Tag Archives: uncover

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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Bringing People Together through Opera

James Redwood (centre, in orange) leading the sharing event

Award-winning composer James Redwood (centre, in orange) leading The Albany Street Opera sharing event, 21 June

After a successful sharing event on Saturday 21 June, The Albany Street Opera is progressing well. The day offered the chance for all of the participants, from Meet Me at the Albany, Uncover Theatre Company and Lewisham A Capella Singing Group, to meet for the first time with composer James Redwood and devise a new opera, to be performed Saturday 19 July, 5pm.

Participants of the project range in age from 6 – 90 and come from a variety of backgrounds, many facing access challenges such as disability or language barriers. The sharing session saw twenty-five people come together to solidify their vision for the opera. Participants spent time getting to know one another, sang some simple rounds and worked in groups to make up song lyrics.They then shared the progress they had made on the opera itself since the project started in May.

The opera is inspired by John Bird’s book ‘The Necessity of Poverty’, which explores how the rich exploit poverty. Dramaturg Hazel Gould has been working with the groups on the development of the story around this theme and its ideas of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. The resulting plot is a dystopian future where the environment is so ruined that the most precious thing in the world is a spring of fresh water, protected fiercely by guards for the benefit of the ‘haves’. The Meet Me at the Albany participants have created the central character, Jean, who is on the run and  has her own theme song, created by the young singers of Lewisham Music Hub.

Clearly, the day was immensely valuable to the development of this new opera, and enabled a diverse group of people to meet, socialise and devise new music, irrespective of musical background, and sometimes with little to no music education. The project is in its first stage of development, with hopes to develop the work further into a full-scale opera production by the autumn of 2015/2016.

The Albany Street Opera has its first public performance Saturday 19 July, 5pm. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

Have a look at some more pictures from the day (by photographer Charlotte E. Groves) below:

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This project is proudly supported by the Merry Trust, Arts Council England and the PRS for Music Foundation.

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Allison Gold, Marketing Assistant, The Albany

 

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Uncover Music is all set for Amplify!

The Uncover Music Company of young music producers, promoters, DJs and musicians are all set to bring you another evening of eclectic new music with Amplify this Saturday 29 March with doors opening at 8pm.

Produced in collaboration with MC, DJ and producer Chunky, the line-up is sure to excite with Blue Daisy, Micall Parknsun and Planas being just a few of the headlining acts. Last week, the group sat down to record their first ever podcast featuring 90 minutes of everything from soul, reggae to hip hop with guest slots by Chunky and Illum Sphere, check it out:

 

 

Stay tuned this week for more behind-the-scenes coverage of the artists in Amplify.

To find out more about Amplify and to book tickets, click here. The first 50 bookers even win a free mystery vinyl from Deptford Market!

 

 

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Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number?

Raidene Carter, Head of Creative Programmes at the Albany, on why teenagers and retirees hold a special place in the Albany’s artistic vision. Find out more about Meet Me At The Albany, our artist led day club for the over 60s, and UNCOVER, our creative programme for 13 – 19 year olds. 

Age ain’t nothing but a number… So sang 90s R&B songstress Aaliyah (R.I.P). As much as I’ve always loved Aaliyah, my recent experiences working at the Albany have given me another perspective.  Age is much more than a number, as we’re learning through our creative programmes for young people, who are using arts as a means of self discovery, and mature people who are channeling their life experience through their artistic engagement. So why don’t we more often celebrate age as a creative catalyst?

I was 14 when Aaliyah released that tune, the same age as many of the Albany’s current Uncover Youth Theatre members. It came around in my shuffle on Friday, by chance, on a walk after two meetings – one with Roisin Feeny, Co-Director of the youth theatre group which caters for 13-19 year olds, and the other about Meet Me at the Albany, our artist led day club for the over 60s. It prompted me to notice that I had deduced the same broad idea out of both meetings: that age (or, strictly speaking, life experience in years) is a defining characteristic of the work artists make, especially when a number of the same age collaborate to create. Our industry, has spent the last couple of decades promoting the importance of youth arts, and, more recently, been seriously investing in older people’s arts so that proves there’s more to age than acne and wrinkles.

Two things…

1. Youth Is Wasted On The Young.

No. No, it isn’t.  If you came to see Uncover Youth Theatre’s response to Yam Yam! Festival, The Big Food Fight, you’d agree. They wasted a fair bit of jelly and spaghetti, but not an ounce of their youth, and, for that messy 55minutes I wanted to be them: sliding around, being outrageous, clever, cheeky and FUN. I admit, I envied their recklessness but laughed so much forgot I was an adult at work. The attitude on show was the same that is prevalent in the best work with young people – shows like Ontroerend Goed’s Once and For All We’re Going to Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen and Junction 25’s I Hope My Heart Goes First – it was energetic, and it was exuberant, and crucially, it was YOUNG.

2. You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks.

Er. Yes. Yes, you can. If you pop into the Albany on a Tuesday you’ll struggle to get a table in the Café because 30 of our Meet Me at the Albany regulars will be (over a cup of tea and biscuits) trying out something for the first time. The week before last they had a session in the theatre with our Associate Artist Vicki Amedume of Upswing, who led a workshop on circus skills. Possibly one of the most unlikely skill sets to teach a group of the over 60s, but they enjoyed it enormously and  a few even ended up suspended above the floor in silks.They were fully aware of the physical challenges but went for it anyway, working with Vicki to adapt the experience to their own needs.

My point is: that young people are inherently wet behind the ears and older people have probably seen it all before and once we accept these sorts of stereotypes- and perhaps even allow ourselves to play with them- that’s when creativity can really begin.  Vicki’s silks session prompted a vivid debate about body image amongst attendees, which is now having a dynamic in the artistic planning for next season’s activities. The collective and unadulterated joy of Uncover Youth Theatre members has morphed into their trademark performance style – absurd, loud and uncomfortably honest.

We’re not the only organisation recognizing and playing on the strengths that come with the age of artists – 20 Stories High in Liverpool has thrived on the energy of young people, using its regular youth theatre as the beating heart for professional productions and artistic vision. Clod Ensemble’s The Amazings has been quietly radicalising arts in residential care homes to prove that in such places do you get an unparalleled abundance of life experience and professional know-how.

So, sorry to say it, but Aaliyah was wrong. I guess only a naïve 15 year-old, railing against public disapproval of her alleged marriage to an R&B warbler 12 years her senior, would announce such a silly thing, but then get away with it for being beautiful, laissez-faire and full of promise. Bet her nan had something to say about it, though.

Raidene Carter, Head of Creative Programmes, the Albany

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