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Whether t'is Nobler In The Mind To Suffer, Part 1

Hey there Bazlingtons! Are we well? And good, and healthy? These aren't just pleasantries (though it is pleasant and we care about you all lots) it's a deeper question. So, riddle us this: as an actor, you must disappear into a role, behave, act in a way that is not yourself, right? (we promise it won’t be the simplistic all the way through) but in this split personality, and the divide between actor and role, issues, trauma even, can fester and grow - and a need for support and awareness of this issue, is only just coming to light. It’s often tamped down, the run is only six weeks or whatever, no I don’t need to talk about it, I’ll lose my focus, etc, but as we all know repression is dangerous, and the repeated action, say of playing a reprehensible or disturbing role, in a eight show week can make the tear wider. Something of a hushed-up side effect of the acting industry had stayed hidden somewhat in all this recent, modern ownership of mental health in the population generally, so why has this effect on the acting profession been so ignored?

 

Fantastic imperatives such as National Mental Health Awareness week are great, but they are soon over, and the issue isn’t  - 1 in 6 people will have experienced a mental health issue this week alone. A nationwide, worldwide issue, there's so much to be said about stigma, seeking help, and helping each other - and we want to focus on a particular issue that's come to light. We here at Baz have talked about mental health and the arts - what defines an  'artist’ in our blogs before, and the view that’s normally held water is that there is an element of 'madness' to the creative mind, and so it is upheld, solidified as a stereotype and we all move on, yes? Well, no. In this era of social media and blogging, many actors, artists and musicians have been honest and frank about their struggles - and how issues, far from the necessary evil that makes one a genuii, can hold you back. The romanticism surrounding the chaotic and often harsh realities of mental health has, not surprisingly, not done the stigma any favours. However, in this blog we want to look past the set, costume, stage, lighting- and to the time away from the spotlight - and to the strain of the profession - as art can sometimes imitate life.

So. We want to talk about actors. Here at Baz we are a close-knit yet open and frank community - we love the actors we work with-  and it is an imperative that we always provide a safe, open, equal and secure environment for our actors to do their best most honest work, and not at the cost of their equilibrium. Our most recent work at Wilton's Music Hall, where we R&D our version of The Trial with hearing and D/deaf actors was, like most of our work, planned before we entered the rehearsal room - but we found it necessary, more than, to hold regular talks, debates and invite members of the D/deaf community into our rehearsal room and process, learning a great deal about the struggles that community faces in order for our story to do them justice, at the cost of an audience feeling uncomfortable, but ultimately, informed. As a company, we're looking at works and classics that show the truths of life: the struggles, the faults - in our production of dreamplay we had actors stretch themselves to the limits of their limitless abilities, in a safe and encouraging environment in order to bring raw, true theatre to our audiences.

Drama, or to refer it by Aristotle's definition of 'tragedy' is, 'the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself . . . with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions.' Well. That sounds jolly. And boy did they get serious in their catharses: Ancient Greeks pushed the boundaries of plot and storyline to still shocking lengths and this has not abated throughout the centuries. Great actors of the ages have emulated the madness of  King George VI, King Lear, Ophelia, Oedipus, Medea, Hedda Gaebler, Lady Macbeth and Yerma - all roles that and transported us with their talents and skill - but to do so every night? It's a given, it's what the actor must do - but have we ignored the wear and tear of the repeated action? With the classics, there is a distance that can be afforded - after all, who nowadays can relate to a king or queen? (open statement: we'll leave it at that, ahem) but what about roles that are not so desirable, or so distant and 'safe' in their academia?

After the turn of the century we were treated to many an undesirable - from Dickens' wronguns, to Pinter's despicables, theatre and writing in general is littered with baddies. Whilst this is the prerogative of the writer, and in most cases, a necessary stock character, these bad apples are, at least in the modern pantheon, meant to get us thinking, meant to show us the worst of the world to educate us. The boundaries of these 'lessons' we'll talk about another time, our focus is on the actors - imitating murderers, both real and imagined, peodophiles, abusers - every night on stage and the effect it has on the psyche - for too long now, perhaps the idea of the  actor as many things, has omitted the one of vulnerable to toxicity and damaged mental health.

So - what can be done? Apart from a constant and encouraging  year-round movements, charities and Mental Health Week, as we mentioned earlier, which boasts a fantastic hashtag full of positivity, bravery and ownership of issues. This is all fantastic, but Baz were delighted to learn of Equity, the Actor's Union, launching Arts Minds, a fantastic new prerogative that listened and provided a space to share issues within a community of artists and peers. It's a fantastic step forward, and with it, no few column inches to the strain of mental health for actors, such as Lyn Gardner’s inciting article on the strain of mental health on actors for The Stage. Indeed, last year's Fringe Festival brimmed with plays that tackled depression, PTSD and a host of often maligned issues - and this year looks to be no exception - it seems we are finally ready to open up debate, share, and heal.

Cheers to them, and here's hoping the directive spreads - whilst we still have some way to go, these little starts, little patches of stigma, judgement, repression and ignorance on mental health and creatives will start to grow more green, overgrown and bear more fruit.

Talk soon, exciting news to come!

Best,

Baz x

 

 

 

 

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Greeks Bring Gifts: Time For A Rebirth of Critical Theatre?

Peter Capaldi playing Malcolm Tucker outside Downing St - both intimidating you to read this blog and starring in the meta-ultra critical and satirical  Thick of It.  TV has a handle on this satire stuff...does theatre need to catch up and snatch back the crown?

Peter Capaldi playing Malcolm Tucker outside Downing St - both intimidating you to read this blog and starring in the meta-ultra critical and satirical Thick of It. TV has a handle on this satire stuff...does theatre need to catch up and snatch back the crown?

Bazlings! We are supremely sorry for what we’re calling, for the want of a better word, our hibernation (Clocks went back yesterday…get it?) But we have all, separately and together, been doing our things: from directing, acting, and bringing up kids…check out our Twitter: @baz_productions and our Instagram of the same name for proof, y’all: we got it all, recommendations, updates, all sorts! But this here is out blog and we are back, charged up and better than ever! What’s more, we’re about to drop some history on ya…so watch out!

London, or Londinium, when it was, shall we call it, ‘hostile takeover’-ed in somewhere 100AD by the Romans actually led to a lot we still call home – pasta, religion and those lovely ladies of the arts, the Muses. Also, aqueducts. For all this influence though, it seems as if the modern theatre came from Greece and the great Amphitheatres of the age. Here, 5th century tragic playwrights such as Euripides and Sophocles didn’t only stage the heavyweights of Electra and Oedipus, they also wrote about current invasions, wars and political decisions, often staging their work in the theatres placed right next to the buildings of government. Imagine it- you’re a lawmaker, going about your daily business, deciding who lives and who dies, where to invade next, etc – and you hear the commotion of you being played by an actor in a silly voice, mimicking your voice and actions – and people laughing at it, at this, an age of literal marketplace backstabbing. Now that takes some cajones.

Of course, the act of satire is not new to us: Beyond the Fringe had Dudley, Peter, Alan and Jonathan take aim at Harold MacMillan, who was sitting in the audience, Tom Lehrer was writing funny songs about who’s got the bomb in the nervous 60s, Spitting Image saw the Royal Family at a typical dinner, and most recently, Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin – have, you could argue, won against Sarah Palin and President Trump respectively. In the cloudy, faraway mists of the past, however, it seems these playwrights were the first People’s Champions – playing a game of Russian Roulette for their art. Some recent academic thinking sees a strong link between Athenian Tragedy and Democracy, and treat the original plays as historical documents that tell us in more detail, and more astutely then any other kind of record.

