The Stage2 Blog

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Directors Blog – Blocking

Wow! The first week of blocking is over. It seems like only yesterday I was searching for the perfect piece. Now, I’ve got my cast in front of me performing at their best. Over the past few weeks I’ve been wrestling with many ideas and not really knowing what to actually do. To have my five performers and I sat round ‘blocking’ or plotting out each and every move and how they do them and what it means starts to make the Young Directors’ Festival much more real.

I am not going to lie, after the concept meeting I was a bit daunted by the fact that in a couple of months the piece I am directing from Love and Information by Carol Churchill will be on the Hexagon stage. I was a nervous wreck, but as soon as I got into the swing of actually directing (a job that I had been itching to do since July) it felt surprisingly natural.

The actual process of blocking is enjoyable. For the past few weeks I have been jotting down any ideas that spring into mind and then about a week before it was the first blocking session I made a clear plan of what I’d be doing and how. Then in the actual rehearsal I went through it bit by bit for the performers and it was as if something clicked in their minds and they suddenly got it. Which I was beyond happy about. Whether the cast would share my vision was one of my biggest worries coming into this process. Love and Information can be a complex script to read on paper, with that being said once the moves had been put in, the play came to life.

Since joining Stage2 in 2011 and moving up from Stage1 (a group for 7 – 10 year olds) soon after, I’ve only ever missed a few shows. From only ever being out of the performer’s shoes a few times, becoming a director was a huge change of perspective for me. The difference between being a director and an actor is that both require creativity but directing takes a step further by having to think of the wider picture and tell the whole story.

Looking forward, I am both excited and challenged by the idea that Love and Information will be performed in only a couple of months. My nerves aside, I know without a doubt that my amazing cast will be able to bring my original ideas to life and for it to become an experience I’ll always remember.

Georgie     By Georgie Nott

Georgie joined Stage2 in 2011 and has fulfilled a multitude of roles since she’s been in the       company. Most notable was her work in Steven Berkoff’s Requiem for Ground Zero and her role as Dott the Cleaner in the Award Winning Teechers by John Godber.

For tickets to see Love & Information as part of the YDF Festival – click here

Director’s Blog – The First Week

OliviaHi,

I’m Olivia Grant-Bryson and this term I am going to be directing ‘Shakers’ by John Godber.

Initially when I was told I would be directing this term, I was very worried about the dynamic of the group and how to balance friendship and directing however, after the first week with my group, and seeing the dynamic of other groups working on their pieces these worries have completely evaporated thanks to the lovely attitude of my group.

In the morning workshop I was able to pre-plan for what exactly I would be telling my group and sorting all the hand-outs I had to give them. This was really helpful for me as it both stopped me being nervous whilst giving structure to the session. The questions from my group were really thoughtful and helped me see what the audience might have questions about that hadn’t been clarified in my script but needed to be clarified in the performance in order to make it successful.

The initial reaction from the script was that of confusion because on paper the flow of the piece was very difficult to follow because the shapes and motifs that I wanted to create on-stage could not be portrayed on the page. Despite this my group were extremely supportive and also gave solid suggestions about how they could make the flow clearer, especially after we read through the script a couple of times, did some fun waitress stage business’ and thoroughly explained the overall concept to them.

They gave me the confidence I needed to direct well and find the suitable balance which keeps us all focused whilst also letting us have fun. I am extremely excited to be working with them in the upcoming weeks and have faith that this festival is going to be a brilliant success!!!

Olivia Grant-Bryson

For tickets to the Young Directors’ Festival or to find out what other extracts will be shown, visit the MAC Birmingham Website by clicking here.

Director’s Blog – Working with Cast

RobertHello,

I’m Robert and I will be directing an extract from William Shakespeare’s timeless comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Young Directors’ Festival.

When I first saw who it was that I would be directing for my piece at the Young Directors’ Festival, a large number of ideas began to click into place, I was able to decide which of the numerous concepts for my piece I would be able to incorporate.

It was at this point that A Midsummer Night’s Dream began to become a reality to me as I could now see my actors become the parts. This was the part of the process I was both most eager and anxious for as I felt it was that at this time the performance would either become a clear vision or it would become a mess of confused ideas, thankfully it was the former. I have been able to work out the inter-character relations more clearly, the way in which certain key moments will be performed and the way in which the characters will interact with the audience, all due to knowing my cast.

I am proud that despite the young age of the actors involved I know that many of them are experienced beyond their ages and they are a good, hard-working group of young people. I have little worry that, despite the complexity of some of Shakespeare’s language, this cast will be able to bring youthful energy and vigour to their parts and the piece.

Robert Fretwell

Alongside the YDF, Robert is Stage2’s current Mentor Manager. Having been in the company for several years Robert now assists Stage2 Staff in the office during the week. He has been Cast and Chorus in a litany of shows as well fulfilling Technical and Assistant Roles.

Director’s Blog – The Process

Hiya,Daisy
My name is Daisy Wilkes, and at Stage2 this term, I am directing an original 10 minute play called “Breathless” by Kate Goodall.

