http://gramophonestheatre.wordpress.com/ for tour dates and to book.

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New Perspectives Company Diary | Rehearsed Reading | Lewis Fernandez

 

Lewis Fernandez

Lewis Fernandez – in make up during ‘Zombie Earth

 

On Saturday 11 January our Emerging Perspectives Company made their debut with a rehearsed reading at Lee Rosy’s in Nottingham. Here performer, Lewis Fernandez, writes about his thoughts on the performance

Saturday, the day of performing the rehearsed reading, was the day that I had dreaded.

Not because I didn’t enjoy being a part of the Emerging Perspectives Company – I love attending the workshops and trying hard
to work on my craft – but because I was sadly, as I saw it, under rehearsed. It was a rehearsed reading after all and I happen to be the
biggest procrastinator I know. Time after time I looked at the script in my bedroom and found other distractions, mainly Breaking Bad on Netflix. In the previous sessions I had gotten myself in a worry because I had such a hard time working my way through the heaps of monologues without messing them up with stutters, inordinate pauses, and inability to not read like a child. All this worry and I didn’t take a stab at analysing how the lines were to be delivered and how to bring this fantastic script to life. It never helped that I was ill on the last session before performing!

I came into Nottingham with Charlotte and she probably saw through my nervousness as I wasn’t saying much – although she might have put this down to my ‘bad stomach’ (I won’t go into detail there), which started the morning of with disaster almost making me have to cancel.  When I arrived at the New Perspectives office/rehearsal building everybody seemed happy and excited for the day to unfold.

Theresa’s approach was one of ‘let’s-get-stuck-in!’ The day was intense. There were run-throughs of each scene from the get go and different queues of movements to the musical intervals. Each hour I felt myself getting more and more confident and instead of analysing how everything should be pronounced, it just came out of me smoother and smoother as the day went on.

Theresa did a great thing of taking different lines and asking me what I thought they meant, and then giving her take on what she thought they meant and how they related to other people or earlier references in the script. This gave for more natural acting as you actually know what you’re saying instead of just trying to guess and it ending up sounding wooden.

We did a run-through for Jack and after that was done I was just ready to go out and do it, so shortly after we headed for the venue.

When we got the Lee Rosy’s cafe I remember thinking that it might not work do to the sheer smallness of the room, but once we got the staging area set up all was well. We were to perform at 7.30pm and twenty minutes prior I could excitedly hear our first audience member making their way down the stairs to the basement where we were performing.

Within the next few minutes, a few more people had arrived – one being one of the four chose writers for our tour – which was exciting. Before going on it was reassuring and comforting to see that everybody else was as nervous as I was, despite most having more experience than me, and despite only spending two days with this group, I somehow felt closer to them all. Seeing everyone seeming
nervous calmed me down and relieved my usual performance dry mouth (which I really hate). The adrenaline of the performance kept me focused.

When we finished we took a bow, and this is when a feeling I can’t describe washed over me. It wasn’t relief that it was over, it was joy that it had happened. The feeling has made me hungry to perform again!

For any enquiries please contact me at lewis_fernandez@hotmail.co.uk

Lewis Fernandez, Performer, Emerging Perspectives Company

Emerging Perspectives Company Diary | Rehearsed Reading | Callan Durrant

Callan Durrant

On Saturday 11 January our Emerging Perspectives Company made their debut with a rehearsed reading at Lee Rosy’s in Nottingham. Here performer, Callan Durrant writes about his thoughts 0n the performance…

When performing a script, actors tend to forget the beauty of the language they are speaking when they’ve it done night after night. I find that bringing the text back to its basic form, a story, when doing a reading really highlights and draws out this beauty with great intimacy, not only for the actor, but for the audience as well. Finding the words and the vowels and the pace is an absolute joy and one I would not substitutefor anything on the stage. Doing the reading in a cosy, warm, dimly lit and again intimate space, it felt like home for the
piece, for the actors and for the audience. It’s a very delicate skill to ‘Sight Read’ and requires a very relaxed, honed and focused mind to bring the words off the page into life and to think ahead and prepare the next delivery simultaneously. So thank goodness for the tea at Lee Rosy’s and the lunch trip to Weatherspoons beforehand.

When you get it right though, it is a wonderful feeling and together with the rest of the ensemble it felt amazing, exquisite, magnificent… I have failed to think of another superlative.

Callan Durrant, Performer, Emerging Perspectives Company

Emerging Perspectives Company Diary – First meeting

Sunday 29th September saw the first meeting of our EP Company – our brand new company of emerging East Midlands theatre makers. Our new incarnation of the previous STEP UP training scheme, the company will be creating three pieces of work: a rehearsed reading this autumn, a devised piece in the spring and a brand new touring production written by our EP Writers.

Last year’s scheme was a great success; with their production of Due Course just behind them our 12 strong ensemble members move into careers in the arts. Amongst them they have undertaken such diverse roles as running T.I.E. workshops, designing shows, forming a theatre company and taking a production to Edinburgh.

This year’s company will be meeting every two weeks over the course of the coming year for a series of workshops and masterclasses and as in previous years they will be keeping you updated with regular blog posts. So keep a lookout for our next generation of theatre-makers!

Theresa Keogh – Resident Trainee Director – New Perspectives

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?

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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

The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock – In Rehearsal with Assistant Director Theresa Keogh – The Script

Theresa Keogh was a member of last year’s STEP UP Creatives Ensemble (2012 /13). She is now our Resident Trainee Director and is currently assisting on The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock. She’ll be writing a regular blog about her time in the rehearsal room…

The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock cast in-rehearsal The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock cast in-rehearsal

The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock cast in-rehearsal The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock cast in-rehearsal

THE SCRIPT

Our first day of rehearsals started at the beginning – with the script. Assembled round a table were the New Perspectives team, the cast of actors and the brilliant playwright David Rudkin.  From the very first page the read through demonstrated what an incredible script we are working with. Rather than the straight biographic depictions we are so accustomed to, this is a script which reflects the man himself. The non-linear narrative not only transports us through the recesses of Hitchcock’s mind, it shows us the way an artist works. Witnessing a script so poetic, rich and original being brought to life by such an incredible group of actors made it clear we are working with another talented artist – David Rudkin.

The poetic nature of his script with images so beautifully conjured up through the language is complimented by his integration of filmic references and soundtrack; his knowledge of Hitchcock is unparalleled. A script analysis lead by our Director Jack McNamara immediately followed: allowing the actors to delve into their characters and the script itself. Each of the four strong cast have a huge task. Not only for Martin Miller who is portraying such a famous and distinctive figure as Hitchcock but also for  Roberta Kerr, Anthony Wise and Tom McHugh who are all playing two or three characters each.  Discussing this at the script stage was vital as these doubling of characters was suggested in the script – they are thematic doublings: each character casts new light on the other.

Starting with such a beautiful script makes me excited for the weeks ahead and the coming  transformation from page to stage.

Theresa Keogh – Assistant Director

The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock opens at The Curve, Leicester on 27 September. For more details visit http://www.newperspectives.co.uk