These old texts asked moral questions of an audience that had suffered or lived through the actions it staged – sometimes even mocking authority - and was flocked to by all manner of fare – from the farmer to the lawmaker. It’s not surprising, then that fine actors of the age blurred the line between performer and politician – namely a bloke called Aeschines, a popular actor of the age, hired by would be king Philip, father of Alexander the Great to plead his case for taking over said actor’s township. It’s both extraordinary and not, as you hear hyperbole in recent elections of how politicians look, sound, and exude their charisma – not so much politic as chic. Still, plays and their writers had more than a view on the social climate, the affected it – it seems unfathomable now that theatre could affect policy – in this current state the arts find themselves in of self-sufficiency and theatre making for change and representation thankfully still going, but off site – these plays went to the masses. We could learn something from these much lauded, seemingly limitlessly brave writers and orators.

A lot has happened since Ancient Greek theatre – and its not as if these traditional methods didn’t come back, often with a vengeance – after all Reagan, an actor, achieved terms as a serving American President, and Arnie is currently running California, so the charm of the film star has been known to reach out of the screen – and here in England, we have a tradition of actor-activists, from Jessica Hynes' powerful BAFTA speech, Hugh Grant’s work with Hacked Off, Stephen Fry’s campaign for mental health and recently Michael Sheen’s semi retirement from acting to launch his fair loan scheme, inspired by the struggles he witnessed with unregulated lenders in his native Wales.

A fundamental right is that of freedom of speech – but if we return to the age of the snap reaction plays – say, a play set behind the scenes at Whitehall on the night of the Brexit vote– would we get in trouble? Can we only make critical theatre when the subject is dead and gone- what are the laws on this? Censorship on theatre was only lifted in the late 20th Century, are we still at an impasse – and is theatre too polite? As we always say, we here at Baz want to engage you, push you and interact with you – but will our time be long gone before that’s the norm?

We here at Baz don’t know – but if there’s anything we want to do, it’s to tell truths and represent real people and stories. We have done this in the past through Ancient Text – our 2013 Prophesy was our take on the Greek Myth – but it seems the old Athenians had more to offer than previously thought, as new texts are being discovered all the time, and all that is old is new again. Perhaps.

 

Boom. And that is how you drop some history!

Oh and this blog is proudly pro-Cynthia Nixon for NY Governor by the way. Come on guys, really

Big love, til next time!

 

Baz

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December is Not December of December

Got a lot farther by working a lot harder,

By being a lot smarter,

By being a self-starter’ -  ‘Hamilton’ from Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Hey Bazzers! Yes, we did start both title and blog by repeating the same word in the same sentence, but in our defence, ‘December’ and ‘Hamilton’ are good ones. If you don’t know the above, then shame on you because it’s from the excellent musical Hamilton, a ticket and show so hot, swathes of people who haven’t even seen it are massive fans. (Pst, us included) but we intend to remedy this quicksmart with its arrival at the West End. Anyway, the reason a quote from this Nobel Prize winning musical is sitting pretty up there at the top of the blog is because Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer, rapper, and the first star of the show didn’t come from a pedigree, an ivy league or from, lets be honest, whiteness. Thanks to Obama’s term of office, he got his break of all places, at the White house. For such a thing to occur here in the British Isles is about as regular as...a very irregular thing. A class, gender, race and ability ceiling is fresco-ed and preserved by the National Trust. But all is not lost! We are indeed, the masters of our own destiny, and as Baz states in our mission statement - we quite literally made the theatre we want to see - and that hasn’t been working out so bad thus far! In our opinion, you need: a planner, some business cards, skill and passion, and you’re on your way - and what better time to be pushing the message of get up and go then that notoriously quiet period where everyone is sit-down-and-stay as one year slides onto another. Read on, friends, we got some tips for ya. So don’t say we don’t ever give you anything for the holidays.

(okay that sounded less arrogant in our heads - basically, we’re going to share our experience and offer some advice, okay? cool.)

So please trust us that we’re not trying to bring you down this Yule-lookin’ month - quite the opposite - there’s so much to do! There gets to be a mindset of December being the wind-down month, to take the foot of the pedal and onto the pouf, an entire box of Quality Street on our laps (no? Just us, ok.) and be swept up in cold mornings and shorter days - basically, in hibernation. But December need not be the December of December, friends, oh no. (By the way did we just invent that? S’cool - *runs off to patent it*) Hibernate, sure, but like our furry friends do, do like the squirrels do and leave yourself some nuts in the...erm….area to enjoy January 3rd. (don’t judge us, we’re big fans of Attenborough) Approach the new year as working off both rosties and ennui and be a Responsible Freelancer. And here’s Baz’s top three tips for how to beat the procrastination blues:

  •   Join societies or groups:

As a freelancer, a writer, director, producer or practitioner, you work for a good majority of time alone. Which is great but a bad habit - in the capital, the wealth of book groups and special interest societies (some very special ones out there FURSURE) or to get you back in fighting shape: there’s meetup.com’s London Writers Cafe (link) who set a date and place to set up to write together in blissful peaceful quiet and unity, as well as regular talks set up by the organisers for a wide range of styles of writing, for example, with properly excellent industry insider talks. Meetups.com incidentally has a meetup event for any and every kind of activity (steady now, not that) that range from a group run to the highest point of Primrose Hill, to weekend ice cream tasting a new spot every weekend. Hey, you’re talking/creating/producing facts  and stories about life, might as well experience it all, huh? There’s also always a ton of special workshops that new directors hub Young Vic offers, and talks to attend to brush up on your skills - BBC Writersroom is a good place to check out as well as London Playwrights Blog, BAFTA, the BFI...and any arts centre - the ICA for example have held some great Q&As with writers and directors.  we could wax several buses lyrical on the wealth of talk to tune into - get out there and unearth it.

And not to get all social justice on you all but a good idea to get your union card, whether it be the National Union of Journalists for the writers, Equity or the Writer’s Guild - in times such as these support, be it opportunity based, funding or legal advice, belonging to a body that is designed to support the arts is totally not a bad idea. 

  •    Culture Vulture

Okay now this one is obvious for sure, but of course, there can be so many reasons not to do something, especially on these colder, darker afternoons, but getting out to see everything is a must. Big theatres like the National to off-west End shows have previews and first nights - at cheaper rates than normal tickets, so many promotions too - from the National’s £15 tickets for under 26s, to Young + Free at the Donmar. New writing theatres are open to submissions and turning out work at the end of year too - never been a better time to join Theatre 503’s newsletter to hear of their latest Rapid Write Response - a chance to see a show for a reduced price, meet the creatives and write something that could be presented onstage. From West End to East End theatres are a lot more interactive these days. Books you mean to read (Peter Hall’s ‘The Empty Space’ is COMING WITH US this holiday break) great telly, etc - the season puts you in the best mood for absorbing the best the year has to offer, so get to it, and bring a notebook.

  •    Lists are your friends

Ah, the end of year countdowns, the stuff of sleepy post-christmas lunch comedowns on the telly (we say this but we will be watching them with the aforementioned Quality Street come a week’s time) but use it to your advantage - get a diary or wall planner now to prepare for the new year - shows you want to see, deadlines you want to meet, anything arts related - and keep it separate from your personal movements - a career in the arts is just a legitimate as any other job, and keeping a work diary will keep it separate and therefore, not ‘causal’ - the key is emphasis, not pressure. Here at Baz we know all too well, there’s a propensity to compare to others, to take your eye off your own path and put pressure on yourself that doesn’t need to be there. These lists aren’t there to dictate to you, rather to provide guidance when you get stuck. Keeping goals doesn’t need to be punishing - it can provide a much needed workout, and clearout of a cluttered mindset and as we know, happy minds, make for better work. And just to add, meditation is a great help to keep unhelpful habits at bay and create better neural pathways, learned behaviours that make for the most productive but crucially, most centered working life. The headspace app is perfect for that, as is yoga or pilates, anything that focuses on breathing, so that you can return to your book, script, notes with fresh eyes and knock that stuff, quite literally, out the park. We believe in you!

