“How High?”

heidichloetroll

Some of you might have noticed that I have been practising my stilt walking for the last month. You might have seen various tweets and facebook statuses showing my panic when I got the part of Espen in “How High?”.  I’ve had such a fantastic few weeks of rehearsals with Pascale Whyte, directed by Jeremy Harrison and Laurence Greiner, and it was an added bonus that rehearsals took place at good old Rose Bruford.  It has changed so much since I left Rosie B in 2000.  I hardly recognised it!  It was a joy going to rehearsals, starting off in the canteen with lovely morning chats over a cup of hot chocolate, then bouncing about on my stilts for the rest of the day, speaking and singing in Norwegian, rehearsals only interrupted by more chats and tea.  The atmosphere in the rehearsal room was so creative, professional and energetic that it was easy to get carried away into the amazing world of Hettie and Espen. 
Last week our rehearsals moved to The Half Moon Theatre in Limehouse.  I’ve never visited the venue before, but I was told it had been newly renovated.  It looks amazing, and the staff are so friendly.  Pascale and I felt instantly welcome as we brought all our props and costumes in.  We did one show on Friday to an invited audience (30 programmers and 40 kids), and two shows on Saturday.  It was fantastic to finally do it in front of an audience, and to see the kids’ reactions to all our silliness. It was also wonderful to meet the kids after the show. One little girl looked up at me and said suspiciously: “What ARE you??” I don’t think I convinced her when I explained that I wasn’t an actual troll, I was just pretending. Another little girl drew a picture of ‘Espen’ on one of the chalkboards at the theatre, but apologised for not being able to draw rolled up sleeves.

Now the stilts and boxes have been put away till February when Pascale and I will be venturing out on tour in Suffolk. Till then, bye bye, Espen and Hettie. See you soon!

Drama classes in spring 2013 and other updates!

We started teaching our drama classes to kids from the age of 5 to 19 in early September and 7 weeks later, I can safely say we’ve got off to a great start! All the students seem to be really enjoying themselves – they keep coming back every week, which is usually a good sign! – and it’s going to be fun presenting a showcase towards the end of term of all the hard work and fun that’s been taking place. I lead the class with the little ones in and though I was slightly daunted in the beginning, I’ve now really got into the swing of it and really enjoy the energy and excitement these kids bring to class every week. There’s nothing quite like the sight of a room full of kids enthusiastically hopping round the room as kangaroos! The older kids are also absolutely brilliant, whether they’re throwing themselves into an improvisation exercise or rehearsing a musical number. It’s wonderful to witness so much passion for performance.

We do still need to fill up one class, 9-12 year olds, but the demand for 5-8s and 12-19s musical drama is so high that we’re going to be introducing a couple of extra sessions so that new kids can sign up for next term. Times still to be confirmed, but we’ve decided on dates:

5, 12, 19 & 26 January
2, 9 & 16 February
No classes on 23rd Feb (half term)
2, 9, 16 & 23 March.

Unfortunately for us the Oasthouse Theatre where we’ve been teaching is going to be unavailable for a few weeks in January and February as the community theatre group there will be using it for their annual pantomime, but we’re on the cusp of sorting out an alternative temporary venue for those first few sessions. I won’t say any more now in case I jinx it!

Meanwhile we’re finally making some real progress with setting up the performance side of this theatre company. We’re going to be doing a little bit of TIE at a school locally early next year, which should be fun to write and rehearse. We’ve also drastically narrowed the field of plays we’d like to perform and this week will be emailing professional theatres about dates of hiring (and cost…), and applying for performance rights. We definitely want our first full production to take place next year, so let’s get on with this thing!

In other news, we had great fun last Saturday doing a photoshoot with our very good friend Tony Whitmore, who last year set up his own wedding photography business. He obviously specialises in capturing special moments at weddings but was kind enough, and is certainly talented enough, to capture a few shots of three actors as well! We’re really looking forward to seeing the photos and using them for publicity in the near future. Obviously we’ll be showing a few of them off here! In the meantime, I highly recommend that you visit http://tonywhitmore.co.uk/weddings  if you live in the south/south-east of England and need some excellent photos taken of a special occasion.

There’s lots of other theatre-related things keeping us busy at the moment and soon we’ll let you know about those too. Lots of promises for the future in this post, aren’t there? So you’d better stay tuned!

Chris

OLYMPIC ADVENTURE

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Hi all!

