Monthly Archives: February 2018

The Other Way Works: The Other Way Works is seeking a freelance Producer

The Other Way Works is seeking a Freelance Producer to join our team to deliver the development and 2019 tour of ‘A Moment of Madness’ – a brand new immersive theatre meets real-world-gaming experience from The Other Way Works in collaboration with game designer John Sear.

This is a key management role, working alongside the Artistic Director Katie Day to ensure that the project is delivered in a high-quality and timely manner.

For further information and application process, please download the full Job Pack PDF here.

The deadline for expressions of interest is Saturday 10th March at 5pm.

Little Earthquake: Grimm Tales Retold – Inside Production Week

We’ve recently finished working on Grimm Tales Retold, our latest collaboration with the Department of Drama & Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham. Throughout the rehearsal period, we worked with a brilliant ensemble of students to bring Phil’s script to life and we invited the cast to write guest blog posts about the process. Find out what happened during production week below.

You can also read about what happened during week one of rehearsals here, week two here, week three here, and week four here.

George Bandy
Monday 5th February, 6pm – 10pm

The first day of Production Week invariably carries with it a certain level of stress and panic – even more so when you are up at the crack of dawn for last minute logistics checking and polishing. Despite our usual warm-ups and icebreakers, this was the rehearsal where I, for one, knew that the performances were looming over us. We were particularly looking at refining the physical theatre sequences, including both the opening ‘Fox Hoodie’ routine, and the ‘Office Twat’ transitions. Since both sequences utilised the full cast, and involved large amounts of set/prop moving, these proved quite troublesome to perfect, and so we found ourselves drilling them to precision.

It was here that it struck me quite how far we had come as a company; the progression by each of us from our first day of rehearsals, a mere four weeks prior, to the standard I could now see in front of me, was remarkable.

Playing one of the Grimm brothers, I had less of a hand in these transitions, and so for once I had the opportunity to sit and watch the work of everyone else for a large part of the morning. It was here that it struck me quite how far we had come as a company; the progression by each of us from our first day of rehearsals, a mere four weeks prior, to the standard I could now see in front of me, was remarkable. Each person in the cast had come in with their own worries, concerns, strengths and weaknesses, but seeing each of my peers working together with such cohesion made me feel truly part of something special.

It was our last rehearsal in the rehearsal room, our home for the better part of a month, and leaving was bittersweet. What lay ahead in the theatre space once terrified me, but on Monday I knew that more than anything else, I was truly excited to share what we had accomplished with an audience, as we really did have something special.

Georgiana Poteiciuc
Monday 5th February, 6pm – 10pm (Tech Session 1)

OMG it’s our final week working on this amazing play with two more days to go before our first performance. How could we not be super excited? I know I’m beyond thrilled. This evening we had the first technical session focused on Act 1 and I was enchanted by how beautifully all the elements combined. It was different from any rehearsal because having the lights focused on you while everywhere else is dark gives you the necessary concentration to connect with your character as well as with the other characters on stage without a possible distraction from “the other world”. The production team was also there and served as audience for us which also helped with the atmosphere and it was the first time we rehearsed with our costumes on too. The whole team was extraordinary and really involved in this project, always ready to help us with any need.

Grimm Tales Retold has started to take its final shape and we’re all realising that it’s going to end so soon.

Grimm Tales Retold has started to take its final shape and we’re all realising that it’s going to end so soon and none of us want that because we are a family now. However, we don’t have much time to think about this yet, as we have four performances ahead and two more days to settle all the details. I am looking forward to showing to the audience this spectacular play that I know for sure they will fall in love with from the beginning.

Charlotte Biggs
Tuesday 6th February, 6pm – 10pm (Tech Session 2)

Charlotte here again for the final blog post for Grimm Tales Retold! I cannot believe how quickly this journey has gone and how it’s coming to an end, but it’s definitely been an exciting one.

We’ve now gone into production week for the shows, and it’s all becoming very real! We cannot wait to perform for everyone!

This blog post is for the second half of our technical rehearsal, which was for Act 2 of the show. With all the costume, lights, sound and set coming together, it’s easy to say that this is going to be a brilliant show. The show looks right at home in George Cadbury Hall, and you sometimes have to pinch yourself to remind you that we’re not actually stood on the edge of an urban forest.