There see, not just a pretty face. And that friends, is how to add some lemon zest to your December.

Happiest of holidays to you lovely Brazzers, thanks you so much for yet another year of support, whether it's been in generous donation, coming to see a showing, or a like or follow, it all adds up and gives us that warm fuzzy feeling that melts snow faster than you can say ‘Bazzers are the best’ - cos you are. Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018! Enjoy!

With much love and thanks, we leave you with Lin-Manuel shootin’ his shot: anything is possible.

 

 

Love,

Baz xx

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Good Visibility, Clear Spells

Ah hello Bazzers. We’ve missed you these past few weeks - we hope you are keeping well and busy - because we are too! (yes yes we’ve just done that annoying dinner party question where you ask someone something that’s a lead into a humblebrag...don’t judge us) And because we’re not quite ready give up on summer yet (the branches of the nearest tree are tapping at Baz HQ windows incessantly today but we’re still wearing sunglasses inside) we thought our sunny attitude would suit our latest favourite trend in the arts - that of representation and conscious inclusivity (yes we did coin that, you’re welcome, we’re not just a pretty face)

As the hazy summer of the Edinburgh Festival starts to clear, and again, the range of talent, imagination and excellence of what (interesting and smart) happenings at the Edinburgh Festival, hopefully doesn’t stay there - news has returned of fabulously funny jokes, new talents, exciting dance performances and new ways of presenting work. And we’ve been thrilled to note all done by a new wave of acting, dancing and comedic talent from ridiculously able disabled performers, and D/deaf actors - unrepresented artists signalling the latest change in the arts - making the invisible, visible.

Of course, the  likes of Graeae, a theatre company running for years doing great work both onstage and off to promote a new generation of performers, constantly pushing the envelope and making great strides for decades. However, it seems Edinburgh Festival was all about representation this year: and not just for visability’s sake - also to approach old text in new ways - take for example a relaxed performance of Samuel Beckett’s seminal ‘Not I’ - a 20 minute, speed of thought monologue first performed by Billie Whitelaw in 1973, as she was suspended in absolute darkness above the stage, with only her fastly moving mouth visible. In a nod to inclusivity - this new performance still features an excellent actress in the role, but this time also with a sign language interpreter and performer including the audience and making the piece a different animal altogether - receiving rave reviews and earning a spot in the Battersea Arts Centre listings later this year.

Fantastic dreamplay producer Liz Counsell also recently produced and worked on the latest Deaf Men Dancing show - a brilliant showcase of dancing, talent, representation and LGBT awareness - again to great reviews. And the brilliant Reasons To Be Cheerful - a musical poised to strike later this year, inspired by Ian Dury’s story has won great audiences and acclaim. And interesting fact: Baz trainee director Stephen Lloyd is attached to this brilliant project, double win. More theatre companies, grants and opportunities for d/Deaf and disabled performers are becoming available every year - with Graeae launching writing opportunities too - marking a real commitment for inclusivity in every element of the arts. DaDa Festival grants, the Accessible Edinburgh Awards this year polled visitors to shows and awarded venues, artists and theatre companies alike for their commitment to reaching new audiences with a fresh wave of talent in everything from comedy, music, dance and theatre. And with the ever popular Brighton Fringe Fest making brilliant promises for their accessibility and programme too, these are truly exciting times to be making art.

To that end, we ourselves had the pleasure to meet D/deaf and disabled artists for a casting call for our next big project and left it more excited than ever to not only present our work, but also to introduce a new year of performers we’ll be so proud to call Bazzers and join the team - with the arts under threat it’s now more important than ever that we push forward new agendas, send the money where it needs to go, and appeal to new audiences and the next performers of tomorrow. Come and join the party, the weather’s clearing up, sunny skies ahead. We can’t wait to get started!

Here just to show that anything can be possible, deaf model, winner of America’s Next Top Model and advocate Nyle DiMarco, mastering the cha cha on America’s answer to Strictly Come Dancing - all done with hard work, rehearsal, and counting despite not being able to hear a beat. Amazing. Oh and fair warning, the shirt comes undone around the 0.13 mark. We say warning….you're welcome.

Love, Baz

xx

 

 

 

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Spacial Elite and Stained White Trainers

‘This Brave, O'erhanging Firmament' - Hamlet, being rather Meta and talking about the Globe Theatre’s pretty paint job in 1602.

The Vienna Austria theatres are fancy - and we would spray the famous Verdi aria calling for Roman Citizens (plebs) to rise up: 'Plebe! Parts! Popolo!' but we won't for two reasons - 1. - come on. So beautiful. 2. The elite would probably love it, remove the seat and sell it for a million lira. Sigh.  

The Vienna Austria theatres are fancy - and we would spray the famous Verdi aria calling for Roman Citizens (plebs) to rise up: 'Plebe! Parts! Popolo!' but we won't for two reasons - 1. - come on. So beautiful. 2. The elite would probably love it, remove the seat and sell it for a million lira. Sigh.  

Hi there Bazzers! All here is abuzz at Baz (such a satisfying sentence, ahh) with meetings, sending out our facilitators to Leeds to educate over 1,000 teachers (boo-may we say-yah)  and our friends and colleagues continuing to be completely brilliant in all respects. This has put us in such a good mood we’re all excited to look at beautiful places in the world to perform theatre and daydream about our world domination…in a nice way, obviously. A kind, hostile global takeover where all theatre is free, we’re equal, respectful of all and fluent in Shakespeare. For like, a start.

If you lovelies have been following our Baz Insta posts (which you should, we’ll wait here while you follow, then come on back- we’ll wait…) you’ll see we love a hashtag BazPlace(s) - where we visit somewhere epic either in a meeting, to see a show, or to explore the city and it’s possible locations, and share a photo of it - and it got us thinking. London is an epic theatre city, boasting new and old, often alongside each other. As theatre makers and theatre lovers, anywhere that houses performance, whether it’s one big ornate room, or a gentleman’s club, we are here for it, as our earlier blogpost on our most fave unusual theatre projects will attest.

A recent visit to the National Theatre got us on this thoughtpath (we made that up, we like it, it’s staying, feel free to use it) and the idea of theatre as status - a barometer of its location; how the arts, through the decades has been stigmatised as an upper class pursuit. We love the National, and it has an interesting background - Sir Laurence Olivier founded it in the late 50s, finding a site on the then fairly abandoned South Bank and sought, very nobly, as a nobleman does, to create a new kind of theatre decidedly overbearing the Thames bank, and unlike any theatre seen before -with its brutalist and consciously unflouncy shape and sharp corners shocked the likes of Shaftsbury Avenue. Along with the new look, the fairly traditional and old-fashioned progenitor wanted to induce a new kind of theatre too, for all - a good example of using private wealth for public use. Of course, despite its best efforts, it has fallen into the trap of achieving it’s mainstream goal, whilst unavoidably becoming a symbol of status and the old guard. And as it should: a hub of great theatre events, and a sure fire ticket in ol’ London town. But it begs the questions: how does an institution avoid elitism? Is it possible?

As long time affiliates of experimental theatre, we are used to seeing and producing work in the most unlikely of places: our past two works have taken place in a lighthouse/lookout on Aldeburgh Beach and The Vaults under Waterloo Bridge with our production of dreamplay. Our question is that if a performance, a crew of actors, technicians and creatives adopt a space, does it automatically gentrify it? Is theatre still seen as, one of our favourite films of 2015 ‘Birdman’ states something to get through until the interval, where, filing out quietly ‘they can all get a cup of coffee and a slice of cake’? What can we do to change it? And should we - theatre is not just for the young, but it needs to keep moving, keep rejuvenated. Of course, places like Venice, Norway, Sweden have their share of theatres - beautiful Restoration, delicate, hand-painted masterpieces- that are more museums than places to see live theatre - where opera is still performed de regur and you most certainly will not be let in wearing trainers. This idea is changing however, and a sub -culture of experimental, site specific and promenade theatre has found its place - the successful runs of our mates’ shows like Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man, any and everything by Forced Entertainment and Get In The Back Of The Van theatre collectives- (delightfully mobile, fluid, hedonistic and literally in-yer-face theatre, never mind the 90s theatre moniker) but it’s all considered ‘specialist’ and whilst there is (and always should be) a time for revivals and musicals- not to the detriment of others.

