Arka Photo Blog – Stu Mayhew

So I had spent an enjoyable, if occasionally wet, day in Canary Wharf it was time to get home and charge my batteries. My camera batteries naturally ! I made the short trip from where I live in Shooters Hill down to Artillery Square in Woolwich where Teatr Osmega Dnia would bring and end to GDIF 2014 with Arka.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

This Polish theatre group began their performance amongst the large gathered crowd, winding their way up on to the main stage. It looked like a wedding celebration but was soon interrupted by a military invasion symbolised by fire eating men who being wheeled through the square on wood and metal contraptions spitting flames high into the night sky, drawing cheers and gasps from everyone.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Meanwhile the stage had turned into a scene of huge burning windows , silhouetting the crowd. This large flaming structures were then moved through the crowds and the scene was strange yet beautiful to behold.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

The performance is about war and refugees being displaced from home. It was quite a moving piece and visually captivating. GDIF has really discovered Artillery Square as a great performance venue and bring the Arts right into the the center of Woolwich has to be applauded, there is always a really big, highly appreciative crowd and tonight was no exception

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

As a huge ship gently sailed into the crowd the show ended and the curtain was closed on GDIF 2014. It is a real privilege to be apart of it, in my own small way. Over the years I have met many of the performers and photographers and its nice to see old faces. A massive effort goes into to bringing such a prestigious event to Greenwich Borough and long may it continue.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

If you live locally and enjoy photography or want to learn how to get more out of your camera then visit http://www.woolwichphotographic.com and find out more about Greenwich’s award winning camera club!

See you next year

Stu

Behind-the-Scenes with Light the Fuse Theatre Co.

Full Stop Blog
By Light the Fuse Theatre Co.

Travelling around on buses is part of being a Londoner. Whether it’s the night bus at 2am with half a box of chips and the music still ringing in your ears or a desperate dash to grab the bus to avoid being late for work at 8.48am – we all have bus stories to tell. And that was where we started at Light the Fuse in thinking about stories for Full Stop. We soon realised that the star of this show was the bus stop itself. It’s an incredible place for people watching, random encounters and strange occurrences. The huge diversity of people that frequent a bus stop in a twenty-four hour period is mind-boggling.

Did you know that there are 19,500 bus stops in London and 90% of Londoners live within 400 yards of one!

So we decided to make a show about that. In twenty minutes. No pressure.

With three performers and a lot of running about we jump from the midnight revellers to the warring Mums, laden down with shopping and gunslinger fantasies, ticking off each hour until midnight returns again. We meet the little old lady who visits the bus stop every day, not to get on the bus, but to appease her murderous whims. There are the teenage dinosaurs, all screeching and antagonistic, the ultra competitive office workers and the couple that could have been. 

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The bus stop is an incredible crucible for human emotion: the frustration of time, the pressure of city life and the possibility of romance all in one identifiable location. It is archetypal. This meant getting the look of the bus stop right was key, so we went to the experts. Theatre Royal Plymouth create sets for productions across the UK and the world. Recent shows have included Book of Mormon, Miss Saigon, The Full Monty and obviously Full Stop

Although petrol buses have been used in London since 1904 bus stops didn’t appear till after the First World War.

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We wanted the set to look as much like a real London bus stop as possible (with a few cleverly hidden extras). When the audience spots it by the Cutty Sark, in the middle of a town square, halfway up a field, we want them to double-take and for a moment question why there would be a bus stop out there. It’s such an iconic symbol that we take for granted every day, but move it from its natural location and suddenly it becomes a space full of potential.

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Full Stop is not just about the reality of waiting at a bus stop, its about the fantasies and dreams we all have while we wait. The moment of getting eye contact with a fit looking stranger, sheltering under it when there is a downpour, vying for the bench. All these moments spark a surreal journey based around a real London landmark.

Full Stop (web resize)

Mimbre Joint Artistic Director Lina Johansson on ‘Bench’

Lina Johansson – joint Artistic Director for Mimbre, shares a little window into the process of creating Mimbre’s new performance Bench, coming to Greenwich+Docklands International Festival in London on 21-22 and 24th of June.

