Till We Meet Again

So Sincerely Yours has finished, hopefully just for now. With another four years of remembrance of the First World War you never know what might happen.

poppy projection

Poppy Projection. Pearson, 2014

The performance day ran more smoothly than anticipated. As a tech team we faced complications with two of the projections, the poppy I had made could not be seen when projected onto the black floor, as opposed to the white cyclorama where projections were a lot clearer. The other projection was supposed to be on an armchair covered in a white sheet, reflective of the ‘attic stories’ we originally wanted the verbatim pieces to resemble, which got a different physical representation in the trunk in the Somewhere in France scene. The projection was an incremental progression of numbers to convey the many soldiers who would have died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in the duration of our performance. Unfortunately the video could not be manipulated to be seen clearly on the sheet without some of the projection ‘bleeding’ onto the wall behind, which would have been seen in the dimmer sections of the performance. Both of these had to be cut unfortunately, but as they did not impact on the performance itself it was just the time making and rehearsing which had been lost. However, despite these minor setbacks we managed to do almost a full run as a cue-to-cue, as there were so many cues in each section of the show for which each person needed to practise. We also managed to finish early after a successful dress rehearsal so we had more time to prepare for the show in the evening.

Somewhere in France trunk. Pearson, 2014.

The show itself went by rapidly, and we all seemed to relax into it. As people say, time really flies when you’re having fun, which I think we all were. By the last song we were incredibly proud of what we had achieved, and I think the show really reflected how much we all enjoyed working together and how much confidence we had in each other. I found myself getting emotional during the Hand on Shoulder verbatim of my Grandma’s words, as if I was finally beginning to understand the significance of why two men wouldn’t say anything, and just put a hand on the other’s shoulder. The message of the show seemed to ring true with the audience, who gave us many lovely comments afterwards, including that the show was us playing ourselves, letting the stories speak for themselves and not trying to play the people in them. One comment that stuck with me was that it wasn’t strictly a ‘feminist’ drama, it was a show about equality, paying respects to and celebrating the lives both of the soldiers and the women who took up their jobs whilst they were at war.

So after the show has been and gone, what can I say an Assistant Stage Manager does?

In truth, a bit of everything. I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy on such a diverse number of tasks. I have assisted the Stage Manager and Production Manager with the technical elements of the show, helping to compile the lighting, sound and projection cue sheets, as well as setting up the stage with props and especially the cyc’. I have embroidered a postcard for the marketing team, created backing tracks for all the songs, to rehearse and perform with, and have sewn bunting and headbands for props and costume. I have made a bird gobo for the verbatim sections and a poppy projection for the finale song. I went to the archives as part of a team and we copied original letters to use in rehearsals as part of our research and I have helped Ellie to teach Ballroom dancing. I have tried to contribute in any way I can, using what skills I have and have eventually found my place within the company. I have loved every minute of it, in rehearsals taking direction, in production meetings assisting with the process and at home creating things for the performance, and I am humbled to have been a part of such an amazing group of women.

Send Me Away With A Smile.  Pearson, 2014

Send Me Away With A Smile. Pearson, 2014

Works Cited

Kirby, L. (2014) Devising ‘Somewhere in France’. [blog entry] Available from http://birdseyeviewtheatre.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2014/05/26/devising-somewhere-in-france/ [Accessed 27 May 2014].

Pearson, F. (2014) Send Me Away With A Smile.

Pearson, F. (2014) Somewhere in France trunk.

Pearson, L. (2014) Birds Eye View embroidered postcard progress. [blog entry] Available from http://birdseyeviewtheatre.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2014/04/07/birds-eye-view-embroidered-postcard-progress/ [Accessed 27 May 2014].

Pearson, L. (2014) Creating a backing track. [blog entry] Available from http://birdseyeviewtheatre.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2014/04/20/creating-a-backing-track/ [Accessed 27 May 2014].

