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Upcoming Gigs

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Supporting Jollyboat, Knaresborough: 22nd June

Brig-Aid Fundraiser, Fruit, Hull: 23rd June

Slam Dunk, Hastings: 28th June

Word Club, Leeds: 29th June

Verse Matters, Sheffield, 5th July

Say Owt @ Deer Shed Festival, 21st July

Say Owt @ Great Yorkshire Fringe, York: 25th July

Working Title, Lancaster, 26th July

Nerd Punk, Edinburgh fringe @Banshee Labyrinth 19.50 13th August

Poetry Jam, Durham: 4th October

Friday, 1 July 2016

20.16 Blog #13: Compromise & Confidence

Last night the Youth Theatre group I take at Harrogate Youth Theatre performed their dark piece inspired by the works of Edgar Allen Poe.  It wasn’t just the title, Poe-Faced, that was the comedic element to this piece.  In-between all the ghastly ravens and murder and the like, there were some nice funny moments, advanced physical theatre and creepy story-telling.

The group can be very funny, indeed they have a lot of dry wit and great understand of timing for their age range (12-14s).  But their great strength with the performance was understanding the world we inhabited.  Though we explored different scenes of interrogation, paranoia and madness around the texts of Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven, the group were able to see recurring images, themes and motifs in the form of an asylum-like setting, reference to medication, eyes and denial.  I think this was because in the rehearsal room we really swam into these depths of the story, playing with fear and fixation in warm-ups.

This was my first show as a director in a technical setting.  I have directed show-backs and PIAWs and projects many times, but with a paying audience with LIGHTS and SFX I felt very proud indeed that everything came together.

On reflection, it’s interesting that the key skills I realised I had learnt directing this group were compromise and confidence.

With compromise, there were certain moments if it was an older group, or we had an extra rehearsal, I would have tweaked.  For example, one scene a character acts like a Nurse in an asylum.  In the context of the scene, in the context of the ensemble performing, it would have made sense for this character to interact with other actors onstage and explore their environment rather than just the 2 she had worked with previously.  I would have encouraged more recurring images, the moon for example, highlighted the idea of a staring eye and prompted actors to try something new.  However, the fact the group have achieved this level of performance and achieved this level of skill has been hugely impressive.  I wonder if directors working with adults watch the last trickles of rehearsal and clock certain moments which they would tweak, but now the show is up and running, decide compromise is the most productive pulse.

Next skill:  Confidence to make the calls that need making.  No time for ums and ars and as much as we all need to collaborate, directors soon realise you give an inch, a mile might later be taken.  Because at this stage, people can start changing things or playing around too much and lose the consistency.  For example, the group are entirely in black as an ensemble, and yet if some were to wear a hoody, then it wouldn’t quite gel with the rest of the cast.  As much as it’s a small thing, to allow for a degree of difference opens a floodgate of costume liabilities.  Confident directors make a decision, even a slight one, with all the strictness of deciding the important-est factors.

It’s a shame that when one reaches a certain age, it becomes harder and harder to be a ‘director’ or, in my case, ‘direct something’.  Because the opportunities are scarce, the invitations and the offers are limited to people who are making a career out of it, and quite rightly.  If someone wanted to direct an adult production, they would look to the numerous directors eager for projects in York, and the city.  And my skills very much lie within directing young people, but I would still love to be the moulder and crafter for an adult company.  But I’m a YT practitioner theatre-maker, writer etc and the jack-of-all-trades don’t always master them all.

Sounds like I’m damning myself.  You gotta play, I’d love to direct it.  But to work on it with confidence and compromise would also be super.

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