WiLD Nights – (but what if they heckle?)

October 24th, 2012 Comments 2

What went down on and offstage in WiLD-land these past few weeks?  It was memorable, hard work, and absolutely wonderful.  (There are two more performances this week in Birmingham!
Book now!)

WiLD 02

“Hilarious, beautiful, enchanting… just incredible.” audience @ Chapter 2012

Performing WiLD for some real live audiences has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Every audience to date has been so responsive, kind, and generous with their feedback. I really, really enjoyed every single second onstage. I started looking forward to scenes that I had felt less close to up until that point. By the end of the Chapter run I had new favourites.

WiLD 09

“An astonishing solo performance” audience @ Chapter 2012

It’s strange creating something that you believe in, that you keep working on and want to share, you have a hunch that it could be good – but you don’t know if anyone else in the world will see it’s value, or enjoy it. Sharing it with an audience is the only way to find out, and based on the responses I received, I feel proud of myself and everyone who worked on it.

WiLD 04 Max

““Probably the best show I’ve ever seen. audience @ Chapter 2012

WiLD 10

“A comic explosion of acute, cringe-making social observation,
a painful onion-peeling of the soul… a joyous babbling stream of surreal connections
and wild ideas” –
audience @ Chapter 2012

There were challenges, as you might expect. I don’t usually get nervous, but doing an hour and a half long solo show is something else. The pressure is huge.  I lost my voice before the first night, which was… interesting. I didn’t speak all day Thursday to help it rest.

By opening night my voice had relaxed, and I was fine. Over the course of the week my nerves ebbed away. This was actually a positive experience for me, one of learning to trust and rely on myself.

WiLD 06

“The enviably multi-talented Emerald takes us on a winningly imaginative eighty-minute journey… A technical tour-de-force”  – British Theatre Guide

Yesterday Rob started reciting lines from the show to me, so if I ever can’t do a performance in future he can do it instead :) . One of the nicest parts of rehearsal were the times I couldn’t quite get something, or was too tired to lift a duvet over my head for the eleventeenth time in a row, so I would sit down (with biscuits) and ask him to do the scene for me. Directors aren’t really meant to show actors how to do something, but we were making up our own rules, (one of the best things about making theatre yourself). What a joy! Learning by copying is easy, I could clock a rhythm of an action by watching it, and then leap up and do it ten times better than I had before. Sometimes you can feel the rhythm of a series of actions inside yourself but it needs encouragement to come out.

WiLD 05

“The performance constantly surprised me” – Bethan Natalie James @ National Theatre Wales

Going to The Richard Whiteley Theatre in North Yorkshire was another challenge. Would the audience of mostly GSCE and A level drama students get it? Would they laugh? Would they heckle? Would they walk out when they heard some Welsh!?

WiLD 03

“A bit funny, a bit sexy, a bit quirky, a bit imaginative, a bit weird, and very amazing” audiences @ Chapter 2012

As it happens they were a bloody brilliant audience. They showed me moments that were funny in a new way. They laughed at some references the older audiences didn’t see (while missing other Radio 4 based references). They even enjoyed the scene in Welsh! At the end of the night a few students stayed behind to chat. They were so happy! In that moment when I walked up to meet them my fears disappeared; something had worked here.

WiLD 08

“Touching and deeply moving” - audience @ Chapter 2012

So what next?  I now feel more confident and more ambitious, with plans brewing both large and small.  I’m looking for a producer, and I want to book a shiny new tour for next year.  Watch out, here I come!WiLD 07

“I was tempted to go twice – there were many magic perceptive moments
I wanted to hold onto” –
audience @ Chapter 2012

Book tickets to see WiLD at the Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham
Friday 26th and Saturday 27th October 2012 @ 7.30pm
Book here!

Thanks to everyone who sent their feedback, in whatever form,
Plus check out other really lovely words about the show on Twitter @actsofbeauty

WiLD 01

Photography by Ashleigh Haddad

Evolution of a theatre poster

August 6th, 2011 Comments 1

Hello, been away from blogging for a while, busy creating a new life for my play.  I will be performing it next January and February, more about that another time…

So, with new life comes a new image and even a new name!

My play, previously called Dance Beast Voice Monster – Mooing for the Soul is now called, (drumroll…)

WiLD

Obviously my simplification brain-lobe has recently been activated.

You can see the previous posters here and earlier versions here.  I was really happy with the posters I made first time around, but when I arrived at the venue last February they didn’t stand out at all.  I thought all the colour would make them pop out, but instead they made a beautiful blended backdrop for all the other posters.  On top of that I needed to make the artwork look less like children’s theatre.  Although I love childishness, and I use a child’s persona in the show (amongst others), it is definitely a show for adults, with a darker edge. 

Would you like to see how my poster has evolved over the past three weeks of blood sweat and tears?
YES! 

I started with one idea – a close up of my face with costume from a scene I’m using in the trailer, to be surrounded by painted artwork… somehow.

outdoor idea with crown

(Here I am using my mum’s solar cooker as a light reflector.)