The technical rehearsal itself went really well, and Gareth encouraged us to use this as an opportunity to experiment further with our choices.

The technical rehearsal itself went really well, and Gareth encouraged us to use this as an opportunity to experiment further with our Wants and be bold with our choices. It was definitely helpful for me, as I had a chance before the dress rehearsal to experiment with my characters. Grimm Tales Retold has absolutely been a fantastic process, and I cannot believe that the shows are just around the corner. I’ve had the best time, and I’m so proud of the show and everyone involved.

So for the final time #QuakeGrimm #TeamSukie

Lydia Sirovica
Wednesday 7th February, 2pm – 5pm (Tech Rehearsal Notes Session)

Hello, it’s Lydia…

We have now officially finished the tech run of the show and today Gareth led a notes session in which he picked apart any issues we had during the two days of tech. Of course, we needed to look over the fox sequences. I think the fact that we can barely see anything with the masks on shows a little too much through the way we move on stage, so during this session we worked through the transitions with the fox masks and worked on how we could appear to burst on to the stage with confidence and commitment.

We were also told that remembering to breathe in the fox masks helped us a great deal with our balance, especially in the first ‘dance’ sequence.

My worst nightmare was getting the Christmas tree for the Hansel and Gretel scene upright and plugged in… however, after a few practices, the fear of bumping into anyone was not at the forefront of my mind and moving across the stage with pace and swagger got me to where I needed to be with enough time, and according to Gareth, ‘looked great!’ We were also told that remembering to breathe in the fox masks helped us a great deal with our balance, especially in the first ‘dance’ sequence.

Production week so far, although tiring, has been quite enjoyable and we are all really looking forward to doing the dress run later on tonight! I just need to remember to BE BOLD and pursue my WANT with CLARITY and COMMITMENT.

William Melhuish
Wednesday 7th February, Dress Rehearsal

‘Goodbye to all that’

This is it! The week that we’ve all been working towards! Emotions are certainly high going into this week and it’s so rewarding to see all the effort that has gone into making this performance. As we go into the final stages of preparation there is a colossal mutual sense of pride amongst the cast regarding the huge steps we have made since the first week. We have all developed as performers and as characters in ourselves!

All we wanted to do is have fun, and that is exactly what we did!

Wednesday was a big day. We had a dress-run of the show to make sure that we were in the mind-set of what it would be like for the real performance. Nerves were high but you could feel how much energy and excitement there was in all of us. All we wanted to do is have fun, and that is exactly what we did! The power of this show was certainly emphasised by the amazing work that the design, costume and technical departments has done. Everything looked incredible. Everyone was incredible. What a pleasure it has been. Bring on the show!!

Katie Webster
Thursday 8th February, Performance 1

When I found out I was given the task of writing a blog post for opening night, I thought I would be starting by writing about things like our nerves and the excited tension backstage.

However, now I’m here, all I can think to say is thank you to the audience! From the first moment we stepped on stage, we felt your support and you were so receptive, and I personally was so overwhelmed by the response. To know the audience is on your side from Scene One is special, and I know I speak for the cast and crew when I say thank you for being such a great crowd. And yes, your standing ovation made a number of us cry with joy. Thank you.

Of course, I have to mention the first night nerves. We’ve all worked so hard on this production so we just wanted to go out there and show the audience how amazing this show is. Minus a few technical hitches (not mentioning any names… Assista…), we were really pleased and maybe even had some fun out there!

all I can think to say is thank you to the audience!

Gareth has a phrase he used many times in rehearsals that really helped me tonight: ‘How do you eat an elephant? Start with the tail.’ This might seem pretty random, but he’s getting at the concept of not thinking about the huge task ahead of performing the entire play, but starting with the moment just before you step on stage. When I’ve performed before, I’ve always been a bag of nerves, rushing through all my lines before going on stage in fear of having a mind blank. However, today I just started with the tail, and it all followed from there.

Overall, opening night was a blast and we were all so pleased. The response was overwhelming and we were all so flattered by all the lovely comments. Some people even said they’re coming back! I can’t wait to get back out there and keep having fun with this wonderful play.