So what is the answer? Take over the delicate music-box theatres in Amsterdam and spray graffiti all over it? By it’s nature change has to use willpower and have a movement, a shape - but this can easily be misconstrued as aggression and destruction - think of the Sex Pistols in 1979 calling a household name interviewer a ‘rotten wanker’ - and that is not what’s happening here. But much like getting a seat on the tube, you might have to make good use of your elbow. And yet, there’s cause for celebration - so many new writing theatres dedicating to new talent their time, expertise, rehearsal rooms and performance spaces, this scene is expanding - and with £15 under 26 tickets at the National, £10 Mondays at the Royal Court, a rise in ‘Pay What You Can’ offers, apps like TodayTix that find and search out the best ticket deals on the West End and elsewhere. It’s all looking pretty bright from over here - as long as we don’t give up and continue to make cool, all-inclusive stuff and take the focus slightly away from the traditional theatre of the West End, or else put something in the water in Drury Lane*- cos nothing changes if we don’t. Deal? Deal.

*to be clear, we here at Baz aren’t advocating putting something unpleasant in the water in a busy TheatreLand and London, street. Nope, no. Be assured.

Ah, so with that in mind, in a very Henry V way, we hope you feel inspire. All the best to you today whether you’re picking up a pen to write a scene, a prop dagger from the store, your script for your readthrough or all of the above + a strong latte - more power to you. And...create!

All the Baz love,

Baz x

 

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Objectification, your Honour: A Handy Guide To Censorship

Lady Gaga imitating art on The X Factor, 2012. Traditional or titillating? 

Lady Gaga imitating art on The X Factor, 2012. Traditional or titillating? 

As we enter day six of Happy international Women’s Bonanza...wait, what? It's only a day? Oh...OK. Anyway, we thought we might honour the 24 hours set aside for the outpouring of gratitude and instagram posts and hashtags such an event inspires, by appreciating how far we’ve come and confronting what we still need to do. So put down your bunting and ‘I Heart Women Today’ posters and let’s crack on shall we? (sarcastic? Us? Noooo….) we’re here to discuss one of the last taboos in theatre – nudity. Hold on to your drawers. (Or don’t. It’s a free country and also it flies in the face of this post, but we are all about your choice)

OK yes, we are being sarcastic, but for comic effect you see – of course it’s great to have the country simultaneously  fall over each other to cry the virtues of Woman: mother, sister, partner, wife…but what if that was everyday? Ah. The truth is we still have a long way to go. The war is not over – and the battleground is our bodies. In the years since censorship in the theatre was lifted, we’ve been, um, treated to many an arresting visual image – Edward Bond’s Saved featuring a notably disturbing and brave ending sequence in the 60s- censorship was only unofficially placed in 1968 - violence, the rise of immersive theatre, course language, all that good stuff - but this has also featured the human body.

You can’t post a nipple on instagram. On a woman. On a man it’s perfectly fine – you get multiple posts of glossy black and white shoots you could pick up from the newsagent shelf of the male torso in all it’s lightly dusted glory. When Daniel Radcliffe played the title role in Equus in 2007 there was many a salacious column inch dedicated to eye witness accounts- treating us, forgive us - but kind of like children.

“And then what happened?’

“He got his…thing out!”

We all have a body. We all make use of a body. So why not put it on the stage?

Battleground. Remember that?

Back in 2012 Sherlock actress Louise Brealey played Helen of Troy in a production of the Trojan Women, appearing onstage nude. Again, more comment from the papers, but a little less salacious this time: a taste of that tangy flavour of…was it, disapproval? She defended herself on twitter and wrote in a paper herself of how freeing it was, how confidence making, how real. And fantastic, we applaud her – for doing her job. That’s what was required of the role, and the director’s vision – she agreed, and she did it. For art and for the role she was playing. The comment was for….?

What we’re getting at here- the female body is so sexualized that a social media company views the human nipple not as a means by which to feed babies, but something to be censored, deemed inappropriate and just when we start to make headway, sit around the table – politics bashes down the door and we had all better take a seat. When Emma Watson posed for Vanity Fair just this week wearing a revealing top, the internet and it’s top agent Piers Morgan came for her as an actress, a role model, a feminist and a woman. When the rules are changing for everyone every day, what did we need? A man to gently face us in the right direction and point, with a saccharine smile to a handwritten sign that says “Feminism. 500 miles this way.” Sigh. Wouldn’t it be easier if nobody got naked at all, Bazzers? We went back to the Victorian times, no sex please we’re British, what hippy nonsense? Well, no. Because to Baz, theatre is challenging, difficult, confrontational, and ultimately about life. We have no interest in titillating audiences, and it’s true, no project of ours since we launched has featured any nudity- some underwear perhaps, but not to seem edgy. It’s quite difficult to make plain Y-Fronts look controversial, believe us– but being the free-thinking and brave Baz Broads we are, we aren’t ruling it out – just not for novelty’s sake, and not for the clicks. We stand by every creative decision we’ve made: from switching gender roles, confronting and visualizing disturbing themes, even throwing our audiences into total darkness - If we feel it suits our production and our vision then we own it.

So in conclusion your honour – we, women didn’t do it. The crimes against female representation has made the body a no-go zone. It has been compromised by the male gaze, the fashion dollar, the celebrity culture and the glossy magazine. We stand accused of being a target market your honour, where we lose out, giving a pound of flesh with no recompense.If and when we decide to feature any nudity of any gender - it will be with our aims and manifesto in mind - no red tape, no shock value and no publicity. Wish us luck.

Sigh. Anyway. What’s on instagram?

We joke. There are plenty of women, both in the arts and otherwise that are waking up to these disparities and doing excellent work. As we mentioned before, the highly attended Women’s March earlier this year brought the equal support of men and women. And even the most tepid and infuriating of comments under a video with a sensational headline are at least evenly spread with some level-headedness. Who knows? Maybe the wind’s about to change, and the real censorship can be lifted.

Hashtag boobs. If you’re comfortable with it.

Love,

Baz xx

 

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Be of Good Voice - An Ode To Education Baz style

Freddy at a particularly busy General meeting (Queen at Wembley, '86)

Freddy at a particularly busy General meeting (Queen at Wembley, '86)

Well Hello to all the Bazzed (translation: our version of ‘the faithful’…we know, we’re really cute) Or Baz-ed, as the case may be! Yes that’s right – it’s a blog that’s an inadvertent pat on the back as well as a call to arms to get physical (not in an Olivia Newton John way, don’t worry) and how we’ve brought our performance and theatre skills to workshops up and down the country, from schools to offices, town halls to lecture halls. This is a blog about our methods of play, our mission statements and ideals, mixed in with our technique, will make your talk/class/exam feel like Wembley ’86./

/ not actual disclaimer

But in all seriousness, we’ve worked hard to make education one of the pillars that Baz is founded on – our mission statement we made many moons ago spoke of the things any theatre company would want for their success: viable and memorable productions, compelling and challenging theatre, equal representation – and education, to us, is the common denominator for all of it – when we rehearse, we include play, we study, we use and dissect verse and we perform. We think these are skills that no-one should be without.