Pearson, L. (2014) Get busy making a gobo. [blog entry] Available from http://birdseyeviewtheatre.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2014/05/02/get-busy-making-a-gobo/ [Accessed 27 May 2014].

Pearson, L. (2014) How to make bunting. [blog entry] Available from http://birdseyeviewtheatre.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2014/05/26/how-to-make-bunting/ [Accessed 27 May 2014].

Pearson, L. (2014) Poppy Projection.

Pearson, L. (2014) The Archives. [blog entry] Available from http://birdseyeviewtheatre.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2014/02/22/the-archives/ [Accessed 27 May 2014].

Words and Phrases from the First World War

There were many phrases coined in WW1 that we still use today but many are now forgotten. Try guessing what these interesting words and phrases mean in my WW1 Colloquialisms Quiz!  And for anyone who would just like a quick link to the answers, here they are.

This Horrible Histories sketch about the British trenches shows how many of these words were used.

Gemma Kate, 2011.

Works Cited

BBC (2014) The English expressions coined in WW1. [online] Available from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26277732 [Accessed 17 May 2014].

Gemma Kate (2011) Horrible Histories – First Time in the British Trenches. [online] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzzXPkAdQXQ [Accessed 17 May 2014].

The Great War Society (2006) Words, Expressions and Terms Popularized 1914-1918. [online] Available from http://www.worldwar1.com/heritage/wordswar.htm [Accessed 17 May 2014].

UnnamedHarald (2014) World War 1 History: Front Line Slang. [online] Available from http://hubpages.com/hub/World-War-1-History-Front-Line-Slang [Accessed 17 May 2014].

The Second Minute

Birds Eye View Theatre, 2014.

With references throughout The Second Minute to West Bridgford, the River Trent and the Sherwood Foresters, I felt a sense of pride that these WW1 soldiers had come from the place where I grew up. The setting of a small local theatre worked well, making the play more intimate. It felt like a community of people coming together to watch their heritage being played out on stage. The relaxed atmosphere promoted conversation amongst the audience with people talking to the strangers around them about their own family stories of the war.

Works Cited:

Birds Eye View Theatre (2014) The Second Minute. [online video] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKUoeVTzPdo&feature=youtu.be [Accessed 28 May 2014].

Day, R (2014) The Second Minute – in production. [online] Available from http://www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/whats-on/other/the-second-minute/ [Accessed 16 May 2014].

Day, R (2014) The Second Minute – in production. [online] Available from http://www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/whats-on/other/the-second-minute/ [Accessed 16 May 2014].

Lewis, S. (2014) Sarah Lewis Theatre Designer. [online] Available from http://sarahlewisdesigns.tumblr.com/ [Accessed 16 May 2014].

Lewis, S. (2014) Some of the drawings I used to make the animations for The Second Minute. [online] Available from http://sarahlewisdesigns.tumblr.com/ [Accessed 16 May 2014].

Lewis, S (2014) The Second Minute set design. [online] Available from http://sarahlewisdesignportfolio.tumblr.com/post/83803970157/the-second-minute-by-andy-barrett-nottingham [Accessed 16 May 2014].

Nottingham Playhouse (2014) Nottingham Playhouse. [online] Available from http://www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/ [Accessed 16 May 2014].

Terry O’Toole Theatre (2014) Terry O’Toole Theatre [online] Available from http://www.terryotooletheatre.org.uk/ [Accessed 16 May 2014].

The “Lost” Art of Letter Writing

‘A letter should be regarded not merely as a medium for the communication of intelligence, but also as a work of art.’ (Westlake, 1876, 44)

Lost art 1 edit Lost art 2 edit

For those struggling to remember how to write a formal letter, here is a quick ‘how to’ guide.

Turk, 2014

Works Cited

BBC (2014) Writing a Letter. [online] Available from http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/topic/writing-a-letter [Accessed 6 May 2014].

Debrets. Art of Letter Writing. [online] Available from http://www.debretts.com/british-etiquette/communication/written-etiquette/letters/art-letter-writing [Accessed 6 May 2014].