Bethany Hartland
Friday 9th February, Performance 1 Notes & Performance 2

Hi it’s Beth, for the last time…

Friday afternoon began with a feedback session from our first performance the previous night! Gathering in a circle with the two DSMs, Gareth and Phil for the last time was quite a bittersweet moment. Everyone was eager to talk about the excited responses from the audience the night before, but as the meeting drew to a close it didn’t quite feel real that this was nearly the end of our Grimm Tales Retold journey with Little Earthquake. We were relieved to hear that Gareth’s notes only filled an A5 page, many of them mentioning that perhaps our nerves meant that our volume was not as loud as it could be. But, overall, the feedback just meant that we were motivated to be as bold as we could be with each of our characters and put on an even better show for the Friday night performance.

The audience’s positive response to the scene meant that it was even more fun to play around with the way we interacted with each other and the spontaneity of the ‘offers’ we gave each other.

As we went to the stage in the evening for our first warm-up without Gareth, led brilliantly instead by Katie, the energy of the cast was sky high and it was clear that the adrenaline had not declined from our first night. I think because everyone was suddenly very aware of how quick the performances were going to go, we were all desperate to make sure that we did our hard work justice by giving our all to create a really great performance. My favourite part to perform continues to be the Rumpelstiltskin scene because we have the whole cast on stage at the same time and I think the scene displays how much we have all bonded. The audience’s positive response to the scene meant that it was even more fun to play around with the way we interacted with each other and the spontaneity of the ‘offers’ we gave each other.

Leaving the theatre after the Friday night, knowing tomorrow the whole experience was coming to an end, was quite surreal. But I cannot wait to enjoy another two performances and to see the new audiences’ responses to the piece.

If you came, we hope you loved it because we sure did! #QuakeGrimm

Jordan Farrag
Saturday 10th February, Performance 3 (matinee)

Hi — It’s Jordan!

Reeling from the overwhelming support from audiences at the Thursday and Friday evening shows, we hoped to continue to emulate our previous successes on the Saturday Matinee performance. We had our penultimate warm-up lead by the inspirational Katie Webster who quickly reminded us that we only had two ‘Bananas Of The World, Unite’! left in the whole process! So we proceeded to focus extra hard on enjoying what we had left!

I was particularly nervous for this performance with friends coming to watch but was quickly encouraged by all members of the cast that ‘we got this’ and that we just need to enjoy what we are doing for it to translate to an audience. After a quick pep talk in the guys’ dressing room, we were all energised and ready to smash the show for the penultimate time!

By this point I felt that we all began to find our groove and help the audiences enjoy our dark comedy of a show!

The show, I felt, was a huge success! By this point I felt that we all began to find our groove and help the audiences enjoy our dark comedy of a show! As each scene’s performance came and went the timings of the show felt faster and faster, as we realised we only had one show remaining that evening.

One particular highlight or funny moment in this show was that I (unfortunately for Will) enjoyed maybe one too many cheese and onion rolls in the final scene and when it came to the ‘push and shove’ bit between Jake and my Office Twat, a rogue piece of cheese shot from my mouth only to find its way straight into the middle of poor Will’s forehead. This will forever be a highlight of the matinee performance for me, but perhaps not for Will.

I have enjoyed this process more than any other performance project I have ever done. I think this is because of the unwavering support of both Gareth and Phil, but also the unwavering commitment from the whole cast! I have enjoyed every second of the experience and will miss the lot of you.

Over and out.

Scott Wilson
Saturday 10th February, Performance 4 (evening)

I can’t believe it’s the last show!

This has been a process that has really opened my eyes to the simple but effective approach to acting that Little Earthquake use. Learning to just trust my instincts as an actor and only worry about what I want to achieve in that moment and to be bold in doing so has really changed my approach to acting and I’ll be eternally grateful to have discovered this fantastic technique.

I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a performance full of such life and potential for creativity as Grimm Tales Retold and the playful nature of the process has meant that every show so far has thrown up so many different ways of playing each moment. Personally that’s what live performance is all about for us as actors and, of course, for an audience.

