Saturday, 28 November 2009

a lil update!!!....well perhaps it wont be so lil afterall !!!

Haven't written for a while....whooppps!!! so im afraid there's going to be a bit of waffling happening now!!! sorry!!!
Well here goes.....

We had all decided to search for our own stories or to write our own, however having searched on the internet I couldn't fing a story that really grabbed me. I didn't want to just choose a story that I felt was standard and unoriginal. I wanted a story that excited me when I read it. I think that was for two reasons....the first being that I didn't see the how I could expect strangers to spend their time listening to a story that I didn't particulary care about or to find a story interesting and stimulating when I didn't even think that myself. I thought it would be a bit hypocritical. The second reason was that I couldn't stand the thought of repeatedly telling a story that my heart wasn't completely dedicated to. I want to enjoy this experience as much as the children and parents.

During a rehersal one Wednesday morning, we split into groups to help direct each others stories. Still not having found one for myself I helped somebody else. At the end of the lesson each group performed their stories. It became recognisable that shorter stories worked far better, as they required a far less attention span. It is important to remember that children have a far less attention span that adults. After watching one of the performances, I think it came clear to me as to why I was struggling so much with finding a story to tell. Since coming back to uni for my third year, I have found it extremely difficult to sit down an attempt to write. I have felt constricted in the way that I can work and have felt tied down. One of the performances was a question and answer performance, which consisted of two people asking questions to father christmas, mrs claus and an elf. This would then be opened to the audience, allowing them to ask any questions they wanted. I felt this would allow me to be more free, and I became excited at the thought of improvising something in the moment, through interacting with the audience as opposed to being limited to a set performance. After the lesson, our friend Frank came in to give us a demonstration on how to story tell. During our storytelling lecture last year, we explored the significance of language to help hold peoples attention and the use of space through which to direct our energy. He demonstrated this perfectly...despite the fact that he had written the story within around 5 mins sitting at the back of our class whilst waiting for us to finish our lesson. It is easy to recognise Frank as an amazing performer, he uses words remarkably as a way to express things. Yet despite knowing this I was always unaware of how he was able to achieve this. It was only when Mark pointed out that he was fearless of experimenting and using words, that I realised other people would perhaps be able to achieve a performance as fascinating as his. A whole new world to vocabulary had opened. Not because new words had been created, but I had finally realised that already existing words CAN actually be used.

During our next lecture at Ham House we began rehersing our stories. At this point I had slightly began to worry as I still didn't have a story. I approached the question and answer group and asked whether I would be able to be the elf. They thought it was a good idea and so we started creating a character brief for mr and mrs claus and the elf. During this discussion Mark joined in and began to question our choice of using father xmas. We realised that there was no one believable to play him (as all the boys in our class were far too young). We also realised that it was nothing different than the children visiting the local shopping centre and seeing him. Instead we created the character of father xmas' son, who hated xmas due to him constantly being surrounded by it. We also decided on general question for the perofrmance too. Storytellers were to wear a xmas jumper, fingerless gloves, scarf, hat, wellies and braces. I really liked this costume idea I thought there was somehting old fashioned and rather sweet about it. I think it remeinded me of christmas at home. During the snow fall earlier on in the year my brother was helping my dad shovelling snow off the front garden. My mum managed to capture a picture of my brother sitting in the doorway in almost exactly the same outfit. My dad printed it off in a brownish colour and hung it up in the hallway. I like it bacause it looks really old fashioned. Anyway....a bit distracted sorry...

For the elf, Mrs Claus and her son we decided on seperate outfits. Mrs Claus would wear a suit, her son, would be dressed as a goth and the elf in a traditional elf outfit.

For this weeks lesson just gone, we were told to learn our performances so we could do a proper run through for the first time. The stories all went well, and there was a good variety for both children and for adults, which I felt was important for the family day. When it came to our performance, I think we thought it would be easier than anticipated. Due to it being an improvisational piece you can never prepare 100% as you never know the way an audience will react. When discussing it after, we were told the Mrs Claus and son part went on too long. We also had no where to leave once we had finished our part of the interview. We also felt that perhaps the interviewers should ask a few more questions before inviting the audience to get involved. To prevent the audience being intimidated we were told to invite the audience as a whole what they all wanted to find out about the characters, as opposed to singling out individual members. We came to the conclusion that it needs some directing before we perform it on saturday. With a little bit of direction I believe it'l still work.

Monday, 2 November 2009

We had another tour this week...which inspired us as to what stories we could include for the christmas fair. There was a carving that we came across during the tour, which was of a girls name on one of the windows which had been etched on by a member of staff many years ago. The same man had eventually committed suicide by jumping out the same very window. The root we took is not taken for public tours, and we thought it a shame that stories from those that actually used to live and work in the house were not shared with visitors. Having had many tours of the house and having seen many of the rooms more than once, most of which are empty rooms, we felt these stories made the tour more interesting. Our tour guide also read to us several sections from what I assume was a diary he wrote when he had worked there many years ago. It was interesting to hear how workers had felt whilst working there and the extent of the hard work they had to do. I felt that for the first time the building had come alive. I felt there was substance to the house. A history that wasn't just dates and the names of families that had owned the house, but of the people behind the hard work of the house, the characters that no one cared about. I feel excited at the fact that there are more secrets to be unlocked from the house. Intrigued to find out more of these, a group of us have decided to go on the ghost tour, which will perhaps open more possibilites for stories we can use.

After hearing the last of the stories from our group (it was set as homework) we made progess by deciding the type of stories that should be told. We felt that stories to do with winter/christmas worked the best, as we felt it will help set the atmosphere for the christmas fair. We also felt that unknown stories would work better, as they would be more intriguing for the audience.

For the first time since going to Ham House, I am really excited about participating in the project. If I find more secrets about the house, I would also be interested in reworking the tours for the public.