After two 5 hour auditions, I started my journey earlier this year.  Months of exhausting and mind-blowing rehearsals, lots of secrecy, several friendships forged,, many bottles of water, and tons of sandwiches later, and now my Olympic adventure is over!

We started our rehearsals at Three Mills Studios (where the auditions also took place).  We then moved to outdoor rehearsals in Dagenham unitl we finally made our entrance in the Olympic Park.  We were the Thanks Tim crew, also known as #teamKenrick, and we represented the 80s/90s music in the ceremony.

Every rehearsal we learnt a new routine, and we thought that would be it, then at the next rehearsal they taught us another one.  I remember how difficult we all found it at the beginning, and now the moves are like second nature.

The magnificent Kenrick and his dance captains took charge of our segment.  They were all absolutely amazing.  They kept smiling, cracking jokes and showed so much patience when teaching us.  There was always a dance captain around when I felt utterly lost.  They must have seen the fear in my eyes.

Our main dance captain was Skytilz!!! *applause*  She was always so incredibly positive, even when she had hayfever she was there dancing away with us, handing out compliments and very kind reprimands.  I’ve learnt that when a dance captain tells you to go low, you do it.  (She tested it by swinging her fist over your head ;-)) Skytilz has turned into a hero for 49F.  She is a star and I’m so grateful to her for everything she did for our group.

All the dance captains were wonderful though, and they were ready with a smile when you needed it.  Some of the moves we did were so unnatural to me that something went wrong mith my right arm and shoulder.  I attended a few rehearsals sporting a wonderful sling :-S  I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to continue rehearsals, and I attended each rehearsal thinking that soon someone would tap me on the shoulder and ask me to leave…  Instead I had some worried and caring dance captains asking me how I was and teling me to rest and watch if I needed to.  I told Skytilz that clapping was a problem (we did a lot of clapping) and she said that I could just high-five the person next to me instead!  Even Kenrick took the time to make sure I was ok, through mime mind you, but still, caring!

Thankfully my osteopath sorted me out just enough for me to continue dancing!

We’ve had granulated tea, we’ve practised funnelling, we’ve run/jogged/sauntered into homebase to have our bibs and fm’s collected, we’ve been manouvered by a fantastic mass team led by #let’skickthispig Gina, we’ve skanked and smurfed and generally had an amazing experience.  Everytime we started to feel complacent about rehearsals something fab happened.  We moved to a new venue or we were given t-shirts or nude-coloured headphones (easily pleased ;-))

It’s weird how it became normal for us all to go to rehearsal at the Olympic Park, watching the amazing stage, being moved around by the mass team, choreographed by Team Kenrick and seeing Danny Boyle grinning in every rehearsal!  To quote my new friend, Sophie Dewing, “It’s crazy!”

Everyone expected a lot from us, and it took up a lot of our time. If I wasn’t surrounded by so many beautiful friends and didn’t have such a wonderful family there was no way I could have done it.  They picked my kids up from school and entertained them for the day, even feeding them sometimes (and that’s not always easy!), taken them to gymnastics and to birthday parties.  I hereby salute you all!

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When we got to Eton Manor and saw our costumes lined up, the hair and make-up teams ready for us, and all the chairs with our bib numbers on them it all became extremely real.  I had way too much fun experimenting with my hair and ended up with a lovely blue mohican.  Brushing it out today was not fun, but it was so worth it!  My friend Charlene became my mohican buddy and we wandered around, mostly with another friend, Anna, surveying the area, which was full of nurses, doctors, ravers, punks, death eaters and a lot of very dirty people (industrial revolution peeps).  It ws like attending a photoshoot  when you left the tent!

 

Walking from Eton Manor towards the stadium for the last time on Friday 27th July knowing that we would be performing to the world was both emotional and extremely exciting.  We bounced our way to the beat of the drummers accompanying the Industrial Revolution, we sang along to ‘God Save The Queen’ and screamed our way into the Vom where we entered from.

From Vom 2, onto the M25, construct the tube, jog around to our stairs whilst grinning and chatting, line up, Gina:”80s 90s, that’s you, let’s go go go!  Crouch down!”, smiley face, rotate, Blue Monday, Relax, Back to Life, Eurythmics, Firestarter, Bonkers, run for your life whilst partying to the house without knocking into the pros and the Now-dancers, in the front door, No! In the side door.No! Run like the wind down the left ramp onto the M25 to Valerie, dance some more, Bonkers again, Tim Berners-Lee is revealed, silence.  We turn, right fist to left shoulder, right fist in the air, wave, run for your life to Vom5.

