As part of the New Year energy flurry, partly hastened by the sound of ‘time’s winged chariot’, I have resolved to be more pro-active! This is not a ‘New Year resolution’ – I’ve given up making those: no, this is much more about a commitment to myself to take more risks.
Sadly, it took the death of a close friend and collaborator late last year to focus my energy. Joss Bennathan – with whom I had worked as Associate Director as part of Present Moment Theatre’s commitment to taking classic plays (Shakespeare, Marlowe & the like) and making them accessible to contemporary audiences, was a huge presence.
Many people who worked with him felt it!
I learnt a lot working with Joss: he gave me many opportunities &, in his way, has left me with a challenge! Part of this will be to complete a project which he began: “Shakespeare & Beyond” – to introduce rehearsal room techniques to English teachers, and empower them to use them in their own work, in the classroom, with young people.
This is an extension of Present Moment Theatre Lab, which ran in 2013 & 2014. We took young people from outer East London boroughs and rehearsed professionally supported Shakespeare plays during their summer holiday, which then toured to their secondary schools at the beginning of the new academic year. It raised their aspirations, and achievements, and gave over 2000 young people an opportunity to see Shakespeare performed in their own school, by their peers, who were able to breathe life into the characters because they understood what they were saying, and could communicate with an audience!
Participating teachers from both years of the project will come together to share new schemes of work, based on the rehearsal room process: using many of the skills our young actors in training learn when working on classic texts. Hopefully this will encourage them to approach Shakespeare, & his contemporaries, as “plays” – stories to be told, theatre to be made – rather than as dry words from a literary canon.
So, that’s part of the challenge! The next one is to make more of my own work – collaboratively: with writers, with actors, musicians, sound artists…..and others.
To stop talking & thinking about ‘grasping the nettle’ – & DO it!
Watch this space….the journey starts here….