‘It may be forever we part little girl, & it may be for only a while…’

Dear Reader,

I am just writing a few lines to sign off my blog and to thank you for following our process. It has not been an easy one at times but showing our work on Friday 23rd of May has made it all worth while. I did not realise quite how emotional it would be to perform ‘Sincerely Yours.’ I think this was due to the wonderful atmosphere which a live audience provided us.

Enclosed is a photograph of the final number from our performance taken by the lovely Frances Pearson during our dress rehearsal. I think I can speak for each of the birds when I say it was thoroughly enjoyable to put everything we had which was ‘homemade’ onto the stage, not only the scripts, but also the bunting and beautiful poetry too.

 

'Dress Rehearsal' Pearson, F (2014)

‘Dress Rehearsal’ Pearson, F (2014)

The cogs have been turning just as they did in the factory scene and perhaps this may not be the last you hear of Birds Eye View Theatre Company. After researching on the Arts Council England website, there is possibility for ‘Sincerely Yours’ to be revived during the centenary of World War One with a little help from funding sources such as the Hertiage and the Centenary project which has been launched this year!

For now however, I can leave university having experienced a new skill of helping to directing a piece of devised verbatim theatre, something that three years ago I would never of dreamed was possible. Most importantly, I know that I will be leaving the University of Lincoln having made 9 new special friendships. Our aim at at Birds Eye View Theatre was to create theatre which was honest, theatre that reflected what people may have experienced during the First World War. Having listened to the stories of Lauren’s, Charlotte’s and Louise’s Grandma’s I believe we have achieved a reflection which is unique and memorable.

I am now off to prepare for the last of this weeks theatre company shows all of which have offered variety and a range of talent at the LPAC. Tonight’s is called, ‘Take Me By The Tongue’ and will be performed by a company called Hand Me Down Theatre Company. Stay tuned from more from the birds! ‘Na-poo, toodle-oo, goodbye-ee’… for now.

Sincerely Yours,

Lauren Kirby
Birds Eye View Theatre

 

Works Cited:

Arts Council England (2013) [online] Available from http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/ [Accessed 29 May 2014].

Birds Eye View Theatre (2014) How To Make Bunting. [online video] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T4cLsjRjLA [Accessed 29 May 2014].

Heritage Lottery Fund (2014) [online] Available from http://www.hlf.org.uk/HowToApply/whatwefund/FirstWorldWar/Pages/FirstWorldWar.aspx#.U4c4UCitwWk [Accessed 29 May 2014].

Mooney, C. (2014) Dear War Girls. [blog entry] Available from http://birdseyeviewtheatre.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2014/05/29/dear-war-girls/ [Accessed 29 May 2014].

Pearson, F (2014) Dress Rehearsal Photography.

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 29 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 29 May 2014].

 

Tweaks and Tech: Ten Letters

Here is a sneak peak at our rehearsal in the auditorium the week before the show. As the scene involves shadow puppetry, backing tracking and dialogue from an actor so vocal projection in the auditorium is key.

After running the scene for the first time in the space, I decided it would be beneficial for three actors to speak the text from the front of the stage whilst the remaining actors created shadows behind the pyc.

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’10 Letters Scene’ Pearson, F. (2014).

The photograph above was taken during the dress rehearsal of our show. To access the script for the ‘Ten Letters Scene’  please click here.

Works Cited:

Cox, E. (2014)

Pearson, F (2014)

 

Stylising: Headphone verbatim

Here is a short video discussing the directorial decisions for several of the headphone verbatim sections of  ‘Sincerely Yours’. If you would like to see more information on how the Gobo was created then check out our Assistant Stage Manager, Louise’s blog post here!

Works Cited:

Birds Eye View Theatre (2014) How to make a gobo. [online video] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuZkyfyl3hc [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 F. (2014)

‘A Guide to Creating Verbatim Theatre’

The video below is presented by Robin Belfield, a freelance Theatre maker and the director of Yellowtale Theatre Company. In 2013 Belfield held a theatre workshop at the National Theatre providing a guide to creating verbatim theatre. This video proved extremely useful when creating ‘Sincerely Yours’

Here is a short summary of the ethical rules for your own creating verbatim theatre…

1. Start with a topic: In our case, World War One and how it affected the women of the frontline.

2. Research, Research, Research!: Which included, finding appropriate letters from the archives, visiting the Lincolnshire Life Museum.

louise museum

‘Louise at the Lincolnshire Archives’ Coleridge, E. (2014).

3. Think about who is involved: Discussing and deciding whose stories we wanted to focus on – Grandparents of the company, residents from local care homes and soldiers Billy A. Haydon Lounds & Harry Butt.

archives charlotte

‘Lincolnshire Archive permission slips.’ Mooney, C. (2014)

4. Editing & Condensing!: Careful selection of interviews, footage condensed into one hour!

and the most important for our company ethos…

5. KEEPING THE TRUTH WHOLE!

Upon reflection, the initial process of creating verbatim is the same as our own, however, the rehearsal process differs. The most important rule to take into consideration is remembering to be accurate and sensitive with your material.

