September 13th, 2012 Comments
Earlier this summer Rob and I took some photos to use for publicity for WiLD related things, workshops and more. We had a fun day, here is what we made:
These two are just for fun:
The following photos I was aiming for something slightly blurry with movement and colour like a carnival. I put on every fringed item of clothing I own, and spent a long time leaping around. It was hard to get the effect:
Here I am as a fringed monolith:
Here’s the one that works – Teifi as flying Kraken:
Then we went into the woods which created a lighting style directly transported from the 1970s:
The one I like:
Finally we took some pictures with Max:
A fun day with useful results!
September 9th, 2012 Comments
How do I show pictures of masks without freaking you out? They’re sinister just by being masks. With all the facial recognition portions of our brains I think they have an enormous power, not supernatural, but… stirring. I definitely had a ‘moment’ whilst making this one. Here was the process:
Make a base layer mask on your face, using gummed paper. Theatre designer Steve Denton taught me this process, it’s an easy, cheap and environmentally friendly way to make a mask that fits your face perfectly.
Start by taping first around your crown and then under your chin and over the top of your head. Then you gradually fill in the gaps. For the first layer put the tape gummy side out.
It looks slimy and wet, and it actually… is, but it’s also fun! Like a facial with absolutely no beautifying properties. Actually the inside is mostly dry, so it’s not too bad. I switched from blue to brown tape because the blue tape was too thick. This turns out to be a useful way to see what I did first and second.
To begin with you have to manipulate the tape every once in a while to make sure you get a good nose shape rather than a big domed nose face. Maybe there’s a better way to do this, but I haven’t figured it out yet. I think lying on your back and having someone make a mask on you would solve this problem.
Making it on myself with the help of a mirror made it easy to get in really close to my eyes without inadvertently gluing my eyelashes together.
Here’s the base mask with several layers of tape over the whole face. You can see there’s a better fit over the eyebrows, nose and forehead than there is around the mouth, but I tweak that later. I’m actually smiling in this photo so I don’t look too scary.
Taking it off – the stocking-hat protected my hair from getting glued into the mask. Before taking it off I gave it a blast with a hair dryer. Then I let it dry overnight.
Once it’s dry you can sculpt it with the mask sitting on a table. Here I’ve added eyebrows, mouth creases and cheeks. I also cut out the mouth, remade it and then cut out the shape I wanted. It’s winking – I just haven’t done the second eye yet. Even with the very first eyebrow it started to come to life, enough to make me want to put it on and show everyone.
I still use the mirror at this point, trying on the mask every few minutes so that I can see what needs to change. It looks surprisingly different on a face compared to just sitting on a table. Somehow I can see asymmetry more easily with it on my face.
It was at this point that I tried it on for Rob. He hadn’t seen the new eyes yet. He liked it but said it could still be a bit evil or ghoulish (which isn’t what I want for this character). I agreed. It was happy with a dark side… (maybe it was the way I wore it?)
In the image below you can see I have added much bigger rosy cheeks. This solved the ‘evil’ problem. I think it must be something to do with baby faces – we all love fat babies! It was at this point that every time I put it on I instinctively started to jiggle and breathe differently, and then suddenly I couldn’t stop giggling. The mask had come to life. I went and danced around the garden for a bit. The way I had imagined the character would move had evolved into something much clearer and more rounded.
You can also see that I’ve changed the shape of the nose, tidied up the mouth and nostrils and a few other bits and pieces.
Step 3, 4, 5:
When it’s bone dry I’ll give it a light sanding with a very fine sandpaper. Then I’ll paint it and finally decorate it with…
Ooh, but I’m not going to show you any of that. For that you’ll have to come and see the show!
Book your tickets now!
August 27th, 2012 Comments
After a long time hibernating in a big pile of theatrical straw, WiLD has awoken, yawned and stretched, to find not one, but three theatres opening their doors for performances this coming October:
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Thurs – Sat, 4th, 5th, 6th October, 8pm
Richard Whiteley Theatre, Giggleswick
Friday 12th October, 7.30pm
Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham
Friday 27th, 7.30pm
Saturday 28th, 2pm Matinee & 7.30pm
Workshop: “Be Wild” on Thursday 26th at 6pm
Book your tickets now!
There will be more venues added to the list for March 2013, so watch this space.
I thought you might like to see how I enticed these venues to book the show:
I personalised each video, so every venue programmer (hello if you’re reading!) got addressed by name in their video. Editing it was… interesting! There are nearly 100 versions. This one here is the generic one.
And here are some behind the scenes shots:
I had a laptop at my feet so I could watch takes. After hours of filming I really got to know how to bring Max to life – I learnt the right hand positions, how to make him smile in different ways, how to make him look directly in the camera (which took a bit of getting used to).
I started off filming with an ordinary digital stills camera, but the frame rate is much too low for a puppet that moves so quickly, so it has to be a proper camera or nothing, otherwise Max looked really jerky – there aren’t enough frames per second to capture his fast movements. I’m still learning about film, so I find these things really interesting.
The good thing about filming with Max is I don’t have to do my hair, or even get out of my pajamas!
December 11th, 2011 Comments
Welcome to production update No.1! I’m so excited and happy to be working on the creative parts of this project and not just on the admin.
So far I’ve been working on the narrative, the script and the AV. There have been some interesting decisions to make. The more I work on the story, the more I feel like I really understand what makes a story work. I’ve noticed that sometimes I don’t know what the answer to a narrative problem is yet, but I am very clear about which potential solutions DON’T fit. The process of examining what doesn’t work often brings you closer to a solution that really does.
