Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Our last (Re)presenting the Body lecture was the perfect example of a community being brought together. The whole module had progressively led to our class being completely comfortable with each other. The module created a bond between the class and there was a feeling of complete trust within the small community. It’s a complete shame the module is no longer running as I have experienced as a result of these lessons the unity a community can bring.
Last weekend was Ham House’s family fun day, which we participated in by doing face painting and games for the children. It was a satisfying day, as the children appeared to have extremely enjoyed themselves. The friendly and relaxed atmosphere also allowed the opportunity for the more timid children to get involved. It was rewarding to know how we had positively impacted on their day, to the extent that many of the children did not want to leave. This was one of the highlights of this module as we were directly working with the community and having an impact on their lives, if it be only for that day. I am particularly looking forward to interacting with the community on the day of the event after experiencing the fulfilment our work gave to the public last weekend.
We went to visit a karate club in Richmond who will be participating within the parade. The club was extremely small yet despite consisting of around only 12 members, they ranged in age from about 6 to about 45. Upon visiting this club, it made me realise what a difference this event can actually make to the community. The event will open the opportunity for small businesses to get more publicity and hopefully help to keep them up and running. I experienced a sense of nostalgia when visiting them, as much of my childhood had revolved around karate training. Despite being a very small community of people, I was able to relate to their passion of what they do which ultimately made the thought of helping the club continue to run an extremely rewarding notion.
We collected some materials from Twickenham so we could start creating the animals for the story. We are going to use laundry baskets to create their structure, as they can be reshaped and yet still work to create a strong frame. It has proven tricky to make the animals look individual and get the shape of each of them, however they are beginning to get finished and work extremely well as puppet like creations on bamboo sticks that will be held in the air for everyone to see. Although we are planning how the skins of the animals will be created we are going to leave this part of the characters to be finished by the community on the build day. We have begun to practice moving with the puppets so we get used to the way they work.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

scrap store

As ive already mentioned Ham are going for best eco friendly community and as a result we are going to try and create costumes and props out of recycled materials! As this will also help save money. I contacted merton scrap scheme where the university has a membership so we could get some materials. Our membership runs out in April so i need to talk to Trever about renewing the membership. As the project will involve so many materials it is not practical to get all the materials we need as we do not have anywhere big enough to store it all. Not being certain on costumes just yet there will also be materials that we will need that we are not aware of yet. Before now, storage was a concern for us, particulary to store things such as the structure for a huge catapiller/dragon type thing that we plan to create as part of the parade. We are not going to make it completely as we thought all participants of the event could each add a piece to it, so that eventually it is created by the community as a whole.
I contacted another scrap scheme in twickenham, which i went to visit with Laura and Kim although it turned out to be a shed full of rubbish as opposed to a scrap scheme!! we were let in told to take what we want, sign out and shut the door behind us after we left haha!! took us around 40 minutes to find it, which didn't help as i was throwing up every five minutes!!We managed to find sum scrap paper which we took and a tube full of plastic bags but that was all! despite it being dissapointing, we are now aware that the majority of our materials will have to come from the merton scrap scheme.
We have also finally found a place which we can store some of our stuff, it just needs to be emptied as it was used by last years drama in the community group! although we should proberly have a little look and see if there is anything we can salvage before throwing it all away! Any helpers volunteering?

mexican night....fundraising!!!

Wellll done fundraisers!! mexican night here we come! The first fundraising event has taken place and it was a success! was a shame the S.U wasn't full to the brim but we done extremely well and it was a wicked night! With us all dressed up ready for spring break and jenny dressed as a fajita....topped us all as usual!! only Jen could pull that off bravooooo! The S.U had been decorated during the day by most of us with the items created by the design team which included several palm trees, flags, pictures of mexican men and pinatas! Despite the pinatas not being completely dry and still being soft haha they were an extra to the evenings events!...they were at least stuffed with sweets of course! The night began quiet but as the night went on, more and more students began to fill the S.U! Taking it in turns to sit by the door and charge for entrance we made several hundred pounds after paying for security! Not a bad evenings work! Despite the nights purpose being to fundraise, I feel it brought the group together as we were in a relaxed enviroment were we could have a laugh without answering questions or joting down notes! I feel it gave the company a boost of positive energy which was perhaps needed after all the long meetings and hard work that can sometimes bog us down!! For me it felt like the project was really taking direction, it was like a realisation that it is actually going to take place. I think i sometimes forget that when im constantly planning and experimenting with design as opposed to socialising within the community, which after all is what the project is all about; bringing the community closer together.


