12/12/12 and the world hasn't ended! We're still here. Just a few cancelled trains this morning. With the freezing temperatures outside, we started today with a much needed warm up. Remy's 'plank' marathon should've soon warmed us up, but we discovered we were blasting our rehearsal room with air conditioning in our efforts to make it warmer. After we regained feeling in our hands and realised it was a good job that we were creatives and not heating engineers, we continued with physical and vocal rhythms (and even some basic beatboxing) lead by Rowan. I think - dare I say it - we're getting slightly better...We all shared our inspiration from the ideas of a modern Selkie story that excited us yesterday. All contributions fueled our development of what we wanted to create. Rowan shared his Selkie creation, which brilliantly fused song and narrative, giving a great basis for us to work on different sections in two groups. Both showings saw a certain style emerging - it seems to be one of exciting, fast-paced storytelling crammed with musical, lyrical and physical possibilities.Our folklore goddess, Sophia, joined us for the final part of the day when we developed one of the songs. Everyone seems to be very instinctive with what's going to work and very musically talented, so we reach something that we refine quite quickly.Two days to go. I'm super excited.
I arrive in the morning at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith with my guitar and trumpet, not having a clue what I’m about to be taking part in but it’s something like…a workshop for a week for nabokov who want to do something about storytelling and folklore and music. To someone who doesn’t know any of the people they’re about to meet and comes armed only with the above information this could potentially be a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons and as I journey in I begin to have excruciating thoughts about the day as it could unfold.; “OK everyone thanks for coming, now what we like to do on the first day is pretend we’re tree elves who make fruity yoghurts so if we could all take our clothes off….”
This however was not the case. (In fact, as I write, I remember that I was the only person on the first day, who offered to go naked but having seen the utter lack of interest on the faces of the others I surmised this was not a winning suggestion and relented.)
Instead I found myself sitting around a table with a group of lovely people, interested and interesting, who have all been brought in to offer something different to whatever “thing” we might have to offer by the end of the week. There’s Joe and Paul, the director and producer from nabokov. There’s Rachel who is a storyteller/poet and - though she doesn’t say - a pretty fine singer. There’s Rowan, aka Dizraeli, a rap artist whose words and rhythms are influenced a great deal by folk. There’s Sophia who has written and researched a number of books relating to folklore and a couple are on the table - impressive for their size and the reviews on the back! And then there’s me (Ben), Harry, Remy and Josie, all of us describing ourselves as actor/musicians or something similar and who’s gonna argue given the small arsenal of instruments we’ve each brought with us?
I won’t detail the days events but the sessions went something like this:-
1) A little jamming led by Harry and his beautiful cello (plus FX box!)
2) Once everyone had convened - late arrivals due to US Embassy visits, family shenanigans and bad Bristol busses - we chatted around the subject of fairytales, folklore, meanings and memories, films and theatre, modern versus old, pitfalls and pratfalls and…..LOADS
3) Lunch (lovely noodle soup from the Vietnamese market stall outside the theatre.) then another jamming session with all of us putting in a bit so we’ve got glockenspiel, guitar, cello, accordion, a chorus of voices and a bin as a drum.
4) In a circle, now, to do a sort of “Rap Class” led by the mighty Rowan where we all set up a beat then a line of ‘stream of conscious‘ verse would be thrown out by one of us and then the next person in line would have to follow - on the beat - with their own attempt at a rhyme. It might sound simple and it should be but….!(“Cipher” is the word used in the world of Rap for such a group, Rowan tells me. Why? Because a cipher is a zero in it’s original meaning ie a circle. Everyday’s a school day)
5) By the end of the day I’m exhausted, my head is full as an egg, I’ve laughed and been laughed at (chiefly the latter) , riffed and rapped about everything - yes, EVERYTHING - from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Bruce Lee’s 1-inch punch. I’ve been taken outside my comfort zone and then I’ve taken the scenic route back and it’s good to be reminded that’s often the best way to travel.
Can’t wait to see where we get to by Friday.
Internationally acclaimed new writing company nabokov are working with award winning MC and folk artist Dizraeli to develop a brand new production for 2013. Over the course of this development week we will be exploring how to make a piece of theatre which experiments with traditional folk stories, how to tell them in a contemporary and relevant way, and how to incorporate music and spoken word in a way which not only enhances the performance but also the narrative.
What we want:
We’re looking for performers of every type who are able to add something unique to the mix. We want to work with people who are passionate about what they do, have interesting ideas and different ways of working. You might be an actor, musician, dancer or spoken word artist, a mix of several of these or something else entirely. You’ll probably be required to do at least some acting, and musical skills are a big advantage.
You’ll need to be available for a workshop audition on the afternoon of Thursday 6th December (location TBC, but in London).
What we can offer you:
This is a paid development week at a rate of £400. We’re looking for a total of 5 performers. We hope that the piece will be developed into a full production in 2013, with major co-producers and multiple performance opportunities, however acceptance onto the development week is not a guarantee of involvement in the final production.
There will be two audition groups, 2pm-3.30pm and 4pm-5.30pm, on the afternoon of Thursday 6th December. To apply, please email a CV and any supporting material (reviews, video, photos etc) to email@example.com before Wednedsay 5th December. We’ll try to get back to everyone who applies but this may not be possible if the volume of applicants is high. If you’re successful we’ll send you details of what to prepare and your audition slot.