When I was trying to find a play to direct, I became dissatisfied by the lack of relevant plays that could create a narrative in the space of ten minutes, as well as being adaptable to a small cast and theatre space. As a result I approached Kate Goodall and commissioned her to write a short piece that fitted the themes I wanted to explore; technology, mental health and social pressures. I also wanted it to be designed specifically for young people to perform.

This has now been developed into a short play where the central character has recently suffered a bereavement, a close friend who died by suicide. The central character finds themselves in a state of declining mental health, vulnerable through their grief and struggling with the pressures of society.

The scenes are interwoven with poetic verse and I intend to create a performance with physical theatre and choral speaking which reflect the emotions and tensions of the central character.

Each member of the cast reflects different aspects of emotions, for example, one voice is pessimistic, another optimistic, sometimes the voices will harmonise and sometimes they will conflict with each other. I am hoping that the play could be interpreted as each cast member reflecting different voices of one person, but that it is also open to audience interpretation.

I am really looking forward to working with the cast and hope to also include their ideas about how the piece would best be performed. I am excited to tackle the challenges and watching how the performance evolves, hopefully forming a contemporary performance which delves into the minds of teenagers today.

By Daisy Wilkes

Want to help support Daisy and her pursuit of creating powerful theatrical work? Book your tickets today via the MAC Birmingham Website.

New updates each week from our Directors, Staff and Students!

Director’s Blog – The Term Ahead

Hi There,

My name is Byron Creavin Jerwood, and this term at Stage2, I will be directing a 10 minute extract of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles (adapted by John O’Connor).

One of the most iconic English stories to date, THotB features the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick John Watson attempting to solve the case of the mysterious deaths befalling the Baskerville household. In this short article I will be talking about how I am feeling about the coming term, the first time I will have ever directed.

One of the things this term that I am very excited about is the Blocking process (a time when you put your actors on the stage and decide where they’re moving from and to) as I have always loved it. In my opinion it is the best part of the term because it’s when your piece becomes very clear and you start to see your vision coming together. I am also looking forward to seeing the run halfway through the term – it should hopefully be glorious!

One of the things I’m not looking forward to that much is assigning roles and paperwork – this is something I know I struggle with but I’m confident I can find ways to get around that. Asking my peers to proof my work before they’re finalised (and things like that) are good ways to ensure everything keeps on-track. I think this term will be a great experience.

By Byron C-J

 

Byron About the Director:

 Byron Creavin-Jerwood has been in Stage2 for just over 5 years now. He is currently a  second year Mentor on Stage2’s MBF Approved Mentoring Scheme. Byron‘s most notable role in Stage2 to date was the brilliantly portrayed Salty in John Godber’s Teechers. This term Byron will be directing The Hound of the Baskervilles, based on the story by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, adapted by John O’Connor, by arrangement with OUP.

Up Next:

Want to find out more about the Directors and what they’ll be producing this term? Our next blog post will be about these Young Directors, their pieces and why you should come and see them!
Regular updates every Thursday!

Stage2’s New Artistic Director

Hi there,

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a member, a parent, an ex-member, maybe someone I was at Stage2 with when I was a member, or a student of mine when you were at Stage2 – you might be someone who knows nothing about Stage2 and have stumbled on this through a search or by accident. Whoever you are, welcome to the first post of the new Stage2 blog.

My name is Alex Butler and I’m the new Artistic Director at Stage2 – I’ve worked for the Charity since 2015 as their Company Manager and now, as of September 2018, I’m stepping up and in to the role that had been previously fulfilled by Liz Light (The Company Founder).

I feel that over the course of my employment here, I have seen and been a part of so many positive changes in the way that Stage2 operates, in the way that Stage2 handles young people and their development, in the way that Stage2 is perceived and the way that Stage2 works towards a common goal of empowerment and inclusion for young people across the West Midlands.

My role isn’t going to be easy, but I’m ready for the challenge. As I write this, I do so with an understanding of the weight of expectation currently resting on my shoulders. Stage2 has meant so much to so many, that when I lead Stage2 I am in-fact representing every member of Stage2 who came before and after me.

In much the same way I might ask my students to set themselves Objectives at the start of a project, this Article will serve to briefly highlight what Objectives I intend to set myself for my first year of being Stage2’s Artistic Director.

  1. To improve upon the overall experience of Members when at Stage2
  2. To widen Stage2’s Social Media presence
    • Becoming more representative of current members wants & needs
    • Becoming more representative of the diversity at Stage2
  3. To work towards increasing Stage2’s membership
    • Enabling a greater staff presence
    • Enabling a wider range of activities, productions and venues
  4. To be an Advocate for young people in the arts
    • Seeking opportunities for young people to have a voice and be heard
    • Presenting challenging content (dependent on group) and encouraging student-centred development.
    • To listen to members and their parents about how they feel we could improve Stage2 and its facilities.

In all of the above, my overall objective is to represent Stage2 in the best way that I can and in everything I do; hold the betterment, inclusion and welfare of our members at the heart of our operations.

Whoever you might be – welcome to a new Stage2, let’s make it great, shall we?

Alex