McKay, B and K, McKay (2009) The Art of Letter Writing. [online] Available from http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/04/16/the-art-of-letter-writing/ [Accessed 6 May 2014].

Turk, G. (2014) Look Up. [online video] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY [Accessed 6 May 2014].

Westlake, J.W. (1876) How to Write Letters. Philadelphia: Sower Potts & Co.

Women of the Great War

Yesterday a few of us ‘Birds’ went to Lincoln Castle to see a WW1 re-enactment.

WW1 charlotte 1

Mooney, 2014

Upon arrival we were drawn into a circle of people listening to a woman dressed as a lady of the First World War. She was surrounded by people who represented the many professions held by women at the time, including nurses, land workers and munitionettes.

WW1 1

Pearson, 2014

From her we learnt about the roles and conditions of women’s work:

  • Munitionettes who worked in the factories filling the shells with TNT often contracted Jaundice which caused their skin to turn yellow, giving them the nickname ‘Canary Girls’.
  • Many women chose to work under these very dangerous conditions for higher wages, as women could only earn a limited amount in other jobs.
  • Women were a source of cheap farm labour to replace the young men who had gone off to war. Their roles would be everything from looking after livestock, working the land and managing the upkeep of the farms.
  • Other roles a woman could take on were nursing, hospital cooking or ambulance driving.
  • For many girls this was an opportunity for freedom from the inevitable fate of looking after their aging parents.
  • The idea of women nursing wounded soldiers was not popular with the British government. One Scottish hospital was set up, employing only women, which was gratefully accepted by foreign governments. The idea behind this was that if one had to train many new male soldiers to fight, it only made sense to train new female nurses to help look after them.
  • There were over 46,000 women nurses in the First World War.
  • The war gave women new liberties: such as wearing bras, having short hair, wearing shorter skirts, going to the cinema without a chaperone and smoking in public!

It was really fascinating to learn how much we, as an all-female company, owe to these pioneering women. Most of things we take for granted now, such as the right to vote or even going out without a chaperone, came from the liberations the First World War gave women when their men were away. It also showed us just how much the war was a joint effort of both sexes, with the men off fighting for the country which the women back home kept running, with women also providing a huge service in the making of ammunition, defences and medical care.

WW1 charlotte 2

Mooney, 2014

Charlotte has also written a blog on this which you can find here.

Works Cited

Mooney, C. (2014) WW1 reenactment group 1.

Mooney, C. (2014) WW1 reenactment group 2.

Pearson, L. (2014) WW1 reenactment women’s role in the war.

Creating a backing track

Birds Eye View Theatre, 2014

This is what my desk looks like at the moment.  It feels very professional with two screens, two keyboards and a Laptop Performance Keyboard.

Louise's Desk

Pearson, 2014

Works Cited:

Birds Eye View Theatre (2014) How to create a backing track. [online video] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOFJjmkwNjA&feature=youtu.be [Accessed 20 April 2014].

Pearson, L. (2014) Louise’s Desk.

Waltzing through life

The Waltz we know today began its development at the beginning of WW1 when the Boston, an American dance brought over to England, began to evolve into both the classic English Waltz and the ‘more theatrical’ (Ballroom Dancers, 2014) American Waltz. Originally the English Waltz was a ‘step, step, close’ (Dance Universe, 2014) eventually changing to ‘step, side, shut’ (Dance Universe, 2014) in the late 1920s which is still used today.

Downs, 2008

The Waltz is danced in a slow 3/4 time signature with a basic step consisting of a forward step, side step and a close all on the beat. The first step on the strong beat is a fall, followed by two rises to the beat
    2    3      2    3
1            1             and so on.

BBC, 2014

For our performance we are concentrating on the basic step, the Natural and Reverse turns and Whisk and Chasse. They may be fairly simple in their technique but when executed correctly they are very effective and beautiful to look at, especially the Whisk and Chasse.