The meetings with Tina are going well. We decided to start designing props and accesories as apposed to full costumes that the parade could wear. Some of the ideas we came up with were, masks, hats, banners, decorations for pushchairs, wheelchairs etc, flags, tiars/crowns, cloaks, puppets, ribbons fastened to the end of sticks to create cheerleading like props, and flowers. We decided this would be the best option for 'costume' as not only would it be impossible to design and make complete outfits for around 4.000 people but we also thought it to be important for the groups to show their identities through their own uniforms. We began playing around with flowers, in which we tried several ways including, using plastic bags which made colourful, big, full flowers, lillies made out of paper, (which despite being beautiful and delicate, would be runied in rain and ripped far too easily) and by using coloured card, which was cut into strips and folded over to make petals. The last design was the quickest and simplist and we found, accidently, that if they were made too big they could actually be worn as a headdress.
We then moved onto masks, which were created easily through using a mould and maskingtape. They were easy to cut into shape, and were again cheap and easy to make. They were also just thick enough to be able to hold extra features such as hair etc but were not too thick for these extras to be attached easily. Deciding this to be the easiest way we decided to create some extra moulds so there would be enough for around 15 people to make them at the same time. Despite all using the same method to create these, it was surprising how many different styles of masks we created; animals, people, full masks, half masks, and elaborate surreal masks.Through the flexability of this method of mask making, no two masks would be the same.
We then moved on to hats where we created several simple structures which could be used as a base for a variety of styles including elaborate hats, jacobean, bishop, crowns, tiaras, or could be used to fasten any extras we thought neccessary. After each of us created our own, we realised they were all rather feminine and so we brainstormed and experimented by creating some more masculine styles. Some of our ideas included fastening playing cards, creating a bat and ball to attach on top, darts, basketball etc. Through the simple base of the hat, creating these extras and adding them was simple.
Despite starting to create these props, the idea for the project has changed. The event will tell a story, with possibly fairytale characters, such as princesses, kings, queens, monsters, fairies etc. With this change we need to find out whether storytelling is the theme for the design or is a story taking place as part of the event? If a story is taking place what is the story and what characters will there be? and are we making props/ objects to create characters as oppsed to actual costumes? In order to create costume items that will cover the vast range of participants it is important to get a contact list of all the groups that are definately going to be involved, so we know the costumes that will need to be designed.
once we have the answers to these questions we will be able to crack on with designing.

karate clubs

Out of the 10 community groups i contacted only two have got back to me. Dissapointing obviously, especially after sending them a second email and they still didn't reply. However, two karate clubs are on board which is good news. Having originally thought we were having small perfomances in the gardens of Ham they both agreed to give a small demonstration as well as participate in the parade. Despite the performances no longer happening they will both still be taking part in the parade. I am visiting one of the clubs tomorrow evening where I will watch one of their classes, i may even have a cheeky go at a kick and a punch, and will then discuss the plans for the parade. The other club I have arranged to meet next week. The meeting should hopefully result in me finding out the numbers for participants and for me to answer any queries they may have!!!

bell ringing

I went with Charlotte, Rachel and Sarah to visit some bell ringers in Isleworth, which we are aiming to incpoporate into the parade in some way or another. To begin with, I was uncertain how this would work, but after discussing it with the girls, I have realised they would incoporate the bells by either tieing them around their ankles , wrists etc or by giving a demonstration in Ham House gardens. I think it would add an interesting element to the parade, in that the parade should appeal to other senses not only the visual. I think the bells would help to create the carnivelesque atmosphere and would enable people to identify the groups identity as church bell ringers. I also think it is important to include these kinds of groups, as it is significant for a community event to include all groups from the area. As a Christian nation it is also important to incoporate them into the event.
On our arrival we were taken to one of the highest points in the church where we were shown the bells and how they work. I was suprised at how many different sizes there were and the range of sounds they made. We watched the bells ring for a while after being told to sit down with our feet on the floor as the power of the bells was so strong, catching our foot on a rope could have taken us up to the tower!!! As we watched we could feel the room rocking slightly from the vibrations. We were then given a chance to ring the bells ourselves! It took a suprising amount of strength and concentration to control them. I was also shocked at the variety of patterns the bells could be rung in. Sitting there watching made me realise that the bell ringing was a community event in itself both for the people participating and those outside who were included though hearing the bells ring. I look forward to them participating in the parade where with some luck they'l have the same kind of impact.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

so much for banging that last post out....took me a couple of hours!!!!


why is it taking me soooo long to blog!!?? im going to try and bang this one out... here goes...

Having been assigned to the design team, we had our first meeting with Tina last week where we began to discuss possible ideas for costume. the main issue that arose is the fact that there is no chance of us being able to design individual costumes for the 3,000 or so people that are going to be involved. Instead we began thinking of themes to use for costume. Colour was an idea as we felt it was nothing personal to a specific community group like country for example would; everyone can relate to colour, and it also sticks to the idea of a carnival which is what we imagined this event to resemble.

We came up with vision of a rainbow making its way towards Ham House. Different colours will be given to different groups within the parade(colours shall be repeated further down in the parade)which they will base their costumes on. We are going to have an undercolour of white, as it will be bright in the darkness and it is a popular colour resulting in people being likely to own some white clothing.The colour they will be given will then be added to the white e.g (green- scarfs, hats, masks, flowers, karate belt etc). The white will also bring the whole parade together as opposed to seperating the parade through block colour. During one of the last meetings, we have also decided to use colour as the given theme for each community to base their project on. colours have strong enough connotations with things to get ideas for the project, yet it is not specific enough to restrict these ideas.

