Friday, 27 April 2012

Should theatre companies be charities #awqt

We are now starting a question time session. If you have a question about theatre in education (TIE), film in education, theatre in general, dealing with bullying or anything else you want to ask us (we will answer questions on anything), then please ask away. All questions will be answered. Ask your question by replying to his blog post or send us a question on twitter: @touringschools with the hashtag #awqt Your questions and the answers will be available for everyone to see.
Question from Rose (via Twitter):

What advice would you give to someone wishing to establish an education/community theatre company RE charity stat/fund etc? thnx, Rose

Answer: Hi Rose and thanks for your question. It's a very large question, but I will keep my answer brief. As you know, it is very difficult, especially in the current economic climate, to effectively sustain a theatre company financially. Funding pots are diminishing and many people are going after the same funds. I suggest that if you go down the charity/funding route that you must have a dedicated funding/promotion manager (they won't have time for anything else). You will also need to demonstrate a good track record of work and positive feedback. It can be an all-consuming affair and much like the audition process for actors - you need to be able to take rejection well and be persistent. I do not like the funding application process as I feel it wastes valuable time and resources. I prefer to rely on donations and fee based activity and actually spending time doing the work itself.

As regards being a charity, you need to decide why you are doing the work. Is it really charitable or do you just want the status? A charity is more work to set up - don't do it if you don't need it.

Based on the above I would suggest that, just starting out, time is better spent on producing a creative product that people are happy to pay for and actually spend time doing the work rather than rely on fundraising before you can do the work. Once you have toured/performed and can demonsrate a track record, use this to approach funders. You then have 'showcases' they can attend plus you get to do what you want to do (which is perform), when you want to, how you want to and to who you want to.

I hope the above is useful. Please let me know if you want me to clarify anything.

Thanks for your question.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Actionwork Question Time #awqt

We are now starting a question time session. If you have a question about theatre in education (TIE), film in education, theatre in general, dealing with bullying or anything else you want to ask us (we will answer questions on anything), then please ask away. All questions will be answered.

Ask your question by replying to his blog post or send us a question on twitter: @touringschools with the hashtag #awqt

Your questions and the answers will be available for everyone to see.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Theatre in other langauges

One of my passions, when writing plays, is to combine more than one language in the script. Most of my plays, even the English ones, contain a few phrases of other languages. One of my more challenging plays used a combination English and Japanese. The show was 2-hours long, half the show was in English and half the show was in Japanese. Before writing the script I worked with 3 English and 3 Japanese actors for a month. We shared common cultural elements and common words (for example hundreds of Japanese words that have been adopted into the English language such as tsunami, kabuki, origami, kimono, miso, nashi, sake, soy, tempura, akido, judo, zen, futon, honcho, shiatsu and many others). I led the actors through many exploratory games and improvisations and at the end of the month I wrote the play; a love story about a Japanese girl and a Phillipino boy. The show explored many issues including racism and bullying. I worked with a Japanesw writer for an additional month, helping me with the Japanese script and language. We ended up with a play that was in both English and Japanese - some of the characters could only speak English, some only Japanese and some could speak both languages. We then toured this show or 2-months in England and 2-months in Japan. This was a fantastic project and really well received in both countries in schools, arts centres and theatres. It premiered at Sadlers Wells in London England and in the Kanagawa Theatre Complex, Tokyo Japan.

One of my lasting memories of this tour was a typical response I got from English students and teachers compared to Japanese students and teachers. Many English teachers/students complained about the Japanese language and wanted the play to be in English only whereas ALL the Japanese students/teachers loved the combination. Many of the English students/teachers would say things like "I could only understand half the play, you should have made it all in English". Many of the Japanese students/teachers would say "Mixing the languages made us think more about other ways of communicating".

I was thinking about this as I am about to go to Poland and I want to see some theatre there. Lodz has several theatres and there appears to be a theatre festival while I am there, which is great. Everything is in Polish, which is great (I don't speak Polish). Three theatres that took my eye are the Great Theatre ( currently open but undergoing some renovation, the Jaracz Theatre ( and the New Theatre ( The choice of shows ranges from Tolstoy, Madadme Butterfly, Krol Ryszard III (Shakespeare's Richard III), ZIEMIA OBIECANA, Mayday 2, The Polish Dance Theatre and Syvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant perfrming 4 of their pieces (Shift, Solo, Two and Push -, which looks fantastic, but unfortunately I arrive just to late to see this one. So I have opted for a show called 'HISZPAƃSKIE FASCYNACJE', which translates as 'Spanish Fascination'. Google translate offers this: The show is inspired by the Spanish culture in music opera, ballet and rich literature of songs. In addition to fragments of the more famous works of composers such as Bizet, Tchaikovsky, Rossini, and Verdi Minkus, there will be some songs less popular but equally beautiful and original, whose authors include Manuel de Falla, Jose Serrano, Pablo Luna and Edouard Lalo. The intention of the implementers of the latest release is to show how great source of inspiration for composers from different eras and cultures were the motives of Iberian, and how great is the richness of their interpretation.