Long, 2011

The Waltz is now a classic ballroom dance synonymous with romance and reserved love as opposed to the passion of the Tango as characterised in films such as Moulin Rouge (2001). The strict rhythm and movement of the Waltz makes it an excellent beginner’s dance.

I love Waltzing, its strong steps make me feel graceful and elegant even with limited dance experience.  It also feels like I am carrying on a family tradition as my Grandparents were Ballroom Dancing teachers in the 1950s.

Works Cited:

Ballroom Dancers (2014) American Style Waltz. [online] Available from http://www.ballroomdancers.com/dances/dance_overview.asp?Dance=AWA [Accessed 14 April 2014].

Ballroom Dancers (2014) Slow Waltz. [online] Available from http://www.ballroomdancers.com/dances/dance_overview.asp?Dance=WAL [Accessed 14 April 2014].

BBC (2013) Abbey Clancy & Aljaz Skorjanec Waltz to ‘Kissing You’ – Strictly Come Dancing 2013 Week 1 – BBC One. [online video] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jN4dXenlxbI&noredirect=1 [Accessed 14 April 2014].

Brett Long (2011) Waltz Whisk Chasse’. [online video] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db4tzhx8BCY [Accessed 14 April 2014].

Dance Universe (2014) Dance Styles & Histories – Modern Ballroom and Latin American. [online] Available from http://danceuniverse.co.kr/style.htm [Accessed 14 April 2014].

John Downs (2008) Margot and John B. dancing american waltz. [online video] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcIV-K7gpFg [Accessed 14 April 2014].

Luhrmann, B. (dir.) (2001) Moulin Rouge. [film] Twentieth Century Fox.

Birds Eye View embroidered postcard progress

Take a look at the embroidered postcards and other items we found at the Lincolnshire Archives and Lauren’s Great Granddad’s postcards for original World War One designs.

Works Cited:

Birds Eye View Theatre (2014) Embroidered Postcard Progress. [online video] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOUE1P9slDQ [Accessed 25 May 2014].

Pearson, L. (2014) The Archives. [blog entry] 22 February. Available from http://birdseyeviewtheatre.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2014/02/22/the-archives/ [Accessed 14 April 2014].

Simpson, L. (2014) My Great Granddad. [blog entry] 26 February. Available from http://birdseyeviewtheatre.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2014/02/26/my-great-granddad/ [Accessed 25 May 2014].

Family during the war

This week I visited my Grandma and she allowed me to record an interview with her about her parent’s role in WW1 as well as sharing her memories of what life was like as a child during WW2.

IMG_7322

My Great Grandad, Christopher Arthur Ellerton, Pearson, 2014

Grandma told me that her father, my Great-Grandfather, Christopher Arthur Ellerton was a Policeman who became a stretcher bearer during the First World War, serving at the Battle of the Somme and at Ypres, surviving the whole war and returning after it was over to marry my Great-Grandmother. I also learnt that my Great-Grandmother worked as the equivalent of a butler to a large house, as all the men were away. My Grandma read out some of Arthur’s diary from his travels during the war including some comments on what the conditions were like. It was amazing to see and hear his words and know that I am actually related to him.

All of this was recorded on a Dictaphone so it can be incorporated into the performance, possibly through speaking Grandma’s words ourselves or acting out the images in her stories.

Works Cited:

Pearson, A. (2014) Christopher Arthur Ellerton. 

Pearson, A. (2014) Grandma’s World War One Stories: Fourth Story. [interview] Interviewed by Louise Pearson, 19 February.

The Archives

We have been to the Lincolnshire Archives twice now and have found some fascinating material that could be included in our piece:

Letters:

Letters from WW1

Letters from WW1, BBC, 2014

There are several sets of letters from people during WW1. The most interesting ones are from Private Officer Harry Butt of the second Fourth Battalion Lincoln Regiment to Alice Smith which span from 1915-1918. They discuss his whereabouts, what he has been doing and in one place he talks about going ‘over the top’.

