Monthly Archives: November 2016

Little Earthquake: Orlando Rehearsal Diaries – Week Four

We’re currently in rehearsals for Orlando, our latest collaboration with the Department of Drama & Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham. Throughout the rehearsal period, we’ve been working with a brilliant ensemble of students to bring Virginia Woolf’s epic novel to the stage and we invited the cast to write guest blog posts about the process. For more details about Orlando, click here.

Monday 22nd November (Morning Session)
Shristy Das Roy

Today I got to see the montage sequence of Orlando and Marmaduke’s first day together. Happily, this left me in a fit of laughter! (Spoiler alert: There are floating ducks, a coconut shy, and a tiger called Bernard!)

Gareth led a discussion about where we were up to in the process, and the work that was left to do during our final week of rehearsals. He spoke about the need to rekindle the joy and the sense of play between one another that seems to have got lost a little whilst we had spent time focussing on the huge logistics of the play. Over the next week we’d spend time getting back to a place where we felt empowered to make bold and playful offers to each other, and respond to those offers in the moment.

This reminded me of our first week of rehearsals when none of us was trying to act; we were merely playing with each other and having much fun doing so. I think over the past week I’ve been so caught up in my own head trying to act it right that I was not responding to the offers being made to me. Instead, I was focusing solely on remembering my lines.

Monday 22nd November (Afternoon Session)
Holly Golightly

Monday afternoon was rather a treat as far as our rehearsals go! We were called in for four o’clock – I know what you’re thinking: “slackers!” – but this was to continue working on the creation of the long-awaited ‘montage scene’! We began with the usual warm-ups, Chaos Tag and Quad. The theatre is much colder than the studio, especially at this time of the year. So when we arrive, we’re always extra specially unmotivated to get going! And so warm-ups are even more important than usual.

Once we’re sweating and ready to go, we listen to the music that the montage is going to be set to. Once we have an idea as to the layout of the music, we start gathering more ideas as to what one would find in a fairground. We start out by creating tableaux in three groups of three, competing to see who could make the best version of particular fairground rides, i.e. a merry-go-round, a house of mirrors, hook-a-duck, a haunted house, candyfloss etc. And our DSMs judged the competition… Much to my dismay, my group came second… *insert teary eyes*.

Once we had come up with some utterly fantastic ideas, we put them together as a whole group. After an hour or so of hysterical laughter and clumsiness, we had managed to create the basis for our montage! We then put it to the music and began to work out the timing of it all. And my goodness, is it a barrel of laughs… I’m not going to go into too much detail, because that would spoil the surprise, but let’s just say, there is a cuddly tiger involved, and I was, and am still, heartbroken that I am not the one that gets to play with him on stage. I feel it was my calling, but it seems, I was not worthy of such a job… *insert more teary eyes* (what can I say? It’s been an emotional week for us all…) I just have to get my cuddly tiger fix offstage. There has been many a cuddle.

Either way, this montage is probably one of the best montages to have ever hit the Birmingham DTA… Watch out West End. Us and our plastic ducks are coming for ya’!

Wednesday 23rd November
Satya Baskaran Iyer

Today we got the opportunity to run the show in front of an audience – again! Having spent the past week working out some more kinks in rehearsal as well as fully creating the montage of Orlando and Marmaduke’s first day together, we were ready to show off a more polished version of our masterpiece!

This time, both the first and second year students working on the production would be watching. However, this was not the biggest addition to today’s run – we had lighting! This changed the dynamic of the space to an incredible degree. It meant that we were on a different level of performance, as opposed to just doing a cold run, in plain clothes, in front of some students. Certainly to me, it was a huge change in pace, and allowed me to make far bolder offers than before, since I felt much closer to a show-night context.

This was followed by a very helpful and eye-opening notes session with Gareth and Phil, which was a good reminder not to drop the ball at this stage, to make sure we made the boldest offers we could and to remember our job to be engaging and exciting story-tellers.

With production week only days away, now is the time to get your tickets booked and build up your excitement for a show that will be a great evening’s entertainment!

Thursday 24th November (Afternoon Session)
Matthew Johnson

How do you eat an elephant? You start with the tail!

After being given the luxury of rehearsing in George Cadbury Hall with the set, boxes and props, we have returned to the studio space for the last few days before production week. I was expecting this to be a bit of a pain, going back into a smaller space without any of the real set to work with. However, it turned out to be a very exciting and lively session.

Gareth asked us to run the first half of the play, but without any of the original staging, props, shelving or anything logistical. Just three smaller boxes and a circle of chairs, to be used if we so wished. This suddenly gave us the complete freedom to explore the play in entirely new ways, making fresh and genuine offers to each other which would never otherwise be discovered. Once liberated from all the logistics, some truly golden moments were discovered which have added more texture and depth to each moment.

This session really highlighted to me how no line in the play is written without a purpose. Every word is intentional. The daunting part of this is realising how big and epic this play is – it is easy to become scared and to switch to auto pilot, thus making the play very bland and generalised. But actually, when only paying complete attention to each moment as it happens, it’s no longer scary but enjoyable throughout to play with and explore. Problems arise when looking at the elephant as a whole and thinking, “How on earth am I going to eat that thing?” Start with the tail; take each little moment at a time with energy and purpose, and the rest looks after itself.