The problem was, having seen my artwork on the walls of the theatre not working, it had shifted my confidence in my own artistic judgement, this made it quite hard to follow my own ideas, as I didn’t know if I could trust them.  Instead I listened to other people.  Which is good too of course.  I’m sure there’s an ideal balance to be found between listening to other people and to yourself.  I spent a week brainstorming and sketching pages of poster ideas.  I studied great cinema posters and National Theatre posters (they have a fantastic archive).  I realised that in no way am I a graphic designer. 

Deciding on one idea whilst not listening enough to my own judgement was… interesting.  But decide I did. 

Something a bit like this:

Wild pencil sketch

or this:

Wild pastel sketch

We did a photo shoot and I chose this photo:photo1

(second choice would have been this, in which I have somehow managed to capture the jaunty angle of ‘being on a ship’  -photo on a ship

inexplicable, but true.)

Next came painting the artwork, learning a bit more about typography by copying fonts I like:Wild typography crop

(this was the most fun thing to do).  After that came scanning everything and assembling all the pieces.  There followed two gruelling days of sitting in front of a computer for 12 hour stretches trying to make the material work together in time for my deadline.  And here are all the fun things we made!

The beginning:
Postcard 1

the wrong proportions version:
Postcard 2

the version that was closest to what I was aiming for but in real life looked hmmmm:Postcard 3

the ‘My Little Pony’ version:
Postcard My Little Pony

I may point out that after many hours of staring at your own face it starts to lose all meaning – like saying the same word over and over again.

The Polar Bear version (brilliant, not my idea, also no Polar Bears in the show (yet…)),
Postcard Bear

the wings version (I like it – but snow angel isn’t really the look I’m going for),Postcard Wings

and finally the one I ended the night in despair on:Postcard Blob on the I

Overnight I racked my dreaming brains for a better idea.  I like the red theatre curtain poking out in the original photo, so I bounded to the computer the next morning to try this:Postcard Curtains

A crude first attempt, but it didn’t inspire me to continue with the idea.  Undeterred I started listening more to myself about what the play is really about, what the nature of the play is.  ‘Theatre’ as a theme started to make sense, and I wanted something more fun and less pastel purple.

Two more days of painting and research produced these ideas:Wild ribbon banner resized

proscenium arch line drawing

which I liked on paper but just didn’t fit together with the photo. 

I felt so frustrated at this point.  I wanted something that would genuinely reflect the show, be strong, eye-catching and adult as well as fun.  Finally I decided to go back to the colour scheme of my previous posters, but even that was all wrong.  I needed a black background, not a white one. 
Aha!  Then, as if by magic, everything slotted into place.  I made some more artwork on black paper (in an hour, not two days).  Oh yes, this was also the day I began learning how to use the graphic design software (Xara if you’re interested).  Learning curve set to steep.

I assembled this, entitled “finally something that might work”:
finally something that might work 1

I then spent far too long handwriting the copy for the back only to find it was unreadable.  So I stayed up late making my own handwriting font with Scanahand (I recommend).  More interminable hours in front of a screen tweaking ridiculous minute detail has finally brought this version, now winging it’s way to me from the printer (another drumroll, if you please)…WiLD Front Final small

So there you have it. 

And if any of you dare to suggest that one of the previous versions is actually ‘your favourite’ then someone may have to play me the grumpy song, because I will need it.

(I’m actually really pleased!)

The Woods

April 1st, 2011 Comments 0

Stepping into this wonderful woods is like walking into another world,

02Forest of curls

you could climb inside this giant knot

03Forest of curls203treecoppice

there are many rabbit holes to fall down…

03URabbit Holes

The first catkins of spring always take me by surprise, and are always such a pleasure,

04Catkins

05Catkins2

and there are bushes which grow fluff (especially harvested for fluff needs the world over.)

 06fluff

Other people’s journeys

07bike trails

I stopped halfway to look where I was going,08Journey2

and where I had come from,09Journey1

Although the view behind was nicer, that same sun was on my face when I went ahead.  I kept wondering what was over the edge, but the edge just keeps moving.  Then I remembered there are incredible things all around me, so I went to explore,

09K Cat crouch11Bending trees

Golden light and a carpet of green emerging,12Golden Trees12Green Carpet

green shoots which I think might become bluebells, 13Green shoots

and my favourite thing, moss,

14Green shoots and rocks

Me 1 sunlightMe 2 sunlight

18Sun20Last Look

One last look…

Icy canal part 2

December 8th, 2010 Comments 0

So, after I visited the geese we walked along the frozen canal, frozen canal trees

the ice had cracked, shifted and then refrozen, making wonderful patterns all along the canal – it’s amazing to see how ice naturally breaks – in geometric shapes like a Kandinsky, and then in beautiful sweeping curves and arcs,

ice patterns 7

ice patterns 4    ice patterns 5    ice patterns 6

The wet weather made these twigs look like a rainforest, some sides were wet and black, some were dry and pale green, with every shade in between,

 rainforest twigs

It’s always nice to finish with a rusty fence and some moss – my favourite thing

moss rusty fence

beauty EVERYWHERE!!!