Now that sounds brilliant! I will let you know what it is like after I have seen it.If you are interested to see pictures from the show and a cast list then please follow this link:

I believe we really need to encourage peopel to see and experience the arts in many different languages and from many different cultures. Lets not forget that we are celebrating Shakespeare at the moment and there are hundreds of Shakespeare performances going on all over the UK right now.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Copyright for creatives is easy

Did you know that it is very easy to protect your script, film, story, poem, creation? In the UK you do not need to use an 'official' registration organisation. Copyright is AUTOMATIC - all you need to do is prove when you created something.... One way to do this is to just send (by special delivery) to yourself a copy of what you have created and keep it in the unopened envelope in case you ever need to use it.
See here for more info:
This is what the IPO says: There is no official registration system for copyright in the UK and most other parts of the world. There are no forms to fill in and no fees to pay to get copyright protection. You do not need to register copyright - there is no official registration system. This is why protection is said to be automatic. So long as you have created a work that qualifies for copyright protection, that is it falls into one of the categories of material protected by copyright, then you will have copyright protection without having to do anything to establish this. It is a requirement of various international conventions on copyright that copyright should be automatic with no need to register.


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Can other people make you empowered?

Can other people make you empowered? This is a difficult question. The essennce of empowerment for me is that we get things done for ourselves, that we feel good about ourselves, that we feel enabled to do the things that we waat to do and are able to say no to the things that people try to force us to do or that are against our will. Saying that, i do think that it is possible for people to help us towards empowerment. Other people can show us the door, can show us possibilities, and can be there for us when we need an extra hand.

One way to empowerment or to find empowerment is to try things out, to experiment to see what will work for us. Role-play is a fantastic tool that can help us in this endeavor. Role-plays work better when we role-play with other people. Not only can they help the role-play move forward and give us obstacles to overcome, they can also give us feedback and poiinters of things to try out.

Two videos I have watched recently demonstrate, in different ways for me, forms of empowerment or ideas for empowerment. I have posted the links below:

  - youth and a whole school approach - Benjamin Zephaniah

Techniques of theatre are great for helping with empowerment - try it some time.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Learning accents 1: English / British accent

Here are some tutorials for helping to learn an Englsih accent:

How English sounds to foreigners

Is paypal killing crowdfunding?

Is paypal killing crowdfunding?  

Importance of warming up voice and body

Athletes, actors and other performers know the importance of warming up our bodies before running a race or performing on stage. How many of us understand the importance of warming up our bodies and voices  before undertaking even basic activities in our daily lives?

Taking the time to warm up can be the difference in pulling a hamstring, damaging our vocal chords or even just making ourselves understood. It is unforgivable for an actor to start a rehearsal or perform a show without first warming up their bodies and voices, it is desirable for everybody to warm-up their bodies and voices before undertaking most activities. If you deliver presentations or training, are a teacher or instructor, if you are going to go for a jog or a bike ride, even before making love ... if you have taken time to warm up you will get a lot more out of your activity and you will perform better for much longer.

A thirty minute warm up everyday is all that is needed to help keep your body and voice ready for action. Split your warm up 50/50: 15 minutes on your voice and 15 minutes on your body.

15 minutes of body stretching: toes, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, neck, arms, wrists and fingers. All you need to do in that time is some gentle stretching.

5 minutes if breathing: breath in to your stomach (not your chest). Note that your breath is the power behind your voice. No breath equals no voice. Breath in to three seconds and out to ten seconds (repeat 3 times). Then slowly increase the length of your out breath. Eventually (after a week or so of training) you should be able to comfortably breath out to 30+ seconds.

5 minutes of humming (as above). Hum low, then hum high. Then mix them up.

5 minutes of articulation exercises. Work the facial muscles and work the tongue. Say lots of 'd's', then 't's', the 'l's', then 'b's' - say these fast, clearly, high and low (at no time should you strain your voice). Repeat " yo, yah" (10 times). Repeat "gah" (10 times). Repeat "Peggy Babcock" (20 times)
Include some other tongue twisters.

The above is a very basic warm up that if done everyday (with some slight variations to make it more interesting) will REALLY improve your vocal control.

Of course this is not enough for actors. If you are an actor then you will need to include warm ups for resonance, colour and much more in depth breath control.

Taking the time to warm up everyday will really make a positive difference in your everyday interactions, jobs and social activities.