Thursday 24th November (Evening Session)
Fiona Larcombe

And so we continued trying to eat the elephant. By this point we were all in the full swing of bringing every line to life, and it was already proving successful in being much more enjoyable. This was because we were all focused on each line as it came, making it seem like we were really saying and reacting to everything for the first time, thus making it increasingly textured and three-dimensional.

The best part for me would be finding new offers to make with each line, for example, putting emphasis on a different word in each sentence to do so. I did this on my Biographer line “he wanted to match the shade of green precisely” (the italics being my original emphasis) – this I changed to “he wanted to match the shade of green precisely”. This broke the mould of familiarity and I was able to explore more possibilities of how to perform certain bits such as this. Some were successful; some not so much. Either way, it has opened my eyes to the option of performing it differently each time so that I don’t get stuck in a boring rut and I keep making interesting offers to the others to enhance both my own and their performances.

As with every late night Thursday, we were all battling the urge to snooze in between lines as the evening progressed; however, the task of eating the elephant kept us more lively than usual and we managed to whizz through the second half of the play and were rewarded with a well-earned early night!

Friday 25th November (Afternoon Session)
Lydia Marshall

Friday afternoon’s session marked the end of Week 4! This afternoon we traded Gareth (who was next door in the lighting plot) for Phil, which in itself was sure to shake up rehearsals. After a quick round of Quad, and demonstrating the now infamous game of My Love, Your Love to Phil (who wanted to see the hilarity for himself), it was time to get down to work.

This afternoon, we really focused on the pace of the show. To start things off, Phil led us in a speed run. The aim of this exercise was to see how quickly we could say our lines, whilst ensuring that intention and articulation remained clear. This was both fun and a bit of a challenge for me – I naturally speak about a ‘million miles a minute’ as my family like to remind me, but I am also a champion mumbler, so the articulation was something I really had to focus on! We did this exercise for the opening of both halves of the show, and then it was time to move on to the pace.

The focus of the pace run was picking up cues, and making sure that we did not drop the ball in any of the scenes, so that the audience would remain engaged in the action at all times. This, paired with the exercise of offers that we worked on in yesterday’s rehearsals, really meant that we had to focus and keep our energy up so that no line was thrown away or cues missed. We did this all stood in a circle looking at each other, with Phil sat on a chair as our representational audience member. If he felt bored, he would start to stand up, and our challenge was to ensure that he remained glued to his chair by making what we were saying as entertaining as possible. I found this to be really helpful, as it drove the offers and focus even more. It also highlighted to me the moments that I need to work on, in order to make them as engaging as possible. As a team we really appreciated today’s rehearsal as an exercise in making the show as entertaining as we can – plus the extra confidence gained by doing the line run didn’t go unnoticed! Then, after a promise to look after ourselves and get lots of rest, it was time to break for the weekend.

It’s hard to believe how quickly the time has gone, and I for one am going to be incredibly sad when the production comes to an end – and considering how many times I’ve cried at the closing moments in rehearsal so far, I don’t want to think what I’m going to be like when it’s all over! Now to see what challenges and fun production week brings…

The post Orlando Rehearsal Diaries – Week Four appeared first on Little Earthquake.

MidlandsImprov.com: GIG GUIDE: DECEMBER 2016

foghorn-christmas

SAT 3RD – CRITERION FREE HOUSE

[LE1 5JN]

The Same Faces:  Monthly Leicester show, taking ideas from you to make brilliant comedy sketches live on stage.  

https://www.facebook.com/TheSameFaces/

WEDS 7TH – BROMSGROVE ARTRIX

[B60 1PQ]

What The Dickens?:  The World of Charles Dickens has never been more interactive and fun, than in this fast moving, audience lead, made up comedy romp. 

https://www.facebook.com/foghornunscripted

THURS 8TH – THE MALT CROSS

[NG1 6FG]

Gorilla Burger:  Regular Nottingham show where everyone is welcome to take part, simply by putting your name in a hat. 

https://www.facebook.com/missimp.co.uk

THURS 8TH – ESQUIRES COFFEE HOUSE

[CV1 1JD]

Wow impro:  Free comedy night from Coventry-based improv troupe.

https://www.facebook.com/wowimprocomedy/

MON 12TH – THE VICTORIA 

[B1 1BN]

The Kneejerks:  Special Christmas Show of free improvised comedy and theatre from Birmingham’s newest group.  

https://www.facebook.com/thekneejerksUK/

WEDS 14TH – THE PATRICK KAVANAGH

[B13 8BX]

Fat Penguin:  Free improvised comedy show in Birmingham with support by a headline act from one of the UK’s top improv troupes.  This month you can see The Same Faces from Leicester and Mike Brown from New York.

https://www.facebook.com/Fat-Penguin-Improv-1787804208173603

THURS 15TH – ISLAND BAR 

[B1 1LT]

Hilarity Ensues:  Monthly show in central Birmingham featuring stand up, sketch and improvised comedy.

https://www.facebook.com/ensueshilarity/

FRI 16TH – MIDLANDS ARTS CENTRE

[B12 9QH]

I wish it could be Christmas every day:  Sometimes funny, sometimes dramatic, sometimes shocking, sometimes dark… We capture the magic, music and mayhem of Christmas past, present and future, for your tinsel-tastic comedy show in Birmingham.

https://www.facebook.com/foghornunscripted

MON 19TH – BLUE ORANGE THEATRE 

[B18 6AD]

Box Of Frogs:  Monthly show in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter with all your favourite improv games.  Absolutely free, with their usual cast iron guarantee – ‘laugh, or your money back!’

https://www.facebook.com/pg/BoxofFrogsImpro

Keep up to date with all improvised theatre & comedy shows in the Midlands

facebook.com/midlandsimprov/                                    @MidlandsImprov


Women and Theatre: Unite – CPHVA Conference

This month, Women and Theatre stopped by at the Unite Community Practitioners’ & Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA) Conference in Telford. Jean Pickles spoke about what it really means to be a health visitor. Following on from the rallying speech monologues based on true accounts from health visitors and school nurses across the nation were read by three actors.  It was a brilliant evening filled with proud and inspirational moments.