The anticipation before each show starts is electric and hearing the audience reciprocating that excitement for the show to start really brought out the best in our performances, as we wanted to give them a show that they’d be talking about for a long time to come, and hopefully we’ve succeeded in doing so.

I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a performance full of such life and potential for creativity as Grimm Tales Retold and the playful nature of the process has meant that every show so far has thrown up so many different ways of playing each moment.

Following our last warm up session and the final rendition of ‘Bananas Of The World, Unite!’, we all took a moment to take in what we have learned and achieved throughout this process as a cast. (Now brace yourselves ‘cause Jake’s emotional side is about to come out!) I genuinely could not have asked for a better group of people to have shared this process with and I have been blown away by the commitment and sheer talent of each and every one of them. This is, of course, extended to the team working backstage as well, as the work they have put into the production of the show has provided us with the perfect platform for our performance. This show has developed so much since Day One and watching everyone grow in confidence and build such a fantastic performance has been truly remarkable.

Finally, thank you so much to everyone who came and supported us in our work. Gareth has taught us that what is important, in choosing our ‘Wants’, is that it cannot be boring for the audience. Being able to respond to the audience’s reactions really helped fuel our performances and confidence in our choices. So thank you for coming and sharing this fantastic show with us. I will be forever grateful to have been part of this process and to have had the opportunity to work with Gareth and Phil and rediscovering how much fun acting can be.

It’s been a pleasure!

#QuakeGrimm #TeamJake

The post Grimm Tales Retold – Inside Production Week appeared first on Little Earthquake.

Fierce Festival: Unrestricted View: Launch Party and Director’s Q&A

Welcome to Unrestricted View, a series of written responses to Fierce 2017 from local writers.

Response to the Launch Party and Director’s Q&A by Lexi Wardle

Introduction

Hello everyone!

How are we all?

As promised I would blog about being at Fierce Festival. Katy, Fierce’s Volunteer Coordinator asked me to write two blog posts. This one is just a taster. The first proper blog post will be about the first night: the launch party.
Can I make a confession? I’ve never been to a launch party of any kind. I know, I should really get out more. In all honesty, I’ve never been invited and not really the partying kind.

Picture this: it’s ten to seven on a Tuesday evening. The sun set fifty minutes ago as the cold nights start to rush in. Still within the confines of the city, the route stretches to a road called ‘Floodgate Street’ that feels like it leads to a deserted place nowhere in particular. The third left down this road is a short street and you wonder if you’ve come to the right place. Just before the end of the road (literally) is a place that is easily missed when you are looking for it. This is the Quantum Exhibition Centre its entrance is deceptive, inside it looks more like a cross between an SU bar and a common room you see at school or college. Then there are two massive rooms behind that one resembling the size of a standard nightclub, the other, a school assembly hall and let’s not even mention backstage! I wouldn’t be surprised if you found the wardrobe to Narnia somewhere here too.

We met each other, were thanked profusely for giving up our time, and given the tour. The scheduled events were laid out on the table and this was where I discovered I was not a volunteer at all, as my primary role would be as an online writer for the event. There wasn’t any disappointment in this discovery. The events we would see would be quite full on and designed to make to you think and feel something about them. What those feelings will be is difficult to gauge right now.

So being entirely unfussy about things, I had to choose my events. I chose the launch party because I have never been to one. The second one was the Director’s Q&A on Sunday at noon. It was chosen because I’m curious about what it takes to put a festival like this on, the challenge of bettering it every year, what acts you have in the programme etc. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall whilst those decisions were being made. I was surprised to hear that this festival has been going for the past twenty years. Not being a local I had obviously never heard of it, but across their social media it is waiting for that big viral hit that puts it on the map and brings millions from around the world flocking to the city.

That’s enough from me for now.

Speak soon,

 

Lexi
Xxx

Launch Party

Hello everyone,

Hope you are well.

When I walked into the Quantum Exhibition Centre to watch the launch party the Artistic Director of the Fierce Festival Aaron Wright was already giving his speech to kick festivities off. He spoke of his admiration for the acts, his respect for his team who had helped put the festival together and his hope that this festival would be the best that Birmingham had put on to date. Aaron’s fellow director’s aught to take a leaf out of his book in the way he spoke of his team.