The second thing I’ve noticed is what happens when you immerse yourself in a creative world. My mind is inside the story now (sometimes when I’m tired I wish it wasn’t). This state of thinking is the only way to arrive at exciting breakthroughs. I’ve been working on the character design for one of the creatures in the play, and just kept drawing the same slightly boring version again and again, until all of a sudden a slightly different idea leaped off the page – ‘The One’. As my mind was ticking over the consequences of this new design for the other elements in the play, a HUGE solution for the ending became clear. I can’t tell you what it is because it will spoil it for you when you come to see the show. I was so excited I wanted to run around the room and phone people to tell them. It was midnight so I held back on that.
This ending solution has actually renewed my excitement for the second half of the play and removed many obstacles I was feeling were in the way. This couldn’t have happened a few weeks ago.
The other new and exciting thing that happened this week was starting work with the rest of the team. The first production meeting went really well, we dived into the costume boxes, tried everything on, and made new plans.
I will introduce you to individual members of the team over the next few weeks. They’re all wonderful.
The video above was an example of trying something only to discover it is not going to work. We fiddled around with the video effects and I thought I’d keep it to show you. It doesn’t tell you a lot about what we were trying to achieve, but you can see we’ve been busy!
And with that, I am having an actual day off today, the first in a while, so off I go!
Photos by Sarah Jane Leigh.
December 8th, 2011 Comments
WiLD will be performing for two nights at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff on January 20th and 21st.
Tickets are ON SALE NOW!!!
The audience seats 96 (it’s an intimate venue) and I would LOVE to sell out the show.
(There are secret reasons that I’d like to sell out, on top of wanting a full house and a fun audience, but they’re secret so I can’t tell you… yet…)
If you’re considering coming to the show, please book your tickets early, in fact please go and book them now!
I was in Chapter on Sunday and as we were leaving we spotted a poster for the play up in the courtyard. I was so excited! It’s really happening.
I’d love to have you in the audience, and I wager you will laugh at least once, be intrigued, be amused, surprised, moved, entertained, entranced, and leave happy.
Plus if you’ve not been to Chapter before, it’s a great venue, the theatre has a lovely atmosphere, and the cafe and bar is fantastic.
If that weren’t enough ticket prices are £8, £7 for concessions, and £5 for Chapter members.
So go! Go! Go to the box office! And bring all your friends.
December 4th, 2011 Comments
Having set a very high fund-raising target on my Wefund page (which has a target deadline), I then didn’t quite achieve it. That’s ok – I had not tried fundraising like this before and I was doing it mostly on my own. I have learnt a great deal about fundraising which will help enormously for future projects.
But what happened to WiLD?
Would a small thing like this stop me? HA! NO! Everything is going ahead as planned. I reshuffled my budget and called in some favours, I have the Arts Council Grant – the show will go on!
I also have the fantastic donations that many of you have made. The amount I am raising with your help is making a huge difference to the show, and I am always bowled over by your generosity. Thanks to each of you.
If you would still like to donate then fundraising will continue the whole length of the project – that is until the performances on January 20th and 21st (and possibly beyond).
Use this link to go to my website to donate
I do have a new more modest target of £500, which will complete my budget. I am still honouring the rewards that are listed on the website, so for £10 you will get three artworks as a digital download, and for £25 you will also get a handmade sock puppet – and many more items for different amounts. Everyone who donates will get their name in the programme and can visit a rehearsal if they wish.
Thank you for your on-going support, it makes a huge difference to me!
The picture: In return for her generous donation, I painted Kim as a Puffin last night, to accompany her wonderful costume for a Fancy Dress Party. She won first prize!
October 19th, 2011 Comments
Today I am launching the fundraising campaign for my solo show WiLD!
I am SO excited but also terrified. I think this is normal. Here’s the link to the campaign –
I am offering all sorts of wonderful rewards to donors – handmade masks, a family of sock puppets that resemble your own family, a drama games workshop, me to sing at a party of your choice, a holiday, and more! Any amount is appreciated from £1 to my target of £7,000. I’ve got 4 weeks to pull this off. Yes.
In other monumental good news, today I found out that my Arts Council funding application was successful. HOORAY!!! And it’s my birthday week so things couldn’t get any better.
Yip yip yip, dancing around the kitchen!
August 16th, 2011 Comments
Another project come to completion. By no means perfect, but after several weeks work you have to know when to stop…
(Again, I’m actually really pleased!)
I now know how to video edit, apply all sorts of effects and edit sound for video. It turns out the sound is probably more important than the picture. Several times during this project I thought about how long it must take to edit a feature length movie and how glad I am not to be doing that. I’m sure it pays well, but I value sunlight too much.
Anyway, hooray I did it!
August 6th, 2011 Comments
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…)
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?
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.
(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:
We did a photo shoot and I chose this photo:
(second choice would have been this, in which I have somehow managed to capture the jaunty angle of ‘being on a ship’ -
inexplicable, but true.)
Next came painting the artwork, learning a bit more about typography by copying fonts I like:
(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 wrong proportions version:
the version that was closest to what I was aiming for but in real life looked hmmmm:
the ‘My Little Pony’ version:
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…)),
the wings version (I like it – but snow angel isn’t really the look I’m going for),
and finally the one I ended the night in despair on:
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:
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:
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”:
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)…
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!)
May 14th, 2011 Comments