Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Times are they really a changing?

While browsing the guardian website on Sunday I came across an article that really made my blood boil! The article was exposing a new book out next week called 'Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough' With a title like that it sounds like a best seller but not for the right reasons ! The article looks at the authors belief that women shouldn't look for a man they feel a deep connection with , instead settle because other wise they will end up lonely ! The author then blames feminism for women believing they can have it all !" It is not just feminism that has betrayed women by telling them they could have it all, said Gottlieb: every book, film and television show that perpetuates the myth of combining romantic love with a happy-ever-after ending – from Jane Austen to Friends – has done women a great and dangerous disservice." For one how does feminism and the later statement go hand in hand? Her comment about friends I admit is somewhat relevant ,but we have to look at the before hand where did the idea for the happy ending come from and why always is it the women looking for the perfect man ? I know , I know its in our nature to have children and pair off but why ? there is nothing wrong with not having children and its cruel how women who choose not to have children are looked down upon in society !

OK , so I am ranting but I feel blogging is a good place to let the emotion out ! But unfortunately I haven't finished. The earthquake in haiti is a terrible disaster with so many dead and so many peoples lives ruined , it really makes you take stock of how lucky we are and makes you think how can I help... well you would think! But the politician Nick Griffin has other ideas ,Griffin said, "Sending aid to rioting ingrates while our own people die is stinking elite hypocrisy." This is utterly disgraceful , calling someone ungrateful and riotous when these peoples society has collapsed around them is utterly disgraceful! So I write this comment to urge people to vote other wise the B.M.P will win more seats, not enough people our age vote , we are luckily enough to have the right to vote so please use it wisely because every vote matters!

Right OK so back on to drama ! Its so scary to think that this is my last semester at st.Marys , where does the time go?! So its been rather busy lately trying to organise the Ham House project in the summer and delegating jobs. My Job is in fundraising which I am looking forward too and have already started emailing people and finding out about grants. We are thinking of holding a night in the s.u which I am keen to make an event rather than a social. The Project itself is really taking shape with its numerous choirs which will help create a real sense of community on the day. Zoe's procession idea has gone down a treat and its been decided that it will start at Ham common with everyone then walking to the house. Its going to be quite a day and I am keen to get the other years involved so we can have our own st.Marys community there too!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Friday 16th - cooking up a storm !

We had been invited by the lovely Louis to visit the school he was the headteacher of , so off we went on another action packed day courtesy of spiral. Now I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous , I don't speak a word of Spanish and was worried about communicating with the children, but I needn't have worried. As soon as we entered the classroom we were greeted with handmade Christmas cards from the children. Zoe used her Powers of persuasion ( her beautiful smile) got everyone up on their feet and began to teach them songs and games. I noticed that some young boys were not joining in so I ventured over with the idea that I could somehow entertain them, so they could feel as involved as the rest. I managed to ask the classroom assistant for paper and pens and set about writing my name on paper and drawing and encouraging the children to do the same. Soon it didn't matter about the language barrier as me and the little boys were off creating artistic masterpieces! I really enjoyed working with the little boys as it was a challenge at first but also very enjoyable , it made me think of my time at Strathmoore school earlier in the year and how much I loved it and working with characters such as Kaz!

After our visit to the school me and Zoe and ' Shotgun'carol headed to Lupa for our final food supplies. We were shopping to get the ingredients to make an English feast for 14 people so we had to get everything right. When we were talking to Carol in the car it was obvious the passion she has for her job as she told us about her life in Spiral and the work she does. With our shopping trolley filled to the max we headed back to the village for rehearsal.

The dress rehearsal was an event in itself as so many new people arrived , so it was hugging and kissing all round. However amongst the chaos a show began to form and we began to see how things would take form for the next day. After our rehearsal we all had our jobs to do in the cooking of the feast. I myself was in charge of gravy which I made from scratch with the helpful guidance of chef supreme , Chris ! Once all the food was cooked we all gathered around the table for a feast like no other! The feast was filled with delicious food, laughter and wine all in all a perfect evening. Me and my fellow students had been working on a song as a creative way to say thank you to Spiral for their hospitality and giving us the opportunity to work with them. We sang our own interpretation of ' the 12days of Christmas' an wrote a song called ' Thank you , Beliva' for the villagers. After our sing song it was time for bed as Saturday was show day and bound to be mad !

