Friday, 30 November 2012

Empire - Work In Progress Showing

Okay, so as I mentioned in my last blog, I went to the Warwick Arts Centre to see a work in progress showing of a production called Empire. Now, this was my second showing of work in progress that I had been to and to be honest my first one didn't go so well. It was a production called Hoke's Bluff and not knowing what to expect I went in really opened minded. Now this wasn't necessarily a good thing as I then came up with the illusion that it actually was all an act that it was "work in progress". That they were using scripts and going wrong all on purpose. I thought that was an amazing idea...and when I found out that this wasn't the case, my heart sunk a little. So, my first experience was a little bit of a downer.
However, not letting that stop me I went along...(the free ticket may have tempted me too) and I am so glad I did, because it was such a good experience. It was completely different to the first showing I went to. At first I was quite uncomfortable as I sat right in the front row with my friend Emma, and the three actors sat right in front of us, so it was just a little awkward. There were two men and a woman, and the first thing they said to us was, that after two weeks of rehearsal, they actually had no concrete material. Which I thought was absolutely brilliant. If you're a theatre student you will know how frustrating it is to sit in hours of rehearsals and just come up with nothing (it happens to the best of us, don't worry). So to hear that from a professional team was actually really refreshing. So, basically what they had done was two hours before this showing, brainstormed all the ideas they could think of. And they were going to try them out. Now.
So, I am not going to talk you through the whole thing as that could just get even more boring, I am just going to talk about the things they mentioned that really interested me, and if you're interested in theatre, will hopefully interest you too.
The first thing they wanted to achieve was to create a production that has the same amount of enthusiasm you get from coming to a showing. This is interesting because with an actual finished production, you have a trailor, posters, and generally an idea of what you are about to see. But with a showing, you have a name and a company...and that's pretty much it. It is exciting and you do wonder whether you will be walking out half way through, but you go willingly none the less. But how do you get a whole theatre audience to come to a production with a just a name and no other information...and pay to see it. It's a tough task...and it will be testing people's genuine love for the theatre. Are you willing to pay a substantial amount to go to a production you know nothing about? It's a tough one isn't it?
The next issue they targeted was getting the audience to get invovled without telling or asking them to directly. They got this inspiration from a produciton they went to see, where the actors were stood still on stage for quite some time, and this random woman from the audience just got up and joined them on stage in the pose. Then, when they eventually carried on she just went back to her seat. Now the rest of the audience were confused, thinking was that meant to happen? Now in a cast interview it was revealed that it wasn't, and when they found this woman to interview, it turned out she just had this sudden urge to join them. What an achievement, to get someone so into the performance that they literally just have to join you on stage. But how do you do it? Get them to over come the nervousness and uncomfotableness and get up on stage. In front of everyone. Would you ever do it? I think I could, but I would really, really have to be inspired and taken by what was being performed.
Another thing I noticed was that they kept the curtains open of the place they were performing, so everyone walking past was staring in and it was a little distracting. At the end they had a discussion on the performance and I asked them why they did this. Their response was they wanted us to see ourselves. Now, it hadn't even crossed my mind that I could see my reflection. They didn't really have a reason for it, they just wanted us to...which I guess is ok.

The main bulk of their piece was quite interesting as it was about the empire of theatre. That you have a theatre, then a stage, then the production team, then the actors, then the audience, then finally the workers. They are all part of the theatre - so why is it that the workers never get to see the production? So their idea was to over throw the empire and take over a theatre for the night. Replace all the workers and make them the audience. I thought this was a real revolutionary idea, and I am really intrigued to see how this production develops. I asked them if they would be coming back and showing their progression and production, and since they have literally toured the world in a week (they'd already been to Australia and Russia!), they didn't really know - but they took my email and they are going to keep me updated with all their ideas and I will know when they come back to Warwick. So I am practically going to go on this journey with them and I am so excited :). They are planning to have it all done in two years, as their rehearsals are part time every six months as they all have a lot on, so this is going to be a really interesting journey. So I will keep you updated, and hopefully have a show to review at the end of it.
Oh, and we also got chocolate cake and tea whilst we chated with the actors which I thought was a lovely personal touch - and no one is going to turn down cake, well I am certainly not (That reminds me - must go to the gym!). Me and Emma were actually the last two to leave as we just had so much to say. What I thought was actually really nice was that they all were interested in where we came from. So it wasn't a one sided conversation, they actually were as interested in what we were doing as what we were with they were doing. It's alway nice when you come across that in the theatre, because as students in talks, you sometimes get looked down on. But when they appreciate your's really...fulfilling. We are the future generation of theatre after all, and it's nice for people to observe that fact. You feel alot more appreciated and it makes you feel good :).

So, my advice to you in this blog, would be to never let anything put you off going to a show, as you just don't know what your going to take out of it. And whether it be good or bad you will always get something out of it - so never think of it as money wasted. And if there are any showings of work in progress near you - definitely take the opportunity and go to see them. It gives you the chance to see professionals doing what you do in your classes and it is so refreshing. You are inspired, and sometimes even get contacts out of it.

Happy Watching ;)

Our Town

Hello everyone :). Right, today is my first theatre show review. I have literally just got back from seeing "Our Town" - a production put on by our secound years. Now here's a bit of background of the play (going to get a little boring but needs to be done ;) )- it was written a very long time ago in 1938 by a man called Thornten Wilder. Now, Wilder is famous for his daring staging, and is responsible for many techniques that are now a major part of our everyday theatrical language. Taking an influence from the simplicity of Japanese Theatre, Wilder uses an almost completely bare stage to explore the lives of the inhabitants of the fictional town of "Grovers Corners", New Hampshire from 1899 to 1913. The play has 3 acts with 2 intervals. Our town was an incredibly successful play at the time, which consequently meant it lead to a million school productions which took it off the critical radar for some time. However, a serious of professional productions over the past two years has led to the reveal that this play is possibly the greatest achievement of American twentieth century theatre...and you know what? I think I can agree with that statement. Well done second years.

