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Tag Archive | "Childrens Theatre"

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Filskit blog – young people are important

Posted on 08 April 2014 by Filskit Theatre

It’s 11.34pm on a Monday night. One night owl Filskit Lady was getting ready to send our latest blog offering off to A Younger Theatre, when she came across a discussion on our Twitter feed about this piece by Susan Elkin – Stop marginalising young audience work. As a company which works with young audiences and feels passionate about creating high quality theatre for children and young people, we just had to respond.

Now, we have admitted many times that Filskit Theatre did not initially set out to create work for children; we were all prepared to live out our theatre days performing five-hour durational pieces to drunk people in various tunnels underneath the train stations of central London. But the more people we invited to see our work, the more we were told “this would be great for little ones” and “kids would love it”. So we decided to give it a go. We created our first piece, a re-telling of Snow White with the help of the EMERGE Project at the Unicorn (because who better to tell you whether or not your work is suitable for kids, right?). The funny thing about this process was that we actually changed very little in the way that we made a piece for children compared with the way that we made work for adults.

We met a fellow theatre maker just the other day, who, instead of saying that he made work for children, said that he made work without the word “fuck” in it. That’s one way of putting it.

The biggest learning curve for us in our transition into a children’s theatre company was the realisation that children and young people don’t want to be patronised. They can grasp much more complex ideas than they are perhaps given credit for by other forms of “children’s entertainment” and can appreciate the magic of the theatre in a way that few adults can.

We have said this before and we’ll say it again: some of the most creative and engaging work we have seen over the past five years has been for children. It’s not all C Beebies and old men on unicycles talking about road safety (yes, we have seen that too). There are entire festivals dedicated to showcasing the best theatre for children and young people from the UK and abroad, for example Imaginate and Take Off, and there are so many companies out there that are creating truly fantastic work for young audiences.

Next week we are taking our show The Feather Catchermto a symposium event at Rose Bruford College, we are also running a workshop for the MA Theatre for Young Audiences students. It’s fantastic to see that there are courses specifically designed to train theatre makers in this area – we can’t wait to get involved.

So why does work for young audiences still not get the recognition it deserves?

In her piece for The Stage, Susan Elkin focuses specifically on the lack of coverage that theatre for young audiences gets in the press. But it’s not just the papers and their reviewers that marginalise this type of work. Indeed when we first told our peers and fellow graduates that we were making work for children we were met with some quizzical looks. We were even asked by one peer “but don’t you ever want to make proper theatre?”. This mentality, that work for young audiences is somehow lesser than other art, is shockingly common.

So, what can we as artists do to change this perception? To be perfectly honest, we don’t know. Perhaps there needs to be some kind of website or publication specifically for young audiences work? Perhaps there already is?

As a start, we put a call out to all artists and companies who currently make work for young people or who are perhaps aspiring performers who want to work with children. We invite you to challenge yourselves to keep on making exceptional theatre… sooner or later everyone else (press included) will want to join the party, we hope.

Filskit Theatre

Filskit Theatre

Filskit Theatre are an all-female ensemble with a passion for micro-projection. The company, Sarah Gee, Katy Costigan and Victoria Dyson, have been making work together since 2008. As graduates of the European Theatre Arts course at Rose Bruford they were brought together by their shared love of projection and cake.

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Review: At The End Of Everything Else, Unicorn Theatre

Posted on 03 April 2014 by Lucy Bishop

At the End of Everything Ever

At The End Of Everything Else is a charming production following the story of a young girl, Icka, who lives with her father and often dreams of her deceased mother. Through the media of shadow puppetry, animation and sound we are taken on a magical journey as Icka searches for her lost best friend Tito, a little yellow bird. In doing so she travels around the world and takes us along for a whimsical ride.

The main point of focus is the screen hanging centre stage, which uses a variety of mixed media to create beautiful imagery such as montages of Icka’s daily routine before and after the adventure, the northern lights, and touching moments between the projected Tito and the shadow puppet Icka. However these gorgeous visuals feel somewhat undermined by the fact that young people are being asked to sit and stare predominately at a large screen in a theatre, which proudly announces that “all our shows are in 3D”.

The whole production is powered by several bikes that are pedalled on the side of the stage, enforcing the eco-friendly message of the piece. It is hugely refreshing to see a company not only preaching about saving the planet, but creatively incorporating ways of doing so. The highlight of the production is when children from the audience are invited on stage to help generate electricity to save Tito. In that moment there is a real connection between the performers and the audience, which creates a magical atmosphere in the theatre. Such effort goes in to ensuring the production itself is eco-friendly, that it is disappointing that the narrative does not echo this more clearly.