Saturday 19th
We spent the day making final adjustments to the space and cleaning up basically getting prepared for the evenings events. As usual we had our siesta and delicious meal but we didn't have long because we had to be back and ready to go for the evenings two performances. As part of the play they had real food on the table which we later got to sample but in the mean time we had to make sure none of it got eaten before hand. We all had jobs to do and mine and Hannah's was sound , which wasn't as complicated as we thought luckily we only had to press a button. Even though we weren't actually in it I did still get nervous for the actors as for many of them they had never acted before. The show was a complete success we had more than capacity in the hall and the audience thoroughly enjoyed the show as did the actors. Their was such characters in the show that it was their personality and enthusiasm that really brought the show to life. After two fantastic performances we began to pack away but the villagers wouldn't let us instead we all drank champagne and sampled their delicious food instead.

Once the champagne glasses were empty and everyone had made speech's it was our turn to perform so we took to the stage. It all got very emotional as both villagers and visitors began to get teary eyed, I think they really liked the song and someone even translated it into Spanish ! After the song the bagpipes started and so did the dancing ! We all had a great time dancing I even got to dance with the wonderful Cello! When we had danced so much we couldn't dance anymore we packed up all the equipment into the van. Once the room was back to normal it felt rather empty , so much had taken place in the space it was strange to see how it looked before. Once again champagne was given out to toast the nights success we then of course headed to the bar ! The bar itself was something else only a few chairs and a wood draw for a till ! It was great to relax and just chat while sipping ridiculously cheap martini ! The whole village was so welcoming that I felt really sad to be leaving the next day.

Sunday 20th
On out last day we had arranged to go to mass at the local church with some of the villagers. The church had its own band and choir and some of the actors from the show were in it. The mass ceremony was obviously very important to the community that went so we did our best to respect this. The church itself was extremely fascinating with lots of religious artefacts and paintings and even a model of Bethlehem. After mass we didnt have long to pack before leaving but we still managed a visit to cello's home and were shown were we could stay if we wanted to come back again!
It felt so strange to leave the village as we had been thrown into the deep end and I had loved it . I actully didnt want to leave and would of loved to stay for longer. As we drove out of the village I couldnt help but stare at the beautiful scenery we were leaving behind. So we were on our way to Santander early so we could take a look at Carols hometown. Santander is a strange city in some respects as its scenery appears to juxtapose itself , you have a marina leading to the sea and then the snow topped mountains but it worked and was a stunning sight to behold.
We went to a wonderful christmas market were I bought myself a delightul headpiece , I just couldnt resist. A cup of green tea later and it was time to go to the airport and say our goodbyes. Once in airport it got rather emotional as we said our goodbyes and thanked Carol and Martha for our time in spain and thanked them for being so wonderful and accomidating. Before we knew it we were back on the plane homeward bound to England just in time for christmas.
I am eternally grateful for my time in spain and for the opportunity , it is a experience I will never forget. I learnt so much from Spiral from their presentations on spain to the practical things we got involved with. Working with Spiral has really opened my eyes to Community theatre and what comminuity theatre can be. In that one week alone I learnt so much and was just great to be apart of. It was great to work with people of all ages and really get involved with the community. My time is spain was wonderful I was luckily enough to meet wonderful people and have a fatastic time , working with Spiral has made me think about my future and opened my eyes to another branch of theatre.

Friday, 8 January 2010

The Decison - Tuesday 15th

Just as the day before we met at the community centre at 10 am , well rested from the night before. Today's morning seminar was on Brecht's play ' The Decision' we looked at small parts of the text and explored the language and analysed the text itself. Chris raised the issue of would it matter if this piece was ever performed and why ? At first I didn't see the relevance of the play in relation to Spirals work , then Chris explained that like spiral , Brecht's actors were real people. So I began to understand that the message of the play doesn't necessarily come from performing it but rather from the reading. If the decision was performed by actors to an audience merely of spectators it wouldn't have the same desired effect. This made me realise how important spirals work really is , their work is written by the people for the people not someone sat in a theatre all the way up in the gods. Chris really lit a fire within me and I began to think about the purpose and nature of theatre and how easily we can be led in the wrong direction and loose sight of what is really important when it comes to performances. Theatre is an incredibly powerful tool that has the ability to reach people sometimes without them even realising it.