The first act of the evening were part of another act performing later on in the festival. Aaron described it as a musical extract . Although it was 9 minutes long there is much to talk about the performance. It was musical but was not a musical as we know it. I’d much rather describe it as spoken word put to music interspersed with sung verses that did not sound remotely musical-esque. The words uttered, spoke of a nostalgic childhood full of humour, based on one decision to quit a dance class. It was thus followed in quick succession by the rest of the clubs previously joined. However, it was the recounting of the conversation the singer’s mother had with the relevant individuals, that was most receptive to the audience with laughter bouncing between the walls. The singer graciously stopped mid-song on occasion to let us laugh before continuing, something reminiscent of a comedian. I’m not fond of musicals but this was funny and I really enjoyed it.

Aaron was right; the festival was off to a corker.

The second act I saw, ‘Durational Rope’, a swedish-brazillian collaborative piece involving the manipulation of a 1km piece of rope to the ominous rhythm of what sounded like a fingered bass guitar (as opposed to a picked bass which has a different tone). For the majority of the time, I was watching the rope and listening to the bass and suddenly this rope took on a life of its own. Once I thought it was a recognisable synchronised heartbeats like the ones you see on a heart monitor.

The next it looked like the resuscitation of a human being after being shocked. I have no idea why I thought this whilst I was watching the performance. It is described in the brochure as an animalistic ritual but I didn’t see anything remotely resembling this. Both ‘subjects’ in the piece had piles of rope dotted about the room reembling that of a clock-face, each part had something new and different to offer the audience. I saw it as some sort of weird celebratory dance to each stage of life.

 

The next installment will be posted shortly, so stay tuned.

Speak soon,

 

Lexi
Xxx

Director’s Q&A

Hello everyone,

Here is the last installment of my experience at Fierce.

I’m not sure about you but when I picture a director’s q&a, I see said director onstage face-to-face with the interviewer microphone in hand. Perhaps the reason for this was to create more of an inclusive environemnt in which everyone could share ideas and experiences.

I say this because everyone was sat in a circle and Aaron Wright (Fierce Festival’s Artistic Director) was using eye-contact to make a connection with his audience and encourage them to add to the experience. It was almost as if he too was the artist in a performance as well as the artistic director who had lovingly the co-creator of this year’s entire festival. In fact the more he spoke about the event in its context, the more I thought in terms of art, he is a modern progressive and with all things art-related, he does not want to create an ‘us-and-them’ or ‘me-and-you’ type of a setting. Judging by what he said and the sorts of artists he has brought together for the festival, he is pro-dicussion in an open and welcoming space between artist and audience and anti-fourth wall.

Wright said he felt he had a responsibility to put together a program that is as varied as society and has the capacity to reach the far corners of the globe. There is no greater responsibility than to represent the under-represented. In order to do that, he has included events that are a mixture of both low-brow and high brow art. The acts he gives this opportunity to are often within his own network or people he hears about through contacts in his network. This is a program that has been tailored beyond Wright’s tastes. He maintains an open-mind and expects the same of the audiences who come to Fierce. He provides them with a platform in which to perform their work live to potentially a brand new audience, and by breaking the mould, could potentially change both perceptions and attitudes of what mainstream live performance is all about. By breaking down the barrier between artists and audience, it’s an opportunity for the audience to watch and participate in exciting forms of new modern performances including experimental.

There have been no less than eight UK premieres and six world premieres of live performance at this years’ festival. This is important for both the acts and the predominantly UK-based audiences at Fierce as it gives the acts the opportunity to test-drive their material on us. We are well known for our dry, sarcastic black-humour according to many nations and sometimes this can come across as rude. But seeing shows from across the globe opens our minds to what art is, and according to the artists who have frequently ventured to our shores have said that we Brits are the most receptive.
There is so much more to discuss but I don’t want to harp on. Perhaps another time soon for another blog?

 

Please keep your eye out later for another blog post on CBSO after the workshop this evening.

Speak soon,

 

Lexi
Xxx


Hi there, I’m Lexi Wardle, a writer based in Brum who is keen to spread her passion for the arts whether in traditional or progressive formats.

Time is a valuable commodity these days and I would like to think that by blogging about my experiences in the art sector as a volunteer is a productive and proactive way to give a little something back to the world.