“Thanks for a great performance The monologues captured the work of HV & SN teams perfectly and the humorous delivery had us in stitches whilst reminding us all of the great work we do & the positive impact on the families & communities we serve
Just wonderful! Thank you”

monologues

“Thanks for your great performance Women and Theatre! It certainly rounded off a great first day of our annual conference. The stage diving health visitor was also a great talking point at that evenings party”

 

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Recommends

So here are a few things I like all together in the same place. James Richardson, Constantin Brancusi and the film Arrival.

Richardson for a long time did arch punditry on Italian football for British TV whilst drinking coffee and riffling through the Italian sports press outside cafes in Italy. Now we hosts a twice weekly football punditry podcast from a recording studio in The Guardian offices and runs his own film review series Jimbo Vision hosted on YouTube. Though it’s probably possible to overdose on the urbane shtick I think he is fantastic, the way he references Constantin Brancusi’s Bird in Space in this review of Arrival makes my heart sing. It’s possible to be erudite, cultured, witty, speak two languages fluenty and know a lot about football, this man is the living proof.

He’s not massively keen on Arrival. I was taken to see it over the weekend and thought it was fantastic. It plays to loads of the things I love in art, including spending a good amount of time not quite knowing what’s going on. How many films are there in which a woman saves the world by being very clever?

Little Earthquake: Orlando Rehearsal Diaries – Week Three

We’re currently in rehearsals for Orlando, our latest collaboration with the Department of Drama & Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham. Throughout the rehearsal period, we’ve been working with a brilliant ensemble of students to bring Virginia Woolf’s epic novel to the stage and we invited the cast to write guest blog posts about the process. For more details about Orlando, click here.

Monday 14th November (Morning Session)
Shristy Das Roy

 “Christ Jesus!” as Orlando would say! How is it already the third week of rehearsal? Holly and I made it to the rehearsal room just in time, after a late night of learning lines and practicing the skating sequence (and definitely not drinking).

The show has been really coming together over the last few days; however I can’t help but feel that the character of Orlando is still just out of reach for me. It feels like it’s Shristy saying the lines and not Orlando. We are going to spend time working on physicality, which should help a lot. I do find myself spending a lot of time observing teenage boys, trying to imitate their gait and posture!

The show really is coming along fantastically and I am so very excited for people to come see it!

Monday 14th November (Afternoon Session)
Lydia Marshall

Monday afternoon’s rehearsal began with developing our Kalinka dance. Performing Sasha’s entrance and the first part of the dance in front of the rest of the cast for the first time was definitely daunting – especially as anyone who knows me will tell you I am no dancer! But with confidence and conviction, anything is possible! It was great fun to get the rest of the cast involved and to create the final link that brought Sasha and the ice-skating together in the scene. The dance is energetic and so much fun, although keeping up with the music (which gets steadily faster and faster) was definitely very entertaining at the start! However, after a few tries, everyone really threw themselves into the routine, and Sasha’s entrance was ready to go.

Once everyone was comfortable with the scene and the dance as a cohesive whole, it was time to add some filters! This was not only a great way of shaking up the scene and getting everyone to look at it with fresh eyes, it was also incredibly helpful in finding Sasha’s ‘manly’ characteristics. Grounding myself and bringing out that side of Sasha is something that I have been finding really challenging, as it goes far outside my comfort zone, so using an exercise such as the filters really helps me find the confidence and command that Sasha has.

By the end of Monday afternoon we had worked out the logistics of every scene in the first half, and so we challenged ourselves with running through the whole of the first half with all logistics and completely off book! This was a great way to end quite a long day, as it really gave the whole cast a boost of confidence, and made it clear how well the show was shaping up! Now it’s just a case of getting into the theatre tomorrow and having fun getting to know our set!

Tuesday 15th November
Will Jackson

Although I’m not one of actors in Orlando (who have named and will strictly only refer to themselves outside of the rehearsal room as #QuakeOrlando), I’m a third year drama student at the University of Birmingham, who is specialising in theatre directing and contemporary practice. After a rather bashful exchange of emails with Little Earthquake a few weeks ago, Gareth and Philip were kind enough to let me come in and observe their Orlando rehearsal process. This has mainly involved me sitting in the corner of the room for as many rehearsals as I can whilst trying my hardest not to squeal with childish glee at the production that is rapidly coming to life.

Sarah Ruhl’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s queer epic Orlando is fast-paced, witty and fantastically silly. The play spans five centuries and throughout it, the company jumps incredibly between playing the Biographers telling Orlando’s story and his many, many lovers. They do so with great enthusiasm. One of the first things I noticed when observing rehearsals was that both Gareth and the cast had stacks of breath mints at the ready in preparation for blocking the more ‘intimate’ scenes.