Read more about our own devising and learning process in one of my earlier posts, Grandma’s Verbatim

Works Cited:

Coleridge, E. (2014)

Lincolnshire County Council (2014) The Museum of Lincolnshire Life. [online] Lincolnshire. Available from http://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/visiting/museums/museum-of-lincolnshire-life/ [Accessed 26 May 2014].

Mooney, C. (2014)

National Theatre (2013) A Guide to Creating Verbatim Theatre. [online video] Available from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a0qNEhCly4 [Accessed 26 May 2014].

Directing: Words of Wisdom…

During the process of devising the content for Birds Eye View Theatre’s debut show, the three directors, Charlotte, Ellie and I have taken very different approaches when leading our sessions. Having little knowledge in the field of directing, I feel we have developed three very distinct styles as the rehearsals have progressed. Here are three tips I found most useful when directing our company…

In Chapter Two of Directing: A Handbook for emerging theatre directors, author Rob Swain writes;

‘It is important for any director to have what many directors call their toolkit. This Toolkit may include individual games or exercises and it may include whole patterns of structuring rehearsals.’ (Swain, 2011, p.47)

This is true. There are certain warm ups now which have become a regular occurrence of my sessions. I found it is extremely important to motivate the group and by starting the session with a fun and energetic warm up that the group enjoys.

Laurens Iphone 2013-14 838

‘Much needed Caffeine’ Kirby, L. (2014)

This brings my to my next point regarding ‘Rehearsal Decorum’. If you can establish a professional and comfortable working relationship in your rehearsal space, you are far more likely to see the best work from your actors, administrators and producer. Michael Bloom’s Thinking Like a Director suggests,

The most consistently effective [directors] are those that regard actors with respect, tact and appreciation, as colleagues and members of a team. (Bloom, 2001, p.132).

A final thing I have found most useful during this module is organisational skills. I feel my organisation skills have developed considerably since the beginning of the module. In order to gain authority and respect from the company a director must inform actors and plan rehearsals accordingly. Writer of Directing a Play, Michael McCaffery states his views on the guidelines of ‘daily rehearsals’,

With ‘daily’ rehearsals make sure that:

  • you are rehearsing what needs it, not just repeating things.
  • you plan far enough in advance to let the actors know where they will be rehearsing and when.
  • you do not go out of sequence unless you are confident enough to do so. (McCaffery, p.44, 1988).

I’d like to conclude this post with a rule of my own…

Be confident.  

During our process so far at Birds Eye View Theatre I have found confidence is key. Afterall,

‘The director of a play, film or television programme is the person who decides how it will appear on stage… and who tells the actors and technical staff what to do.’ (Sinclair, 1995, p.463).

Work Cited: 

Bloom, M (2001) Thinking Like a Director: A Practical Handbook. New York: Faber and Faber.

McCaffery, M. (1988) Directing A Play. London: Phaidon Press Limited.

Sinclair, Gwyneth Fox, Stephen Bullon, Elizabeth Manning. (eds.) (1995) Collins Cobuild: English Dictionary. London: HarperCollins Publishers.

Swain, R (2005) Directing: A handbook for emerging theatre directors. London: Methuen Drama.

 

‘Grandma’s’ Verbatim

In the opening line of our Manifesto, we state that Birds Eye View Theatre Company, “are committed to creating REAL theatre. Honest theatre. Truthful theatre. Theatre that uses real people’s voices.” (Company Manifesto, 2014). In Verbatim, Verbatim, Will Hammond and Dan Steward define this diverse style of theatre a simple step by step process in which; ‘The words of real people are recorded or transcribed by a dramatist during an interview by a dramatist during an interview or research process…’ (2008, p.9).

From a directorial viewpoint, working with verbatim or devising theatre so both are new challenges for me as I have only ever worked with adaptions and script based texts before. Having watched Ours Was The Fen Country directed by previous DV8 member Dan Canham, we decided upon a similar style using head phones to listen to the verbatim as we spoke it. A few weeks ago, our producer Jess made contact with Mr Canham to ask some vital tips when learning verbatim. One of the best tips that Canham gave us was to listen to the piece as if it were a rhythm. We grasped the ways in which we could project the verbatim from watching the show. For the actors in the Ours Was The Fen Country, this was facing the audience head on and speaking the words. This may sound incredibly simple I have learned the key to creating verbatim which will evoke emotion is to set the scene using the words, images and background movements can then be added separately. Watch a snippet of verbatim practise below…

This brings me to my favorite Birds Eye View rehearsal so far which took place on Tuesday 18th March. We managed to pull together 16 minutes of our show for our work in progress showing, and most importantly I was able to work with each actor individually on their verbatim section. In terms of rhythm, Jennie’s appears to be the fastest, Her verbatim was taken from Charlotte and Ellie’s visit to one of our two care homes. Listening to the piece along side Jennie we were able to notice moments in which we could create beats in the dialogue, similar to the beats an actor would use to mark a fresh script.