It has recently been discovered that Ham are trying to win the reward for being the best eco friendly. As a result we thought we could incoporate this into our design and use recycled materials as a way to create costume and props. As the costume will be fairly simple we thought we could use props as a way to make the percession visually attractive although the colour of the costume will support this further. Combining this idea with using recycled materials, we have decided to do workshops with the different communities to show them how to make objects which they can use during the parade. This week Tina demonstrated the many ways in which masks can be created. The most effective would be to use masking tape which is layered over a mould of a face. Eventually it becomes thick enough to be used as a mask. This tactic is cheap and unmessy and is strong enough to have other elements attatched to it, such as hair etc. Next week we are learning how to make flowers.

A good start to design i think!!!....

Friday, 22 January 2010

12 hr musical

For our musical theatre assessment the class presented the idea of putting on our own musical within 12 hours as opposed to doing a presentation. We felt that we would benefit and learn far more by going through this process than simply reseaching information and presenting it to the rest of the class. It was going to be a real test of how we could work as a group under such a huge amount of pressure. The point of the musical was the development of the process and the journey we went on in order to create it as opposed to the final product, which the majority of the audience was unaware of. As a result there was a complete lack of support from audience members. Despite the final performance consisting of forgotten lines, repeated lyrics and improvised dancing it was the fact that we had worked and battled through as a mini community to even reach the final product at all.

There were many times throughout the 12 hours when we wanted to throttle one and other, but it was the support and encouragement of the rest of the group that pulled us through and gave us the courage to carry on. The extent of the pressure to write, direct, design, organise, rehearse and choreograph a hours show was extremely high. It was difficult to manage how to distribute the time we had fairly so that everyone got a fair amount of time to rehearse with the resources they needed. This was a problem that arose during the day. As a large group the chorus needed far more time to rehearse singing and dancing with the piano, but this was not given to us and as a result we were cut out of the singing all together, despite spending several hours learning the lyrics for multiple songs. The dancing was also extremely out of time as we had rehearsed using a C.D to dance to and the switch to live music confused the counts and beats of the routine.

The significance of the day was on the team work that was required to get to the end product. I learnt a lot form the experience, including how to deal with emotion and how to effectively disagree with something without wasting hours argueing about it. It gave me a real taste of drama within a community where issues will arise and disputes will occur. It was one of the experiences that I have learnt most from whilst being at university.


...Leading on from my experience from the christmas project at ham house, my trip to Spain really re-inforced my idea of what drama in the community should be about. I not only learnt about drama in the community, but it also made me realise that dramatherapy really is what i want to do for my career. The project affected the villagers in a very personal way, it addressed the problems they were facing within the tiny village of Belvia in which they live. Spain having suffered from a 'silent' era, in which its history and political issues could not be discussed openly and freely by its people, made people very afraid to have the freedom of speech and to document both the history of their country and their opinions. This drama project opened the possibility for people to do this. I identified the project as a form of therapy. Having created the performance themselves in terms of characters, storyline etc, some of the villagers found it extremely difficult to come to terms with the fact that what was written down (the script) was their work. But through encouragement and support they were able to overcome this difficulty and instead feel proud of what they had created. The direct involvement of the community within the performance is how i imagine the final product at Ham House to be like. Having seen a project like that for myself, see it succeed and be able to witness the joy it brought to so many people has gave me hope and encouragement to do something as rewarding as the project in Spain for our performance at Ham House.

I learnt so much about the Spanish culture whilst I was there. It was interesting to see how drama and theatre is run differently there then it is here. Many of the villagers, particulary the older members, had never participated in a performance before. It was also lovely to witness how the project actually brought the village closer together. the youngest perticipant was 8 and the oldest was in her 80's and she was death, which demonstrated how everyone can be involved in a project and how everyone can work together. There was a couple of women who had previously had a disagreement and yet they were still working together to create the project. I think this was project was also therapeutic for their relationship.

I would love to go back and work with Spiral again. This kind of work is what I want to spend my life doing. Despite enjoying myself to the full, it was more about the enjoyment of the villagers and the sense of achievement they felt. I felt extrememly proud.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

ooops havnt written in forever!!!

where to start...

the storytelling at ham house has finished and looking back it wasn't quite how i imagined it would be. I think I was imagining it to be full of hustle and bustle with music playing along the hallways, packed full of stalls selling christmas souvenirs, with the smell of food wafting up to the buttery upstairs where I was performing. But it wasn't. I feel the only event going on was our storytelling, that people had come into the house just to be told stories. I had thought our performance was going to be an extra to the event already happening. It is for this reason that I feel it was not drama in the community in the context i was expecting it to be. Of course all drama is essentially drama in the community because it involves the rest of society even if they are just observers. However, through this module i wanted to discover and explore drama as a way of working with the community, to include them in the performance process, for them to have a say in what is performed, how it is performed or to be the performers themselves. The performance we originally rehearsed (the Q and A) was i think performed once at the most due to the lack of audience members and their age. As a result our performance became more about christmas characters meeting and talking to the children. while writing this it has just made me think that this version of the performance was more of a drama in the community concept through the interacting with the public then a rehearsed performance would have been.