As you will have seen in the earlier blog posts, the whole play has been explored with the actors being fed the lines, meaning that while on stage, there has never been a script in hand. This has allowed the cast to approach the play with lower inhibitions. Without a script to hide behind, they’ve all been able to play around with their characters and scenes more, allowing them to make bolder and more exciting choices.

They’re currently at the beginning of their 3rd week of rehearsals – the half-way point – and despite a few illnesses slipping into the company (making them slightly sleepy and sneezy-er than usual) everything is steamrolling ahead. Today the actors got to move onto the stage space for the first time. Watching them come into the theatre was like watching the Pevensie children walk into Narnia for the first time. Seeing the model box slowly come to life is incredibly exciting, although at points there were moments of grumpy dismay when the cast learned that they could not clamber over the ginormous shelves yet because the set is still being built. A highlight for me was learning that each of the 6 crucial crates which are used to help store props throughout the show were named after Prince Charming, Snow White and four of her dwarfs*.

The production is shaping up fantastically and if you haven’t bought a ticket yet, I don’t how else you could be spending your time effectively!

*You might have noticed I’ve slipped their names into this blog, albeit some more subtly than others.

Wednesday 16th November
Annie O’Brien

This afternoon saw the stagger-through of Orlando for the creative team, which seems to have come around extremely quickly. It was the first time we had done a full run of the show, in the space, to an audience… So it was a little nerve-wracking. The run went really smoothly for a stagger-through. No one even asked for a prompt! There were, of course, a few logistical struggles. After all, it was only our second time in the performance space. We are still getting used to all the complex scene changes, props and of course ‘CrateGate’ (some of the larger crates need crucial modifications so we can move them around the space more efficiently).

Saying that, we pretty much nailed the ice-skating (there’s ice-skating?), Russian dancing (wow, really?!) and a certain magic trick (where can I book???). With the stagger–through already at a high standard, we can spend the rest of the rehearsal period really fine-tuning the show, picking up the pace and giving it the energy and excitement it truly deserves. Roll on Week 4!

Thursday 17th November
Isabel White

Thursdays are always an exciting day for the cast as we have our costume fittings in the morning. The design team have been amazing in sourcing and creating various period costumes for the show. Although I don’t want to give too much away, let’s just say there are some wonderful wigs and many, many hats that are used throughout!

Merry-go-rounds, coconut shies and hook-a-duck, oh my! Today in rehearsals we created the fairground montage scene between Orlando and Marmaduke. But all of this was not before our warm up of Bananas Of The World, Unite! and a personal favourite, My Love, Your Love, which involves rhyming couplets with the person next to you! A tricky one not to laugh through!

So, to start off the process, we split into three teams of three and created tableaux of various carnival games; all of which were judged by our wonderful DSM Gina and our ASM Jasmine. Once we had a collection of ideas for games that Orlando and Marmaduke could play, Gareth worked them into a fun and playful sequence. It’s been immensely satisfying to be in the performance space this early on before the tech run, so logistics have been getting easier and more memorable for me. Keep an eye out for the ducks! Hats off to you if you spot one during the show!

Friday 18th November
Fiona Larcombe

The last session before the weekend was short and sweet – an ideal end to a busy, busy week! Half-hour slots were used to define and perfect specific moments within the play and the day culminated in a two-hour full cast session.

Karina and I were called to fill one of these half-hour slots to work on our rendition of Othello. Firstly, we had to work out what on earth Othello and Desdemona were getting at and then cement our lines by saying them a) as quickly as possible (speed run), b) as loudly as possible without resorting to a full-on shouting match (projection run), and c) with as few pauses in between our lines as possible (pace run). This last one, I’ll admit, was a struggle. I was trying so hard to be quick off the mark that the words that came out my mouth were no longer words.

Regardless of this, the exercise really helped when we came to staging the scene and we introduced our intentions and offers. For example, Karina would deliver her line (“take heed”) towering over me with the intention of trying to scare me into telling the truth, to which I would respond with my line (“I never did offend you”) being delivered in a sickly sweet manner to show how perfectly saintly Desdemona is. The whole thing is presented as a hyperbolic farce to maximise the contrast between this silliness and Orlando’s more serious reaction. By really concentrating on what the characters are trying to tell each other, I found it much easier to deliver my lines correctly and with feeling, thus relating both the comedy and the significance of the section to the audience effectively – or at least I hope it will!

The final two hours were dedicated to practicing projection and breathing. You may think that after around two decades on this planet, we would be able to breathe pretty efficiently. Alas, it seems it’s not so simple. We learnt how to breathe using our diaphragm fully rather than taking shallow breaths in the chest, enabling us to deliver lines with better projection and clarity. Or at least we tried to, and were judged by the other members of the cast (sitting in the ‘cheap seats’ on whether we were successful or not. This was one of the most useful exercises that we have done, as what’s the point of putting on a play if it can’t be heard?

In all, Week 3 has confirmed to me that we are chugging along nicely and are well on the way to being ready for Production Week.

The post Orlando Rehearsal Diaries – Week Three appeared first on Little Earthquake.

Little Earthquake: Orlando Rehearsal Diaries – Week Two

We’re currently in rehearsals for Orlando, our latest collaboration with the Department of Drama & Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham. Throughout the rehearsal period, we’ve been working with a brilliant ensemble of students to bring Virginia Woolf’s epic novel to the stage and we invited the cast to write guest blog posts about the process. For more details about Orlando, click here.

