Sunday, September 20, 2009


I'm up in Scotland directing students in street theatre again and loving it again. As I'm out of what is now my usual Sunday routine with my boyfriend I have time for pootling and old pursuits and found myself reading through my blog and enjoying happy memories from Lecoq.

This year street theatre involves the students as old style convicts chained up in groups of three. We have four sets of three and then four guards chasing them and all the obvious amusing antics that follow. If you're in the Dundee area this week they'll be performing outside Borders on city quay at 11, 12, 1 and 2. I think it could be quite good. Cautiously confident and all that.

I directed a different lot of students this summer returning to my pre-Lecoq routes and doing a Shakespeare - All's Well That Ends Well, which was much more fun than I was expecting. In fact since leaving Lecoq I've done an awful lot more acting than directing, though as avid readers of this blog (ha ha) will know that is largely by choice.

I am now turning a corner and going off in another direction so I think it's time to end writing this and perhaps to start another blog on another subject. Reading back over it I am reminded how much pleasure it gave me to write and it is I think a good discipline.

Anyhow, if anyone does end up reading this I expect that they will be people googling for info on Lecoq, perhaps before applying to go. If that is you and you're wondering whether or not it's a good idea I have this to say. Go. It was the best two years of my life.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Theatre du Soleil: Stage de Fevrier 2009

So for someone who is supposed to be growing up and getting a sensible job it looks suspiciously like I am still smitten with the bug. But perhaps the least said eh... Suffice to say that I received a letter from the Theatre du Soleil on Xmas eve when I got back from a gorgeous few days in the countryside near Leeds. It invited me to come and interview/audition for a two week stage in February. I had a little while of wondering, but very quickly knew that it was something that I would never forgive myself if I didn't go for.

Going for it involved coming to Paris twice, firstly for an interview and then again for an audition and very happily I was excepted and am in the middle of the stage.

Though perhaps masterclass would be a better description. It is immense. There are 420 people altogether, 110+ of whom are auditors and only allowed to watch and the other 300 like me. I think about 1000 people applied. The last of these stages was six years ago, and of course it is an extraordinary company.

When I describe it to my boyfriend he says it sounds like a cult, and it does sometimes feel rather like a cult. There are lots of very strict rules, about what you wear (no green - bad luck), turning up on time, not walking on the stage (you have to go around it). Most of them are common sense. But there's a fierce austerity about how they are enforced. Each day a list goes up for people to volunteer themselves to help clean up. I did the toilets on the first day to get it out of the way and made friends with the lovely P***.

For some reason I am finding it completely exhausting. Probably because it largely entails sitting on a hard bench for hours on end listening to french. Or concentrating on what's going on on stage. Every day last week I was exhausted and couldn't wait to fall into bed.

I think back fondly to my class of 33 at Lecoq and am amused by how we grumbled about it being too big. And if the teachers at Lecoq could be harsh they were kindergarden compared to Madame Mnouchkine. Whoa. There's no limit to the length of her tongue, though she tends to be searingly accurate. And it's not only she who is amazing, but her company of actors, especially the amazing Lucio who is gobsmackingly lithe and with an endlessly brilliant imagination.

We started on Monday by coming up with ideas for an improvisation based on the terror of the stage. She worked with different groups. Mine she hated and stopped very quickly, scolded sharply and sent us back to the benches. Then we moved onto chorus work to music led by the choreyfee, almost always a member of the company, though occasionally someone from the stagieres with vareying success. She was very insistent that it shouldn't be dance. It was a sort of rhythmic improvisation which could (and did) go off onto all sorts of wild paths and ended up with more than one chorus on stage. Everyone had a go at doing that, so it took about 3 days to do.

We ended with the theme - dictators - to be used in it's widest possible sense. We got into groups again and came up with an idea to improvise. It needs the scenario, the people and their etat, the state they're in.

I am finding it amazing and agonizing, frustrating, fantastic and above all exhausting. I am scared and excited about the coming week.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

In a dark time, the eye begins to see

It's been a strange week. The financial world is crashing. How many people are worrying about savings? Lives feel destroyed. The world is turned on it's head.

