Running away with the circus

Hey all, I hope you are well.

Earlier this month I got the chance to work with Circus Sensible again to create a collaborative Circus performance which we performed to various audiences on Friday 18th and Saturday 20th May. I took part in this one week intensive last year too, which you can read about here:

Circus Fun on Campus!

This intensive was offered to Performing Arts students, but was something anyone who wished to learn something about circus skills and performance could take part in. I already knew a few skills from the previous year, such as juggling, diabolo, spinning plates and a bit of hula hooping, but I wanted to focus on developing my hula hooping skills this year, so I did!

I worked on developing a hula hooping routine with the help of the Circus Sensible team, who gave me some great advice on what I can do to better the routine. I couldn’t thank them enough for what they gave me!

We performed to two audiences of local Primary School children on the Friday, then 2 audiences of families and our friends on the Saturday. It was so interesting to see how the audiences reacted and how different they were, and I feel really lucky to have had this opportunity that Edge Hill have given me. This is one of the many things Edge Hill has given me, and I look forward to what comes in my third year!

What Performing Arts at Edge Hill has done for my career (Part 1/2)

Hey all, I hope you’re well and enjoying your week!

University is great for many reasons; it’s an experience you can’t have anywhere else, you meet new friends, you learn how to live independently, and most of all, you build the experience you need to get yourself along your career path. Edge Hill has really helped me with this, and I thought it would be nice to share why and what they’ve done for me with you.

As a Performing Arts student, I came to Edge Hill wanted to expand my experience and skills, but also make links which will help me in the future. I didn’t expect to gain such a range of experience as I have done!

In my first year, the modules I studied were Introducing Performance, Visual Theatre, Devising Performance, Physical Theatre, Multimedia Performance and Performance Skills. In the Introducing Performance and Devising Performance modules, I learnt skills and theories that helped me understand Performance and how it is created, which was really eye opening as a Performer.

In the Visual Theatre, Physical Theatre and Multimedia Performance modules, I learnt some great skills to use within a performance. In Visual Theatre, we were taught how to create puppets that were thigh high, and even had a workshop with a professional puppeteer who taught us how, in our teams, we can work together to move our puppet to make it look like a real-life breathing creature. It helped me to understand not only how to puppeteer a puppet as a group, but how to work in a group in general so that a performance is as authentic and flowing as possible. In Physical Theatre, I not only learnt new ways of creating Physical Theatre, but also got introduced to new practitioners and performance groups that work within the genre, which was really exciting to see. And in Multimedia Performance, I was taught how to use projection, sound and lighting alongside physical performance to create an atmospheric and all-encompassing performance. Not only this too, I also learnt how to use the equipment, something that I used to just leave to the Technicians to do. It’s always great to know how to use the equipment you need to work with yourself in case you cannot get someone to help you with it.

In the Performance Skills module, I learnt many different skills, such as Mask work, clowning and juggling. I had always wanted to be able to juggle more than 2 juggling balls, however, I never knew the technique. The module was planned out so that there were workshops on each different skill, then you decided what you wanted to focus on for your practical assessment, so I chose juggling. The way that the module was planned and the fact the teacher was skilled in juggling himself really helped me get a hang of it, and by the end of the module I could juggle quite well! Not only did this module help me pick up a skill, but it also led to some great experiences that I can put on my CV. The first was a Circus Intensive with an actual Circus company, Circus Sensible. If you want to read about this experience, you can read my blog post on it below:

Circus Fun on Campus!

As well as this intensive, I got the chance to teach the local kids of Ormskirk circus tricks for the Gingerbread Festival, an annual festival held in Ormskirk Town Centre.

Throughout the year, I also took Pole Fitness, Aerial Hoop and Aerial Silk lessons outside of the University. I did this with a company called Inversion Pole Fitness, and it started out as a curiosity for what it would be like to do Aerial Fitness, then became something I truly love! I not only learnt a new skill I can put on my performer’s CV, but I found a sport that I enjoy and it made my life much healthier!