Our work takes place through TeachFirst – an excellent group who are dedicated to adapting and updating modern teaching techniques in schools. We are not offering nor do we seek to provide a drama class to confuse GCSE Drama students – believe us, we’ve been there – but rather to fit in and sit alongside studies and exams. More than this, we specifically work to Key Stage 2,3,4,5 as well Edexcel and AQA specifications. You know, so there. We’re legit, as the kids would say (sorry)

But enough of the what, more of the how: our practitioners are not teachers, but professionals: actors, facilitators, directors, writers and performers. We train our speakers to hit specific learning objectives, but beyond that we bring the skill of the practitioner to proceedings, for example, our work with Shakespeare, and say, our production of Macbeth in St Andrew’s Crypt allowed us to use our skill and understanding of verse and pentameter. Our production of Prophesy, based on the classical Greek canon allowed us to perfect our way and method of devising, and our most recent production of Strindberg’s dreamplay used improvisation to connect with our audiences – often directly – and further cement our ‘house style’. These tools of play, study, devising and improvisation are all skills we bring to our bespoke workshops: to help you understand your school text, prepare your lesson plans, lead a lecture, or give your presentation.

We don’t only limit ourselves to study and learning, we like to get you active, and give you ‘life hacks’ to help with delivery and performance, and a favourite we like to reference often is Amy Cuddy’s excellent TED (above -and go Amy, 11 million plus views! She don't play around) talk on something as simple as posture, eyeline, and meditation all providing proven benefits and support. We’ve been to all corners of the UK, from Southend to Blackpool, using a pool of creatives we’ve worked with as well as some we haven’t – but all of whom we implicitly trust to deliver Baz’s message, on point, as the kids would say. But why is it so important to us – as a BazPerson, you’ll have spoken at talks at Universities, Schools, Centres for Learning and offices. Too often we feel, the arts are perceived as an ivory tower that is not worth trying to get into unless you go on X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. Education, getting kids excited about the Three Witches, freeing it from the classroom, and hopefully, letting all the good stuff like confidence, inspiration and opportunity rush out with the flow. And the responses we’ve been lucky to get are enough  to melt even our stony hearts (be prepared to get cuddled tho)

 

We take the education side of what we do very seriously, not ‘as well as’ not ‘supporting’ our work, but there as an entity in it’s own right – when we welcomed a BSL interpreter to The Vaults we learned so much from her interpretations and techniques – when we invited young, aspiring directors to a workshop, again at the Vaults, we valued their feedback and responses as much as any review – our dedication to making more able, confident and skilled adults, ready for anything, whether a student, teacher, worker, or sufferer – we know our lives were changed for the better for theatre and performance and we hope yours can be too – new talent, new perspective, a new idea on why Medea is misunderstood, why The Apothacary is the unannounced villain of Romeo and Juliet, standing up in class/the pub/in the lecture hall and saying so – well to Baz, that’s all that matters. Stand up, speak out. Goodness knows we need that more than ever. Onwards!

Much love,

Baz x

Baz Education is dedicated to provide trained staff to offer bespoke and one on one sessions as well as our group Teach First workshops. Details to be found under the ‘Baz Education’ header of the website or email us for details.

 

 

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You wait for one, and then three come along at once.

Shiny happy people calmly protecting women's rights in the Trafalgar Square sun

Shiny happy people calmly protecting women's rights in the Trafalgar Square sun

Hearty Hello, Bazians! How are you? We are feeling mighty fine with all this people power whizzing around like kinetic energy (something that may have been in our coffees this morning...sorry, we’re just excited) but It’s here and it’s really happening - people willing to stand up for what they believe in. And that makes us very happy at Baz HQ. So happy that we’re going to do some of our famed Baz Book Reccs to celebrate!

As we’ve talked about in previous blog posts - culture and art reflects society - at it’s basic level, that’s what it’s for - but it also challenges, highlights and even twists it: even our Dear Shakey of Stratford Upon Avon (we think it should be called that actually, more fitting) fabricated a few truths about King Richard much to the dead king’s annoyance (his winter of discontent lasted for centuries, poor bloke) but for the most part - theatre is a set and a stage we recognise, showing uncomfortable truths or reminding us of gross injustice.

The most interesting thing we’ve seen in the arts quarter is theatre companies and arts hubs calling for scripts or short pieces that defy Trump, the NHS, any given issue threatening to unsettle the globe’s equilibrium - with proceeds going directly to charities or to organisations threatened by governments. This past week we’ve seen three major global protests, with the Women’s March, the peaceful sit-ins at US Airports and Anti-Muslim ban rallies. These movements were announced sometimes within hours of the event and the numbers were ridiculous and astounding. And so hopeful. When we here at Baz have a tea break, we like to casually log on to the main page of the petition to ban Trump’s state visit to see just how many thousands it’s risen by - and if you want to add your name to the rising number, by all means, click here: http://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/171928

It’s impossible and quite crass to assume protestors are any particular type of person: we’ve seen families, children sitting on Dad’s shoulders at the Women’s March in Trafalgar Square, grandmothers pushed in wheelchairs pushed by their granddaughters in DC - all races, types, sizes, genders and it got Baz thinking that these should be the audiences that make up a theatre of tolerance, or freedom of speech and of fair representation. It hardly needs saying that the great classics of the theatre are not exclusively or even a little bit made by us: we import the arts as much as we do anything else and we should be proud of it. Support Muslim voices, talent artists, hell, support all cultures and all voices – show these men with suits and power that we are more eloquent, moving and effective then they could ever be.

Here then are some prime texts we here at Baz HQ recommend that stand the test of time and are fine reads in protest:

 The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, Bertolt Brecht – The godfather of politically themed, important theatre, this play, coming pretty recently off the interwar period and hot off the heels of WW2 satirises the rise of Hitler in Germany whilst making the darkly comic point of how and when he should have been stopped. Real, scruff ofthe neck theatre.

East Is East, Ayub Khan-Din - Though it lives on as a fantastic British Film, East is East was first a play, and a successful one too at that, showing the normalcy, the truth of what home is to this family settling in East London, and what makes up a British family today. Warm, funny and engaging, a standard of characters and plot that has ensured it lasts.

Taking Sides, Ronald Harwood- The true story of German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler, who aligned himself with Hitler during the war, and the struggle between principles, safety, and art. Starkly honest – a great example of how exposing a truth in art doesn’t need to shame, it can simply explain and reverberate around an audience in understanding.

There’s so much, too many examples to mention: Women’s festivals, the Bechdel Test, plays in response to FGM, theatre companies like Tamasha, Talawa, theatre nights in theatres, studiosm and spaces that seek responses to these current events are growing in size and popularity – who knew? It’s cool to be informed, even cooler to speak up.

Last month, Paisley and pastel colours were in. This month, it’s protest - and my does it suit every single one of you.

See you at the next one, we’ll be the ones with placards, a baby bjorn and a hot thermos of tea. Let’s keep the party going.

Much love.

Baz x

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Rolling Up Your Sleeves and Acting On It

Susan Sarandon takes the mic at a protest.

Susan Sarandon takes the mic at a protest.

First post of Baz 2017 (our year) and bang - an exploratory essay! Okay, it’s not three layered chocolate cake, pass the parcel and party favours, but hold hard a moment. Now’s the time. So, a theory for you: art is the natural predator of fascism. Discuss? Okay. When Donald O’Connor sang Make ‘Em Laugh in the seminal Singin’ in the Rain - he kind of had it dead on. Satire, from Punch to the Private Eye, standup from Bill Hicks to Hannibal Buress grabs hateful types by the scruffs of their necks, holds a mirror up to their laughable beliefs  and says, ‘Look: I don’t even need to do my job’ - as we go to the theatre and see The Producers and Springtime For Hitler, as we put in a DVD of Chaplin’s The Dictator, and  as we click on entertainment sites to see clips of Alec Baldwin as Trump on Saturday Night Live, art proves it has teeth, a lipstick smile and diamonds to match.

