Thursday, 13 May 2010

The final Chapter

Well, the time has come for the final blog, and it makes me feel sad to think that this is it. My project has done so amazingly well and I think what we have achieved is fantastic and I could never have done this without my fantastic cast. As I write this I feel slightly deflated to think that it is all almost over. Everyone aims for the end and cannot wait to reach it but when you do it does not feel as good as you thought you would.

My project has taught me so much about myself and what I want from life, and what happiness truly means. The residents in the home have showed me that they have been through thick and thin, yet everyday they wake up with a smile on their face and carry on with their lives. They have provided me with so many memories, and have let me into their pasts and I am so grateful and appreciate every time they let me look through that window into their memory.

We have finished devising the piece and it just needs polishing up and tightening. But we are almost there, and we have almost done it, we have come such a long, long way and have achieved so much. As a group we have become a group of close friends, rather than just a group of actors. Last night we went for a meal without Zoe, and drinks without Frank and Zoe, but the rest of us still had a fantastic time and it made me realise that even now the residents are helping to change people’s lives just through the use of their memories.

I am split between happiness and sadness, happy that university and all assessments are over, sad because it is over. So I would like to thank my cast, who have been there through thick and thin, the residents who provided the most magical memories, and Mark and Suzannah, for their constant support and praise, because without them none of this would have been possible. 

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


Monday afternoon and yet another rehearsal beckons us to studio 1!
Frank, Anton, Zoe and I gathered to run through our scenes and to devise a new scene. Within these scenes, relationships were established and magical moments were captured. As well as this we discovered the different dynamics with the different relationships within the play.

Zoe and Frank’s characters get married to one another within the play and the way the proposal is portrayed is through the use of Geoffrey’s memory and the way he did it. This meant that we needed to make sure it was just right. We the two of them pulled it off, it was so magical that I got goosebumps from just watching their scene even thought I knew what was going to happen.

Anton’s character, returns home to my character from war injured, but rather than being another lovey dovey couple we chose a different approach, and this worked just as well even if I say so myself!

I am so happy with how things are ticking along and I really cannot wait for our dress rehearsal tomorrow afternoon!

I went off prop shopping today and just need a few more bits and pieces and then we are almost there!

I am just so excited!! =D

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Another day another rehearsal…in my living room…

Sunday’s the perfect lazy day, well not if you’re part of my project! No, no, no, we had a rehearsal this evening, although I would say it was more of a production meeting in my living room.

We got together to discuss the ideas that I have had and to read through the most recent memories I have collected. Just from reading the memories alone, ideas started flowing. I am getting there with the whole director thing but I still prefer the group to have control as well. The piece is really coming together and has some verbatim theatre within it, as I have used actual quotes from the residents.

As I read through the memories out loud, I realised how much these people and their memories meant to me. I felt connected to them and honoured that they trusted me with them. Something which I have not mentioned before, which I mentioned to my cast today is that one resident, Geoffrey, has begun to write a book about his life and all the places he has been to and the things he has seen. He has told me on numerous occasions that the reason he decided to write was because of me, and that I had made him remember and it made him realise just how much he had done over 84 years. My cast said to me I had created a legacy, I don’t agree I don’t think I did anything, I am grateful to him for sharing with me.

When reading through another set of memories, I realised how fond I am of one lady, Adelaide, she is such a character, who “loves me dancin”. She said to me on Friday, when I visited them all, that she liked talking to me, and that it was nice to remember and to think about the past, it makes her feel alive again, she likes talking about the past and her memories of her first husband, it makes it all feel real again. I was so touched by what she said, but only really took it in today, this lady is 93 years old and has the most amazing past, and she doesn’t mind sharing it with me, I truly am honoured to be running this project.

I cannot wait for us to perform our piece in the home, Suzannah said that there may be the prospect of performing it in other homes, if successful, and that hopefully on the day of performance the local press may attend. Even if neither of these things happen. I have already been rewarded within this project, I have made some truly amazing friends both in my cast and with the residents and that for me is more than enough.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Why this project?