The design of At The End Of Everything is very in keeping with the sweet story. John Horabin’s animation is charming and holds the production together, while the puppets have a quality similar to the work of artist Rob Ryan. They are just as delightful as the animation and are well manipulated, particularly a fully-working cardboard bike that becomes Icka’s means of flying round the world. Perspective is used well to keep the images engaging and constantly changing, and the interaction between the animation and puppets is impressive. Around the edges of the space there is a trail of empty water bottles that are lit in different colours, again reinforcing the eco-friendly message as well as being aesthetically pleasing.

Due to the technicality of the production there are some dead moments as puppets, bikes and projections are negotiated: this is somewhat disengaging for younger members of the audience and generally the pace of the piece could have been picked up to keep them hooked. Overall though, The End Of Everything Else is a visually stimulating, charming production with an original take on saving the planet.

At The End Of Everything Else is playing at the Unicorn Theatre until 19 April. For more information and tickets see the Unicorn Theatre website.

Lucy Bishop

Lucy Bishop

Lucy is orginally from Bristol and is currently in her final year studying Physical Theatre at East 15. She is part of a comedy Music duo called "Silly People" and is a lover or scramble egg, Louis Theroux and puppets

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Blog: Filskit Theatre – The only way is out of London. Or is it?

Posted on 26 February 2014 by Filskit Theatre

London

Until recently, every funding application, mission statement and biography we have ever written has begun with the phrase “Filskit Theatre are a London based company…” but as we have grown as a company and our personal circumstances have changed, we have now come to the realisation that two thirds of the original company are actually no longer “Londoners”.

When we were all 18 year old aspiring actors from the shires, the bright lights of the City beckoned and it seemed as though London was the only option if we were going to ‘make it’ in our chosen field (even if we did end up living in Sidcup, which isn’t technically London). It’s a buzzing hub of activity with its lively offerings of the West End, museums, pop-up venues, fringe scene and everything else that a European capital city can offer.

Our time in London has most certainly served us well; the opportunities for young companies are endless and indeed many of our regular supporters such as Stratford Circus and Creative Youth are London based. But as we plan and scheme new ways to make Filskit our fulltime job (and plan our subsequent world domination…) we have realised the importance of expanding the reach of the company outside the Big Smoke.

So last year when we were planning two weeks of R&D for our latest production, we were thrilled to be offered the chance to develop the piece at two different venues: Stratford Circus, which provided our London setting, and The Point in Eastleigh which saw us spending a week on the South Coast.

Having now completed two weeks of R&D at these two very different venues (and writing our evaluation for Arts Council England) we are looking at how geography can affect your creative process. Let’s start with our first week at The Point.

What makes The Point a unique place for artists is its onsite accommodation and ‘Creation Space’ – a “state of the art retreat for creatives from around the globe”. Being able to stay onsite at the venue had a huge impact on our process; it’s amazing how very un-creative a 90 minute commute with your face in a stranger’s armpit can make you feel. But by staying onsite with only a short walk downstairs to the fully equipped theatre, via the kitchen (with teabags aplenty), we completely bypassed all of the stressful day-to-day things that can have a detrimental effect on your creativity.

We must say that up until this week of R&D we were always a little sceptical of how productive it can be to be locked away in a rehearsal room with no outside influences. Ok, so we weren’t staying in a wooden shack in the middle of nowhere, but still we always worried that any kind of isolation could potentially make the work a bit self-indulgent. But the creative retreat at The Point was the perfect balance for us – quiet enough that we made huge developments to our new piece, but we also had the opportunity to meet with staff and engage with a local nursery group which massively helped with our audience development.

After our brilliant week at The Point, we returned to Stratford Circus, which is becoming a bit of a home from home when creating new work. We love Stratford Circus and always receive great support, especially from the technical team. But being back in the city soon began to take its toll on our productivity, all of a sudden we went back to worrying about which train to catch and how long it would take to drive the set over in the morning traffic, – basically we were distracted. It took us a day or two but things soon picked up and we managed to make significant developments to the piece which we then shared with a local school group.

This sharing again highlighted how different locations can affect the work; whilst the first group at The Point were very well behaved and perhaps a little tentative, the group at Stratford Circus were positively raucous. The different audience responses will help us develop our work further, and highlight the importance of still engaging with London venues and audiences as we look to expand into other areas of the country.