The mornings exercise really made me think about what I consider to be theatre and how I view it. I certainly think in today's society there is a serious misconception of what theatre is , I mean you only have to look at the hundreds of people flocking to the west end every night to see that culture can dictate theatre. Musicals are huge in popular cultural due to the television shows that endorse them and its these t.v shows that reach the largest demographic. Now when considering this I wonder are musicals popular because of the media influence and the notion of celebrity , or because you get a two hour performance complete with ice cream rounded off with a happy ending ? I certainly have a new found respect for Brecht and his work , I really like his whole process that doesn't necessarily need or lead to a performance. I think sometimes we can become so focused on the end product in performance that we loose sight of the true beauty of theatre , it is after all an art form and expression of Humanity.

After our presentation we were told that a surprise was in store for us which turned out to be a visit to the amazing caves of cueva el sopalo! The caves were deep underground and completely covered in stalagmites and stalactites. The backdrop to the cave centre was the beautiful snow dipped mountains which were utterly wonderful and I made sure I took plenty of photos ! When we travelled underground to the cave I don't think i was quite prepared for what I saw , thousands of stalactites cascading from the roof , glistening in the darkness. I was fascinated by the formations the stalagmites had taken ,one in particular was like a grave yard it was so strange to think they had formed like this without human intervention. The cave had only been discovered just over a hundred years ago , so for thousands of years the stalactites and stalagmites formed in secret.

After our trip to the cave we headed straight into rehearsal with the villagers this time in the actual performance space. The space itself was a bar that wasn't used very often and had strange and rude pictures on the wall ! After a rather cold rehearsal spend huddled around a heater it was time for bed and supper as we had a long day ahead of us !

Wednesday 19th

Like the following morning we met at ten and as always we were bright eyed and bushy tailed and rearing to go! Today however we were to be set a challenge, we had an hour to create a proposal for a community project. Myself, Hannah, Zoe and charlotte decided to use our Ham House project in the summer, the second years chose their site specific project of telling ghost stories and based it around a performance at south sea castle. So we began putting together a plan of possible ideas for our summer project. I personally am still unsure about our project at Ham House only because I can’t really picture it in my mind yet, I find the prospect of performing in front of and keeping 3,000 people entertained extremely daunting. But I have no doubt that once the whole company come together and really buckle down we will come up with something spectacular.
When we began exploring ideas we were very conscious of space and how we would use it, how would we get 3,000 people in and out successfully? How would we entertain people while others flood in? Zoe however came up with a rather brilliant plan of making the audience’s entrance like a procession so that we could guide a constant flow of people and keep them entertained.

A siesta later we were back in the performance space, changing room’s style! As I expressed before I was worried about the obscenities on the wall, but I needn’t have fretted as spiral had an answer to this! We were to completely cover the entire room in white cloth from the ceiling to the floor. So we all set about with our different tasks to transform the space. I myself spent most of my time stood on a bench attaching sheets to the ceiling with the marvel which is cable ties! I actually really enjoyed the hands on approach of the afternoon and it was great to be apart of the transformation of the room. The space looked completely different when we had finished, something as simple as white cloth completely changed the whole ambience of the room. It was no longer a dusty bar but a bright and clean performance space, where anything could happen. When the villagers walked in they were astounded with the change and from then on a real sense of excitement began to fill the air.

Thursday 17th

We were shown a video on the pedagogy a group of Spanish educational missionaries, who would go into rural Spain to educate the children. What these people did was amazing leaving their lives in the city to go and help such a neglected cause. This really hit home to me as I feel very strongly that everybody is entitled to an education and has the right to learn. Once you are given the tools to learn you never stop, as an adult I am still constantly learning and would never want to stop. Education stems beyond school and allows you to be knowledgeable and cultural. The pedagogy mission was an outstanding chapter in Spain’s intriguing history which without working with spiral I would of known nothing about!