Monday 7th November (Morning Session)
Annie O’Brien

This morning, we did our first sit-down read-through of Orlando. That’s right — we had our first read-through a whole week into rehearsals! By this stage, all our nerves had vanished, the biographers’ lines have been allocated and we even have a rough shape of the whole show. So a read-through now felt a lot more comfortable and productive.

We paused at the end of each scene to answer all of the questions that we had posed last week. In some cases, Phil helped us out with his dramaturgical research. We found out how people bowed to royalty in the 16th Century; how crumpets and muffins were traditionally made; the symptoms of smallpox and even heard about the very questionable sounding ‘ship’s biscuit’ that sailors used to snack on during long voyages.

For any questions that could not be solved by research, we had to come up with our own answers. Marmaduke is now not only a sailor but an explorer, whilst it turns out that King Charles II has a bit of a thing for Orlando (it must be the legs). We discovered that the people of England hear of (spoiler alert!) Orlando’s sudden gender change through court gossip and his links to royalty.

And yet there are still questions that remain unanswered. Most of which revolve around the staging of various tricky bits such as the ice-skating, Euphrosyne’s dog and Fiona’s hot sausage. Stay tuned for the answers…

Monday 7th November (Afternoon Session)
M
adeleine Walker

After having gone through the script in stages, working on each scene individually (having our lines fed in and then improvising), Gareth asked us to attempt an improvised run of the whole play. He instructed us to say any lines we remembered from the text, and to fill in the rest by paraphrasing. The improvised run wasn’t about knowing the lines, but understanding why we say what we say to each other. Perhaps it is to narrate part of the story, or to change another character in some way. We were all surprised by how smoothly the run went. Ironically, the later scenes (and those which were worked on most recently) were the least cohesive. However, we were proud to get all the way through the show.

Later, Gareth finally unveiled the mystery of how we were going to portray the ice-skating scene. He showed us a simple move, which although stylised, created the illusion of ice-skating and which I was sure would be very entertaining to watch. In small groups, he then got us to create a variety of figure-skateresque poses that we could hold with our upper bodies. We then put the moves together in a variety of sequences and performed them to music. The moves work so well with the music and it really creates the perfect atmosphere for the scene: a mixture of the fantastic, the quirky and the burlesque (in the traditional sense of the word).

Tuesday 8th November
Isabel White

The beginning of a rehearsal wouldn’t be the same without scrambling into Circle A, B, C or D and having a round of Bananas Of The World, Unite! and that is where our Tuesday rehearsal of Week 2 began. The days have been getting progressively colder and so it was rather appropriate playing a series of games to get us all warmed up.

We then continued working through the logistics of the second half of the show, with, as Gareth says, “no acting required”. With the production having so many props, not only is it extremely helpful to walk through each scene working out where each prop will be set, who picks it up, who puts it down and where is it placed, but it also feels very necessary.

Surprisingly, prop location seemed to run relatively smoothly for me in these walk-throughs: the placement of our crates and boxes, not so much. With each crate being shuffled around for scene changes, it is vital that we write down in our scripts which crate we move and where it ends up as each of them contains props to be used throughout the show — and it would be a nightmare if the crates got muddled up and one prop ended up on the other side of the stage! However, Gareth and our wonderful DSMs are so organised and on the ball that they remind us of crate movements and locations when we run each scene through, or when, as Gareth likes to say, we do it again “but with some acting this time!”

Personally for me, going through the logistics of the show has been so immensely helpful as it means it can be completely drilled into my head well before we open and I can promise I won’t be running around like a headless chicken wondering which box goes where!

One last thing to mention: improvising our lines throughout the process has given me a newfound confidence when learning lines. During each rehearsal, it is clear that everyone is getting more and more confident with the text and I’m finding myself remembering far more of my lines than I thought I learned the night before! All in all, Orlando is building up to be an absolutely brilliant show which I am immensely proud to be a part of!

Wednesday 9th November
Satya Baskaran Iyer

Today’s rehearsal began with the usual warm up: Bananas Of The World Unite! Bananas is always a fun and energising way to start the rehearsal as we are so pumped up after it that we can’t wait to get going with all the adrenaline and energy in our systems. This was followed by an intense game of Wah! What is so good about Wah! is that it ensures we are always on our toes, ready to react to anything and everything that happens onstage.

After this, it was Fiona’s turn to bring a warm-up game to the class. She introduced us to ‘Honey, I Love You’. The rules of this game are very simple: one person (a) is in the middle of a circle made up of the rest of the group (b). Then, (a) takes turns being asked questions by each person in (b). If (a) laughs or breaks composure in any way, they are out and must take the place of the person in (b) who asked the question. Then, the person who made (a) laugh becomes the new (a), and the game continues. It was a great game, especially because it brought us closer together as a cast in trying to make our fellow cast members laugh, as well as another composure exercise, especially in a play with so many truly comic moments.

After this, we continued with our rehearsals. For the last few days we had been going through each scene ensuring that the logistics of the scene worked. This meant going through each line and finding out where we would get each prop from, figuring out our exits and entrances with relation to the scenes before and after, as well as working out the kinks in each scene. After doing this once with the scripts in hand and with “no acting required”, we followed by doing an improvised run of the scene we had just worked on. During this improvised run Gareth would often take individual actors out of the room to give them secret information (or ‘Filters’) that would affect the offers they would make to everyone else in the room. This is an exciting way to experiment with scene dynamics and nobody else knows what is about to happen. We simply have to respond in the moment. We worked in this way through to the beginning of Act 5 – which was incredibly fast!