The play itself follows the lives of two teenagers, neighbouring eachother, and falling in love. Thats just the first act though. The interval passes 3 years and the second act goes on to marriage. The second interval then passes a following 9 years, and yes, the third act is death.

The play itself, for me, is almost like a life. The character that stood out for me was the stage manager, taking on the role as narrator. For me - he made the whole play. They didnt have any set for what he was describing except for a couple of chairs and tables, but he really did paint the whole picture in the audience's heads. We could see the gardens, where sunflowers and peas were growing. The feilds where cows were grazing and the main street where everyone was just about to wake up. It was brilliant and so satisfying for the members of the audience.
The in love teenage characaters managed to capture the hearts of the audience as we followed them on their nervous and cold feet journey of falling in love and getting married. The audeince felt the ache the parents did when they talked about giving away their son or daughter. And finally no member of the audience had dry eyes when it came to the funeral, and the after life. Now I won't reveal too much as I would really reccomend that if there is a production near you to go and see it without a second thought, and this is why -
The last act does something to an audience that almost every play wants to achieve but rarely does to this level. It makes the audience question their own outlook on life. The third act takes the death on a journey back to their before lives, and they see all the things they missed when they were living and, they realise how ignorant and selfish they were. No one on this earth dies knowing the full beauty of life. Now, as the stage manager says, now we've told you this, you have the chance to see it....

Wow. I mean I walked into this play thinking I was going to be bored..maybe falling asleep a little, just trying to get through it because I will be studying it next year. And now, I've walked out with a new found apreciation, a willingless to question myself and change. If I can perform in a play that does just that to an audience member, I will be a happy and fulfilled actress.   
Now not everyone will agree with me, and thats fine, as like all theatre - we love it or hate it. Some people did fall asleep, some people hated it... I loved it.
Now my message to you in this blog is something I've learned from my degree, and experience whilst being here. Don't go and see the plays you'll think you'll like all the time, go to the ones you think you'll hate. Challenge yourself and in doing so you will find out some amazing things, be inspired, and all in all become a lot more experienced.

I am now off to the theatre for the second time, as we have all been given free tickets to a performance at the warwick arts centre :). The production is by experimental theatre makers, Reckless Sleepers and is work in progress, called Empire. Those of you who are doing a degree in theatre will know how much of a priviledge this is. I have spent unbelieveable amounts on productions, because as a theatre student you should go to at least one production a month. Ive been to about 10 already - and this is just my first term! I will be putting up a few more reviews in the future so keep posted. Hope this hasn't been too boring and you've been a little inspired.
And happy challenging ;)


Thursday, 29 November 2012

A New Beginning

Well hey everyone :) it's been a while. Now I know that I started this blog a very, very, very long time ago and I've barely posted anything. And really it was because most of my blogs were turning out to be rants...and I don't really want you all thinking that the only thing I do is moan, because I am actually quite a happy person - who nowadays smiles a lot :). So, my plan is to now start a blog with a purpose, maybe occasional rants and possibly some advice. My life has changed so much in the past couple of months from when I started this blog and to get you up to speed it will take me forever, so I am just gunna fill you in with the main pointers.
Looking back at my previous blogs, I sorta cringe just a little..even though what i'm saying is true in the rants, I know I have matured a lot. Also, my easter blog where I mention my boyfriend..well...lets just say I am single now. Don't worry, there is no hard feelings, I'm just going to say if you're thinking of going to university and your boyfriend is not - be prepared. It is tough and heart breaking, but none the less, I think we are both happy now, and I really do wish him all the best. I hope to stay I am just not the kind of person who can deal with long distance relationships - and if you really do take full advantage of what university offers you, you will barely have the time, but you will be the happiest you have ever been - believe me :).
So, as I mentioned I have recently started university in Coventry, which means Ive moved out! Ahh. Now, yes, in the run up to university, I was absolutely bricking it. And everybody around me could tell. You will never be so stressed, but looking back, it is seriously the best decision I have ever made. And I would reccomend it to everyone. The first hurdle you will have to jump is fitting your whole wardrobe into a suitcase...whoo that is not an easy task! And packing your whole life up into a few boxes is probably even more difficult. But...the most difficult thing for me was leaving my friends and family. Not only did I have to leave my cheerleading team - my complete family of tigers - but also my college friends, my ex boyfriend and my family. Now, looking back, I was devastated. But you find out who your true friends are and a lot about yourself. My mum - I talk to her everyday without fail, even if it's just a text, just to let her know how my day was. Normally, that also consists of talking to my step dad, which is always a laugh :). My sister I talk to now and then, but I know if I ever needed her she would be here in a shot. So really, it is not the end of the world leaving your home. Now I thought I was going to be incredibly homesick and time was going to go so slowly but really and truely - this term has flown by and its only two weeks now until I travel home for christmas - I am so excited. My course is amazing and I am loving my life at the moment.
Now this blog seems to have gone on for a long time and it was probably a little boring for you, but I just wanted to get back into blogging with a little introduction. In my next blog I will be talking about my course and all the things I'm getting up to, and hopefully it will be up in the next couple of days.
Now _ back at the begginning I said that this blog will have a purpose - and that is to fill all you performing arts lovers out there in on what life in this industry is like for me. I will be giving performance reviews, rehearsal techniques, and pretty much give any advice I can, so stay tuned.
Its good to be back bloggers :).
Bye for now xxx