I was recently asked to write why I have decided to do the project of reminiscent theatre. I felt that the Ham House project was not for me, it sounded amazing but just not what I wanted to do. So I spoke to Mark and found the reminiscent theatre project and that I could run that. I would be in complete control, which was slightly daunting but extremely exciting at the same time!

Since starting this project I have realised that running a community based project using Drama is what I would love to do as a full time career. Using theatre to help people and to help them express themselves is something I have always been interested in doing. I aspire to work within the prison service helping young offenders to better their life through the use of theatre.

I recently wrote my dissertation on how drama helps children develop into the people they are today and help them define who they are. Drama is a powerful medium, which used in the right way can benefit all. So doing this project, for me meant that I could be part of this momentous change and development.

For this particular project, after speaking with the residents I realised that World War Two was something most of them had experiences and have the most vivid memories of, as most of them were in their twenties at the time. This is the same age group of my cast and I. I could see the resemblance between us all and how they were in the prime of their youth as we are now. Yet to me their twenties had been so much more exciting and drenched in British culture.

However doing this project meant there was a setback for me and that was my knowledge of World War Two as it was limited to the history lessons I had at school which were 7 years ago! So I decided to go to the Imperial War Museum to find out what I needed to in detail. I bought some propaganda posters which will be used in the piece as well as ration booklets, sweet tins and magazines from those days. Armed with memorabilia we met for out first rehearsal and decided how to use them and they provided a starting point for the piece.

The piece focuses on World War Two and the lives of 6 people, 3 girls, 3 boys. Two are married and we see what their married life is like, the others fall in love along the way, and we follow their love stories and how despite the bombs, the Nazis and the rations love truly can endure. 

Kisses, Proposals and Liquorice Pontefract Cakes

After speaking to Suzannah last night, I am on a buzz to keep things rolling within my project. So off I went to the care-home today and what a day I had!
After my sat-nav decided to take me completely the wrong way for no reason at all, and after using half a tank of petrol and driving almost 80miles without getting anywhere, I finally reached the home with the help of a lady called Petra, who works at the home.

I got to meet the home manager today which was lovely, her name is Monica and she seems keen for the project. I asked to speak with my “regulars” Dorothy and Geoffrey, Robin and the infamous Adelaide, “who loves her dancing”.

It was such a nice feeling to go back in and they all recognise me and asked how I was, as well as this I felt like I was part of the place, I felt like I was part of their community. We spoke about relationships during the war, kisses goodnight and dancing. They told me how they proposed or how they were proposed to; two of the ladies still wear their ring to this day and have never taken it off. Today for me was lovely, there were some truly magical moments today and because I knew exactly what I wanted to find out it meant the conversation was more detailed.

Adelaide is 93 and started dating Christopher at the age of 14, she was married by 21 and he was sent off to Italy to fight and died after being married to each other after just 2 years. To this day she still loves him and he will always be the love of her life. It's people like Adelaide that show that true love does exist. Memories like this make my project so much more worthwhile and amazing, I have learnt so much and can’t wait for it to continue.
On top of all of this, each and everyone one of them used to eat liquorice Pontefract cakes…just a random fact!    

Thursday, 6 May 2010

...Stress & Love...

After a few weeks of rehearsals… I am getting more and more stressed!!
But I think I am winding myself up more than I need to, after all I do have a fabulous company. We are making so much progress, and the piece is coming along in leaps and bounds.
I have decided to slightly change the direction of the piece. It is still based on World War Two but I think that it would be nice for the residents of the care home, if the focus was on love and how it can grow between two young people despite the war being on, as this was true for many of them.

Jennie said to me that I am getting to stressed about it all and that after all this should be fun! Thank goodness she reminded me as I had got so worked up about it all, I had forgotten that what we are doing should be fun and I should be enjoying myself.