And I have been grouchy all week about my own petty misfortunes. Misfortune is really too strong a word. I'm temping in a job on reception for £8.50 an hour. Shit money. There are times when it's quite busy and fun and times when it's completely quiet. In the times it's quiet on the best kind of reception job you're allowed to read a book. Those are the very best, but usually it's tacitly understood that it's ok to browse the internet. For me at the moment that would mean flat hunting, updating my CV and working on job applications. In this job, pettily you're not allowed to. I've asked for work to do, but there isn't any.

I'm finding strategies, trying to teach myself to use excel and powerpoint and doing bits of writing under the phone message pad, but it's soul destroying.

This evening I saw a room in a houseshare in Archway which I really should have taken because it's a great deal financially, but the idea of going back to that kind of grotty student living is so depressing after my beautiful studio in Paris.

In my parents kitchen this evening the phone rang. My dad answered. Someone called Abdul on the phone wanting to speak to my mum who was lying, hairless from the chemo (breast cancer) on the sofa. 'Oh you speak to him, I can't' she tells my dad who hates speaking to anyone on the phone, even his own brothers.

So I took the phone, ready to get rid of the intruder to say no to whatever he wanted politely, but firmly.

Adbul said that my mum had donated money a couple of years ago to his charity which supported Iranian people who had been tortured. Could he speak to her? I told him no, that she was ill at the moment and we were looking after her. Oh dear, he said, nothing serious I hope. Cancer I said, flinging the word like a weapon at him.

We'll pray for her, he said. Tell her that we'll all pray for her. And you are a good daughter to be looking after her.

All I had heard was a foreign name. A money chasing call breaking into our cosy kitchen. After I put the phone down I realise what I had heard was another person who had probably been through things I cannot possibly imagine, asking for money for people which I take for granted.

I have been complaining all week because I'm not earning as much money as I feel I should, because the rooms I'm looking at aren't as large or as nice as I feel I deserve. What do I really deserve? What does he, or the people on whose behalf he was calling really deserve.

A window of answers seemed to open up to me, for a brief moment. I hope I can hold onto it. How lucky I am, warm, safe, full, surrounded by love and endless possibility.

When I heard my mum had cancer I decided it was time to grow up and stop behaving like a teenager. Time to put childish dreams aside and earn my own living, get a proper job. Which is what has lead me to disgruntled temping and job applications.

I don't know quite where I'm going at the moment. I really hope to be able to find something I can believe in. But I hope I can keep my mind open, or open it further than it seems to be at the moment, and to count my blessing here and now and as they are.

(By the way, the quote is Roethke.)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Glebe

Before I went to Lecoq I was teaching drama regularly at a school where the students have a range of reasons for not being in the mainstream school system. Part of my reason in going to study at Lecoq was to learn new ideas and exercises to put into practice with these children and teenagers. While there, though having a brilliant time myself, I did wonder whether the stuff we were doing would be far too complicated to ever be of any use to them and in our teaching.
So I was delighted last week to really see what I learned in France being put into practice teaching autistic children King Lear. We design our games and sections of text very carefully, of course. We talked a lot about how we would present Gloucester having his eyes gouged out. Not exactly the thing to show them or have them acting out. In the end we used the chorus in reaction idea. We had the scene 'happening' behind a screen and the kids watched and reacted to it. We started off with reacting to something happening behind the screen, but they could choose whatever they wanted and the others had to guess what it was, so for example seeing a puppy and Harry, brilliantly, seeing a girl naked in the shower.
With a different,non autistic group I did the 'emotional chairs' exercise that we did at the end of the first year with Paola. Very structured, works really nicely. And countless other of the things I learned, both specifically and more generally are finding their way from the 10eme to West Wickham near Croydon. As some of the students would say, 'nice'.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Arts Council Cuts and actors demos

The Arts Council sent out letters shortly before Christmas announcing large and sometimes even complete cuts to about 187 arts organisations including a complete cut for the newly refurbished Exeter Northcott, the Bush, The Orange Tree, The scarborough Student Drama Festival, The London Bubble, Eastern Angles, Compass, The Drill Hall, Queer Up North... the list goes on endlessly. These are just the names I know and that spring to mind.

