‘Reassembled, Slightly Askew’ in London at Battersea Arts Centre

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(image by Richard Lavery/Tickle Here)

Reassembled… is off to an amazing start to its 3 week run at Battersea Arts Centre as part of their ‘A Nation’s Theatre Festival’, in which it is the only NI show to be invited to participate. It’s been in the very capable hands of NI actors, Stephen Beggs & Mary Lindsay:

Mary STephen out front

Coverage so far includes various London-based publications:

Time Out

listed as one of Time Out London’s ‘Hottest Theatre Openings’

The Arts Council NI’s website, a fantastic 4-star review from Lyn Gardner in The Guardian, a heartfelt blog post from Webcowgirl, and post-show feedback from audiences:

“If you see just one production in London this year, it should be this.”

“Profound evening…a real must-see!”

“Wow, what a thought-provoking 90 minutes, a slick and rounded arts experience.”

“Amazing… [I was] touched and impressed.”

“It is moving, beautiful, fragile and deeply important. Thank you.”

“Best binaural piece I’ve seen this year so far (you’re the 4th). “

“I felt more exposed than ever.”

“Such a deeply moving experience.”

 

With the show running until 28 May, there’s more feedback and reviews to come…

‘Reassembled…’ comes to London this May ’16

ANT RSA screenshotThanks to Reassembled…‘s director Anna Newell (2016 Ellen Stewart International Award Finalist for Artists and Theatre Companies Doing Socially Engaged Work with Youth), Reassembled… has been invited to be part of Battersea Arts Centre’s ‘A Nation’s Theatre Festival’ this Spring, 11-28 May.

A Nation’s Theatre Festival is a two-month celebration of theatre from around the UK from April – May 2016.  There are over 60 shows and events in the festival, across 17 London venues, performed by more than 350 artists from outside London. Reassembled… is the only production from Northern Ireland that is participating.

“It is A CELEBRATION of the UK theatre ecology, shining a light on the breadth of innovative theatre and ideas produced by companies, artists and theatres from around the nation. It’s an opportunity for London audiences and theatres to experience, recognise and champion work from around the UK. It is A PROVOCATION to encourage conversations and debate:

  • How can we reverse the flow of theatre from London out to the rest of the UK?
  • How do we encourage more arts provision outside of the capital?
  • What can theatre tell us about politics, devolution and identity?”

Tickets are available at www.bac.org.             BAC logo

Research, development and funding (2013-2015) was made possible by:

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‘Trouble’– Theatreofpluck bring stories of NI’s LGBT community during the Troubles to the stage

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After 5 years of development, wrangling with production concerns about funding and creative concerns about how to honour over 46 interviewees’ stories within theatrical limitations, I was thrilled that Trouble finally had its world premiere at The MAC as part of 2015’s OUTBURST Queer Arts Festival (the only 10-day multidisciplinary queer arts festival in all of Ireland, which I co-founded in 2007 with a team of many queer artists who’ve worked tirelessly to grow it to its success today, nearly 10 years on).

Jane Coyle’s 4 star review in the Irish Times of TheatreofplucK‘s production (directed by Niall Rea & Anna Newell) cited it as ‘a chilling and challenging piece [that] shows how far equality and gay rights have come in NI– and how far is left to go.’ Chris McCormack called it a ‘provocative performance installation’ in his review.

Audiences described it as:

“Compelling and moving.”

“Fantastic. Lots of reminders about how far we’ve come. Great that our stories have been captured and shared. “

“Everyone should be made to see this. School syllabus!”

“That was totally amazing theatre. I never say that.”

“Really interesting and informative content. Good range of performers/interviewees, men, women, different sections of the community and a good age range. “

WOW. Back in time and very very moving. You captured the times brilliantly.”

“Very emotive performances, I am a bit dumbstruck to be honest. Still very true in today’s world too. Thank you for that, feel very privileged to have seen it.”

“Excellent performance. Innovative mixed theatre piece. Dynamic and inspired way to tell such an important and often invisible story. Needs to go out round the north and wider afield. Tender, shocking, funny, uplifting, beautiful, brave – very clever and creative again from Shannon Yee.”

In December 2015, TROUBLE transferred to Belfast City Hall as a video archive installation, celebrating ten years since the UK’s first civil partnership ceremony there. Despite this initial progress towards equality, today Northern Ireland remains the last place in the UK and Ireland to enact the same-sex marriage legislation.

photo 2Trouble is dedicated to PA McLaughlin, Sean Morrin, Peter Quigley, and all other NI LGBT activists the community has lost over the years; as well as the 46 contributors who kindly entrusted me with their stories. Research, development and production was made possible by support from the Arts Council NI and Belfast City Council.

A secret story in a tiny tent for Belfast-based babies in the world’s first BABY DAY

 

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Tiny Tents for the Sea of Stories (Photos by Simon Hutchinson & Grant Jones)
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Tiny Tents for the Sea of Stories (Photos by Simon Hutchinson & Grant Jones)

BABY DAY is the brainchild of Anna Newell, director of Reassembled, Slightly Askew, in her role as Artistic Director of Replay Theatre Company. You can see a video of the day’s events (the first in the world!), here, courtesy of video artist Conan McIvor.
I was delighted to be one of many writers for the ‘Sea of Stories‘ event who wrote special stories to be read by parents/guardians to their babies in little tents littered throughout Belfast City Hall and Ulster Museum last September. The title we were given to write from was ‘On the Night You Were Born’. Revisiting what I explored in Wiggle Giggle and my training in early childhood pedagogy, I focused on repetition and the sounds of words to animate the story between the reader and baby to write my story:

‘On the Night You Were Born’ by Shannon Yee

(Instructions: To read this story to your baby, there are things that you say and things that you do. It’s up to you if you want to say and do them at the same time or not.)

Do:             Sit down with your knees up and feet flat on the floor. Lay your baby on your thighs, facing you.

Say:             On the night you were born…

My world rocked, rocked, rocked

Do:            (Rock your legs together [and hence, your baby] side to side)

Say:            And …

Do:             (Keep your legs still)

Say:             Ruummmmmmmmbllllllllledddddddd

Do:             (quickly bounce your legs [and hence, your baby] one at a time)

Say:             And…Roll—roll-rolllllllled

Do:             (slowly lift one leg at a time)

Say:             And…

Do:             (separate your knees slightly so your baby drops a little)           

Say:             POPPED!

Do:             (pull your baby up quickly to land on your knees again)

(Go back to the beginning and repeat all again two or three more times from “My world rocked, rocked, rocked… “)

Say:             (hold your baby close and whisper) On the night you were born, my world changed forever.

Write-ups of ‘Reassembled, Slightly Askew’

Smithsonian RSA SI

An interview by Anna McNay for Studio International.

Plus a review by Jane Coyle:

“A real-life ordeal, captured by a daring, disorientating artistic collaboration, which works brilliantly on so many levels…It should be available on prescription.” ★★★★★–The Stage

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After its inaugural NI Tour, my brain takes a rest

Reassembled, Slightly Askew had a tremendously successful inaugural tour around NI from late April through early June, at the Metropolitan Arts Centre (as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival), Derry Playhouse, Flowerfield Arts Centre (as part of Action on Brain Injury Week), The Burnavon, Down Arts Centre and Island Arts Centre.

Audiences have called it:

“One of the most amazing, moving theatrical experiences of my life.”

“An amazing piece of theatre. An amazing use of sound. Very emotional piece. Very brave piece of writing.”

“Without question, one of the most vital and emotionally engaging theatre pieces I’ve ever experienced. I’m walking away informed, questioning, invigorated and ultimately grateful.”

“I think the piece should be widely toured and publicized and used for training purposes. As someone who has been through a lot of hospital treatments myself, I think this resonates across the board for any medical staff in contact with patients. It is indeed also a story of hope—and of love. “

“…very moving, terrifying, humourous and will stay with me for a very long time. The best piece of ‘theatre’ I have EVER experienced.”

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Nurse Stephen Beggs prepares an audience for the neuro-trip

“It was one of the most participative theatre pieces I have ever been involved in.”

“Shows an entirely different aspect to theatre.”

After a much-needed break for the summer, it will be returning to Belfast as part of the Arts & Disability Forum’s BOUNCE festival, 3-6 Sept at the Lyric Theatre.

(Photo credits: Ryan O’Hare/SlackPress)

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And March marched out the door…

I can’t believe I’m sitting here at the tail end of March, a month that at its outset was full of carefully laid out plans, including many a blog post about what I’ve been working on. I’ve assembled them into one single blog post here; my apologies about its haste…

1) WIGGLEGIGGLE  with Replay Productions, co-produced by Nottingham Playhouse,

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‘WIGGLEGIGGLE’ at Nottingham Playhouse, keeping company with Anish Kapoor’s ‘Sky Mirror’ sculpture

IMG_5996had its UK tour in Nottingham, The Egg Theatre in Bath, and finished at The MAC in Belfast this March as part of the Young At Art’s Belfast Children’s Festival 2015.

(if you’re wondering how on earth a poetry slam show for 3-5 year olds gets made, check my ‘Early years, cognitive schema and poetry slams‘ blog post)

 

 

 

2) The Lost Martini, with Accidental Theatre.

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‘The Lost Martini’ cast and director discuss story, structure, and character development via endless post-its that are moved (and moved back)

 

My official title was ‘writer/co-devisor’, but as the play was set in an underground jazz cafe in Belfast and immersed the audience in a whirlwind of the 5 characters’ stories at once, and they could hop between stories as they like, at times I felt writing the script was more like herding cats on multi-lane highway. The process was refreshingly democratic, with the cast creating text through improvisations and the creative team creating narrative shared within the 10 room set. There’s more about the process and creatives involved on “Post It Walls and Guitars” on the Accidental website.

3) I’m mid-way through an Arts Council NI-supported residency with music and dance company, Assault Events in Cardiff,  grappling with how oncurrent development of text, movement and music in devised work can be developed concurrently, rather than one or two of the disciplines leading the process with the others being tacked on. It’s been fascinating, challenging, thought-provoking and exciting, with a wonderful group of dancers to work with (courtesy of Arts Council Wales).

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Sophy Smith (composer) shares character theme tunes she’s written while watching the dancers, based on each dancer’s specific movement improvisations.

 

4) …and finally, I’m gearing up for the biggest project of my career to date, Reassembled, Slightly Askew. You may have read a thing or two about it on this blog already…

Here’s to spring!