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.