New Views playwriting enrichment

By Oscar Clark, 6.1

During our Monday morning New Views enrichment session, we had the pleasure of working with playwright and poet Deborah Gearing.

Deborah led us in three main writing exercises. Firstly, we each described our journey from our bed to the session, each with a different focus on a particular sense, mine for example was smell. This really opened our eyes to the different sensory perspectives you can use to give a new scope on events, beyond the standard focus on sight.

The second exercise was very much a continuation of this one, with the addition of a new context, all of us writing a statement given to officials by a victim of the wildfires happening in California. This more concrete foundation for the writing proved challenging, it being difficult to get into the mind-set of the kind of character who has gone through this kind of event, but, with direction from Deborah, we formed some believable statements, each with a very interesting and different narrative perspective.

After this we experimented with the creation of characters, using a chosen photograph as the inspiration for a character then having to make up responses to questions Deborah asked us, thus turning a photograph into a three-dimensional human being with a backstory and ambitions. We repeated this exercise and were left with two characters of different backgrounds, eras and ages but both being fleshed-out tools for the concluding exercise. We tried to bring the two characters together in a scene, in doing so breaking the rules of time and space, and create some kind of conversational interaction between them.

It was an extremely beneficial session, giving the five of us firstly, an insight into challenges that face playwrights, but more importantly an insight into the techniques they use to overcome them. On behalf of myself and my classmates, I would like to thank Deborah for her help. We are all looking forward to our second session after Christmas.

 

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Sixth Form Show perspectives

Bedales Sixth Form Show 14th October 2018 (Photographer Jack Offord)-7703

By Hayley Ager, Head of Drama and Liz Wood, Head of Dance

We welcomed Temper Theatre Company this autumn as a company in residence to collaborate with Bedales and work with students who successfully auditioned to be part of the Sixth Form show. Their combined work, the physical theatre piece Kin, was performed prior to half term. Certain students will then be reworking this into a performance to tour around schools in Dubai in the upcoming exchange trip which Liz is running as part of the enrichment programme. We are incredibly proud of the students for their professionalism and engagement in the project which really saw them, as in real life, devising an original piece of physical theatre as a company. We were also very impressed with the company whose artistic vision, passion and devising skills were the perfect combination for our talented students and what he had in mind for this project.

By McCauley Fischer, Putney Exchange Student

The Sixth Form Show was full of many types of talent and creative choices. The audience entered a theatre filled with a thin layer of fog from a smoke machine, while live music played until the house lights dimmed for the start of the show. The fog allowed for a unique use of light to represent technology and a range of other things from mood to large amounts of water. The show, which centred around inhabitants of a town where a dam threatened to overflow, touched on themes of human connection with the earth and each other as well as communication. It conveyed how technology effects these things, at times showing a light-hearted reality and at times a harsh one. I found the physical theatre very convincing which fully immersed me into the story.

The main group of friends in the story had a similar effect for me because of the convincing portrayal of genuine friendship and excitement by the actors. I felt like they could be kids in any town that anybody in the audience could know. This was a device used throughout the show; the universalness of the characters and their behaviour was effective in getting me invested. The live music throughout the show by some incredibly talented sixth formers really brought it all together and made the show. It was a fun and thought-provoking evening of entertainment.’

By Eben Macdonald, Block 3

I believe that the meaning of the Sixth Form Show, Kin, is that humanity is forever arrogant and ignorant and that social media and this common sentimental social dependence which many people have is damning to society.

This is because the people in the play are constantly warned by the Public Service that there is an imminent breakage of the local dam, which will cause severe flooding and will be very serious. However, they frequently ignore these calls. There is a scene where, during a loud and exuberant party someone receives a call, but because of the noise they are unable to hear it. They even say dismissively over the phone, “Sorry, I need to get back to my friends”, which I feel conveys how damning this social sentimentality is. They could have heard that call and reacted, but they were too busy partying.

Also, a significant feature of the play is that the characters are frequently buried in their phone. During the play there are scenes of impressive choreography where the characters are looking straight at their phones. This, I feel, is meant to convey how social media consumes us, dominates our lives, and how depressingly addicted to it people are. Wherever the characters move, even when the movement is complex and choreographic, they’re buried in their phones.

When the dam at last breaks, there is a long scene showing the characters drowning, grabbing each other, thrashing about and being tossed around as the city is inundated. After that there is a scene that shows a few friends enjoying a flippant and sentimental conversation, of course on their phones. This, I feel, shows that humanity is arrogant and will never learn from its mistakes, as if they had not been so devoted to social media, they might have saved themselves.

Milk Presents’ drama workshops at Bedales

By Meg Allin, 6.2, Drama don

Last week we had a visiting theatre company, Milk Presents, perform their work BULLISH and also lead workshops with some of the drama classes.

We were joined by Jo Tyabji, the production’s artistic director, who came in and worked with us on Milk Present’s style and creation process.

Jo started by asking us our pronouns – he/she/they – and then asked us to say something we had done that made us proud that day, which helped set an initial basis and mood for the lesson.