Although I am not currently able to write full time, I do use what time I have daily to write about the things that I love and share the conversations started in a studio to a bigger audience online. The more we talk about the current art issues of the day, the bigger and better the ideas we can create together to develop and sustain our arts sector.

You can find more of Lexi’s work at The British Storyteller’s Blog.

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Black Men Walking in Coventry + Choke

Coventry is already reaping a dividend from its forthcoming City of Culture status: it’s become a Stan’s Cafe theatrical destination of choice. Last week we were there to see Graeme surfing Chris O’Connell’s script in the Theatre Absolute production Choke and the week before two trips went to the Belgrade Studio to see Tyrone Huggins in Black Men Walking presented by Eclipse Theatre. Both trips reminded me how much I like going to the theatre.

Black Men Walking took us up into the Yorkshire Dales with three seniors from a walking club. Their characters and back-stories unfold amiably through the show until they meet a young woman at the walk’s summit. Inevitably the weather closes in injecting some peril into proceedings, but the show’s main agenda is exploring the relationship between these black men and the land they walk on. The young woman, full of dynamic energy, questions what she perceives as the men’s passive approach to staking their claim in contemporary British society.

The text by Testament weaves lovely poetic passages into the show’s easy dialogue. Sometimes the poetry slips into song and dance lurks on the fringes of the show. Obviously when staging a show set on a walk the big challenge is to stop the characters striding off the stage whilst keeping a sense of them being in motion, this felt like the most awkward element of an otherwise accomplished show through which we are drawn by four engaging performances.

Choke is set further out, on the east coast of Scotland, in the luxurious mansion of a Big Pharma millionaire. Stu has been doorstepped by Rob, an old university buddy crazed and desperate to be cut open by his old pal to alleviate some mysterious inner agony. From this launch pad the characters’ backstories spool out rapidly to include literary stardom, medical trials death, divorce, near death by pretzel and a potential cure for AIDS. Explained in chronological detail the show sounds absurd but in action with O’Connell’s lean dialogue batted back and forth between Graeme Rose’s frenzied Rob and Matthew Wait’s smooth but often exasperated Stu it works really well. The show’s energy and bravura panache keep you hooked. Pause too long and I suspect it would all collapse but it doesn’t pause and it’s played with total conviction and it is a highly enjoyable blast.

Part of the joy of Choke was being in Theatre Absolute’s Shop Front theatre, it’s a kind of warmer retail version of our venue. You buy your ticket, there’s no fuss, you walk in, watch a show close up, buy some reasonably priced drinks, have a nice chat, go home – lovely. Let’s get back there in March for the Shop Front Festival.

MidlandsImprov.com: REVIEW: BETWEEN US

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“Between Us” is a one act play following the ups and downs of a single relationship.  Created by Rachel Thorn & Alex Keen, it is as different from the cliched view of improv as you can imagine.  Sad.  Touching.  Beautiful.

At the start of the show, the two performers ask us to describe an Alex or Rachel we know in real life, and this plants a seed for what follows.  In this performance the suggestion led to Alex having a Greek father obsessed with Alexander The Great.  In turn it was revealed that the father had died when Alex was just 9 years old, a subject that Alex had only ever discussed with Rachel and his therapist.  In contrast, Rachel was still living at the family home as her mother’s multiple illnesses meant she couldn’t be left alone for too long.

Rachel’s mother became the central point of tension for the couple as their romantic relationship progressed.  Rachel realised the gap between wanting to look after her mother and having to look after her, almost envious at times of Alex’s freedom in this regard.  Alex enjoyed the mother’s company but found home life very restrictive in that environment, making everyone old before their time and infringing on the relationship he had with the woman he loved.  And so we reached an impasse.  Rachel couldn’t move in with Alex as that would mean abandoning her responsibilities.  And Alex couldn’t move in with Rachel as he didn’t want to end up as another carer for the mother.  And so we saw the couple fall apart due to circumstance, with neither side the villain but unable to find a way to live in love together.