All art, really is a response to the time it’s written in. Even if it’s written in a future, a past, in science fiction - ours is to imagine, but the best futures, the best stories come from real stories. The best drama is real drama. Brechtian theatre is the best example of currently using current affairs, of literally taking the action dictators made and dramatising it, speaking clearly to audiences and encouraging them to be educated, to act. There’s a great imagination in writing - but sometimes the truth is the most dramatic, most real and most scary. Parables have been the foundations of our society, how we behave - whether it’s holy books, myths, legends - values, ideals, aspirations have been subtly drip fed into our imaginations from a young age. That’s mainly why despots usually don’t have a wide vocabulary. All this could have been avoided if they just paid better attention in class.

Later this month A Very Uncool thing is going to happen in the United States. But we here at Baz take faith - in art, and weirdly, artists. Historically, British theatre talent has been no stranger to picket lines: Vanessa Redgrave, Glenda Jackson, and more recently, the likes of Michael Sheen and Samuel West have stood in the cold in solidarity using that duality of populism, the fact you recognise them to get you to realise they care about a better deal for you and your family, and a better society for your kids to grow up in. As you do. In the USA, for decades, as acting dynasties came and went, it seemed it was only Jane Fonda stubbornly upholding this value - enter Meryl Streep, stage right at the Golden Globes, 2017. In an age where awards shows are about self-congratulation, under-representation, what dress you are wearing, and infamously, Oscar goody bags containing amongst other things, a Vagina Rejuvinator (really) you get played off right in the middle of thanking your agent. Usually. Instead, Meryl said what we were all thinking in a shocking moment of un-glitzy lucidity. We attach it here for posterity.

Well. That’s kind of the end of the discussion, right? To borrow from her speech, Bravery inspires Bravery. There’s talk of top events producers in the US launching their own Freedom Concert on the day of the Inauguration- live music, comedy from your favourite A-List artists signed up on a ridiculous lineup on a rival channel - and they are encouraging you to watch that live channel all day to make Trump’s inauguration the least-viewed swearing in, ever. This is what we mean by art as a predator to the right wing. Meryl knows as much as the star of your local community theatre starring at your local church hall that art can only come from a place of unity - the crew, your fellow cast, your writer, director - no one role can be carried out alone. In a way, it’s the most Utopian workplace that can be imagined. Meryl knows the importance of an audience, of working together, and encouraging each other. With more artists breaking character and speaking out more than ever, taking roles as characters, and platforms as actors  that directly contradict a terrifying new status quo there may just  be a way out of this. That, for us, is what art is based on - having put on productions, ran workshops in rehearsal rooms, class rooms and meeting rooms, meeting new people for different walks of life, with different views, different stories, learning about  he specific threats to the futures they face, the skills of performance and creating art can’t not help but bring people together, eradicate that fear, and fight back. Our manifesto has always stated that we want to make challenging theatre, and tackle the bad habits we have fallen into. So, our conclusion: we’ve done it before: with satire, humour, performance, music, dance - and we can do it again. That’s a great message to start 2017 on.

 

Roll up your sleeves everyone. We have work to do.

 

 

Love,

 

Baz xx

 

 

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Baz Productions here, signing off on 2016 –

Us too, kitty. Us too.

Us too, kitty. Us too.

As you may have heard, (or rather seen – you can’t hear an email…yet, remember that thought, 2016) we explained just what Baz had achieved this year in our most recent newsletter: from rehearsals to shows, workshops to Teach First sessions, 2016 felt like a really bumper year for the Baz Team. But really, we couldn’t have done it without you – our loyal Bazzers so glasses of sherry/cava/whiskey/Schloer up to you all, and let’s all toast with shortbread and compare flavours (if you don’t like the ones with strawberry in, we can’t talk)

So as a final post for the year, we’ll end as we mean to go on, with a spotlight – remember those? – posts we’ve gladly given over to the memory and inspiration brought about from our personal favourites – from Amy Winehouse to Ziggy Stardust, we tried to give an insight into our internal mood board: what wide range of disciplines inspired us, from dance, to photography,to music and to outstanding individuals. So what better way to wrap up the year, than for the company that brought you dreamplay, described by some as: ‘beautiful and bonkers, ‘free’ and ‘forcefully proficient’ (incidently, a pretty on the nose description of us after a few glasses of red) we thought we’d treat you to an Alternative Baz Christmas, full of tips, tricks and reccomendations worthy of the closing of a year that has us immersing ourselves in our own subconscious, Strindberg’s , Freud’s – the cast’s and those of the characters we made up. Pray for us.

Soundtrack:

The holiday season brings with it many things – the chance to catch up with family, get cosy by the fire with a loved one, all with good food and wine to keep you in that dozy, well-fed stupor of happiness….riiiight up to the point Noddy Holder shouts “IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAASS” directly into your lughole ruining your cosy eqilibrium/carving the turkey/or a meeting under the mistletoe. We’re sorry to demonise him like this, but honestly, we’d give anything to keep that roar from our door, so here’s a selection of alternative Christmas tracks:

Bobby Darin; basically anything by him. Even if it’s not Christmassy – hell if anyone canmake murder sound merry it’s him in ‘Mack The Knife’ – let his warm and full bodied voice accompany your post Christmas lunch sit down.

Nina Simone: Her entire discography is a feast of good music, passion, and sheer force of her will – a brilliant and important musician – and her debut album ‘Little Girl Blue’ is an absolute must. Though there is no mention of Christmas or the holiday season at all – this collection that includes the classic ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ ,the title track ending on an unexpected riff on a holiday Carol and it’s autumnal cover of a wrapped up Simone sitting on a park bench in frosty Central Park, another treat for your ears.

Funny Songs: Ben Folds is a serious musician guys….he really is – and it is proved by his foray into the festive Christmas spirit and his very NSFW offering of‘Bizarre Christmas Incident’ (we did warn you…it pops up on BBC 6 music a LOT, surprisingly) as well as this gem from one of our favourite comedies, Community where Childish Gambino himself raps about a Jehovah’s witness Christmas. 

Plaintive Christmas: If there’s no breaking your sour mood as we transition from the, frankly pile of poo 2016 was into the suspiciously-smelling-of-manure 2017, wallow with style as Chilly Gonzales (another of our faves and musical genius) provides ‘A Minor Christmas Medley’ where the simple act of transposing a key down to minor makes a startling difference to your favourite sing a long classics, making them oddly beautiful and haunting.  And finally, if you just want calm and serenity after aching muscles carrying shopping down he assault course of the high street, let George Winston’s instrumental album ‘December’ ease your shoulders back down from your ears.

Suitably relaxed, you’ll now want some entertainment and Baz has some thoughts there too…

Doctor Who: I know, I know, disappointingly mainstream but also a massive figure-puller, with regular numbers hitting the high millions, it’s become something of a national tradition. And hey, it’s not every mainstream show that has offered robot santas, time travel and deadly wi-fi is it? Cut us some slack.

Chicken Run: Controversial, we know, to choose the hen coop over Wensleydale and evil penguins, but there’s jut something about it coming on that heralds Christmas. We, however, never get misty eyed when the chickens manage to escape the farm. No, never.

A Fish Called Wanda: An odd choice of Christmas film, we admit, with no mention of Christmas, or of winter even, but if you’re year isn’t instantly saved by Kevin Kline narrowing his eyes and drawling “Oh, you English think you’re soooo superior, don’t you?” Well, we just don’t know you.

The Reith Lectures: The radio gets much maligned at Chistmastime, (especially as here is where Noddy is to be found…) but there’s a wealth of exellent programming, and music from BBC Radio 6 music, arts on BBC Radio three, the list is endless...not to mention the annual Reith lectures, managing every year to get some piece of interesting information past our whiskey and eggnog addled brains. Especially if it's like this, the year when they moved the lecture to the telly: 

Food:

What we’re all here for really isn’t it? The three Cs truly come out to play, Carbs, Chocolate and Carrots – or at least it does when you have a vegetarian Christmas. Oh yes. It can be done. You could cheat and get Quorn equivalents or you could do wintry vegetable salads, lasagna, melanzane parmigiana, flaky pastry olive and mushroom pie, rostie potatoes – the possibilities are endless and at this time of year, a change to give back a little without losing the quality or quantity is a tempting thought. More temptig than another slice of gateau though? We're just not sure. 