For the final hour, we continued to work on the ice-skating sequence. Having previously created the moves, it was now time to put them in the order which we’d actually perform them in the show.

We cannot wait for everyone to come and see this show, and if the past week-and-a-half has been any indication, this show is going to knock your socks off!

Thursday 10th November (Afternoon Session)
Karina Hunter

The show was now taking a clear and concise shape as we’d sorted out all the logistics of Act 2, so we started the same process for Act 1. We heard a wonderful piece of music that would accompany the arrival of Queen Elizabeth I. As we became aware in running the scene with the music, timing is, indeed, everything! We also found out that I LOVE milking my entrance for everything it’s worth! But once I’d calmed down a little, we had a great beginning!

Thursday 10th November (Evening Session)
Holly Golightly

Thursday evening was, as it often is, hard work! It’s been a long week and an even longer day. We arrive back from dinner and all we want to do (I speak for everyone when I say this) is curl up in bed and have a nap. BUT we must power on through – we have a show to produce! (Gareth’s chocolate delivery also gave us a little bit of extra motivation… no one could ever say Gareth doesn’t think about his cast members…!)

We began the session with our usual ‘circle’ activity, mixing it up a little by placing a certain cast member in a different position, so that we all had to work out where the rest of us should be positioned as fast as we could… It’s a lot harder than it sounds! Gareth has also prompted us to work on helping one another out, rather than only being concerned with ourselves – if we use these skills while on stage, this will ultimately make it easier for all of us to transition smoothly from one scene to the next.

Next, I had the pleasure of running the warm-up game! As a teenager, I helped out with the youth theatre that my mum ran and would often take part in directing the games. One of mine and the kids’ favourites would be Captain’s Orders, fast paced and high energy – so, of course, this was the clear choice for my game! Captain’s Orders consists of 11 different instructions that I demonstrated for the group before starting. I then stood on a box (as I’m not the tallest of people…) and shouted out the instructions one after another and the last person to complete the instruction was out of the game. For example – some of the directions consisted of, “Bombs Overhead!” which meant the group had to ‘hit the deck’ and lie down on the ground with their hands over their head. I would then call out another such as “Climb The Rigging!” which meant they had to jump up as quickly as they could and act out climbing a ladder. There were a few different instructions similar to these, including “Port” and “Starboard”, meaning they had to run from one end of the room to the other. As you can imagine – a few bruises were attained. But also a lot of fun!

After this, we then practiced our skating sequence – as I’m sure you’ve probably already heard plenty about! At this point, Gareth was beginning to get us to do it without the instructions in front of us – nerve-wracking, but very good for our confidence, as we clearly knew a lot more than realised we did! So after practicing a few times over, making a fool out of ourselves, and being told we looked more like sumo wrestlers than ice skaters, we were knackered! And so we continued with plotting the logistics of the production. It sounds boring, but is actually very reassuring, and each time we work through a scene thinking only about logistics, we get to improvise and experiment using the secret filters which Gareth has been giving people. We finished the session on a high, as we had made plenty of progress and were looking forward to a bit of a lie-in the next day!

As Gareth said… “Now you may go to the pub!” As we replied… “You can go to the pub if you like, but we’re off to bed.”

Friday 11th November
Matthew Johnson

The speed of which this has all come together has blown me away. Today finished off two full weeks of rehearsal and we’ve shaped Orlando almost entirely! Our way of warming up has now become ice skating. The sequence is active enough to get moving and stretched, and requires a high level of focus to remember all the movements, getting our brains into gear.

A real struggle with this play has been the seemingly infinite number of things, props and boxes being used and moved around throughout the scenes. To solidify in our minds all the logistics of picking up and putting down props, we all ran through the whole second half at our own pace, purely to cement when things need to be used. There was something quite comical about everyone doing different sections of the play with speed; umbrellas opening and twirling, confetti sporadically thrown in the air, a spatula sitting in for a little boat floating around.  But it was very successful in drilling in when props needed to come off the shelves and be brought to life.

Very excited to be moving into the theatre after this weekend, and looking forward to seeing our set and moving around in the performance space. Everything is happening so quickly! Two weeks left to production week and counting…

The post Orlando Rehearsal Diaries – Week Two appeared first on Little Earthquake.

Fierce Festival: Job Opportunity – Operations Manager

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Dina Roncevic, Car Deconstruction at Fierce 2014 photo by James Allan

Fierce Job Opportunity

Job Description: Operations Manager

Fierce is entering a new and exciting phase with the recent appointment of a new Artistic Director, Aaron Wright. We’re looking for someone on an interim basis to work alongside Aaron to take responsibility for the operational aspects at Fierce, based in our new office in Digbeth.

Fierce is an international festival of cross art form performance centred in Birmingham. Fierce Festival started life in 1997, and is the most established festival of Live Art in the UK. The festival embraces theatre, dance, music, installations, parties, activism, digital and participatory practices. Fierce fills the city with performances in theatres, galleries and other out-of-the-ordinary spaces. Fierce also delivers a year round programme of projects and local artist opportunities.

The Festival is looking for an experienced Operations Manager to join the team between now and April 2017 on an interim basis to help support the operational side of the business and some fundraising support. This is being offered as a freelance role based on 40 days between now and the end of April at a set fee of £5000.

If you are interested in the position please request a full job description from recruitment@wearefierce.org

Deadline for submissions 09.00 am on 7th December 2016.

