Tag Archives: the Albany

Louise Orwin finds out if she’s pretty or ugly

PRETTY UGLY PROMO 2_billboard

Over the next week actor and live-artist Louise Orwin will be with us for her show Pretty Ugly running Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 February, and to also develop her new show A Girl and a Gun. Exploring the dark world of teenage girls asking people to rate their looks online, Pretty Ugly involves roller-skating, lip-syncing and some alarming statistics. Louise Orwin let’s us know a bit more about it:

In 2013 I became someone else online.  And when I say someone else, I actually mean three people: three teenage girls.

It happened after I came across a specific YouTube trend.  Reader, I dare you: google this now: ‘am I pretty or ugly YouTube’. If you did that, you might understand my immediate horror. If you don’t fancy taking a stroll down into the YouTube gutter, let me explain. This is a YouTube trend in which young girls, largely aged between 8 and 14, post a video of themselves asking viewers to rate their looks. You’d be right to assume its best not to read most of the comments posted below these videos. And there are comments, lots of them. Currently, there are around half a million of these videos on YouTube.

My journey down the YouTube rabbit hole began back in 2012 when I was researching how teenage girls are using the internet, and in particular social media today.

Around that time I was becoming a bit obsessed with the kind of language they use. When I say language, I mean the language of the internet: fashions in fonts and acronyms and video-editing, self-referential memes, and the abyss of circular re-blogging. This was a world of sideways smiley faces; the un-ironic posting of emo video diaries; a world of ‘thinspiration’ sites sitting in the same blogosphere as hello-kitty-fan-blogs; a world where teen suicide videos went viral at the same rate as Justin Bieber’s stratospheric rise to fame.

I was intrigued about how this very specific teenage voice and language was being assimilated into the mainstream, and I began to wonder what it all meant.

Then I came across my first pretty/ugly video. Recoiling in horror, as I watched I had one thought going round my head: ‘WHY?’

I couldn’t stop mentally asking this young girl why she was doing this, and then, I couldn’t stop asking myself whether I would do it. The next step was obvious for me. I wanted to know how it would feel to post a video like this, and what the effect might be. So I devised an experiment. I came up with three generic teenage identities, made some very quick, very lo-fi videos, posted them on YouTube, and sat back to wait for the results.

I won’t tell you the whole story (you can come and see the show for that) but I can tell you it was addictive, and thrilling (in the worst way), and eye-opening. I can tell you my videos attracted a lot of attention, and I can tell you that this journey didn’t end there. The videos were online for a year before I took them down. The show tells the whole story of what happened in that year – from the responses to the video, to the people I met along the way.

I’m so excited that Pretty Ugly is coming to the Albany this week – it’s a hugely important show for me, both artistically and politically. And it feels right to be bringing this show to an organisation who understands how important it is to let teenagers speak honestly about their lives, through programmes like Uncover.

Alongside the show, I’ve also worked with young teens through organisations such as Girl Guiding UK, have given talks on the project (e.g. Southbank Centre’s festival Web We Want), and have a blog to help raise awareness about the kind of issues the show covers. You can find more here www.louiseorwin.com  and here: www.prettyorugly.wordpress.com

I’m also thrilled to be here at the Albany for the next two weeks starting work on my new show A Girl and A Gun, which will be premiering later this year. It’s in the very early days, but really wonderful to be working on a new project. If you’d like to keep up to date with the show’s progress, I’m blogging about it here: www.louiseorwin.com/blog

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For your chance to see how Louise was rated, come along to Pretty Ugly Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 February at 8pm. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

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The Making of The Life & Loves of a Nobody

Third Angel‘s The Life & Loves of a Nobody follows the life of a nobody, Rachel, who dreams of joining the circus and having her name in the spotlight; it scratches the surface of the world’s fascination with celebrity and relentless pursuit of fame. Co-Artistic Director Alexander Kelly gives us some insight into the process of making this productionwhich has its only London performances here 3-7 February:

We [Third Angel] pulled together our existing research [for The Life & Loves of a Nobody] from a variety of sources:

  • A 30 minute solo piece Rachael [Walton, Co-Artistic Director of Third Angel] had written and performed a couple of years ago, called All About The Full Stops, about a girl who runs away to the circus, looking for love and escape (and doesn’t find either).
  • Some more recent texts Rachael wrote in response to a week’s R&D at ARC in September [2013], and for mala voadora & Mundo Perfeito’s 10 Anos Marathon Performance in October.
  • Research about the life of Joseph Grimaldi (particularly The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi by Andrew McConnell Stott).