Yesterday’s rehearsal, once we got going, went well. We now have a total of almost seven short scenes! The relationships between the characters are so lovely and there have been some amazing moments on stage between them, they have developed and grown and I have never seen this happen on stage before. The cast, including myself, are now so much more than just a bunch of drama students; we are now a group of friends who work well together. The creative input I receive from them is amazing and I know I would not have come this far without them.

Each of them has their own strengths and brings something different to the company. This means that every thing we do has different inputs and ideas. I told them from the start that I do not like directing and it is something I struggle to do successfully. This has meant that all of us as a group direct the scenes together. I prefer this idea than if it were just me to direct as at least this way everyone has their input and the full potential of each scene can be reached.

I spoke to Suzzanah today who is in charge of the project overall and liaises with me and the care home. She is excited for the piece, as am I and we have decided on a date for the performance! Hearing her positivity has made me feel so much more positive and excited for this project and how amazing it is about to be.

After the reheasrsal we trotted off to the S.U for a drink…well a J2o for me! This was nice to socialise with each other away from rehearsals and to bond with one another as a company. I am so happy with how far along things have come and how well we are all doing! Thanks Guys! =)

Right I must go and be creative and create the poster for my piece! 

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Honey I love you...

Another rehearsal another scene….

Finally had a full cast! Meaning that we managed to get a lot done… after I had begun with a moan about attendance and commitment.

2 scenes are now completed, and need just a bit more tweaking and props etc… so I am happy, happy, and happy!

I feel we are working well together as a group and have come a long way since our first rehearsal. Each week we begin with a warm up activity and a trust activity, although these provide more laughs than anything else! Especially jennies game which made us all tell each other we love one another… however some members of the cast i.e. me and Zoe were not so good at keeping a straight face as Jennie and Frank!
Mark also paid a visit to my rehearsal which I thought was really nice… despite the look of pure shock on my face!! And it meant we got to show him what we had done so far and how far we had come as a group. I am so proud of my cast and what we have achieved so far!

We’ve now come to a kind of creative block and this means I need to go off to the home and collect some more memories for us to be able to develop the piece more…. So I awoke at 7.30am on Tuesday morning left at 9.20am and got to the m25 and ended up sitting on the m25 for 2 hours with my engine off!! There had been an accident and all lanes were closed! So I had to cancel on the home and re arrange to go in another time! Nevertheless this will not stop me! I shall go back and get more memories!!

So all is well again…

Friday, 16 April 2010


Rehearsals began just under a month ago and so far we have had four…. I am so stressed out already!!!

The first rehearsal went well, and it was mainly there for us as a group to “ find our feet”, as I have already done so much planning, I pretty much already had the main themes, ideas and scenes planned out they just need lots of devising.

We marked through the first two scenes and used some of the props I had bought from the imperial war museum! Which was a big help, especially when doing reminiscent theatre as it needs to be sensory so lots of props and an elaborate set design (well what ever can be afforded) will aid the performance more as well as help the audience, which will be the elderly residents themselves to really feel as though they are there and to remember what we are portraying more clearly in their own minds.

The second rehearsal saw the creation of two mini scenes, this was fun to create as they are more interactions between actors, using the memories I have collected and it was nice to see other people’s interpretation on these memories rather than just my own.

Rehearsal three involved us developing on what we have created so far, this is the first time I have ever really been a director and I quite enjoyed the role as well as taking everyone else’s input. Within this production I want every member of my cast to have their own say and input. Different ideas and views on things will only help the production more. Especially as we don’t have a script!

We played around with different people doing different roles and then putting another person in place of someone in a scene, and this worked better and so now because of this, roles have not been picked but in fact chosen for us and are now more fitting.

Today was rehearsal four… there were a few less cast members than I would have liked but, nevertheless we still ran through and worked on a scene, played around with dialogue and some movement and found which worked best and made the scene work well.

Without sounding naggy I feel like I can’t tell the cast members that they need to be at a rehearsal as they are helping me out, but I feel that some people are not taking it as seriously as they need to and feel that missing rehearsals isn’t really a big deal but it is as it is holding the production back and it means that we are just going over what we have done. Or rehearsals have to be cut short, but time is running out and rehearsal spaces won’t be available soon.

