Trainee Arts Administrator Lucy Hayward's latest blog finds Extant participants in front of the camera.
This month it has been very exciting as I have been working on the Show Real project.
The idea for Show Real came from a previous participant who wanted to profile their work. Extant decided to develop a series of workshops which would enable participants to take part in creative writing, movement, voice and performance workshops and then create their own showreel. Workshops were meant to be held at Oval House Theatre but a fire at the venue meant that we had to spend a few weeks hastily rearranging to book a new space for our workshops.
I worked with different members of the team to understand how the projects was run and witnessed the dedication and persistence required to make it a productive and positive experience for all involved.
Creative writing was run by Michael Achtman and every participant was offered support if needed; someone to scribe for them, read through or help them develop ideas for their work. I scribed for Chris Campion, a film maker who wanted to have a go at writing and watched how his ideas developed.
Michael set simple exercises so that everyone was comfortable then he added time restrictions which made them challenging. He encouraged everyone to write the first thing which came into their mind and made it clear that it is better to write down more and pick out the good bits. By the end of the session every person shared a character and the challenges they faced with the rest of the group. It was exciting to hear different writing styles and the subjects people chose to cover.
The voice workshop was held by Amelia Cavallo, a visually impaired actor, musician and aerialist who works with Extant. Amelia helped everyone warm up with different vocal exercises. We had a lot of fun starting with one word and passing it on in a different way with an action thought up on the spot. For the final warm up we stood in a circle and created our own orchestra. It sounded really good, so good that Arthur the guide dog felt he had to join in!
Everybody got to work on their monologues and Amelia advised the group to move a different part of the body in reaction to each line. It was difficult at first but each person had their own space was able to completely focus on their characters. By the end we had really impressive characters, jumping, crawling and wriggling across the room. At the end, when everybody provided a few lines from their characters, it showed just how effective this exercise had been
The performance workshops were run by Oli Campbell. A table was found for Arthur the guide dog to sit under and he quickly fell asleep. Oli started the session by getting everyone else to walk around the room and get used to the space.
Oli’s enthusiasm and excitement about working with everyone really shone through. By the end we had all warmed up and were relaxed and ready to focus on the session.
Each person was asked to think about their characters’ situation, what life they led and why they liked them. As the session went on everyone started talking in character. It was fun to hear the different conversations and gave each person the opportunity to think about how their characters would speak and react to others without relying on the script. I learnt a lot by observing and was impressed with the volunteers who supported those taking part. They were really encouraging and responded instantly if somebody needed help.
Over the weekend I worked with Joy. She was working on a verbatim piece about a teenage girl in east London. Joy talked to me about her character and I was able to understand how she wanted to perform her piece and help her rehearse. I discovered that I am confident directing and have good understanding of how to develop a character.
Initially most people arrived feeling nervous about how they were going to produce a piece of work to be performed the following week. The workshops provided an opportunity to play together, test their characters and work with Oli. By the end of the session performers were relaxed, having fun and enjoying the experience.
The next time I saw everyone was on the performance day at The Poor School.
The performance was brilliant with fiery Ebony Rose Dark and comedian Easton acting as comperes. We experienced modern and classic interpretations of Shakespeare, beautiful Indian singing, original poetry, powerful monologues and exceptional acting. After each performance Amelia and Louise Dickson the dance coach provided X factor style feedback, it was all really positive, neither of them were as mean as Simon Cowell.
Show Real was a really exciting project to be a part of. I learned from talented tutors leaders and supported the performers, which was very rewarding. Speaking to people afterwards they had a brilliant time and I really hope that I can be involved in an Extant project like Show Real again.
Lucy's role is supported by Unlimited Impact; supporting artists and venues to celebrate the work of disabled artists, funded by Spirit of 2012.