Being at Edge Hill also gave me the confidence I needed to apply to be represented by a casting agency, which is a huge step towards my goal to act on screen.

So that’s everything that last year at Edge Hill gave me! I’m sure you can agree it’s a lot, and I can’t be happier with the amount of skills I can offer now as a Performer. My next blog post will be focusing on what I’ve achieved so far this year, so keep an eye out for that!

Theatre in Liverpool and 96/27 Review!

Hey all! My last few posts have been around the topic of the performances you can see on campus at the lovely Arts Centre on Campus. I will link these below:

The Arts Centre Box Office and the Red Carpet Review!

Interview with the Red Carpet Cast: Employability and Edge Hill’s Future Opportunities

But one of the things I haven’t mentioned yet are the amazing opportunities within Liverpool to experience all kinds of the best and bravest theatre and music! There’s the Liverpool Empire Theatre, which hosts the likes of War Horse and Circus of Horrors, the Philharmonic Hall, which hosts the likes of Islands in the Stream and Jake Bugg, and even more. One of the best things about Edge Hill being close to Liverpool, a well known city in Britain, is that you get to involve yourself in this amazing culture.

Not only are there these shows for those interested in theatre, but there are also always some amazing independent performances going on too from local creatives. I had the chance to see one of these today, so I wanted to give you an idea of what is on offer. The performance I saw was Rachael Mutch’s 96/27; a harrowing account of the Hillsborough Disaster, its effects on the survivors and the media coverage, through the eyes of one of the survivors.

 

Mutch brilliantly used a mixture of video projection of the footage from the day the disaster happened and dialogue based on a real life experience of being in the standing area of the grounds where the awful crushing happened. The whole performance was very immersive; firstly, the performance took part in one of the changing rooms in the sports centre of the University of Liverpool, a very small space with astro turf on parts of the floor and scarves hanging from the hooks around the room, which made it feel very personal, everything Mutch said felt very direct and made the experiences she was explaining hit me ten times harder. There were moments were she would hand scarves to the audience or hold a hand, and the atmosphere this created and influenced was one of the strongest I’ve seen in a performance.

One of the things I loved so much about the performance was how it focused on not just what happened on 15th April 1989, but the media and its impact on the survivor, quoting and projecting some of the disrespectful things that were said about the Liverpool fans at the match and showing the anger the survivor feels at being portrayed in such a way across the UK. Mutch also focused on the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that followed the survivor she was giving a voice to and probably a lot of those who were caught in the events that took place that day, putting across the important message to the audience that, although these survivors weren’t physically hurt in the way that those who sadly died were, they were and might still be mentally suffering.

96/27 is an excellent biographical piece which focuses on a local event that took 27 years to get the justice for the victims that it deserved. Performances like this are what create much needed and important conversations in those who see them and in society. One of the amazing things about this particular performance, also, is that Mutch is a graduate of Edge Hill and actually developed this from her dissertation piece, so it goes to show that the work here at Edge Hill really does lead to amazing places.

Aerial Fitness in Ormskirk!

Hello all, I hope you’re having a great week and end to June!

I wanted to talk about something that’s been a huge part of my University life; Aerial fitness. Some of you might not know exactly what this is, but if you’re a performer like me, or just into dance, acrobatics, or all things fitness then keep reading.

At the Performing Arts Freshers’ Fayre, there was a stall for Inversion Pole Fitness, and they had a sign up sheet for Pole Fitness, Aerial Hoop and Aerial Silks taster sessions. I thought it would be great to try something, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do Hoop or Silks then as I hadn’t done anything like that before, and to be honest I was nervous about doing Pole, but I put my name down- after all, it would be a new experience!

I didn’t know quite what to expect, but the taster session was super fun and I enjoyed every minute of it. The session was led by a lovely lady named Lucy, who runs Inversion, and is probably one of the nicest and most supportive people I’ve ever met. She made sure everyone felt like they could take on the pole and succeed from the minute we started the session and helped anyone who needed the help. I had a terrible sense of coordination in that first session, and I struggled with which limbs went which way, but Lucy came over and made sure I got the hang of it and 9 months on I’ve come so far with her help and support.