Whilst the piece is a little way from being finished, we are already seeing the benefits of creating work in a variety of locations. We hope that this way of working will make the piece more accessible to a broader range of young audiences. It’s not necessarily all about the buzz of the city.

Photo by Flickr user _dChris under a Creative Commons Licence. 

Filskit Theatre

Filskit Theatre

Filskit Theatre are an all-female ensemble with a passion for micro-projection. The company, Sarah Gee, Katy Costigan and Victoria Dyson, have been making work together since 2008. As graduates of the European Theatre Arts course at Rose Bruford they were brought together by their shared love of projection and cake.

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Blog: Filskit Theatre: Collaboration – the start of something beautiful?

Posted on 05 February 2014 by Filskit Theatre

collaboration team

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” H.E. Luccock

The idea of collaborating can be a scary one. You know what you do and you have your own individual style, so the idea of external people coming in and changing that dynamic can be daunting. But on the other hand it can really shake you out of your comfort zone. It offers you the chance to pool skills, bat around fresh ideas and see what happens when new people join the party. One of the best things that we ever did was bring in musician Melanie Borsack. By having another body in the space we began to view things from another perspective, meaning that live music is now a key feature of our shows. It has influenced characters, the atmospheres we create and our projections. A collaboration can be an exciting springboard into the unknown.

2014 brings with it the terrifying discovery that we Filskit Ladies have known each other for nearly seven years (I know, we don’t look old enough right? Right?). Knowing each other so well can result in some great performing and devising attributes; sensitivity to each other on stage, understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the ability to be horrifically honest with each other (with no hard feelings as soon as the kettle goes on). It does however have a few drawbacks. You may start to fall into natural patterns and predictable rhythms that come from working with the same people for a length of time. You may start to play it safe and forget to keep pushing the boundaries. So when we were presented with the opportunity to collaborate with fellow associate artists at Stratford Circus, with nervous excitement, we decided to jump in.

Tea Dance for Little People (TDLP) focus on designing interactive and immersive installations in unusual spaces, which encourage artists/performers and families with very young children to explore their creative and physical potential through sensory play. Through our collaboration, we will be combining our love of visuals and theatricality with their interactivity and scenic expertise. When looking for others to collaborate with, we were keen to find those with a similar outlook towards creating an exciting experience for children, however who would also bring different skills and experience to mix into the pot.

So after many weeks of meetings, planning and funding applications, we finally got into a room and had a chance to play together. It was time to begin building A-Maze-In, an interactive experience for 0-8 year olds using a blend of crafts, projection and sounds. As the title suggests, the setting for this experience is one of the most ambitious aspects of the project. With the help of a great team and Stratford Circus we are going to build an actual maze. This is one of the most exciting parts of the collaboration. To date, most of our shows have always taken a more minimalist approach towards set for aesthetic emphasis on the multimedia and also practically, to enable transportation in our tiny vehicles! The idea of building something so ambitious is far more normal in the world of TDLP, which arrived with an array of exciting boxes full of materials in order to build, make and do. Add to this the technical sound expertise of collaborator Jay and you can begin to feel that this could be the start of something very exciting indeed.

One of the first realisations to hit you is that after being almost entirely self-sufficient for so many years is that you are not entirely responsible for everything. This includes creative ideas and the how, as well as the hard grind to make it all happen. Being surrounded by other artists makes it easy to bounce ideas off each other, sometimes seeing the potential in areas that could have otherwise been missed. One of our biggest anxieties when looking to enter into collaboration was actually the artistic approach. How can two companies with separate identities create something cohesive? Will one company dominate? Whilst we think it is fair to say that those who know both Filskit and TDLP will be able to identify trademark moments, the overall result will definitely be something new and imaginative.

Meanwhile, we Filskit ladies have been locking ourselves away at The Point in Eastleigh, in order to start the development of our next show. Admittedly there will be no mazes involved, but we’re sure the influences from working with another company will be evident. We’re now keener than ever to call people in during our creative process, whether it is for work on clowning, advice on lighting or even nursery children watching and taking part in the work. They may just be offering feedback or guidance but even that can have a significant influence on the work that you create. Try blending your skills with others and you might just be surprised at the results.

 

 

Filskit Theatre

Filskit Theatre

Filskit Theatre are an all-female ensemble with a passion for micro-projection. The company, Sarah Gee, Katy Costigan and Victoria Dyson, have been making work together since 2008. As graduates of the European Theatre Arts course at Rose Bruford they were brought together by their shared love of projection and cake.

More Posts - Website

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