There was unusual and perhaps unprecidented uproar in the arts community. At a meeting organised by Equity (the actors union) at the Young Vic Theatre with Peter Hewitt, then head of the Arts Council the great and the good got up and made angry speeches and the meeting ended in a vote of no confidence in the arts council.

I wasn't able to go to that meeting, but did attend a masked demonstration about how the cuts had been implemented, so suddenly, sometimes relying on incorrect information, without enough time to appeal and without the reason for the cuts being openly available to the organisations that had been cut.

The idea of this demo was that we would all stand, stock-still and slient for 15 minutes to protest. Of course actors being actors there was quite of lot of standing still and then noticing someone they knew, whipping off the mask and cries of 'hello darling!' and moving around the crowd to find people you knew and have a chat.

The final result is that some places have been reprieved including the bush, the orange tree, and the Northcott and others have been given a year's grace- eastern angles,the student drama festival (which I went to as a student many years ago and thought was fantastic).

Anyway there we are. I am asking lots of questions about the place for arts in our society. I so love theatre, but I worry about it too. Is it more fun for us or audiences, sometimes I think, sometimes.

Here are some pictures from the demo....

Thursday, January 10, 2008

All you need is love

I am quite fascinated by Sarkozy and Carla Bruni. He seemed like such a hard nut and first we had him crying when his wife left him and trying to woo her back like a big girls blouse and now he is romancing the beautiful, talented, intelligent Bruni. They are engaged, no less.

What is his secret? Evidently not charm or looks. He certainly didn't deal with the riots in 2005 very charmingly. How attractive power obviously is. All I need to do is become Prime Minister and the world and Johnny Depp will be at my feet. Though look how badly that worked for Ségolène Royal. And I suspect Hilary Clinton won't fair much better. And then of course the car crash Thatcher.

Poor Ségolène was damned if she did and damned if she didn't. She couldn't not be pretty and feminine, (I would suggest) in France and be taken seriously, and she couldn't be pretty and feminine without the jibes about her policies lacking seriousness.

Most of the French people I've talked to even if it was a little shamefacedly didn't think she could match up to the job and had a lot of faith in what Sarkozy the sledgehammer would come up with. I wonder if that faith is now shaken in the light of all his loveidoveiness.

On the other hand, I can never see people in love without feeling a mixture of jealousy and gladness. Long live love, that's what I say, however it comes.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Devoted and Disgruntled 3: What are you doing about theatre?

I've just spent the most fantastic weekend I've had in ages. I feel more alive and invigorated and happy than I have done in some time.

This weekend has been the third annual Devoted and Disgruntled meeting. It's an open meeting for anyone who wants to come and talk about theatre, what they like, hate are frustrated by, what to change, what to keep the same.

It works on an open something or other plan. Anyone is able to propose a topic to discuss. Whoever wants to turns up to discuss it. The slots are set at an hour and a half but there is no compunction for them to last that long. They last as long as they last. They can finish early or continue on late. People can get up and leave at any point they want to, and did and without any feeling that it was somehow a bad thing to do.

It was completely democratic and egalitarian, largely because at no point did anyone have to stand up and say who they were, where they worked or what they'd done, though people could if they wanted too. It was strange to suddenly realise that you were sitting next to and discuss with a well known theatre critic, the head of theatre at the arts council or someone who ran a rep theatre. But that didn't matter, because everyone's opnion was equally valid.

I went in feeling a bit low. I want to make theatre, but I also want to be able to afford to live independently and go on holiday and at the moment I can't see how that is possible. I don't have any direct answers to how I'm going to do that, but somehow it matters less and I'm not quite sure why.

And what was so energising was all the passion in the room, people who love hugely varying theatre, except Lee who says he doesn't. I am going to start compiling a list of suggestions for him.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Taking stock

So, another new year and it's taking stock time. Looking back over the what was and towards the what will be, or the hopes of what will be.

For the first time ever I was brave enough to stay in and see the new year in alone and am delighted to say that it was just as peaceful and centre-ing as one could wish. (And lovely and cheap too.)

I'm trying to write a play, which is the thing I like best that I'm attempting to do at the moment, but I don't want to jinx it by saying too much about it. My biggest aim with it is to finish it. To write it all the way through without too much self-censorship.