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

 

The idea for Bench started like a small simple idea – a set made as a park bench – allowing us to plant the show in the reality of where it is performed; in a park, a street or a square and use the theatre of our public spaces to inspire us for a series of sketches.

Photo by Marco Berardi

Photo by Marco Berardi

I knew I wanted it to reflect on the way we are among other people, and the way other people view you when in public. What assumptions do you make if you see a woman sitting on a bench on her own – do you assume she is waiting for someone? Do you think she is lonely? Who do we meet if we allow ourselves to be friendly to strangers? What do you see if you allow yourself to sit down on a bench and watch the spectacle of the street playing out in front of you?

Photo by Marco Berardi

Photo by Marco Berardi

Working with physical choreographies and using a devising process means that you don’t know from the start exactly which story it is that will carry through and have a resonance with an audience. The beauty is that stories starts to emerge that I didn’t even know myself that I wanted to tell.

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

Alcina Mendes created a beautifully, warm main character and Rebecka and Silvia explored a charade of different personae; flowing choreographies, dreamy fantasies and some very silly characters bringing some laughter and lightness.

Photo by Mimbre

Alcina Mendes; Photo by Mimbre

 

The acrobatic training is as of course always a big part of Mimbre’s rehearsals, with an hour long warm-up and strengthening session each morning and time for practising the acrobatics tricks both in the rehearsals and in the weeks in-between rehearsals; to find new tricks and to keep existing ones safe. For Bench our acrobatics coach Adrian Porter and my joint Artistic Director Silvia Fratelli trained up our 2 new Mimbre members; Alcina Mendes and Rebecka Nord. Finding trust, safety and confidence with the new tricks is time-consuming but is part of the physical language we use for our shows and I am as always enjoying the exploration of the ins and outs of where the physicality meet the theatre, the thrill versus the story, the physical versus the emotive impressions.

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis

Through Alcina’s careful exploration of the main character the first rough run-through held a lot of loneliness and sadness. Impressions of how being surrounded by other people can sometimes make you feel more lonely then if you’re just on your own. Which led us to look for scenes of belonging, of happiness and celebration, to compliment without taking away from the atmosphere found. This led us to discuss friendships and belongings, what it is that drew us into circus and performance and what that world symbolises for us, and we used some of these conversations as inspiration for our celebratory and warmer finale choreography. As part of the rehearsal process we did several informal sharings where we invited friends and colleagues to see the material we had created so far and we also did a preview/premiere of the shows at the Crossing the Creek event at Laban Theatre and Greenwich Dance – who commissioned the show – in April.

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis

Everything changes as soon as you put it in front of an audience and it helps me as a director to see it through other eyes (I normally watch the audience more than the performers at these occasions). Seeing the audiences reaction, hearing people’s feedback and get a little bit of distance to the rehearsal room gives a clearer view of what work is still needed or any structural changes to how the show hangs together.

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

From this we have decided on some dramatical changes and Bench is now getting ready to go off on a tour in it’s appropriate setting – around various outdoor theatre festivals around UK and Europe and of course coming to Greenwich+Docklands International Festival in London in June. I am very excited about allowing the show to take on it’s own life and paths, for me a show only really exists once audiences have had their chance to start to influence the shape of the performance and the energy of the performers and I am looking forward to see how it will be further influenced by the lovely audience at GDIF.

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

Last but not least a big thank you to the great artistic team who helped to make Bench; guest choreographers Natasha Khamjani and Anna Llombart who brought some fresh and different flavours to our movement. Michalis Kokkoladis for designing a genuinely old and knackered looking Bench that in reality is super sturdy and can be flatpacked! Ted Barnes who as always have woven a stunning musical score for us, binding all the different paces and atmospheres together. Last but not least, designer Kasper Hansen and maker Sophie Bellin who sourced 20 costumes for the different characters that the performers are changing between through the show….

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre