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,

IMG_5993

‘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.

IMG_6202

‘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).

Sophy & dancers

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!

Final ‘Reassembled…’ focus group feedback

Reassembled… has gone through a lengthy development process; from April– December 2014, over 75 people from the medical, arts and community/voluntary sectors heard sections and and provided their feedback in small focus groups, mostly at the MAC (Belfast).

Some of the most recent participants work for Stroke Association (NI), Royal Victoria Hospital, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Accidental Theatre, and the MAC. I also had the unique experience of testing a section at the British Association of Neurological Nurses Conference in Manchester (Oct 2014), with Colin Williamson, Head Injury Nurse at the Belfast Trust, who is one of the biomedical advisors on the project, and was present throughout my time as an in-patient in Ward 4F.

IMG_5849

Testing ‘Reassembled, Slightly Askew’ at the British Association of Neurological Nurses Conference with chairs, not beds

IMG_5845

One participant opted for the carpeted floor

“Time flies in.”

“Helps you to empathise with the patient experience.”

“The staff [in the hospital] were extremely attentive and caring in meeting Shannon’s needs. it was insight to be part of Shannon’s journey.”

“I want to bring the whole team in and say, ‘You think you know what it’s like but your don’t.”

“A great teaching tool for families.”

“I found the experience to be extremely insightful…the sounds were amazing, very realistic. I did feel that I was inside Shannon’s head, trying to make sense of the world going on around me. Great piece of work–thank you.”

“Will make me think about the environment and noises, how I speak and communicate with patients.”

“A real eye-opener.”

“We do it day in and day out, but do we explain enough?…would alter what you tell someone…”

“You can never know what it’s like…you feel like you’ve got a tiny bit of understanding…”

“Found the continuous noises bombarding–very different from what you experience as a staff member”

IMG_5716

The artistic team meets (L to R): Paul Stapleton (sonic artist), Stevie Prickett (choreographer), Hanna Slattne (dramaturg), Matilde Meireles (sonic project support), Anna Newell (director)

With production of the immersive sonic artwork nearly finished, the focus is now on securing Reassembled… into galleries/theatre spaces for the general public and training settings for biomedical professionals to experience the finished piece throughout 2015.

 

This development has been made possible by a Wellcome Trust Small Arts Award and an Arts & Disability Award Ireland.