Sunday, 28 December 2008


Was just thinking about how a community forms at Christmas, certainly in my family anyway. For one day a year this community meets, eats and opens presents together, has a sing along or a very long game of pictionary, and then splits up at the end of the day, all to their separate homes. It's funny, because although we only meet for one day a year, we still have the same (ish) routine. Meet, eat, presents, general chitter chatter, pictures and games. This community that thrives on one day, it never changes, it's never awkward or boring but it's there, it happens, and then it disperses as quick as it started?

What is everyone elses opinion on this, is it the same in your families? Or do you think I am chatting a load of rubbish?

Sunday, 21 December 2008

What is a utopia? aren't there many problems with it? I think I have a problem with something being a utopia, perhaps I find the idea of something being perfect slightly uncomfortable, slightly creepy even. I believe you could, say in relation to creating multi-sensory environments, that you are trying to create a utopia for very young children, or children with complex disabilities, but how can you avoid the fact that one or more child might not like balloons, or any kind of sound? Thus how do you create a utopia because everyone has very different ideas of what their utopia is, therefore can such a thing exist? Could perhaps utopia be something that isn't perfect? Something that doesn't work quite the way it's supposed to, but personally to you, its utopia? So how do you go about creating a utopia for a community? What can you do to make something perfect for a large group of people? In some ways I don't think it possible, if I were to go into a community and give them something and expect them to have no problems with it I think I would be somewhat naieve, however perhaps if I were to consult the people I was working with and taking into account the ideas and skill of other people, then perhaps a utopia would be possible.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The big one!

I am very exited about our meeting today in community theatre and can't wait to get started. I think that the possibilities are endless in creating theatre with people from all sorts of back grounds and abilities, especially after watching exodus last week, it makes me think that anything can happen! I like the idea of integrating children with learning difficulties with 'average' children children, creating multi-sensory environments and completely different worlds and wacky characters and things to touch and to play with! I liked what Danielle was saying about dreams and nightmares and teaching children and their parents to deal with it and begin to think about more positive things that might be lurking in the closet.

I am exited at the prospect of being on a creative team and working collaboratively to create a piece of work that could be amazing! I think perhaps people should look at lots of different childrens (or adults) theatre company's to start getting some ideas about what we could do! Oily Cart is a good one for examples on multi sensory theatre for young children and children with multiple disabilities, you can find some of their stuff on youtube! Maybe look at things that the unicorn theatre puts on on polka theatre too! Maybe we could do something with puppets and shadows and things! I am very excited!

Friday, 12 December 2008


A film that we watched in class that was done with the people of Margate, Kent. The actors were all from that community and it was filmed in Margate. If I hadn't known that it was essentially a community play I would have thought it was a film with professional actors in it. I thought it was incredible what people in a community can do when they come together and are encouranged. When walking through Twickenham looking at the people go past I thought anyone could do it, there is nothing stopping people from being creative if thy get the right encouragement. We look for shows put on by amazing traditional shakespeare actors when in actual fact there could be some brilliant actors walking past us in the street, we just don't know it, and neither do they.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Community Plays

  • A community participating in the telling of a story
  • A Play that would have a strong narrative
  • A pantomime or Nativity
  • Could perhaps refelcts on key issues rife in that particular community
  • Unification, demonstrates ideas in a safe environment
  • Conflict resolution
  • Diversity
  • The re-imagining of place

The above is what we discussed in class about what a community play is. I believe that the above is mostly true, it's about participation, involvment and unifying a community, brings people together. You can involve different age groups, gender, ability and race. I believe that in putting on a community play that it is important to play something that is relevant in that particular community, perhaps it being about that certain community itself, or the place or an individual that they all relate to and also work through together in order to solve something.

I don't think however, when I was growing up that there were community plays, or if there were, I certainly wasn't involved. I never heard that the whole of Pinewood Park, or Guillemont Fields took part in a show together, nothing like that ever happened. No one really knew their neighbours that well, we knew names and recognised faces but that was about it. There were the kids I knew on my street but I know that our parents weren't friends, they didn't know each other. It makes me think that communities like this, ones that are on middle-ground, that aren't too poor, or aren't too rich are in some points the ones who need some kind of unification, some sense of communicating with the people who are, geographically, the closest to us. When I think about growing up I think that we could have done with that sense of community being brought to us. We needed something that would all bring us together for a certain length of time, even if it wasn't a play but an activity, or a party, just somewhere that we could have this sense of unification. And then perhaps after this happened people would go on with this new sense of community and carry on talking to the people they worked togehter with. I think people need to identify with each other, people don't realise that there could be someone around the corner who was the most similar person to them and could actually turn out to be a friend, but it seems that people didn't take the time to get to know each other or even try to meet each other.