This story was told in a realistic, natural way.  Nothing felt forced or unexplained, a complaint I often have with theatre, TV and film.  Instead, the things the characters said and did rang true.  And that’s all down to the skill and honesty of Rachel Thorn & Alex Keen, who were showing something of themselves as they created the show.  We just got to see how these two people reacted to the things life throws at us.  I was reminded of the time spent looking after my ill father and how that affected other aspects of my life.  It felt a little bit like my story too.  And as everybody has some hard times, as everybody has relationships that just don’t work out, this felt like a story for us all.

 

Between Us can be seen at multiple venues across the Midlands and North of England.

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

Graeme Rose's Blog: Choked Up – reviews

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Rob, (Graeme Rose) doubled up with pain, pays a visit to his old University pal Stu (Matthew Wait), in Stu’s “grotesque mansion” somewhere in the North, “overlooking Norway”. Stu attempts to show Rob the door in Chris O’Connell’s latest play, CHOKE.  Photo by Andrew Moore.

Presented by Theatre Absolute in the Shop Front Theatre, Coventry. February 6th – 17th 2018.

Reviews:

Nick Le Measurer – Leamington Courier. Friday 9th Feb.

Steve Adams – Warwickshire What’s On. Weds 7th Feb.

Muddy Stilettos. Weds 7th Feb.

Steve Chilton – Elementary What’s On. Weds 7th Feb.

Fierce Festival: Unrestricted View: Opening Night and Demonstrating the World

Welcome to Unrestricted View, a series of written responses to Fierce 2017 from local writers.

Response to the Opening and Demonstrating the World by Chris Ansell

Opening Night

On an inconspicuous night in October, Fierce Festival landed. An opening night of performance and partying set the tone for what was to be an invasion of contemporary performance across the city.

 

Standing in the Hub, I looked around hoping to bump into somebody I knew. I didn’t. They seemed a friendly enough bunch but after a day working in London I wasn’t really in the mood for making friends. So, I got a bottle of beer and preoccupied myself by looking around the bar, waiting for the first performance to commence.

 

On the bar tables were scattered some event programmes. I picked one up and had a flick through (partly attempting to look like I was waiting for somebody rather than just being the guy who turned up to the party alone). Five performances were to take place throughout the night and each had a small mention on the double page spread that detailed the evening’s schedule. Each act was mentioned by performance name, artist name, time and a 50 word description.

 

50 words! That was it! No artist statement or exhibition text just a brief synopsis of the piece. Where was the information? How was I to know what to expect with only 50 words? I looked around as saw no exhibition labels, statements or wall literature. All I had were the 50 words in front of me.

 

Thank fuck.

 

I felt a sigh of relief.

 

For once, there was no literature or information telling me what to expect and what the work was about. Instead, I would have to wait to experience the work for myself and was given license to realise my own thoughts about each act. Rather than have the work described to me before I had even seen it, I would be free to approach the work with a fresh mind that had not been influenced by background, content or context.

 

As each act commenced I was presented with something completely new and unexpected. Each provoked a gut reaction; a thought, a feeling. I felt things that I was not prepared for. In fact, I had not been prepared to feel.

 

I had become so used to walking around galleries and thinking about each piece on display and thinking about how it related to the text that I had forgotten that art can make you feel. I had become so accustomed to reading first then looking and thinking that I had forgotten that art touches the body not just the head.

 

As performances progressed my head did engage and I thought about each piece and what it meant. But this was not just a case of connecting the dots between the artwork and the literature. Instead, I really had to think.

 

It was an exhausting experience – feeling so much and thinking so much – but it was thrilling, and entertaining, and terrifying. And I loved every minute.

Demonstrating the World

A windy day in Birmingham as storm Brian hits. A trailer sits at the top of Victoria Square, facing the iconic Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. One side of the trailer is open, its side lowered to form a make-shift stage, and inside can be seen an assortment of props and objects.

 

On the protruding stage, a man stands wearing black and a green high-vis jacket.

 

He walks around his make-shift world and goes about daily tasks: watering a plant, taking a hat off, opening a step stall. As he does he addresses his growing audience, explaining his actions through the PA system and wireless microphone headset.

 

People watch, intently. People watch as he performs the most mundane tasks at a frustrating speed.