That was my olympic journey in the stadium.Image

After the show I celebrated with Charlene, Gemma and the two new Emmas in my life by doing our routine again in an extremely small space and reminiscing (already) in the hotel bar whilst eating burgers and pizza at 3.30 am.

And that was the end of that.  I hope I manage to stay in touch with all these new friends and I hope that the kids will one day understand what I’ve been part of and be proud of me.

Running out of the stadium for the last time on Friday waving at the audience I cried a little.  I’ll never experience anything like that ever again, but I remember every second of it, in detail.

Love Heidi xxxImage

What we’ve been up to recently

As we finally get off the ground, I thought I’d tell anyone out there what sort of things we’ve been doing since taking part in ‘Write Here’ back at the end of March.

I (Chris) enjoyed a day’s workshop with the Ibsen Stage Company a few weeks ago (www.ibsenstage.com), who cast me in 3 excellent productions several years back. It was a welcome return to the utterly unique world of company founder/director/adaptor-of-Scandinavian-theatre extraordinaire Terje Tveit as me and a handful of other actors improvised around his new modern version of Hedda Gabler, a work in progress, and generally had a lot of fun sparking off of one another (and a double-bass!). It will be interesting to see what this great company does with the script and what else they’ve got in the pipeline.

Then the last three weeks or so have been very busy, performance-wise, which has been great! My brother got me involved in a film shoot for an online ‘save the bees’ campaign for the Friends Of The Earth charity. I’m proud to say Rob Garwood is a very talented film-maker and editor and he’s recently been doing a lot of work for his friend and colleague Edward L Dark of Button Up Productions (www.buttonupproductions.com), who directed the bees film. I was on set for half a day, the set for this part of the ad being an authentic South London greasyspoon cafe, and had a lot of fun acting opposite a very friendly lady who was dressed as – can you guess – a bee! My role was to play a businessman looking on in bemusement turning to disgust and horror as said insect pours an endless stream of honey into my early morning coffee. I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Even more recently I’ve done a couple of kids theatre related things, but I’ll save those for the next post before I write too much about me!

Meanwhile Heidi is enjoying the incredible experience of taking part in the Olympics opening ceremony. I know there’s a lot of negative publicity surrounding the Olympics right now but Heidi says the whole thing is going to be amazing (not that I’m allowed to say anything about what it will involve, on pain of death!). It’s been very tiring for Heidi but the adrenaline is kicking in now with just one week to go. And lucky me gets to go to the stadium on Wednesday to see the technical rehearsal!

Once the 27th July has been and gone, we’re going to knuckle down and focus on publicising our drama classes to people who don’t already know us… But bookings are going well so far: one of the classes is nearly full already!

Chris

Booking has started!

We’re ready to take bookings now: in fact, 14 booking forms have been posted off today! But of course there are plenty more spaces to fill, so if you know anyone with children or teenagers who’d be interested in drama or musical drama classes on Saturdays in north Kent, pass the word along… Or just ring us yourself on 07845 745557!

Drama classes start in September!

Yes that’s right – we are, at long last, getting going and we’re starting by offering drama and musical drama classes to children and young people from the ages of 5 to 19 in our local area. The committee at the Oasthouse Theatre in Rainham, where Heidi already leads the youth group on a Wednesday evening, have agreed to our hiring the building on termtime Saturdays to lead five classes, starting on 8th September. We’ve set it all up, settled on times, created a Facebook page (like us at www.facebook.com/BoffoTheatre !), bought a business phone (07845 745557), ordered business cards, almost finalised booking forms and information sheets, are in the process of sorting out a business account, and have just started promoting the classes to just about everyone we know! Booking will soon be open. Then we’ve got the whole summer to plan all the classes. Here’s the list:

9am: 16-19s musical drama

10.15: 5-8s drama

11.30: 9-12s drama

12.45: 9-12s musical drama

2pm:  13-15s musical drama

Anyone interested can call us and we’ll send a booking form to you in the next couple of days. We can’t wait to get started!

Chris

#amwriting

My writing area is my pride and joy. Neatly laid out with everything to hand. A beautiful wooden box with compartments full of beautiful things, like paper clips and sticky notes. I have presents from wonderful friends on a shelf above, a picture of my boys, my mum, my sister in Norwegian landscape covered in crisp white snow. I have this peaceful place to write, and yet, as we speak, I am on my bed with my cat curled up next to me, but I am writing. :-) Heidi xxx

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