And I suppose there might be problems with creating a community play as you might think you are being completely inclusive when actually, you might turn out to be somewhat exclusive when you didn't expect it. Personally I think I would go out into the community and find out exaclty what they like, dislike, enjoy, hate and perhaps find out if there would be certain abilities or disabilities I could also cater for.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Reminiscene in Practice

Today we just did some very interesting work. Mary, A seventy-four year old and Fiona, a 59 year old came in to talk to us about their lives.

The opening question asked by Hannah was what they were doing when they were our age. This was a good ice breaker and a somewhat unintrusive question which allowed the two women to become comfortable talking to a big group. After then they were very happy to talk about the second world war and its repocussions, childhood sweethearts, fashion, music and holidays.

After this we then set about chosing the stories that we wanted to dramatise. My group was particulary interested in telling the story about Mary's first love when she was fourteen years old. She told it incredibly well, building up this romantic story and then bringing right back down when she said that she couldn't stand him. At first I was worried about having to tell this story as I really wanted to make sure that the information that she had given us wasn't mis-represented or taken too far out of context. Luckily though we produced a two minuete sketch that contained everything that she said and therefore she was happy with how we had interpreted her story.

Mary and Fiona seemed very happy with all that classes work and said interestingly that it wasn't the stories we were telling, it was their lives, it was fact and real for them and evoked their memories of that particular event very well. I therefore feel that this session was incredibly successful and the participants were kept comfortable and felt that they could talk with ease thus not hiding information of feeling they couldn't talk about certain things. I also think that If you stick with the exact details of the stories and keep its themes then it will be successful and won't offend the teller themselves as they still need to have some kind of ownership over the story, we can't take it completely out of context because they might feel that we have taken their story away from them.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Reminiscence continued

'In performance memory is a political act'

Can a memory be the most reliable thing? I know that some memories that I have would not be completely true, they might be fused with other memories, placed blurred, faces unrecognisable. Some memories might be told to me, something that I might not remember could be told to me that I then begin to believe in.

In relation to the stage a memory could be a political act because it is all to do with our choices, what we want to tell people, a one sided view that doesn't give the audience a chance to see the other point of view. The telling of someones story that might not all be true, facts slightly off, events exaggerated. But then again, isn't that the beauty of a story? You can only tell something how you remember it and no other way, if you tried to factualise it, the story would lose authenticity and you would lose connection to it, especially if you were the teller of the story.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


Today's session was about Reminiscence theatre. This is something I have never really touched on before therefore it was interesting to learn about the positive and negative aspects of it.

'At the end if the 20th century history is not what it was' (Kershaw: 1999:160)

We looked at this quote and tried to deconstruct it's meaning, what came about was a debate as to what history is now and what history was. I think the quote means that today, we have different perceptions of past events, we view it differently. Now that we have gained more perspectives we are able to challange what was previously believed and accepted. We also talked about viewing history in a modernist and post-moderist ways. We now view history as a fragmented thing, non-linear and challange weather past events such as the holocaust actually happened where as a modernist view would say that the face is solid, you cannot deny a fact. This then brought us on to discussing memory.

Memory: Something from your personal history, first person, fragmented and compartmentalized images. Association, memories from smell, images and objects

Reminiscence: Something you do with someone else. Idealised and wishful, happy times. The Choice about the stories we tell.

Nostalgia: Looking back on things with rose tinted glasses, something that generates emotions, negative in the sense that only the 'good' things are remembered.

Heritage: Your background. Something that is well established and has a value, Part of who you are for example you sur-name.

I shall carry on a bit later!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Interviews, verbatim, structuring a play!

We listened to every ones interviews and it was very interesting to hear all the significant differences between them all.

The interviews ranged from the University Nurse, students of St Mary's themselves, a pub landlord and Suz's mum. There were many clashes of opinion, for instance, the Nurse and The landlord were coming from completely different places, one who works within the alcohol trade and one who has spent the past fifteen years dealing with the after effects of alcohol, poisoning, obesity and sexually transmitted disease. We listened to people talk about initiations, getting each other 'smashed' and downing three pints within thirty seconds.

The next task was to think about these interviews in terms of structuring a show, what interviews could we use, what order should they be in?