Whatever you decide to do over the holidays, be safe, be merry, be free and bonkers like us, and you won’t go far wrong. Happy Holidays you lovely Bazzers – wishing you health and happiness *heart eyes* and here's to 2017 - we've got a good feeling about this. 

 

yep.   

yep.

 

Love,

Baz xx

 

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2016 Was Amazing (Theatrically Speaking)

How you all doing? We don’t know a lot, other than it’s cold, there’s sugary seasonal drinks on offer, it’s getting darker earlier, and the lights are getting fancier. It must be coming up to that famous end of year festival. So we’d like to take this opportunity to take a break from internet deals and figuring out which socket will take the fairy lights to concentrate on the end of year part and take a trip down memory lane to some of our most favourite theatre trends/moments of 2016 (excluding our dreamplay at the Vaults, obvs. We think about that a lot.)

So, it may not have been a great year for anything (read: everything else) in the world but theatre had a pretty good year off it. There was good news for women, diversity and theatre finding an accessible, no-holds barred voice in the face of threats to the arts and culture itself. When threatened, the creature that is theatre spreads more seeds of genius further and wider. Hell, even hateful not-too-distant-future Republican Vice Presidents knew Hamilton was ‘a thing’ – and once again the theatre community showed its worth by coming together and presenting him with a fair address – all while dressed as founding fathers. Proof if ever needed The Arts is that group of cool people at the bar that you really want to be friends with.

But it’s been a great year for Shakespeare, a bumper 400th birthday – a Lear around every corner, a Macbeth here, a trilogy there – but most importantly, Britain seems to have conspired to serve Shakespeare with a twist of lemon – Forced Entertainment’s Tabletop Shakespeare adding lemon, ketchup, gin, bleach: basically anything that’s to hand for their impressive and somehow endearing Shakespeare retellings. With Emma Rice’s landmark appointment to artistic director of the Globe, we enjoyed beautiful, lush imaginings of his worlds, right through to Ray Fearon’s Macbeth, and the regular inclusion of amazing actors with disabilities in her casts, it’s been a real rejuvenation of that space, and we can’t wait to see what she’ll be up to next.

Josie Rourke at the Donmar, presented along with Baz Patron Harriet Walter an absolute belter of a trilogy this year –sure you’ve seen Harry Hotspur and Kate quarrel about his disloyalty to the king, but have you seen it set in a English Women’s prison?  - be prepared for that particular context to make the most sense ever. A stunning production. Of course, currently Glenda Jackson is shaking the windows at the Old Vic as Queen Lear – and RSC productions, including Cymbeline at the Barbican displaying more diversity and talent than ever.

It’s also been a good year for nostalgia with an interesting slant – sure you’ve seen Groundhog Day millions of times, but have you seen it set to music and a tap shuffle? Read all the Harry Potter books? Well here it is, live as you live and breathe with apparently amazing stage effects. Think you read all of Samuel Beckett’s work? Wait, we found another one. In an age where all art, be it paint, sculpture, tv, film, or music is having to work harder and harder to keep our waning attention spans, this year’s theatre has shown there’s life in the old girl yet. She may well outlive us all.

Really, there was just too much to mention here: some amazing standout performances by folk you knew but didn’t know could do that, to folk you didn’t know but now know of because they are so good at that – whew, that was a coffee fuelled thought- 2016 could have easily pulled us all under (and had more than enough real drama in it to fill eight volumes of a tragic opus) but a mix of nostalgia, fun, inclusivity and risk-taking made it, in our opinion, a bumper year for culture and the arts. Of course, there is always more work to be done, more outreach and representation, but with the way things are going, that faint glow of optimism, all but put out by the crap the year has put us through is starting to spark. From remembering Bowie in Lazarus to Amadeus at the National, the theatre is still appointment viewing. In the words of London mayor, London is Open: and our stages and audiences reflected it.

Obviously for us, it was a fantastic year for our run of dreamplay at the Vaults, our education programme, outreach, and flying the flag for site-specific theatre. We can always go further though, and Baz is ready for the new year! C’mon then 2017, if you think you’re hard enough.

*delicately sips eggnog* dammit, Christmas, surprise attack.

Big love and high fives,

Baz xx

 

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Voices In Likely Places (You Can't Ignore Them Forever)

 

The above image taken at our Young Director's workshop - the brilliant Liz set the task of asking them to write their thoughts on post its and stick them to pages posing different questions about the production. We got a very colourful theatre floor going on. You just can't see it cos it's in black and white. 

Good morning Bazerinas, we hope this blog finds you well – we certainly are, still wondering if dream play was some wonderful dream that still gives us butterflies. Ah. Don’t expect us to not be mushy for a while yet! But at the same time, the gooey centre that is Baz needs it’s raison d'etre (this talk of chocolate and raisins getting you guys hungry too?)  anyway – it’s proving quite hard to stay positive given current news and politics news – but it’s uncertain, worrying and austere times that art has proven its mettle and proved its here to stay.

It’s so hard to believe that austerity has been around for six years – kids, there was such a thing as money put aside from the arts, and people not meddling in culture ! That’s why we need young voices and talent more than ever and Baz is dedicated to nurturing and providing tools in order to contribute to the health of the arts for the future – Baz Education is just there above on the right and we’ll wait right here for you to check it out and then come back.

Okay?

Good, isn’t it? Okay, it’s brilliant and it’s fine if you haven’t gone, you can do it later but in essence, Baz’s aims and manifesto in our theatre and programming have helped shape our teaching programmes – using the tools we use in rehearsal and performance – from verse and approaching scenes to devising. For key stages 2,3 and 4 these kinds of skills are so useful for not only studies but also vocabulary, wider knowledge but most importantly, personal confidence.  We also tailor our workshops to suit different institutions and levels of study. Cos we’re passionate like that.

During our dream play run at the Vaults, we reached out to young directors, offering them a ticket inclusive with a Q&A with two kind members of the cast, and our director/writer extraordinaire, Sarah – it was led epicly by one of our trainee directors Liz and was such an eye opener to how young people think about theatre: as well as their furtile imaginations and keenness to talk and interact with the production itself through directing exercises, brainstorms and Q&A sessions. That alone was enough to convince us that there is interest, passion and more importantly talent out there we need to nurture more than ever. We also recently visited and talked at the BRIT School for further confirmation that faith in young talent is founded - they have the skills and we need to provide the goods.

We’ve also worked closely with those top top people at Teach First – an organisation that truly puts education at the foremost of its ideals – for all ages, all parts of the country, all nationalities – everyone. The tireless work they put in to this inspires Baz, and also provides us with a framework to adapt our workshops to visit all schools, universities and work spaces we can get to- allowing us to tap into our fantastic actor’s network to lead the workshops we have formed in order to get the message out there by professionals with hands on knowledge of the industry they are talking about. We’ve seen for ourselves that drama techniques and training can give students and teachers alike that extra boost of confidence and skill that makes all the difference, especially through our Teacher INSET education packages. To learn more, take a trip to the top of the page under the lovely banner of Baz Education.

And it’s not just us – various theatre companies, even big buildings like the Old Vic are running programmes that use performance spaces and theatre in the day to help you give that presentation, to help your confidence, to help you imagine and understand that monologue you have to analyse. And we here at Baz dig that, and am so pleased to be part of the movement. So ultimately, are we about to break into Witney Houston song, teach them well and let them lead the way? Well yes, actually, that’s a silly question, but aside from that the arts, our cultural output and identity is being cut year on year, less voices are being given the opportunity to be heard and society can’t advance without arts. That’s why we need to nurture young voices and talent – of which there is no shortage in this country – and support the arts! We smell revolution. You with us??