Jamee, Jess and Lauren Rehearsing verbatim.

Jamee, Jess and Lauren Rehearsing verbatim.

Katie Mitchell’s book, The Directors Craft was equally as useful for developing the characters immediate circumstances. By this I mean simple things which the actor can imagine to help them pick out more of the character, Mitchell defines immediate circumstances as; ‘…the events that happen in the 24 hours or so leading up to the action in the scene.’ (Mitchell, 2009, p.31). Using verbatims from both Louise’s and Lauren’s Grandmas, these details became things such as how the furniture was set in the room, what was playing on the television and the time of day. For example Emily’s grandmother sips a cup of tea as she speaks, a detail which when added to the scene allows the audience to see further into the lives of our interviewees.

Works Cited:

Birds Eye View Theatre Comany (2014) Manifesto [online] Lincoln: Lincoln University Blogs. Available from: http://birdseyeviewtheatre.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/sample-page/manifesto/ [Accessed 27 February 2014].

Hammond, W. & Dan Steward (2008) Verbatim, Verbatim London : Oberon Books.

Mitchell, K. (2009) The Director’s Craft: A Handbook for the Theatre. London and New York: Routledge.

“Remember Me To All The Birds!”

Oh What a Lovely War

Original cast production of Joan Littlewood’s ‘Oh What A Lovely War’ 1963, Google Image.

Although Birds Eye View Theatre Company are focusing creating a piece based on the local people of Lincoln during World War One, we thought it best in the research and development process to discuss and improvise with all aspects of text we think we can work with whether it be musical, play, or poetry.

 

 

With some of the company having studied it , We came across ‘Oh What A Lovely War!’ written by playwright Joan Littlewood . The play was first performed by Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford in 1963.

 

Oh-What-a-Lovely-War-001

Above: A revival production from Nothern Stage, Newcastle 2011, The Guardian.

In the directors introduction, Littlewood states there is to be no Khaki costume involved and that the musical numbers are loosely based on songs of the sixties era.With this parody effect in mind, we decided to learn the song ‘Goodbye-ee’ which features in Act One:

 

 

Brother Bertie went away
To do his bit the other day
With a smile on his lips and his
Lieutenant’s pips upon his shoulder bright and gay.
As the train moved out he said, ‘Remember me to all
the birds.’
And he wagg’d his paw and went away to war
Shouting out these pathetic words:

Goodbye-ee, goodbye-ee,
Wipe the tear, baby dear, from you eye-ee,
Tho’ it’s hard to part I know, I’ll be tickled to death to
go.
Don’t cry-ee, don’t sigh-ee, there’s a silver lining in the sky-ee,
Bonsoir, old thing, cheer-i-o, chin, chin,
Na-poo, toodle-oo, Goodbye-ee.

(Littlewood, 2000, p.37.)

After learning the lyrics, we recorded it and used the song as a backing track to introduce our pitch to our peers. We enjoyed the language of the era such as ‘na-poo’ and the track was a light-hearted approach for World War One. The song itself had a very traditional feel, an element we hope to incorporate into our work as well as making refreshing the era. Birds Eye View Theatre have also been looking at another song from the play, ‘I’ll Make A Man Out Of You’ which we will be working on in the coming weeks. Studying music of the era has been a great help for Charlotte and myself as collaborative directors. Here is our cover below…

Originally from a textual director’s perspective, I read ‘Oh What I Lovely War’ with the mind set that the dialogue written could be a potential basis for the piece. However, a musical element of the arts will also help to add diversity to our show. ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ does not fit the particular style of scripting we are looking for. The text is almost a mockery of the war and as we wish to explore the truth of the matter, we must tread carefully when portraying the First World War. We are hoping in introduce verbatim into are piece and as a team we are fully aware we must take a sensitive approach to this so not to offend any of our audience members.

Although we will be potentially using texts such as lyrics and poetry, we have be looking at letters from Grandparents, archives and museums to stylize our piece. Stay tuned to hear our musical director Charlotte teaching the birds to sing!

Works Cited:

Littlewood, J. (2000) Theatre Workshop: Oh What A Lovely War.London: Methuen.

The Guardian (2011) Oh What A Lovely War: Nothern Stage Newcastle. [online] The Guardian. Available from http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2010/mar/11/oh-what-a-lovely-war-review [Accessed 19 February 2014].