Application emails should be marked Freelance Operations Manager Application

For more information about Fierce visit our website
www.wearefierce.org

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Sarajevo Show

Skloniste Tour 2016 [promo2] from Ailís Ní Ríain on Vimeo.

We have an exciting new show coming up @ AE Harris next Thursday, a multi-media performance marking the 20th Anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo. It an extraordinary and under told story. Here is brought back to us via poetry, photography, music and personal testimonies.

It is by Ailís Ní Ríain Tickets can be purchased here. We’re looking forward to it.

Little Earthquake: Orlando Rehearsal Diaries – Week One

We’re currently in rehearsals for Orlando, our latest collaboration with the Department of Drama & Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham. Throughout the rehearsal period, we’ve been working with a brilliant ensemble of students to bring Virginia Woolf’s epic novel to the stage and we invited the cast to write guest blog posts about the process. For more details about Orlando, click here.

Monday 31st October 2016 (Morning Session)
Shristy Das Roy

First days of rehearsals, in my experience, are often filled with a lot of excitement, nervousness, and actors trying very hard not to step on each other’s toes (quite literally). The first rehearsal of Orlando seemed to start out in the same vein: introductions were made, house rules were read and then the moment I had been dreading for weeks came along: the socks had to come off!

However, as soon as we started on the warm-up games, the sense of apprehension seemed to dissipate into thin air. My personal favorite was Chaos Tag and one of the things Gareth insisted upon was that we play the game with clarity of intention and a commitment to that intention. This completely altered the pace of the game! Never before had I played a more intense game of tag and unfortunately, in the heat of the game, some toes were stepped upon.

We then put our first impressions, doubts, hopes and dreams for the production up onto a board so we could refer to them throughout the process. The most important thing I took away from this rehearsal is to commit to the choices we make as actors and not be apologetic about them.

I am so very excited to be working with and learning from such a wonderful and talented bunch of people! I cannot wait to see what we get up to over the next few weeks!


Monday 31st October 2016 (Afternoon Session)
Holly Golightly

In our sleepy and lethargic state after lunch, we began a very soporific game of Chaos Tag, but were quickly reminded about the effort required to play with clarity of intention. Soon we had enough energy to power a car with, and we began to approach the mighty Act 1.

After a group read-through of the very first scene, we then proceeded to highlight the key plot points and themes of the extract, compiling a list which Gareth would later mount to the studio wall. Alongside this list, we assembled any questions we had about the scene – these questions were also beautifully arranged on the wall so we could answer them later. After this work, we were ready to allocate lines for the chorus of Biographers to speak, and then, as Gareth says, to “put it on its feet”.

At first, everyone worked without their scripts, and our fabulous DSMs were asked to simply “feed in” our lines when we needed them. This meant we were given the free flow of the stage and could actually focus on each other without having to keep referring back to the text.

As we worked through the scene, we’d be encouraged to play boldly and create interesting stage pictures. The clichéd idea about drama students pretending to be trees is fantastically demonstrated during our first scene with four of us creating an abstract oak tree out of books.

After we had finished exploring the scene in this way, we were then given the task of improvising the scene from start to finish without being fed our lines by the DSMs. This was very interesting, because it forced us to look at the scene as a story to be told: so as long as we knew the gist of the story, we were more than capable of standing on stage and saying our lines with clairty and vigour – even if they weren’t exactly correct! It unearthed a confidence in us that some of us didn’t even know we had, and all the time we continued to offer ideas and respond to each other as the storytelling gained detail and clarity.

We then worked through the next four scenes in the same way and by the end of the day, we were all incredibly comfortable with the routine of things.

Overall, what a fantastic start to the project; fun and games mixed in with just a tiny bit of hard work!


Tuesday 1st November 2016
Karina Hunter

We had another fun, fast-paced warm up with Bananas Of The World Unite! and Chaos Tag making us sweat early on a Tuesday morning. This was followed by a game of G’Day Bruce, taught by Shristy. This was a hilarious game consisting of saying “G’Day” to one another in a mandatory Aussie accent — and if you hesitated (which happened a lot) you got downgraded to a Sheila, then to a Kevin, and then you were thrust to the outback. Needless to say, we were all rubbish at it, of course.

We then picked up the scene work from Monday, continuing to explore the scenes in chronological order. First our lines would be fed in, and then we’d improvise. The group are now becoming very proficient and confident at this. Parts of the story worked on today include: Queen Elizabeth I finding out that Orlando had kissed another woman (it seemed that the Queen had become ‘weak and feeble’ but the wrath of her tongue hadn’t); and we met Favilla, Clorinda and Euphrosyne, three women who compete for Orlando’s affections but none of whom quite make the cut (literally).


Wednesday 2nd November 2016
Satya Baskaran Iyer

Today’s rehearsal began with a meeting with David Crisp, the scenic and costume designer of the show — and we finally got to see our set! Well, sort of. What we actually saw was a model box containing our set – and it was FANTASTIC!

David has created a rustic, vintage and awe-inspiring storage room belong to a museum – an archive room of sorts. The impetus behind this was the idea that the Biographers were the curators of this museum, telling Orlando’s story using items found in the store room. We all loved it. We went through a few costume sketches in this session as well, such as Queen Elizabeth I, the Biographers, and Orlando.