The wonderful Nuku gave us a tour of the village and showed us all the beautiful sights. We were shown the bowling area which is a place of great honour and pride for the village, as one of the greatest bowlers in Spanish history came from Beliva. On our tour we visited two separate churches both steeped in history and beauty. Nuku even sang for us which was incredible, the villagers opened their hearts and homes to us and for that I am eternally grateful. As the tour continued we saw the beautiful landscape that the village had to offer he even took us to the cemetery were his family lay in rest and a plot he had reserved for himself!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

♫ A place forever in our hearts ♫

On Saturday the 12th myself , Charlotte, Hannah and Zoe had our last performance at Ham house because on the Sunday we were to be jetting off to Spain. The day started early with myself and Zoe going the post office to get our euros , all very exciting. Once we reached Ham House it was hard to think of anything but Spain as we excitedly discussed the events of the next day. However once the rest of the cast arrived we pushed Spain to the backs of our mind and got into performance mode. Myself and Hannah were very vocal in our roles and this often left Megan and Karina with little to do , so I was glad that I was only doing three performances because it gave the other two a chance to perform in their own piece which they had created and I am sure they both brought their own unique spin to it.

After Ham House we all headed home, some to sleep others to pack ! I am the first to admit that packing is not my strong point nor do I enjoy it but it had to be done. I am not one for travelling light so I decided that this trip would be a perfect opportunity for change this so; rather than throw as many clothes in my bag as possible , I chose my outfits for each day this meant I would only take the bare minimum ( well for me anyway). So with my bag packed and everything checked off on my list , I tried to get some shut eye for the next day. On the Sunday morning while on the phone to Charlotte I suddenly realised that I hadn't packed a single pair of trousers ! so I had to change my travel outfit and wear jeans! The journey to the airport was fun and even more fun for Hans dad who drove us there !

Now once we got to the airport we had a slight run in with Ryan air and their weight limit but that was resolved and before we knew it we were getting frisked ! At the airport we met the second years we didn't really know them then so it was polite conversation all around however after a week you would of thought we had known each other for years ! The flight flew by ( no pun intended) and before we knew it we were in Santander! At the airport we were greeted by the three members of spiral ; Chris, Carol and Marta oh and not forgetting Carols mum! We were all greeted with the friendliest welcome kisses and hugs galore before all clambering in cars to get to..... Beliva !

We had Chris as our chauffeur who gave us a brief political history of Spain which I personally had no idea about , I had only been in the country five minutes and was already learning something new, I knew right there it was going to be quite a trip ! The Journey from the airport took about an Hour and we passed lots of beautiful scenery , so we were told but it was dark so how would we know ! When we arrived in Beliva there before us was our house for the week a beautiful town house ! As soon as we all entered the house it was a frantic dash round the house to see the rooms and of course shot gun the best one ! Myself and Charlotte shotgunned a big room upstairs ideal for all our luggage! Once every one's room had been decided we sat down for dinner which was cooked for us by the fabulous Marta ! After a wonderful meal and getting to know each other conversation it was time for bed as we needed our rest because we had no idea what the next day would involve !

Monday 14th - The day started with us all up and ready for action at ten making our way to the local community centre were Chris proceeded in showing us a slide show on Spain , spiral and the work they do . The work spiral do is incredible! where they get their inspiration and ideas from I don't know but I would love to find out! A piece that stuck in my mind was their work with British water ways , they had designed a boat and made it out of entirely recycled materials and the boat looked amazing ! After the presentation I have to admit I was rather in awe of Spiral and their work and did think what use was I going to be to them .

After the presentation it was supermarket time so me , Zoe , Han and Charlotte bundled into Chris's van and headed to Lu pa ! It was quite an experience to be buying food for nine people but we soon got the hang of it ! After we had sufficiently filled the trolley to the max we headed back to Beliva for a quick bite before the evenings activities. I was quite nervous to meet the actors because they had been working on the piece for weeks and here was us coming in the final week and not speaking a word of the language ! But I needn't have been worried the cast were so welcoming and friendly we were put instantly at ease after a serious round of hugging and kissing. We soon settled into watching the rehersal even though I didnt understand the langauge I began to undertand the moods of the scenes through the actors body language and tones. After rehersal we were all rather tired it had been a hectic day so we all went off to bed with the days events swirling around our minds.