Otherwise the production is going well and my I’m done nagging so am all smiles again!! 

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Arts BAD

I have recently become a little theatre addict and have been going at least once a week!! Last night myself, Zoe, Charlotte, Briony and Christina went off to Tara Studios to see Othello...Now I am one that will never, ever say a performance was bad, rubbish, boring, or a waste of my time. As I feel that if it got funding to be performed to the public it must have some good points........

The play was all of the above...minus the good points... Thank goodness the tickets were free...

It was un-rehearsed, the play is Shakespearean and lines were lost or mumbled and not pronounced clearly enough. Costume was I assume meant to be all blacks and it just looked messy and unfinished. The best part of the play was when Othello halfway through, began to carry a book constantly on stage... SO HE COULD READ HIS LINES OUT OF IT!! I'm sorry but it truly was appaling, and at least I know now what not to do when making theatre!

Other than that i did really enjoy my evening and it was nice to spend it with the girlies! And the pub afterwards was mosgt definately the highlight!!

x x x

Starting out on my own.....

Where do I begin…I guess at the beginning…hmmm…

The start of semester two began and as everyone grew excited for the Ham House project, I felt that it wasn’t for me. So I asked Mark if I could possibly have my own project, something I could develop and grow within.

I was given Reminiscent Theatre, each week I go to Acorn Court Home in Redhill, Surrey, and I sit and I talk with the residents there. The homes is over three floors the ground floor has the residents that are more able, the first has those that need just a little bit of extra help, and the second has those suffering from dementia.

On my first week I spoke to a few residents, and without giving too much away, I decided to base my piece on the four seasons, Spring – Summer – Autumn – Winter, however after talking to several residents I realised most of them had one thing in common (apart from their dislike of pasta!) they had all been around during World War II. With that in mind I started to ask them more about the war and so far have gathered the most amazing memories.

I worked with the residents that suffer from dementia too, this was a real challenge, so I decided to take in a load of different sensory stimulating things, like marionettes, plastacine, cascanettes, maracas, and a little woodpecker on a metal pole that slides down it… much to mine and the residents delight they loved it all! I even had one lady trying to steal a cascanette and when I spotted it I said you can keep it, she was extremely happy at this news!

I have been busy, busy, busy now with my project well underway and my ideas just flowing like water, I think the problem now is putting it all together and knowing what to use and what not!

I went off to the Imperial War Museum on Saturday to do some research into WWII and ended up spending a fortune on all these little things that will aid my piece! So it was worth it!

Right well I must be off…I have more planning and scheming to do!!! =)

It's been a while....let me break it down....

Christmas holidays…

I flew out to India to stay with my father over Christmas; it was a completely different experience for me and definitely a new way to spend Christmas!
I was working in a children’s home out there for street children, these children’s mothers were either prostitutes, street dwellers, worked on the railway or were handicapped (as they call it in India).

It was an amazing experience and each day in India brought something new and exciting, I saw real poverty when I visited the railway station at night and saw people just sleeping on the street and in the station, not even in corners just there in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. There are so many people in India it is unreal, the city I was in, Pune, is constantly busy there are people everywhere you look, everywhere you go it’s incredible and to think this is just one city!

We flew to Agra where I visited the Taj Mahal whilst I was there, well there are no words to describe how incredible it is and how you feel when you step through the massive archway and see the Taj right there in front of you, and it looks exactly like it did in all the pictures. It is breathtaking. The queues however were not! 3 hours after entering the grounds of the Taj I finally got inside it and got to look around; well I was definitely not disappointed. It is just the most magnificent thing I have ever seen.

I also visited the red fort, where the army where based during the Mugal times, again the architecture here is amazing and so impressive at a time when they didn’t have machinery they still managed to create these buildings that are just truly magnificent.

India was an amazing experience and truly opened my eyes to a lot of things, I can’t wait to go back and am so grateful I had the opportunity to see such extraordinary and beautiful as well as heart breaking things.