 

Why? Why do people gather to watch, taking time out of their day to watch a man perform tasks that they see and do everyday? There is no introduction to the occurrence, no sign telling them that this is a performance and that it should be watched. Some people may even watch the event for 20 minutes and leave completely unaware that they had seen a piece of art today. So why do people choose to stand, in the wind and the gradually increasing drizzle, to observe the mundane life of a man on the stage.

 

I think they watch because it makes them feel safe. It is easy to get lost in the performance, in the actions that are simultaneously absurd and mundane. There is something comforting in observing a man complete everyday jobs, in knowing what he is going to do before he even does it.

 

Perversely, there is something strangely predictable about the performance. In a familiar setting familiar actions are performed. Regardless of the stage or the man who chooses to explain his every action, it is easy to be lulled into a sense of security by this familiarity.

 

The actions seem to belong to the world and feel much more at home in Victoria Square than Antony Gormley’s sculpture ever did. They seem to be simultaneously part of the world and a reflection of it, mirroring the bizarre world that we live it. A world that is full of so many recognisable motifs but somehow always feels strange.

 

We have evolved to cope with this strangeness and take comfort in the actions that are recognisable and predictable.

 

Aaron Williamson’s performance creates a space that is full of recognisable motifs. The stage and framing may be alien but everything upon it is known and comforting. The world that he creates is one of predictability and measured control. The world feels safe, a place for reflection and easy humour. It is a nice world to watch.


Chris Ansell is a researcher and assistant exhibition manager at Birmingham City University. He studied fine art at the Birmingham School of Art, Rome University of Fine Art and Oxford University. As an artist and curator, his research is concerned with the relationship between literature and exhibition practices.

Little Earthquake: Grimm Tales Retold – The Deleted Scenes

Image: Damien Hirst’s ‘Mother and Child (Divided)’

We’re about to open Grimm Tales Retold, our latest collaboration with the Department of Drama & Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham. Philip, Little Earthquake’s Co-Director, has written the show which features very different versions of four famous fairytales. Below Philip has opened up the Drafts folder on his laptop to let you see what nearly made it into the show but was ultimately left out.

Grimm Tales Retold runs from Thursday 8th – Saturday 10th February 2018 in Birmingham. For more information and to book tickets online, click here.

The Brothers Grimm spent almost their entire working lives editing and re-editing their collection of fairytales, adding new stories, shifting the order around, incorporating new details, sometimes even having more than one version of the same story on the go. My process for writing Grimm Tales Retold hasn’t taken a lifetime, but what we’re presenting this week is the fifth draft of a piece which has steadily been taking shape over the last year.

As it stands, there are four stories in the show, not counting the link narrative featuring Jake and Will Grimm — we’ve got Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Rumpelstiltskin. The Musicians of Bremen never even made it as far as me putting pen to paper (but the production programme note will give you a glimpse of what I had in mind.) Through the drafting process, Rapunzel and Snow White were cut from the show in their entirety — and both Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood now appear in Version 2.0 forms, which are virtually unrecognisable now from what I originally wrote.

If this was a DVD, we’d get to include some bonus material to give Little Earthquake aficionados a chance to see some of the things that ended up on the cutting room floor. And so we’ve decided to do the next best thing: we’re popping some of our deleted scenes onto the blog, to give just a little taster of what nearly was and what might have been.

There’s a real first draft feel to most of this stuff; some of it never got redeveloped any further than what’s there now. Snow White is the only one of the four that made it as far as Draft 2, and I did get the chance to rework that one quite a bit. It fell at the final hurdle when we needed to make some tough choices in relation to running time, budget and technical complexity. It would have been quite something to see, I’m sure…

So here they are: some of the baby steps that got us to the point we’re at now — a few hours away from opening night. They’ll be full of inconsistencies, gaps in their logic, bits that go on too long or not long enough, and there’ll be some glaring typos, too. They are rough around the edges but, I’d like to think, not without some value.

I hope you enjoy them.

Read ‘Grimm Tales Retold – Cinderella’ Deleted Scene
Read ‘Grimm Tales Retold – Little Red Riding Hood’ Deleted Scene
Read ‘Grimm Tales Retold – Rapunzel’ Deleted Scene
Read ‘Grimm Tales Retold – Snow White’ Deleted Scene

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