In January, I felt like I wanted to give Aerial Hoop a try. The Pole lessons are in the Base Dance Academy building a short walk out of the Ormskirk town centre, but the hoop lessons are in Unite Health and Fitness, which is just on the way in to town. There is also another lady who teaches hoop lessons called Aimee, who is just as lovely and helpful as Lucy. If ever I need her help she’s right there to give me guidance or spot me!

Come the end of February I thought I might as well give Silks a go too since I love Pole and Hoop so much. Silks is by far the hardest thing I’ve tried, but the most rewarding! Aimee teaches the beginner students’ Silks, and Lucy teaches the more intermediate students’ Silks.

One of the extra lessons that I took part in were aimed at helping you become more flexible through stretches that were aimed at different body parts in different lessons; for example there’d be a lesson focusing on the back one week, legs the next then arms the next. If you like yoga or just want to see how far you can push your body, then the Stretch and Flex classes are definitely for you!

One of the amazing things that was put on by the Inversion team was a showcase of all the students’ and instructors’ wonderful talent. I performed a hoop solo alongside the Inversion team and it was one of the biggest achievements of the year, especially as performing is my passion. Even if performing isn’t your passion, if you just fancy the sound of any of the things I’ve mentioned in this post, I’d say definitely try it! It could change you so much, it’s definitely changed me. And not only is this a great thing to do in your spare time, but it’s one of the wonderful things that are in Edge Hill’s resident town of Ormskirk!

Click here if you would like to see the Facebook page for Inversion Pole Fitness if you are interested, or if you want to ask me anything at all about what I’ve mentioned just drop me a comment!

The Life of a Performing Arts Student!

Hello all, hope you had a wonderful and Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays for those who celebrate other or no other festivals. As it nears the end of December and 2016, I am moving into Semester 2 of my BA (Hons) Performing Arts course at the University, and I can’t wait to be back.

If you’re looking at Performing Arts courses as a way of extending your skills and abilities, creating and performing, studying the theory behind performance or even writing your own scripts, the courses that Edge Hill offer are perfect for you! Below I have included a list of the courses which are hyperlinked so that you can check out the ones you are interested in;

As you can see there’s a course for every type of performer and creative. As I like to perform and devise performances as well as expand my skill set as a performer, I chose to enrol on the Performing Arts course.

This is the beautiful Arts Centre- where I have my lessons!

One of the best things about the Performing Arts course is the range of modules it covers. I did the BTEC Diploma in Performing Arts at my college, which I loved, however, I did not expect to cover such a big range of skills and genres of performance as I have done and will continue to do for the next 5 months. So, here is an overview of my Performing Arts life over the past 4 months!

Fresher’s Tasks and Introductions

In the very first week of the course, I didn’t know my way around so much and I didn’t know many people. However, the staff ensured that they gave me the information I needed to get more used to life at Uni and the course itself. There were a few talks carried out in the Arts Centre’s main theatre – the Rose Theatre – that gave me all the information I needed to know about the course heading into it and the University and it’s resources itself.

The Rose Theatre

In my first lesson, I was introduced to my main lecturer and form tutor- Barnaby King. The lesson was quite informal, which allowed everyone to feel more at ease than we did before entering it. There are 12 people in my class, including me, and it was nice to be able to finally meet everyone and get to know each other. Everyone came from such different backgrounds which was interesting to discover, and although we were quiet to begin with, being in a class with such lovely people is amazing and we all became friends quickly! Barnaby set us a small task based on our journey to the University to ease us into the course, which was great as it was our first opportunity to work with and around the people that we are going to be working with for the next three years of our educational careers.