We talked about circuses, talent shows, entertainment as social control. We watched some Black Mirror and some Hunger Games. We revisited Chris Bachelder’s Bear v Shark. We talked about how contestants on (things like) The X-factor talked about how this was their “one chance”, their “only chance”, how they “couldn’t go back” to their other lives. And we thought about how those opportunities to escape always seem to be to allow one person to escape a long way, at the expense of those around them, rather than helping everyone escape by a shorter distance…

When we’re making work, what we’re often trying to find, is what the task of telling the story is in this project, how that task explores what we want the show to be about. By this point on The Life & Loves of a Nobody, we were using the phrase “storybook” to describe how the show works, and building images for different chapters. And the show was in traverse. The process felt like a familiar, older one. And here’s a thing. I don’t know if other companies do this, but when we’re making new work we talk (to each other at least), about which of our earlier shows the new show shares a heritage with. Which point does the new piece branch off from? With this piece we feel a connection back through 9 Billion Miles from Home, through Believe The Worst, to Experiment Zero and The Killing Show. It’s the feel of the world, the balance of narrative, text, task and the visuals and environment of the show. I’m excited about that…

The very first version of the show, called All About The Full Stops, contained the image of the narrator, as a young girl, sitting on the sofa with her grandad, watching old films and musicals on a black and white TV. Mention of it was no longer than that last sentence, but Rachael and I had both commented on how we liked it. As we’ve moved sections and text around this week, things got bumped, gaps appeared. And then Rachael called me one evening to read me a new text for one of the gaps. The image of the girl, watching movies with her grandad, revisited and stayed with us for longer.

I love the way moments like this point back to show you the way you have come, help you map your own journey to where you’ve got to – and, I guess, help you understand what’s going on in what you’ve got. They remind you of your early thoughts and interests in these ideas, in this material. Look, this is where it started. This has been here all along.

Excerpts from the Third Angel blog, written by Co-Artistic Director Alexander Kelly

The Life & Loves of a Nobody runs Tuesday 3 – Saturday 7 February. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

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When We Were Little…

Third Angel Life & Loves brochure image

Kicking off our thrilling Spring season, celebrated theatre makers Third Angel bring The Life & Loves of a Nobody to Deptford. As the title suggests, it follows the life of an apparent nobody, who has dreamed of running away with the circus and achieving fame since she was little. Exploring celebrity, identity and childhood dreams, this production is sure to pack a punch, and undoubtedly hit home with many of us. To get us excited for the show, Third Angel have asked the Albany team to join the #WhenIWasLittle bandwagon and answer what we wanted to be or do when we were little. Have a look at what some of us have said:

 

The Life & Loves of a Nobody is here Tuesday 3 – 7 February. For more information and to book tickets, click here. Join the #WhenIWasLittle conversation on our Twitter @TheAlbanySE8 and @thirdangeluk.

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New Year, New Resolutions

It’s that time of year again where ‘new year, new me’ is the phrase on everyone’s lips, and here at the Albany is no exception. But if you’re struggling to figure out what you want to do differently this year, our Marketing Assistant Rachel McCall has five simple suggestions for you.

1. Be good to yourself

It’s so easy to get caught up in the fast, furious pace of London and 2015 is the year that you shouldn’t let it get you down. Mindfulness is a great way to take a little time out of each day to assess how you are feeling, what you want, and to figure out how you will achieve it. There are many apps for iPhone and Android that guide you through Mindfulness and take as little as 15 minutes out of your day.

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2. Start a new hobby

2014 saw the come-back of knitting, so we think that 2015 should take this one step further and see the rebirth of crocheting. If this takes your fancy then click here to find out how to get started. crochet

3. Eat adventurously

We’re so over left-over turkey curry and we bet you are too! A fun and easy resolution to do this year is to try new food and flavours. If you’re looking for an opportunity to do so then you can come along to our Bajan Dining Experience by In a Pikkle Pop-Up Restaurants on Friday 6 February and 6 March.

food

4. Try something that you think you won’t like

It’s so easy to get into a rut with how you spend your free time, whether it’s binge watching Netflix, reading books by the same author or consistently seeing plays by the same writer or director. If you want to mix things up a little then we advise doing something or seeing something that takes you out of your comfort zone. For some ideas have a look at our new season. What have you got to lose?

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5. Volunteer your free time

It’s a classic one, but there’s a reason for it. Volunteering your time can be one of the most rewarding things to do, not just for you but for those who you are helping. At the Albany you can volunteer at Meet Me at the Albany, or find your local charity shop and see if they need help each week.

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If you decide to take on any of these resolutions then tweet us and let us know on Twitter at @TheAlbanySE8.

Good luck,

Rachel McCall

Marketing Assistant, The Albany

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