Tag Archives: theatre

The Penguin in the Room

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This week we opened our doors to Dep Arts and Slung Low for unique family treat Emergency Story Penguin on Wednesday 22 April until this Sunday 26 April. This exciting, interactive family adventure starts in the foyer, takes you on a submarine, out into Antarctica, back onto the submarine and hopefully, if you’ve managed to power the submarine well enough, back home safe and sound with a penguin that you’ve rescued. Sounds exciting, right? We decided to test this theory by inviting two local primary schools in to be the first to go on this adventure. Our Marketing Assistant, Rachel McCall, lets us know how it all went down.

Wednesday saw two classes from Invicta Primary School come in for the first of two days of staff-led workshops and an exclusive showing of Emergency Story Penguin. Now I won’t lie to you here, myself and the rest of the team doing to the workshops were a little nervous, we were about to be swarmed by 60 five to six year olds, this is enough to put the fear in anyone who has made the conscious decision not to work as a teacher, but non-the-less we had done our prep, had a couple of coffees and we’re hyped up to go. The students arrived absolutely buzzing with infectious energy and within five minutes we were totally hooked on working with them. We took them on a tour around the back stage of the theatre, gave them a go at radioing the technicians and cuing the lights and sound effects, asked them to make their own play, and tested their theatre knowledge (which was impressively advanced). They then went to see the play, and we met them hour later to see how it had gone, the feedback was a thrilling mixture of ‘YAY’, ‘awesome’ and ‘that was so cool’; we’d call that a success!

And so Thursday morning dawned, and us weary work-shoppers dragged our aching bodies out of bed and into the Albany just in time to prep for the next school, St Winifred’s RC Infant School, who arrived with 60 new excited students. Once all florescent vests had been piled in a corner, we got down another day of workshops, theatre tours and Emergency Story Penguin shows. By the end of the day we all agreed that, although exhausted, we were sad that we’d only planned two days of schools and that it’s definitely something we’d love to do again.

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Some of the audience feedback from our schools performances.

Rachel McCall, Marketing Assistant, The Albany

There are still three days to catch Emergency Story Penguin. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

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This Play Isn’t Set in the 1970s – These Events are Happening Now

Black comes to the Albany next week to tell us a tale of a Zimbabwean family’s struggles to settle in to a Liverpudlian neighbourhood. Nikki doesn’t think her Dad is a racist… He just deeply cares about his community. But when a Zimbabwean family moves in over the road, her Dad starts laying down the law. This frank and honest look at racism in today’s world makes this show a provocative piece of work that is relevant to all communities across Britain.

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Keith Saha, Co-Artistic Director tells is more:
This blog is abridged, to read the full version click here.

Without giving too much away, Black is a story that centres around a young white woman called Nikki who lives on a predominantly white estate, when a Zimbabwean family move onto the close she turns a blind eye to the racism they face.

It’s a challenging piece, and the two actors that portray Nikki and the Zimbabwean teen Precious have an astonishingly challenging job to do in terms of the emotions it throws up for the audiences everywhere they go. Nikki doesn’t hold any punches in her language she uses, she is uncensored and hearing language like this has sometimes been difficult for some audiences.

I wrote this play in response to a real event a youth worker friend had told me about. She told me about an African family who had moved onto the estate where she was working, and they were met with hostility by a lot of the local community. On hearing this I was shocked and saddened, but not surprised.

On doing further research with young people in Liverpool, I soon learned that violent racist attacks were common, everyday casual racism was even more common. But often people didn’t talk about it.

It took me back to an incident that had taken place in Birkenhead in the late 70’s when I was growing up. A black family were moving in over the road and all of the street had come out to have a look. A husband and wife and two little boys the same age as me 4 or 5. The name calling started , the ‘N’ word was being shouted, then the stones started to get thrown, the Mum and Dad hurriedly took their kids inside. I was one of the kids that was also throwing stones. After the family went inside, one of the older lads turned and pointed at me ‘What about him? What about the Paki?’ They all looked at me, and then pounced I was thrown on the floor and was about to get a beating but fortunately the older kids in my family jumped in and protected me. At that time my family I was living with was all white, and I had not fully understood that my mixed heritage of Indian and English/Irish was an issue.