Photographs:

022214_2015_TheArchives2.png

A Munitionette, BBC, 2014

Significant photos at the archives are of Tanks, Planes and their construction, with several images of women in factories and ‘Munitionettes‘ (women working in munitions factories). There are some very memorable images, such as Munitionettes pulling a Ruston plane on Monks Road, in Lincoln, to raise support for the troops.

Postcards:

022214_2026_TheArchives3.png

Library of Birmingham, 2014

Not only were there letters at the archives but there were delightful embroidered postcards. Many of these embroideries opened like an envelope and held tiny message cards such as ‘Happy Christmas’ and though they wouldn’t have been made by the soldiers themselves the beauty of the cards certainly wouldn’t have gone unappreciated.

Works Cited:

BBC (2014) Women at war. [online] BBC. Available from http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/worldwarone/hq/hfront2_02.shtml [Accessed 22 February 2014].

BBC (2014) World War One: How did 12 million letters a week reach soldiers? [online] BBC. Available from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25934407 [Accessed 22 February 2014].

Library of Birmingham, The. Silk Embroidered Postcards. [online] The Library of Birmingham. Available from http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/silkembroideredpostcards [Accessed 22 February 2014].

Lincolnshire County Council (2014) Lincolnshire Archives. [online] Available from http://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/residents/archives/ [Accessed 14 April 2014].

Lincs to the Past (2014) Letters and photographs relating to Private Harry Butt. [online] Available from http://www.lincstothepast.com/Letters-and-photographs-relating-to-Private-Harry-Butt/699691.record?pt=S [Accessed 14 April 2014].

Lincs to the Past (2014) Photograph. [online] Available from http://www.lincstothepast.com/photograph/301780.record?ImageId=113280&pt=S [Accessed 14 April 2014].

Lincs to the Past (2014) Photograph. [online]. Available from http://www.lincstothepast.com/photograph/302778.record?ImageId=114349&pt=S [Accessed 14 April 2014].

Verbatim on the Fens

020914_1213_Verbatimont1.png

Ours Was The Fen Country by Dan Canham, MAYK, 2012

After seeing Ours Was the Fen Country by Dan Canham last night I was really inspired by the company’s use and manipulation of sound. After beginning by putting on iPod headphones and synchronizing their music the Fens were brought to life through a combination of audio recorded interviews with the inhabitants of the Fens, many of whom spoke on similar topics, so their words were layered together to create a verbal collage.

Though throughout the piece the actors used the words in a variety of ways: repeating the interview to the audience as themselves but keeping the spoken idiosyncrasies the same, using the rhythm of the language to create movement or saying the words at the same time as it could be heard on stage. My favourite use of the voice recordings was when an actor, alone in the spotlight, mimed to the words heard on stage, and moved as if it was him speaking them. It was the subtlety of his movements which really made it memorable for me, it was so seemingly unconscious and natural. The fact that the interviewee on the recording sounded older than the actor didn’t seem to matter, but it made the personality of the bodiless voice on the recording come alive, and brought humour and empathy to the man who was telling his story.

Y Ganolfan, 2014

Works Cited:

MAYK (2012) Still House: Ours Was the Fen Country. [online] Bristol: MAYK Theatre Ltd. Available from http://www.mayk.org.uk/portfolio/ours-was-the-fen-country/ [Accessed 9 February 2014].

Still House (2013) Still House. [online] Available from https://soundcloud.com/still_house [Accessed 10 April 2014].

Still House (2014) Ours Was The Fen Country. [online] Available from http://www.stillhouse.co.uk/stilhouse/stillhouse_-_ours_was_the_fen_country.html [Accessed 10 April 2014].

Y Ganolfan (2014) Ours Was the Fen Country – Research and Development \ Ymchwil a Datblygiad. [online video] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iooLjMs90aw [Accessed 20 April 2014].