From here we went back to crack on with our rehearsals which started off, as usual, with a round of Bananas of the World Unite! and an intense game of Chaos Tag. After this, it was my turn to lead a warm-up game and I chose Grandmother’s Footsteps. In this game, one person (a) stands at one end of the room and the rest of the group (b) stand in a line at the other end. (B) then walks towards (a), but every time (a) turns around, (b) must freeze. If (b) moves at all and are caught doing so by (a), then they must return to the back of the room. If, however, (b) manages to tag (a), (b) must bolt back to the starting point before (a) can tag someone. If someone is tagged, then they become the new Grandmother.

This game was particularly good at helping us to maintaining composure, something quite important in a play with as many comic moments as this. Furthermore, it also allowed us to explore further the concepts of steadfastness and clarity of intention – (b) wants nothing more in the world than to tag (a) and similarly, (a) wants nothing more than to catch (b). This was followed by Gareth taking my game one step further by introducing the idea that there is no Grandmother but as an ensemble we should play the game as though there were! This made the game a lot more interesting as it enforced the idea of silent contracts between ensemble members that Gareth introduced earlier in the week – each of us made a silent contract with the others to decide when the imaginary grandmother had turned around, meaning we all had to freeze. It also made us be honest with ourselves when we sensed we would be out if there had been someone trying to catch us. If we sensed that the grandmother caught us, then we had to commit to the decision.

After this, we continued to work our way through the play, and by the end of the session, we had explored and improvised more than half of the first act – an insane amount of work for a rehearsal just 4 hours long! To end the session, Gareth introduced a new exercise – the Kalinka Dance. This is a traditional folk dance in Russia. The game was that we would enter the circle throughout the song and just dance, however we liked — we just had to ensure that the circle was never left without someone dancing. This then moved one level further as we had to ensure that there were always two members of the cast dancing at any one time. The aim of the exercise was to let go of any inhibitions we had about improvising and committing to what we were doing, and to support others in their efforts to be brave. This dance certainly helped us to become more at ease around one another.

All in all, it has been a mad week so far! I can’t wait to see where we go from here, especially since the moment is fast approaching where our lead character changes drastically! At this rate, we may even get to the end of the play by the middle of next week, or sooner!


Thursday 3rd November 2016 (Afternoon Session)
Matt Johnson

This rehearsal focused on the end of Act One and the beginning of Act Two, and getting this section of the play on its feet in the usual manner. It was a particularly exciting rehearsal for me as I could explore the character of the Archduchess (Archduke) for the first time in practice. Due to the nature of Gareth’s rehearsal process – being fed the lines of a scene as opposed to holding the script, then improving the scene afterwards – I was surprised by the way I found myself reacting to my scene partner; in this instance, Shristy as the male Orlando.

When reading from the script, it is easy to have a vivid idea of how a moment should play out prior to it happening on stage. Yet when it comes to offering and reacting to a partner in an improvisation, it can play out far more honestly in the moment and in an entirely different way. I am looking forward to returning to this scene in the future, and finding out just how wonderfully ridiculous it can get by simply reacting to my scene partner in the moment.


Thursday 3rd November 2016 (Evening Session)
Fiona Larcombe

Thursday evening was introduced by Izzy’s brilliantly confusing My Love, Your Love game, where you had to find two words rhyming with whatever the previous person said. Suddenly it seemed impossible that anything could actually rhyme with ‘bun’ or ‘fat’!

Rehearsals are progressing swimmingly, as we began to initially explore the second half of the play. This was the first time we saw Satya commencing his role as the female Orlando, and boy, did it make a splash! Seeing him dressed in a voluptuous boned skirt would, I thought, be the most challenging part of this first rehearsal with him. However, it looked surprisingly natural and we all took it in our stride remarkably well. What was most challenging for me was having to remain constantly active and interested as a Biographer, especially during large periods of dialogue between just Orlando and the Archduchess, and especially as it drew on towards 10pm.

This being said, I am very happy to have plenty of things to be working on and challenge myself with in the run up to the final performances. Having now roughly run through nearly the whole play, it looks to me as if Orlando may turn out to be a corker, even if I do say so myself!


Friday 4th November 2016
Lydia Marshall

Friday saw us into the last rehearsal of Week One – and what a week it’s been! As usual we started of the rehearsal with a quick round of Bananas, before Annie introduced a new game to the group to get us focused. Today it was Compliment, Insult, Bang!

We all stood in a circle, with someone in the middle who would then control the game by moving round and choosing either a compliment or insult being with *insert letter here*. The person who was pointed at would duck down and the people either side would aim either the insult or compliment at the other person. The slowest to do so would be out. This was a great game, as it continued to challenge our ability to remain steadfast and focused whilst thinking on our feet, and in some cases not being distracted by the more unusual insults or compliments that the group came up with!

After finishing the game, it was time to put the rest of the play on its feet! By the end of today’s rehearsal we had read through, explored and improvised the ENTIRE play – which puts us in a fantastic position going in to Week Two! Having got the last ‘first kiss’ out the way, having taken all of the awkward moments apart and made them comfortable, and having added the final questions to the list, it was a very tired (and in my case at least, achey) but proud cast that left the rehearsal room.

Overall, our first week has been a great one, and if the rest of the process follows suit, then this really is going to be a show that you won’t want to miss! So now its time for a quiet weekend learning some lines so we can be off book by the deadline (fingers crossed, it’s coming up quite fast!) before heading back to the rehearsal room on Monday to see what challenges and fun Week Two will bring.

The post Orlando Rehearsal Diaries – Week One appeared first on Little Earthquake.