When I moved back up to Liverpool in 2006 I was acutely aware of the growing racial tensions that were coming back on a national level. Heightened by 9/11 and the global recession the rise the BNP and the EDL started to look ugly on the streets. Ten years later with the collapse of the BNP and the EDL we now have the acceptable face of racist views. UKIP and Britain First.

So what to do with this information? I wrote Black.

I wrote Black from the perspective of Nikki a young woman who was in the middle of all this. She is based on some young women I knew growing up and she also exists in the here and now. Black is based on events that are happening now.

As the tour carries on the tour continues, the reactions from the audience differ night to night and can be radically different even in the same location. A mix of people unaware of the situation, of young black people who are acutely aware and also young people like Nikki who are working their way through defining who they are and what their views are on immigration and a multi-cultural Britain.

My hope is that we don’t need to tour Black again or it shouldn’t be a show that will still be relevant in a few years. It will be a period piece. There are no easy answers but one thing I have learned over the past few weeks, talking openly about these things on a community level helps, highlighting these issues on social media helps, speaking out against racism and direct action helps.

You can see Black at the Albany on Tuesday 17 – Wednesday 18 March, 7.30pm.

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Phenomena: Lulu’s Guide to Love & Physics

luluFrom Thursday 12 – Saturday 14 February, Sounds like Chaos and the Albany present Uncover Theatre’s, Phenomena: A Beginner’s Guide to Love & Physics. To get us in the mood for a journey of discovery, Lulu, one of the young artists, has written about her experience:

I have been with Uncover Theatre Company for nearly six years, joining the group at twelve when it was called Dig Deptford. Throughout this time we have worked together with Sounds like Chaos (Gemma Rowan and Roisin Feeny) to make our performances. At first I can remember being the youngest in the group and what it felt like to be around older teenagers who were all so different, but all of us, regardless of age, ability or who we would hang out with outside the group, shared a love of drama and performance and I felt at home. For the past six years that feeling of home when I’m at Uncover has grown and I have met most of my closest friends there. So for me Uncover has really shaped me as a person and when I’m there I don’t have to be anyone else but me. And I think that this closeness within the group is what makes us and our shows unique.

When I first joined, we produced small scale performances that parents and friends would come and see. The first show we made was performed in the small room we rehearsed in. From there we took part in National Theatre Connections and also performed some of our own devised small scale plays. Through all of this the group found its own identity; we became Uncover Theatre, writing our own plays about young people and performing them as ourselves. We produced Euphoria, performed in the Albany theatre, When it’s Night Time, performed on the roof of Deptford Lounge and at the Southbank Centre. Our current play, Phenomena: A Beginner’s Guide to Love & Physics, will run for three nights in the Albany theatre in February. All three of these plays have our own stamp on them and show the ways young people have fun, fall in love, party, cry and live.

We recently received Arts Council funding for Phenomena, which wasn’t because we’re kids from a bad borough, but because our work is at a professional level. In the past our plays have had an audience mainly made up of family and friends, With this show we wanted to do something new. We feature in the Albany’s main programme alongside other professional artists, because this piece isn’t just for family and friends, but for people who love going to the theatre and watching professional shows, because we’re not ‘just youth theatre’, we’re theatre.

I am also a spoken word artist and I used to dance and play music. As a young performer it can be hard to be taken seriously. But just because we’re young doesn’t mean we don’t know what we’re doing.  We have our own unique ways of viewing the world, with all of its problems and beauties. We don’t just want to be viewed as participants. We are artists in our own respects and we should not be seen as anything less. We have our own energy and language and through our art we can share this. But how do we change people’s perception of youth arts, in my case, youth theatre? It seems that people think of it as plays written for young people and never by them. They think that the level of acting is going to be for parents to be proud of, not for an audience member to be blown away by. They think that youth theatre isn’t something that can be seen as professional, but in my opinion Uncover and so many other groups have proved this wrong.

Check out the trailer for Phenomena here:

Come and watch Uncover’s Phenomena: A Beginner’s Guide to Love & Physics on Thursday 12 – Saturday 14 February 7.30pm at the Albany, and see what youth theatre is really about.

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Louise Orwin finds out if she’s pretty or ugly

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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.

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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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