I went and saw 'Chatroom/Citizenship' at the RNT this evening as inspiration, and was quite inspired. This (trying to write) makes me want to go and see and read as many plays as I can get my hands on.

The year had quite a nice finish to it. I was doing a project at the Globe with some very nice people. So good on two counts. The people and the place.

And the place is extraordinary. You may have heard people waffle about how inspiring it is. Everything you've heard is true. It is a real work of art, wooden ('this wooden O'), open to the elements, brightly painted. I was lucky enough to be in the group working the main stage and I LOVED it. Unfortunately it's made me want to work at the Globe. Unfortunate because I try not to desire things I don't think can happen. Ah Shakespeare, ah the globe, ah well.

Anyhow I had a good time and here are some photos.

Lots of plans and schemes for the new year - a scratch at BAC, a play at the CPT in April, bits and pieces of teaching etc etc. I want a bit more shape to it all, direction.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

To infinity and beyond!

Not wanting to give the impression that my body is almost entirely falling apart, but tonight I went and had an MRI scan to try and get to the bottom of the wierd symphony of snap, crackle and pop that has been dancing inside my ears for nearly a year and a half now. It is to say the very least, amazingly irritating.

I had rather hoped when I was diagnosed with the thyroid thing that they would be linked and the ear popping would magically stop with the tiredness, depression and mad weight gain. No such luck. So off I went to St Helier Hosptial for my MRI scan this evening, again with an amazement and awareness of how lucky I am to live in a country where, when there is something wrong with me, I go to the doctors and am sent for expensive scans and given medicine for free.

I was rather excited by the whole prospect. It is now clear to me that I've watched far too many episodes of House. I am strangely addicted to it. That and Location, Location, Location. The housing one is more understandable - the huge desire to have a place of my own. But House is rather formulaic, though Hugh Laurie is very funny.

Anyway, so there I was in my very own medical drama, happily without Dr House, and even more happily without one of those ugly medical gowns that open at the back to show the world your naked bottom. I was allowed to stay in my tracksuit bottoms and jumper.

I lay down on a long pull out shelf/plank and my head was wedged still and they put ear plugs in my ears and told me it would take about 10 minutes and be very noisy and to do my best not to move. No problem.

The tray slid in, rather like the contraptions they keep dead bodies on in a morgue. I was in a spacey white cylinder, unable to move, with a pump in my hand, like old fashioned photographers have for taking the photo, to press if I started to panic. Above me there was a little mirror so I could see out if I wanted, but I decided to keep my eyes shut.

The scan itself was like a practical joke. It sounded like a very contemporary piece of music. A mixture of african drum beats and sirens. Very strange. I wouldn't be surprised to turn up at the Sadlers Wells and see Rambert doing a dance piece to something similar.

It went on for 10 minutes in bursts of three or one and then that was that and I went home on my bike. That machine could see inside my head. Isn't that amazing? Those odd sounds were it looking inside my head to try and find out what is making the popping... There's nought as strange as folk, or at least, nought as strange as what folk have made for other folk.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


I met up for coffee today with a very old, very dear friend and mentioned that another old and dear friend had said that she'd been reading the blog and was worried about me due to my posts. She said that she had been too. So just in case there are friends out there actually reading this and worried about my maudlin don't be, there is an explanation.

I was at a very low ebb this summer, as it seems was apparent. Indeed so much so that I actually went to the doctor because I was getting a bit worried about myself. She did a blood test and discovered that I have hypothyroidism. This sounds very flash and rather scary, but actually is quite straight forward. It means that for some strange reason my body doesn't produce enough thyroxine.

The Internet superhighway tells me that:-

"Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body lacks sufficient thyroid hormone. Since the main purpose of thyroid hormone is to "run the body's metabolism", it is understandable that people with this condition will have symptoms associated with a slow metabolism. Over five million Americans have this common medical condition. In fact, as many as ten percent of women may have some degree of thyroid hormone deficiency. Hypothyroidism is more common than you would believe...and, millions of people are currently hypothyroid and don't know it!


Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
Coarse, dry hair
Dry, rough pale skin
Hair loss
Cold intolerance (can't tolerate the cold like those around you)
Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
Memory loss
Abnormal menstrual cycles
Decreased libido"

I am tick box on quite a few of these - depression, exhaustion, difficulty loosing weight, feeling the cold etc. but the fantastic thing is that all you need to do is take a pill (each day forever) and then you feel fine.

And I do feel so fine. Amazingly well. It's extraordinary to feel my vitality returning, my energy, my delight in life. And most of all mentally. I had got so worried about how difficult I found it to focus and concentrate. I felt like I was swimming through lead both mentally and physically. And now I don't. It's as though my life has been given back to me.

It makes me think of all the people who suffer from this, or something much worse and aren't able to just go to the doctors and be given a pill and have to suffer on, unknowing.

I am still questioning a lot. About what I want to do with my life, what the right path is. I don't want to just throw it away. I want to be of use to the world. I believe in theatre, but perhaps not for a narrow middle class audience. But what then? It means huge changes and I'm not quite sure what they should be and feel a little scared at the prospect, but excited too. And now I'm buzzing with 75mg I feel capable of almost anything. And I'm not even up to 100mg yet... ahh, drugs. How I love them.

Thank you for the kind thoughts.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The northern line on a monday night, 11pm

The tube home is a dizziness of reality. Glissens of conversations, sliplights into the cracks of other peoples eyes. The world is loosened by alcohol. Images slip and glide. Words are drowned by the rumble of the tunnel and tracks and bouts emerge into clarity and disappear again with a squeal and a screech.

My heart is breaking slowly again. Dissolving into the pain of impossibility. Stammers of hope waken it, stir it, and bam-bam-you're-dead-fifty-bullets-in-your-head.

stops my breath. Sits high in my chest. central. stolid lump of un-com-for-table (spell out each crickcrack)............ nothing. All the things I don't allow myself to admit.

The boy along from me is tapping and tilting his head side to side to a rhythm I can't hear. His trainers shine bright white in my peripheral view.
This station is borough. This train terminates at Morden.
How nice.

I sit. I focus on my book. The lump dissolves and hardens again. I try to swallow it away, but it's grasping at my throat, pulling at the bottom of my tongue.

People have left the debris of their day lent up against the windows. A Tesco's bag knotted at the collar, a stately coke can sitting shiny behind the seats.

Some people close their eyes, or rest their heads in their hands. Two girls are turned in towards each other, still animated despite the night.

The tube stops. Conversations come into clarity, soften as their speakers see they're no longer guarded by the journey.

'...He's such a perve n'all...'

The next station is Kennington.

'...If you cut your hair... past your route...'

Change here for northbound services via Charing Cross.

Looking for Great Travel Insurance. Insure and Go!

People stare morosely at the advertising opposite them.

This train terminates at Morden.

Silence. The electric breath of the lights.

....'We thought we were going to celebrate on the Thursday, like we assumed... I'm not going dancing, no way...

From over the moon to the honeymoon.

...terminates at... terminates....

'I didn't want to be somebody who stood by and did nothing'.
Helen, Volunteer Police Officer.

Annual Multi-trip £30. Winter Sports £17. Single trip £6. Back packing £11. Kids go for free.

'...she came home wild...'

! In an emergency use the passenger alarm to alert the driver. It is safer to stay in the train than attempting to get off. Follow instructions from staff or emergency services.

I do what I am told Each breath is a sherbet pain A taut canvas across my chest.


I am all unfinished cups of tea and watchings

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Being Alive

I met up for a cup of tea at the festival hall this evening with my friend A*** and managed to chase the black dog away further than he's been in a while. He's been at my heels a great deal recently.

We were talking about the project we're both involved with that she has already put a huge amount of work into, ideas for and about it and plays we had seen. It was one of those lovely evenings that seems as though the flow of conversation can only have lasted 30 minutes, when actually it's lasted three hours, where words cram one against another with over eager thoughts. It makes it all seem worth it. All the black.

My fears come from the very far ahead future. A vision of myself in the future. How not to be a burden. Responsibility. How long do the risks last for? Sensible. Ahem says the little girl next door. Ahem. Time to be proper. Time to take stock.

Or not.

"The message we are getting from Rangoon is 'Please help us'....

I plan to be there. Please join me.




