Monthly Archives: February 2017

Greg Wohead: Celebration’s Falling of the Leaves

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Celebration, Florida is a planned community in Osceola County, Florida. It’s near Disney World and was originally developed by the Walt Disney Company. It features a town square, houses modeled on a variety of architectural styles (Victorian, Gothic, American plantation house) and a fully integrated graphic design of everything from street signs and shop signs to manhole covers, golf course graphics and fountains. To some, Celebration is a dream come true; quaint nostalgic Americana brought to life. But to others it all seems inauthentic.

Because of the temperate Florida climate, autumn foliage can be rare, so every October leaf-shaped confetti is pumped into the Celebration, Florida town square.

I’m obsessed with The Falling of the Leaves. It’s like this genuinely exciting moment even though you can see all the fakeness. The device pumping out paper leaves, everyone gathered to catch them. To me it feels fun and funny and strange and maybe a little bit sad.

My performance called Celebration, Florida, for me feels like this moment, only with people instead of paper leaves. Where the paper leaves are standing in for real leaves, in the performance two people who are unrehearsed and have never met both stand in for me. That’s quite a big difference, actually. Even though the unrehearsed performers are standing in for someone else, they are also their own people–they are self-consciously themselves and someone else at the same time, constantly slipping off one and onto the other. As a performance idea this is constantly interesting to me, as anyone who might have seen my previous work like The Ted Bundy Project or Comeback Special can clearly see.

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photo by Matt Cawrey

The performers are wearing headphones and hear my voice in their ear guiding them on what to do and say via a prerecorded audio track. They know almost nothing about the show beforehand. Maybe this seems a little gimmicky. The idea of unrehearsed performers guided through a show is certainly not original. I’ve seen it before, notably in Tim Crouch’s An Oak Tree and in Glen Neath and Ant Hampton’s ROMCOM. For Celebration, Florida, though, this felt like the only way to do it. Not just because of the exciting on-the-same-team relationship this creates between the performers and audience, but because it speaks to playback delays, disconnection, missed details, a voice that’s *just* out of hearing range, a sense of the odd, the off-centre, the peculiar. As audience members, you’re not only invited to see what is being enacted onstage, but you’re being asked to imagine and to try and access what has gone on in another place. My hope is that the form of the piece can help create a portal to this slightly strange other place. Celebration, Florida isn’t really about Celebration Florida. It is sort of about an anyplace.

But what I always come back to is a sense of doubleness. While you’re invited to access this other place, this Celebration, Florida anyplace, what we actually see is two people–who didn’t know each other before the show started–slowly form a real relationship as they interact and perform various tasks together over the course of an hour. That can be a fun thing to watch.

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photo by Jonathan Potter

In the end, Celebration, Florida is about all and none of these things. It veers between feeling ‘about’ a relationship between me and the performers, the performers and the audience, me and the audience, each performer with the other. And hopefully in the slipping and sliding in between, you can bring to it whatever is going on with you.

I made the performance with an energy of reaching out for connection with other people. That reach itself requires vulnerability, and it can feel thrilling, confusing, comforting, maddening and impossible. Like the Falling of the Leaves x 100.

Celebration, Florida is on at the Albany in London on 1st and 2nd March with a post-show talk on the 2nd, followed by national touring.
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By Greg Wohead.

Celebration’s Falling of the Leaves

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I Need A Dollar! Part of SKINT Festival at Canada Water Culture Space

Next week at the Albany’s sister venue, Canada Water Culture Space, InShort Film Festival presents a showcase of ingenious, surreal and innovative short films exploring humans’ relationship with work, money and happiness.

Each year InShort Film Festival screens the best international, inclusive, and independent shorts, exposing multicultural audiences to stories from all corners of the world. Their film programmes celebrate the differences and similarities in people’s experiences worldwide, with many themes popping up universally in the visions of filmmakers from different perspectives.

InShortFF was invited to curate the film part of the Albany’s SKINT programme, which allows you to get your film and theatre fix this February, even if you’re skint – all the events are £5 or pay-what-you-decide. People both locally and worldwide are affected by the financial restraints and poor employment opportunities of our current age. So on Friday 17 February 2017, InShortFF’s screening I Need A Dollar! brings some of the best, most powerful, and most relatable of these stories, with filmmakers from Chile, Australia, India, Russia, Spain and the US, to name a few, to our Southwark theatre.

Some of these films depict economic realities with stunning realism and accuracy, like Far is Here from Chile. This unforgettable experimental documentary will amaze you in its story of exile, migration and economic survival. Other films leap inspirationally towards happiness and freedom – material or immaterial.  A stand out short is The Chunk and The Whore, which was awarded TOP 10 of InShortFF 2016. Its director, French provocateur Antoine Paley depicts the unlikely relationship between a bored gas station cashier and a sex worker, and puts a middle finger up to working life! The programme also features a brilliant and surprising Spanish comedy Grown Ups by Javier Marcos, who plays with film form and expectation to shock and amuse audiences. A playful story about social expectations of how successful and happy adult life should look. You can expect a good mixture of film genres, including mentioned documentary, fiction, comedy, experimental and animation.