We discovered after having put the interviews we chose in an order for a show that you have to be incredibly careful in how you structure them. Our order was as follows:

Jumbo The Bouncer
Basket Ball Vice President
Adam, Rugby League
Stuart Green (cabbage patch) and University Nurse together
Suze's Mum

We talked about our decisions and that was fine but it was then brought to our attention that it was potentially an anti drinking message and quite one sided. Therefore, to me when making a verbatim play you cannot structure things on the basis that it will flow well or look nice. You really have to interrogate the content of the interviews and make sure you create tensions, different opinion in order to get a show that is diverse in it's subject matter, so that it's not all of one thing. You have to be careful not to lecture, not to present a one sided argument because a potential audience would feel disconnected from it, they don't want to sit down for an hour and be told that what they do is bad, or wrong. Especially if you showed a play about anti-binge drinking to an SU hall full of heavey drinking rugby boys. I think you have to taylor the show very carefully in order to make it controversial but not too in your face, 'this is my message and everyone has to listen'. I believe DV8 did this somewhat well as the information wasn't so bold and shocking that I found it too intense, there was a good balance between the differences in story.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Interplay Community Theatre.

Another Theatre company that I have been looking at is Interplay Community Theatre. A theatre company, Similar to Oily Cart, who primarily work with Children who have multiple learning and physical disabilities.

They wanted to be a theatre company that took 'theatre to people whowould not notmally see it- weather for financial, geographical or cultural reasons'. They took this idea as they believed that ' for theatre to live it must remain accessible', therefore their work is shaped and devised for specialist audiences who are in communites that don't have regular or very little experience of theatre.

The company looks at game play as the basis for their shows and workshops that are highly practicle and participatory. Everyone has an opportunity to join in and therefore share an experience together. Their work provided opportunities for the teachers and careres of the children to see their potential, to realise that being stimulated through the medium of theatre can have beneficial outcomes for the child in that their confidence might increase or they might communicate more.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Oily Cart, Interesting.

For my dissertation I am endeavoring to write and research arts with children who have severe and multiple learning difficulties.

I recently contacted Oily Cart who are a prestigious company that caters for these children and also children under 5 and their families. They sent me some great information about what they do but also talked about how they reach out to this specific community which is an aspect that I hadn't thought about before.

They talked about helping 'with the integration of this community into society at large' which shows how children who do have a learning difficulties are in a community themselves thus in a certain sense are excluded from other communities. In my experience this is true as I know of groups and individuals who have learnt to live with their disabilities but still find social interaction a big challange and therefore do not have the same kind of social lives of that of a 'normal' person. By bringing theatre into these special schools shows how art and performance can have a big role to play in bringing new and exiting experiences to these children that they might not necessarily get to experience due to not being integrated into a bog-standard primary school.

In my own community I feel that we are somewhat exclusive and in a general sense are somewhat ignorant towards these people. I know that if I saw someone on a street who had learning difficulties that I probably wouldn't make the effort to speak to them, not because I am a horrible person but due to how the rest of society sees them as well which then influences my own behaviour. It's about breaking out of this and getting as inclusive as we can, because at the end of the day, we are all people who want to be accepted and out of everyone, a man, woman or a child with a learning difficulty woould want to be accepted and respected the most.

Friday, 31 October 2008

DV8 and Verbatim Theatre

DV8, in all honesty was not how I thought it was going to be at all. My preconceptions were thrown out of the window. I thought I was going to watch an 80's style DV8 Peice. Instead I was faced with a very modern, up to date piece of Verbatim theatre which fused modern music, dance, technology and the words of real peoples stories about their experiences of Homo/sexuality, culture and religion. And I thought it was fantastic.

It was how I thought Verbatim theatre should be, theatrical, factual, moving, un-nerving and showed me the stories about these particular communities. It was realistic in the sense that it wasn't one sided, it showed both sides of opinion, the religious fanatics who think Homosexual practice is wrong, and those who think it right and those who think its wrong but practice it anyway.

The fact that I knew the stories where true really helped me to connect with the action on stage, I felt emotional connections with these stories because I knew that they were fact, it was real and therefore hit me harder than a fictional story could.

It made me think about community in the sense of how we rarely see these communities, especially if you are a white, straight female such as myself. The afro-carrabian communities who are gay, forced to hide, same for muslim homosexuals who cannot truly be themselves in public due to the fact they will constantly be abused if they do.

Lloyed Newson himself describes how he and his partner at the time in the early 1990's went on a gay pride march that went through an area of Brixton that was predominantly afro-caribbean and experienced abuse

'I was struck my the fact that people who themselves are part of a minority, many of whom must have experienced racism and racist abuse first-hand, were so willing to be abusive towards another minority' (Newson, cited from the To be Straight with You programme which I shall reference properly later)

This is interesting as it shows how minorities, or small communities can still have things against each other, they can still hate what other communities do, even though their own comminity is constantly under threat.