No-one knows the true scale of the Burmese junta¹s brutal crackdown on Monks
and Burmese democracy activists. Troops fired directly into protesting
crowds, using automatic weapons on at least one occasion.




The message we are getting from Rangoon is: ³PLEASE HELP US.²


Assemble 11am at Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1P 4RG, nearest tube Pimlico, for
March and rally at Trafalgar Sq, 12.45pm.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My directorial debut!

Separated at birth? 2

Welcome to the world

Can I introduce you to my beautiful new niece? ... isn't she peachy? Or perhaps I should say Rosey or, to be more precise, Rosa.

I've just got back from a fantastic three weeks directing a street theatre project with students in Dundee. They were fantastic and so was the result. It was a bit like blissful autocours where when I said my opinion it had hugely more weight than everyone else's and I would always get my way, though I like to think that I was a diplomatic tyrant.

One of the students said 'did you always want to be a teacher?' which gave me a very strange moment. I'm so used to that question with 'actor' on the end.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ch-ch-ch Changes...

Back in England and the main changes seem to be

1. That people have started drinking cider with ice in it, apparently a skillful marketing campagin to mask the sharp taste of a badly selling brand.


2. All teenagers are wearing tight black skinny jeans.

Other than that things are pretty much the same. Even the smoking ban feels as though it's been here forever. People loll around outside pubs and restaurants provoking new vocabulary- smirking or slirting or something like that. Neither sounds very nice. It's taking up smoking so that you can go and flirt outside. How stupid can you get?

I went up to the Edinburgh festival with L*****, who was like an arts critic on speed. We would go our separate ways and meet up later in the day. In the meantime she would have seen eight different shows at locations all over Edinburgh while I had been drinking tea with my friend Bates. I used to do the mad rushing around and then about seven years ago I just stopped.

It was really good to be there though. I did see some interesting theatre, and Jos was there with his show and we said hello afterwards. It was lovely to see him. I met up with lots of old friends and for the first time since I got back to Britain I started to feel really here. I started to settle back in and see a bit of a future.

Back to telephone hell (my current employment!) the week after I sat there wondering why I spent two years having lavish fun in Paris instead of doing a sensible PGCE to earn me money.

My overall pace has definitely slowed down during my time in France. I know we all moaned about how tiring and what hard work it was, but basically, when the chips are down we were only really working in the afternoons. And 'work' in this case being defined as rolling around on the floor in various different formats.

Now I am back to real life and in my hellish skintness delighted to get a job telephoning GP's to try and get them to do telephone surveys. Ugh! I hate myself. Better though, I'm about to go and do some teaching in Scotland next week,(site specific, street and physical theatre) still needs preparing, oops. Then later in November another project starts and meanwhile my old friend Matt and I have a scheme boiling away.

All of this means work now, not drifting around watching 'My so called life' - boxset heaven.

Anyway. There you go. That's me for now.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I am floating rudderless at the moment. Back in my parents house again, like a teenager again. Unsure of the future and bit unsure about what happened there in Paris for the past two years.

We are all facebooking each other blurrily. Everyone seems disorientated. I am distracting myself with other nonsense. I can't decide whether or not to borrow, beg and steal the money to go to Vancouver for one of my oldest friends weddings. I can just about get my hands on the cash, but it would leave me without any financial buffer, necessary in London. I do think it is just an avoidance of the bigger what-are-you-going-to-do-with-your-life issues.

On the other hand good things can come out of malable moments in your life, before you stick into your own assumptions and expectations for yourself, none of which are necessarily true.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Aftermath

I had decided not to keep going with this after it all ended. But like so many good resolutions I make I can't help but break it a little.

I missed out on a lot of the immediate partying and farewells. I went back to London for a week to see my gorgeous nephew and his equally delightful parents over from Chicago on a short visit on their way to Italy and then Russia. He is already more well traveled than I am.

I got back to Paris on Saturday and have been feeling very drifty and floaty ever since. It's strange to be here but not to be here. I am crowded with fears. About the future mainly. Those nameless, voiceless fears that bundle themselves up into spiders and thunderstorms.

Back in rue du Faubourg St Denis to collect the dvd of the commandes I bumped into a group of 3 of the Spanish contingent of my class and then another Brit. All by chance. Mysterious forces... ? Well actually we were all just collecting our dvds.