Cheese Geese

November 4th, 2010 Comments 0

Here is a story about Swans.

From our kitchen window I saw the swans sailing past out into the wide blue sea.  That was strange. 

The next day I saw the swans again, five in a row, mummy and daddy in front and behind of three grown up babies,swans sailing by

I ran out to see them and when they saw me running towards them they turned and started swimming to me,

swans swimming for breakfast

I didn’t know why they came, but I photographed them until they got bored and lined up in a row again ready to swim off, then I realised they must be hungry and I had yesterday’s sandwich in my bag, so I called them over,
Swans congregate

They didn’t need much persuading, and soon Mummy swan wanted her bread dry on the beach not wet from the saltwater,Swan brave

I kept throwing bread and more followed.Swan family big baby

Later I spoke to Dean and he told me he’d seen them swim out on a similar calm day, and go towards the rock for flying practice.  They all set off, but some of the babies were not strong enough and needed scooping up by their parents.  But it was magnificent. 

As the next day was Sunday, we went out again with our loaf of bread as soon as we saw them from the window,Swan in surf

 Swans in light

This time I fed them from my hand.  One rather misguided woman on the beach was trying to stroke them.  Sadly no success there.  Daddy swan made a strange growling in his throat any time anyone came too close.  Other than with food of course.grey swan camouflage

We were worried we’d interrupted their flying practice, so we left them.swan off

Finally back up in the kitchen, we watched through the window – the beach cleared and the swans lined up… and took off.  I watched them all do their flying practice in little stages, Mummy only flew a few yards, skimming the surface,  and landed so they wouldn’t get tired, but the cygnets were getting adventurous.

A few days later, Dean told me he had watched them all fly over the roof of our house – proper flying.  They’d all passed their test.

Makes a feeling like – Llkdjhrjhflehfkjrh – I can’t descibe.

More Lovely Spring

September 14th, 2010 Comments 0

spring green trees

Here be hobbits, if you wait long enough…

hobbit river

Idyllic, but, in fact, real:

light through leaves

just checking back on the hobbit:

river hobbit

soon-to-be apples

 apple blossom

and a meeting with the Elf King! to be continued…

An evening on the moor

September 11th, 2010 Comments 0

I can’t describe how beautiful the moor was when I went for this walk.  It was nearly unseeable it was so dark.  It was that glowing dusk time when there is so much magic you want to run and leap around and never go to bed.  evening on the moor buttercups

evening on the moor dandylions

evening on the moor walking 

evening on the moor bluebells

evening on the moor buttercups close

evening on the moor more buttercups

Fireflies in the grass, dance to send us to sleep, hold the moment an extra while and smile inside.

On the way to work today…

September 9th, 2010 Comments 0

…I met a horse

horses

of course.

First Class

September 7th, 2010 Comments 0

I got upgraded to first class!

first class companion

Here is the first class view,

first class view

and the first class emptiness.

first class emptiness

And the first class me – just to prove I was there.

first class and me

From here on in, I do declare, that bragging shall be a sanctioned and encouraged activity.  Brag brag brag.

Peace

August 29th, 2010 Comments 2

So, I have been writing a lot more, and longer pieces.  WITH NO PHOTOS.  And I have been reprimanded for such activities.  Yes that’s right – you know who you are. 

And I have been feeling (and still do feel) motivated and angry and upset about environmental destruction.  So I will let some peace in as well, because there are plenty of other people who feel the same way that I do, who work hard to do something about it.  So I am not alone.

Here is a Peace Rose – my favourite, from my mother’s garden,

peace rose full

may it bring peace to you too!   And fulfill your need for visual stimulation.

I feel conflicted about writing about the bad things in the world as well as the good things (to oversimplify it).  It’s as if the two mustn’t co-exist. 

You know this peace rose has a deeper meaning to me, I cut it and brought it to my home away from the garden.  Cutting flowers, especially flowers I love has always felt a little bit painful to me.  I actually am quite over-sensitive about environmental destruction to the point that cutting flowers in my own garden is hard.  I brought the rose along the motorway to my new home to make me feel good.  Which it did.  But it also made me feel sad and somewhat guilty that it was rootless and dying.  So I photographed it every day to capture it – my god we humans are deluded. 

I feel amazed at the pleasure that flowers constantly give.  I know they provide plants with an evolutionary advantage in surviving by attracting more bees (another thing to feel desperate about – all the bees dying), but they are living, moving, changing works of art and their whole mode is outward, gentle, extraordinary giving.  We can learn a lot from them.

So now (in my blog) I’m going to go back in time, to spring – when I took the photos and had the thoughts, but didn’t post.

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