I Need A Dollar! gathers together the best internationally awarded short films set in, and dealing with, economic survival, through surreal and comedic filmmaking. Setting the scene for InShort Film Festival’s return in Autumn, see the best film talent and most interesting stories from around the (working) world. These films will free your mind – all you have to lose is your chains!

www.inshortfilmfestival.com

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P.S. Are you a filmmaker and have a new short? Don’t miss the upcoming Early Bird deadline for this year’s edition of InShortFF! Submit here: https://filmfreeway.com/festival/InShortFF

 

By Martha Margetson, InShort Film Festival

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Family Arts Conference 2017

Wednesday 15 March
St George’s Bristol and Watershed, Bristol
10am Registration & Coffee, event 10.30am-5.30pm

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Over 30 speakers confirmed for this major cross-artform event exploring age, diversity and inclusion in family arts.

Chief Executive of Arts Council England, Darren Henley will join us to welcome arts professionals from across the UK to learn and share best practice in working with families.

Including speakers from a wide range of organisations including Arnolfini, Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham, Z-arts, and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The day includes chances to network with family-friendly venues, programmers and touring companies. You can view the delegate list here.

Schedule

10am Registration and coffee

10.30am Morning sessions: new insights on arts-based approaches to inclusion and diversity

Deputy Mayor of Bristol Cllr Estella Tincknell will speak on the role of arts in diverse and socio-economically disparate cities.

Bristol Family Arts Network, organisers of the large-scale Bristol Family Arts Festival, on diversity and inclusion at the heart of Bristol’s cultural provision. Keynote from Clare Karslake from Arnolfini, Roseanna Dias from Watershed, and Amy Harrison from The Architecture Centre.

UK & international perspectives on welcoming older people as part of the family experience from Kate Organ, expert on arts and ageing and former consultant for Baring Foundation, Heidi Wiley from Art of Aging (European Theatre Convention), and Gabbi Mesters from European initiative Long Live Arts.

1pm Lunch with a performance from St George’s

1.55pm Breakout sessions

Working with older people and families: panel session with Emma Robinson from Age Cymru and its Gwanwyn Festival, Jill Rezzano from New Vic Stoke and its Ages and Stages programme, and Fergus Early from Green Candle Dance Company. Chaired by Charlotte Jones from Independent Theatre Council.

Marketing to families: a panel session with Sharna Jackson, Children’s Content Creator, Sara Lock the Associate Editor of CultureHive, Kate Mroczkowski from Spektrix as well marketing teams from leading UK family arts organisations, discussing innovative approaches to reaching families.

Developing diversity in family audiences: panel session with Liz O’Neill from Z-arts, Emma Spencer fromYorkshire Sculpture Park, Rachel Clarke from Knowle West Media Centre, Nikki Locke from East Durham Creates, and Sarah Bird and Rowan Hoban, Directors of Wild Rumpus and Just So Festival

A family-friendly workplace: how family-friendly is the arts sector to its employees? Panel session with Anna Ehnold-Danailov and Cassie Raine, co-founders of Parents in Performing Arts (PIPA), and Nicola Smith, Founder of We Are Resident, who provide international residency opportunities for parents working as artists.

3.15pm Afternoon sessions: approaches to access, research findings and future activity

Approaches to access: panel session including Chris Proctor from Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham, Karen Townsend from ATG, Victoria Grant from Manchester Meseums as well as contributions from Stagetext.

Keynote: Leo Sharrock, Director of Data Platforms at The Audience Agency and Jonathon Blackburn, Senior Policy and Research Officer at Arts Council England, present findings from new research on family audiences and participation.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, on the past, present and future of family arts and its importance to Arts Council England’s strategic plan.

Family Arts Campaign Manager Jenny Daly on new initiatives and ways to engage with the Family Arts Campaign.

5.30-6.30pm Networking drinks reception

Tuesday 14th March 5.30pm, Circomedia, Portland Square, Bristol

All conference delegates are invited to a pre-conference celebration and networking event on the evening preceding the conference. As spaces are limited, we ask that you please book your place in advance if you would like to attend this event.

“So many interesting things: hearing about a range of offers for families was very useful.”

“It allowed time to think and understand how families perceive our offer – lots of food for thought.”

“I will keep this inspiration with me when looking at my own upcoming collaborations.”

– Delegates, 2015 Family Arts Conference

Book here

The Family Arts Conference is sponsored by Spektrix and Supercool.

Family Arts Campaign is supported using public funding from Arts Council England.

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