Friday, 24 October 2008


I had never heard of this style of Theatre before but rapidly became interested on what it could do for an audience

'The intimacy of the interview makes the audience feel as if the characters are talking to them directly and the relationship I had with the interviewee is that which the audience experiences. However the fact that these private moments have been transported into a public arena is what makes them all the more surprising, especially as they are re-enacted with the uncanny immediacy that the technique produces. The way people communicate in real life is far more absurd and inarticulate than we realize if we take time to stop and listen to it.'
This interested me bacause the hard facts that are presented on stage is directly presenting the opinions of people that might not necessarily be heard. One example that we heard was a play that was about soldiers fighting in Iraq where the audience got an idea of what they were experiencing through the medium of theatre.
We then talked about our own Verbatim Theatre project concerning Binge Drinking as it is something that is a common problem, not only in St Mary's College but nationally. The ambulance crew was called out many times during Freshers week due to students drinking too much, one person needed an ambulance twice in one week due to execive drinking. We talked about how older generations tend to binge drink as well and the fact that the drinking we do now as twenty-somethings could lead to problems later in life. Our task for reading week therefore is to interview people about binge drinking such as the paramedics who get called out due to alcohol related problems, taxi drivers, parents, pub landlords, freshers and the SU and AU presidents.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Cardboard Citizens and Forum Theatre

Although I already had an idea of what Forum Theatre was before I went into the Theatre I still didn't know exactly what to expect.

The performers weren't the polished 'shiny' drama school born actors that you might expect when you watch a show yet they pulled off a powerful, raw and touching piece of theatre which completely three my preconceptions. They told us three stories, one about a social worker having a tough time, a philipeono woman who was taken to work in England but was treated badly when she started the job and one about a boy in care.

As an audience we decided to look at the womans story. We picked out the key aspects of the story which we felt that something could have been done differently. It was interesting to watch as people from first, second, and third year drama took to the stage to take the place of the protagonist. The members of the cast in turn had to make it difficult for the protagoist to get their own way thus portraying that things don't always work out, that we have to work hard to get out of situations.

I liked that idea that Forum theatre can help show a group of people how to do things differently in a situation but I also liked that Cardboard Citizens didn't make pretty the outcomes, they didn't say that if you do this one thing differently everything will be good again. They were true to what they said and were honest about things not always turning out well as that would have been deceptive because life isn't easy.

In the post-show talk there were a few questions from the audience concerning offence. The joker didn't understand where we were coming from as as a company they have already had experiences with homelessness and do thorough research.

In the lecture on Thursday we talked about this further, we wanted to know if it would be offensive if, for example, a group of university students were to go into a hostel and perform a show about homelessness would be offensive, is it possible that we can portray this experience without experiencing.

to be cont

Saturday, 18 October 2008


Today we looked at how we tell stories, different techniques and how we could apply stories to a community based project.

We looked at telling autobiographical stories concerning 'going out'. I told Cara about a night out in a club in London where one of my friends was taking drugs and she in turn told me a story about how she went out when she was under age and couldn't get into any clubs. It was interesting how we told these stories, the gestures we use, the facial expressions. In honesty I wasn't keen on this exercises as I don't partucularly enjoy talking about myself but afterwards when we began looking at how we could take these stories and put them into workshop situations I began to think that our personal experiences can make a difference in somewhere you might not expect, even if you don't believe your story is 'good'.

As the story I told concerned issues about drugs we began thinking about how we could turn it into a play, using the issues within it to make a point and perhaps to workshop our ideas with a class of seniour school children.

I also began thinking about, although it may concern issues with privacy, but perhaps taking the autobiographical stories of the children themselves and creating a play from their ideas so that they could relate to the material even more.

Friday, 17 October 2008

What is a community?

The main question in the first session of community theatre was that of: What is community. Much of the session was concerned with defining community, different types of community, weather it is geographical, social, belief orientated, gender or race. I began thinking that community for me was the place I came from, my family and friends from home and that was that. However when we began breaking it down I realised that I did belong and still belong to many different communities, drama groups I used to belong to, school, choirs I sang in, and how I have dipped in and out of communities due to the choices I have made. I realised how much belonging to certain communities have an influence on your identity. I talked about how since moving to Twickenham I have picked up new accents, grown in confidence and now feel like a completely different person due to the fact I moved into a new geographical community.

We looked at inclusive and exclusive communities. For example if a community was made up soley of women, then it would be gender exclusive as a male would not be able to be a part of it. I started thinking about the communities that I have been exluded from or have felt excluded from. I realised that there were groups at school that I would have not been welcome in just because of social ranking, how poular I was and how this was a factor in who I could be friends with. However, If these certain people were in the same class as me, such as music then it would be perfectly okay to speak to them thus creating a 'music lesson' community. However as soon as we left these lessons I would suddenly be excluded from their community. It intrests me that In one context I could speak and be friends with these people, and in a different one, I could not.

On a larger scale this could also happen geographical, how someone, for example, from Liverpool wouldn't be welcome in Manchester just because of where they come from, yet if the two people found themselves in the same context as each other these differences might not matter as much.