Here are some photos of when we were all feeling a bit more cheerful before the it's-all-over-ness lethargy set in.

Friday, June 22, 2007

So long and thanks for all the fish

It's our last day of school today. The fact that I'm sitting here at 6 o'clock writing this and that I've already been awake for some time shows a probable case of excess of alcohol last night more than anything else. But I think I was woken up by thoughts and feelings about all of this ending as well.

It has been two weeks of almost constant work. Days of 9am-9pm or 9am-10pm. My commande itself didn't go that well and I'm finding it hard to let go of and come to terms with. I ended up making a huge change to it on Friday night and re-working it over the weekend. I had been directing rather than being in it and decided to be in it because I wasn't able to get my (brilliant) actress to do what I wanted her to. (It was her suggestion). I worked much faster from the inside. Great lesson. Despite what everyone has said to me my entire life I am obviously not a director.

I regret extremely that I didn't ask to go on Thursday instead of Monday as it clearly wasn't ready and there were others that were. Regrets, regrets. The teachers said that it was good what there was but they wanted more. It was too short. I think they were being overly nice. . I didn't play it very well due to exhaustion and it not being ready. When you have rehearsed enough a part settles into your body. It wasn't in my body.

I was very lucky though to be cast in others people's work, and have had some nice comments on my playing in theirs. It was a real pleasure to enter into people's different worlds.

The profs have been very careful in their feedback all week, trying to right wrongs and send us off on a good note. I haven't entirely believed some of their feedback. I was watching the profs faces as they watched one of the performances and was able to see their reaction to some of the pieces and then heard a rather altered version in the feedback afterwards, above all yesterday when they were clearly trying to send us off on a good note. After such frank feedback for two years it rang a bit false.

I am so sad to leave. It has been the best two years of my life. I am scared and hopeful and excited and regretful and most of all so, so glad that I have had this amazing experience. I don't know if it's changed my life, though I suspect it will have done. I think it's changed me and changed me more than I yet realise. I feel I have two years of happiness in the bank and that I am well set up with a stock of good feelings for what it to come. I am clear about what I want for myself for the future.

When I arrived at Lecoq I was anything but clear. I had fallen out of love with theatre and with acting. I didn't believe in it any more and it was like loosing my religion. Again. I have been in love with theatre ever since 'Bandycoot'(early puppet show at Croydon library - the crocodile ate the cake), and decided to be an actress after reading my first full length book 'Mr Galliano's Circus' at about five.

I had a bit of a bumpy time towards the end of first year and retrospectively I think I was making the decision whether to stay as a performer or not. And how that could be possible. My amazingly talented friend A**, clear queen of the class, had a visit from her mother. She quoted an agent friend of hers who says 'I've never met a happy actress'. It's a bitter profession and more so for women. There are more actresses and fewer parts and the parts that there are are less diverse and more stereotyped - mother, hag, whore. I am out to prove him wrong. I think Lecoq has given me the tools to be a happy actress. I think I can.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Commandes spelt with an e

Even though it's amazingly knackering there's something much simpler and less stressful, certainly than the soiree and than autocours overall. I'm involved in nine commandes altogether, though with two of them my presence is so fleeting it hardly counts, and then I'm not acutally in my own, but there's still lots of work on that. so about seven really.

With autocours you get given your theme and then you all fight about interpretation and who has the best idea for a week. With the commandes someone comes and very flatteringly asks you, no chooses you, to be in their thing and then you turn up and they tell you what they want to do. Of course it depends a little on whether you agree with what the person is doing. If you think what they're doing is shit it could be rather depressing. Fortunately I rather like all the ones I'm doing, though I'm sure the teachers won't agree.

There's also something completely charming about entering into people's worlds, into their heads. We are all peddling our own brands of madness.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Make Poverty History

Can we? Let's try eh?

Sign below petition to actually try and do something instead of just being depressed about how bad it all is....

World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty
17 October 2007

- I am in solidarity with all those who are fighting throughout the world to eliminate extreme poverty.

- I want to contribute to promoting respect for the dignity of all people, and their effective access to human rights.