We got up on our feet and did some quick fire clap exercises. We were asked a few questions about gender, like “are biological sex and gender the same thing?” to help create diversity in the room. Everyone was respectful of each other’s opinions and Jo pointed out that it’s okay to have differing opinions because it creates conflict in a piece. This is a factor that I think can get forgotten about in rehearsals.

We listened to heavy metal and wrote down all the things that made us angry. This gave a big release to the group and helped us relax and wipe away our stressful feelings.

We then used an Alecky Blythe exercise where one person will listen to a podcast and repeat what is being said, while everyone else surrounded them doing different things such as press ups when talking about diets. This managed to create a little piece for us which was incredibly interesting.

Having Milk Presents come into our Drama class gave us new perspectives about devising theatrical work as well as gender fluidity.

Bedales Head of Art taking part in two exhibitions in September

London Group exhibition

The new Head of Art at Bedales, Daniel Preece, is exhibiting at two locations in Cornwall in September. Daniel, who is also a practising artist of 25 years, is taking part in a three-man show at the Tregony Gallery, near Truro. The three artists involved – Daniel, Mark Dunford and David Wiseman – are all members of the prestigious artist collective, the London Group. The three are also taking part in a London Group exhibition at the Penwith Gallery in St Ives. The exhibition features painting, drawing, photography, mixed-media, print, 3D and a video show reel.

The London Group came out of the Camden Town Group and was set up in 1913 by 32artists including Walter Sickert, Jacob Epstein, Wyndham Lewis and David Bomberg, with the aim of creating a powerful artist-run group to act as a counter-balance to institutions such as the Royal Academy. The founding group created a unique structure for an organisation, and has gone on to successfully nurture the careers of many of Britain’s best-known artists.

Many of the members of the London Group are also visiting lecturers at other leading Art Schools and institutions in the UK. Daniel hopes to forge links through the other members to help the applications of the leaving 6.2.

Daniel believes to teach art well he needs to keep up his own practice and research.  Many of his teaching ideas have come from the struggles to make and visualize the world, pertinent to his own practise studying at the Slade and Royal Drawing School. He also believes there is no difference in his own need to create and the struggle a Block 3 student might have to paint and draw. He hopes his continued practical experience will help and to open up a dialogue.

there is a war (but it’s not here yet)

Bedales Parents Day - 30th June 2018 (Photographer Jack Offord)-6839By Mia Threapleton, 6:1 

On Parents’ Day on 30 June, and subsequently on 2 and 3 July, a science fiction, futuristic and mysterious piece of theatre of mammoth proportions was performed at Bedales.

Written by two highly talented Old Bedalians, Roly Botha and Eve Allin, there is a war (but it’s not here yet) focuses on a group of young teens fighting for survival in a world where every day could be their last.

With Phil Tattersall-King leading the charge as director and me, Mia Threapleton (6:1), as assistant director, we set out with our amazing cast to create a deep and complex piece of theatre that showed the hardships undergone by all the characters.

As an avid drama student I was very keen to dip my toe into the world of directing and find out more about what that was like. At the end of this amazing experience I can safely say with absolute certainty that I loved it.

I was blessed to have such a cooperative cast and a very patient director; it really was one of the best things that I have been involved with during my last six years at Bedales.

It allowed me to help people to utilise their fantastic creativity to their advantage. Additionally, I helped people to create a fully developed character, which they all succeeded in doing magnificently. Everyone created deeply compelling and often emotional performances.

With the aid of the wonderful Joanne Greenwood with her student crew and Liz Wood with her spectacular troop of dancers, the piece came together in a fantastic way and I am so happy to have been part of it.

Drama students treated to Director’s pre-show talk

Last Thursday as a drama department we took to the Lyric Hammersmith, to see Laura Wade’s adaptation of Victorian-set novel, Tipping the Velvet, and were incredibly fortunate to be treated to a pre-show talk for Bedalians from the director, Lyndsey Turner. Fresh from also directing Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet at the National Theatre she was witty, engrossing and clever all at once.

Tipping the Velvet is the story of two young women taking to the music halls in London as male impersonators and falling in love on their journey. It was Sarah Water’s debut novel in 1998 and set in the 1890s. The play took the tradition of a Victorian music hall and added music, comedy and a celebration of sexuality. Turner’s direction of the women’s physical intimacy was of nothing I’d seen before, they had the women suspended into the air, above their bed, intertwined with ropes. This allowed them to explore the meaning of their act as oppose to only the physicality and I felt it showed a sense of closeness between the women.

Throughout the play they included modern music sung in a choir to allow the story to be modernised and more engaging, for example Prince’s song Kiss was used when the women were performing in their music hall act. This intertwines the Victorian idea of performing in a music hall yet performing music of this century created a powerful balance between Victorian and modern ideas.

The performance was a success, especially considering how difficult it must be to adapt a novel onto stage whilst trying to stay true to the original story.

 By Nina Rebeiz, 6.2

Knitting yarns for sale in Outdoor Work

DSC_0016DSC_0023DSC_0005Double knitting yarns spun from our Jacob Sheep’s fleeces are available to buy from Outdoor Work: £5 each or £50 for 12; premium quality alpaca yarn on sale for £7.50 each. To place an order, please contact Outdoor Work (outdoorwork@bedales.org.uk/ 07786381427).

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