The Introduction to Performance Module

As performers, it’s always great to be up on our feet and creating- I know that personally, when I enter a performance space, I’m itching to get up and produce something! However, as a performer it’s also important to know where performance came from and what performance itself is. This is where this module comes in. I have this module on Monday afternoons, and I’ll either attend a lecture or a workshop where we can discuss ideas surrounding the course and anything that we might not have completely got to grips with yet- one of the best things about these workshops is the level of support it offers you in your studies! The idea of sitting in a lecture might put performers such as yourselves off, however, Barnaby and the other lecturers ensure that it’s not just you sat listening bored! We often listen to songs related to ideas discussed in the lectures and watch videos from practitioners and researchers that are a nice change from powerpoints. In my classes this year we’ve even mentioned Hamilton the Musical and watched something about the background of the musical, so don’t let the word ‘lecture’ put you off! This module runs for an entire year, rather than one semester.

Performance Skills Workshop

This module was one of the two optional modules I had to choose from- the other module was Introduction to Technical Theatre. On Mondays I also attend a lesson for this unit. This unit is all about developing your skills as a performer, and so far I have tried my hands at all sorts of things from mask work to juggling in workshops.

Maskwork is something fun you might explore in this class!

For this lesson we have a teacher called Olly Crick, who always keeps lessons lively and fun whilst teaching you so much about different performance genres. For the past 4 months, Olly has run workshops with us to show us what techniques and genres there are within theatre and performance, and as we progress into the second semester we get to narrow what we are studying to particular techniques we want to pursue further- which is great if you really want to have time to master a technique or begin your path to mastering it! This module runs for an entire year, rather than one semester.

Physical Theatres

If you studied Performing Arts at college or are just a regular theatre goer, you’ve probably come across Physical Theatres of the likes of DV8 or Frantic Assembly, just to name a couple of companies. For the last 4 months I have been having lessons for this module on a Wednesday morning; something that might sound daunting, as Physical Theatre in the morning can be a very exhausting task. But the best thing about these lessons is that Barnaby did a small yoga warm up before each lesson he led, which warmed the body and mind up perfectly and also helped bring our awareness of what was occurring in lessons and of each other as performers to a level that aided us in performance and devising. At the end of the unit, we had devised a half hour performance on love, hate and the situation in America with Donald Trump, which we performed to an audience of our friends and which was followed by a Viva Voce- a spoken assessment. The great thing about Vivas is that it’s like having a chat with your teachers about something your passionate about (Performing and your performance!) but it helps with your grade! If the idea of being assessed on speaking worries you, don’t let it! It’s so much less nerving when you’re in the room just speaking. This module runs for one semester, rather than a whole year.

Visual Theatres

Visual theatres is something I had never studied before, so this was an interesting module for me! If I had to summarise what this genre is and what I studied in this module, I would summarise it using these three techniques; Object Manipulation, Puppetry and Mask Work. Throughout the module we were given the opportunity to explore the use of these techniques and even create our own 3ft puppets and masks, which was frustrating at times but definitely worth it once we got to put them to use in our final performance! For this module, there is another performance, which we again showed to friends and our assessors, and a small written piece. As someone who loves Arts and Crafts, this module was a challenge but one that I welcomed with open arms! This module runs for one semester, rather than a whole year.

So that’s what I’ve spent my time at Edge Hill doing so far! You might have a different experience with what you cover in classes and especially if you choose a different first year optional module to me, but I hope this has given you a better idea of what Edge Hill’s Performing Arts course is like and I hope you make the choice to audition over the coming months! In my second semester, I will be studying the Devising Performance and Multimedia Performance modules in the replacement of the two semester-long modules I’ve done so far, which I can’t wait to explore. In the second and third year of the course, you have a lot more optional modules, from things like Popular Musicals to Prosthetic Makeup. This course is so different to the one I was on at college in all the right ways- I’ve always wanted to stretch myself as a performer and learn new skills, and with the aid of the teachers on the course this has proven to be an accessible goal!

If you have any questions, I’m very happy to answer them, just pop them in the comments!

I hope you have a great end to 2016 🙂

Here is the link to the Arts Centre’s page for more info on the theatres themselves and the shows that the Uni organise for staff, students and the people of Ormskirk;

The Arts Centre