- I want to join efforts to enable those living in extreme poverty and exclusion to participate fully in their societies, including the commemoration of October 17th, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

- I ask all members of civil society, local and national authorities, and the United Nations to:

* Consider those in extreme poverty as the first to take action in the fight against poverty;
* Ensure that people living in poverty fully participate in the development, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes that concern them and that are inspired by a commitment to a world without poverty - a world where the rights to family life, decent work, social, cultural and political participation are respected;
* Support events organized each October 17th to ensure that the participation of people with direct experience of poverty be at the heart of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
* Participate in an ongoing, long-term dialogue with people who, in refusing to accept extreme poverty, are building peace.

19813 Signatories

Monday, June 04, 2007

Three weeks to go

We had our last class with Jos today which I found very sad and cried at the end like a stupid idiot.
The tension levels are extremely high in the class. We wasted most of autocours today with a long and completely unecessary meeting, or almost unecessary meeting where everyone had to say something about something.
I think we were all trying to avoid getting down to work and also to try and manage or organise our unconcious or concious fear, tension etc. Of course the best way to counter these is in doing. Start something even if it's the wrong thing.
I did an impro with N** and C***** who are going to play for me. I've made the luxurious decision to sit out and not be in my thing, though of course it's possible I may completely change my mind.
I think we'll muddle through.
More than anything I am screaming with sadness, with dread about leaving. I feel as though I'll never work again. Never be happy again. Very melodramatic. Again the best way to cope with this is to live it and hope.
It's probably partly the post soiree/after xmas/nothing nice will ever happen again amplified and with applied command pressure.
Jos said we're not teacher-student any more, we're colleagues which is much better. I think I disagree because from now on I won't get to work with him any more.
This happy, happy time of my life is coming to an end. At least I had it. At least it happened.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


(Mood music is tiny fragments of Beth Gibbons on her site. Fantastic new album which I recommend).

We were given rather distant, under whelming feedback on the soiree. I found it a bit sad. I thought we'd done a really good job and people were saying it was one of the better soirees they'd seen. We certainly didn't get that impression from the teachers. They said we seemed tenser than we had done the night before and were slightly off timing or rhythm as a result. That certainly was true of one of my pieces, but not of the other which went much better and much further in my performance than it ever had before. I'd always felt that that was the way to go, and knew there was more play there but the people I was playing with disagreed, or one of them. Anyhow I was a bit sad that they couldn't have been a bit more cheerful about our last soiree. Though I suppose not surprising that they weren't.

Then we were given our envelopes with our names printed on the outside and inside on a card with the school's logo our names and beneath our title, the final provocation. Jos made a point of saying that they were new titles and that they had been chosen randomly so not to try and read any great psychological depth.

Just to explain to the uniniated the commands are the final 'provocation' given by the school. We're given titles and then have three weeks to work on a present them entirely independently of the teachers. When we perform them for the public it's the first time they see them.

The general consensus of opinion is that they haven't been chosen randomly. They do seem to suit people's talents and style inclinations very specifically. I LOVE mine as a title, but haven't got any specific ideas of where to go.

I'm attacking it in a roundabout way. I'm going to do some sketching and go to galleries tomorrow and see what it throws up.

I think simplicity is key. Not trying to overreach myself. After all we only have between 2-7 minutes. Paola warned us that people had been stopped in the past.

We have a last lesson with each of the profs this week and then that's it. How can it be this week? The 20 movement are starting... hum. I really want to go and watch some of them, to see them with a year's distance.

I've kept notes every day about what we've done here. I read all last years over the summer and I think I'm going to try and read the whole lot of them tomorrow, just to refresh myself on all the width and possibilities we've been exposed to.

It's really important to me that I talk about a big something. Relationships, love, death. Perhaps obvious, but all the same.

Three weeks left. It's so sad I can't begin to confront it. I don't want to leave Paris. I suppose in theory I don't have to, but reality feels like I must. The idea of going back to London, skint, and living with my parents and having to pay out £100's of pounds to go to weddings and hen nights and visit all the new babies that are being produced... ahh I'm getting maudlin. Excuse me please. Definitely time for bed I think.

Friday, June 01, 2007


Hicham Aboutaam
Cell Phones