With a friendly roar, we're off to eat some chocolate raisins.

Love, Baz

 

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More Blog Than You Can Shake A Stick At (But That Would Be Weird)

Whoo! Hi Bazzers! Us again, we're back! We hope this blog finds you well, as one can be after a weekend - we're here to keep you all in the loop once more with all things Baz. Cos we're loopy like that. Ah and this is from the vaults (both metaphorical and Waterloo) to bring you some thoughts from our epic Stage manager Libby: Always there with a light/a joke/a cuddle/ a towel from when you get out the bath she ran before every show, pyjama provider, engagement ring arranger and lighting manager. You get a lot in the deal that is Libby the Rock. Much more badass than Dwyane Johnson (though don't tell him we said that)

So anyway, here it is: some brilliant thoughts from our all rounder -at the point just before we got into the space - here Libby reflects on her growing responsibility and inclusion - far from being intimidated, she took on every challenge, and learned there was literally nothing she couldn't do. We literally couldn't have done it without you, Libby. Take it away!

Libby Blog

I trained in Theatre practice at Drama School and have worked in Theatre and live events for over 11 years. I have spent time in a lot of rehearsal rooms and each show is unique, offering a different set of rules to bring about different outcomes. I have worked a lot in music production, events, festivals and circus so coming back to theatre is a really good feeling. Being a part of a creative process again, exploring and finding with a group of people is very exciting. In Baz’s case, the daily structure of the week is outlined by the director, I share that daily with the entire company along with general and specific notes from that day’s rehearsals. Each scene is worked on with high-focus, there are improvisation games, text work, movement sessions. I help record and action this.

When it comes to Theatre for me the most exciting way to work is collaboratively; sitting in the corner of a room all day can take its toll so being made to feel like part of the company, having interesting discussions not just about the play, script or character but life experiences, daily experiences, things that have happened to friends, are all discussions that I am encouraged to be part of. And that is very exciting and liberating. That, to me is my definition of experimental theatre.

I also love what we are working toward, what the performances will be. The structure of the play is being found in rehearsals and a lot of the content that will build the play will be found in performance every night. There are no solid cues, no book (in fact a lot of the time no script), no big changes of set. The play is alive; my task is to help keep it so. I need to be as in tune with the scene, content, theme, understanding, cast and research as anyone else ‘on stage’. And rehearsals are not a time for me to do paperwork but for me to be engaging in the process.  

I’m in my 3rd week with BAZ and I am really enjoying each day. I really enjoy how organised Sarah is, the rehearsal day is clear, structured and really enjoyable. I’m really learning not to be self-conscious, my opinion / thoughts / feelings are often asked for during this process and that’s quite unusual for me to speak up! I really enjoy being involved in a collaborative process and working with BAZ has given me more confidence to (when asked) be actively involved, reading in lines, standing in as an audience member, joining in the warm up and speaking in research / analysing sessions.

Its important not to have any pre conceived thoughts before arriving into a process like this. Before I arrived I read the play and drew up the usual paperwork pre rehearsals, props list, character and scene breakdowns etc. But once rehearsal began I soon realised I will need to be open to the process and not confined with paperwork or tradition methods of working. This is something I teach often when I work back at my old drama school so it is really good practice for me to be doing it live! The structured paperwork I originally made I have shed in favour of more free flowing templates that I can fill in. I am very much looking forward to the outcome of this play, I have no idea yet, even at this stage of rehearsals, what the entire outcome will be, there is a real feel of adventure and play. I’m definitely on my toes.

Isn't that exciting? Makes us feel we want to get right back into the process of putting on a show again! What Libby didn't know was that the resulting production would keep her on her toes and her toenails, but she never got down or stressed, and did whatever was right for the cast or production, whatever the task. That's dedication, professionalism and class. It always went like a dream.

Ha. Punny.

We love you Libby! What no, shut up there's something in YOUR eye...

ext week we'll have more thoughts from our company, this time mid-late production from our epic dynamic design duo, Naomi and Josh! You don't want to miss it!

Love,

Baz xx

 

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The Lost Blogs - An Actor Rehearses. Jack's Blog

Hey hey Dreamers! (We refuse to let go of the dream so what!) Just because the run has ended, doesn't mean that dream has too! Oh yes, we still have content coming out of our ears like a Peter Gabriel Aardman music video (long story) so stay tuned. First up, from week two of rehearsal, actor Jack Wilkinson reflects on the new: cast, rules, games, and freedom. Super interesting to read especially now the run is over…sniff. Don't look at us. Allergies. Anyway, a great blog, take it away Jack!

 

“Just say yes…”

Was actor, Colin Hurley’s response to being asked if he was really going to use a Sainsburys shopping bag as a bathtub.

 

I feel that comment sums up the feel of the room so far in rehearsals for ‘dreamplay’. It’s week two and the atmosphere is just as open and playful as the first – sometimes in a rehearsal processes there comes a point where people want to start to nail things down, even have the answers given to them, but this is a play very much made up of questions rather than answers. What is it to love, to hurt? What is it to dream? And to try and discover these things, I think it’s about creating the right atmosphere in a rehearsal room, one that’s safe for people to “…Say yes.” To be able to try things out and not be afraid to fail.

With dreamplay, we often have all the actors in the rehearsal space at all times, and sure, even though sometimes it may be good to shoot off into a green room, have a brew and learn some lines/check facebook, there is a sense that you’re all building a play together, as an ensemble – watching each other work, adding ideas, picking scenes apart as a company and getting to know the play as a whole not just individual parts. We have an actor who has a clowning piece in the play and instead of being a personal endeavor all of us over the past few weeks have been playing and developing individual clowns.

One of the actors said to me the other day – “It’s like being back at drama school”. I wondered if that felt regressive, but then I’ve never been as brave in my career as I was back then. It is like being back at drama school: large voice and body warm ups, dancing, clowning, large improvisations – and the ability to watch fellow cast members work and be able to learn. It’s one of the things many great performers talk about, that we should never stop learning, but sometimes it’s easy to fall into a place where you feel the need to succeed, impress and ‘get it right’ – a lovely director once told me, “Acting is a very simple thing, made complicated”.

It’s amazing what happens when you’re in a room full of people that are open enough to express how they felt during an exercise or scene. “I felt I was maybe not being as open as could” – “I was probably too polite...” the whole room becomes braver and when somebody makes a discovery, it’s doesn’t panic the rest of the room into believing that they’re behind in their work – but acts as a bar being set, a challenge, something that galvanizes everyone to create.

When I took this project on, somebody said it was maybe too experimental for them – but I think all theatre should be an experiment, a place to explore. And it is a joy to share with the audience. Why do these characters do what they do? What is it like to be human? A question I think we can all have a little say in… and one I’m very much looking forward to trying to answer with audiences at the Vaults.

How about that - even in week two, no shying away from the difficult stuff. And no hint of a Killers lyric in sight (are we dancer? What?) more the first bit: are we human?

We went some way to trying to show that in every light we could. To err is to be human.

To quote is to blog. 

Love you Bazzers, thanks so much on making this run the best yet, your support, your reactions and your donations. You all rock harder than Axel Rose on a Tuesday (we presume he rocks then, may be untrue, but you get the jist!) 

Baz x

/This blog was featured on Reviews Hub.com in Sept 16, and wrongly credited. The words are credited to Jack Wilkinson and should read as above.

 

 

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Dream Commencing...

Bazzers! We have officially begun the lucid state that is our run of dream play at the Vaults  - and we are so so excited (and no, not in the unfortunate way you can sometimes be in a dream state. Steady.) to finally share it with our audiences - it's a massive joy for us and the cast to enjoy such an interesting and unique relationship with theatregoers - taking it out of the traditional spaces, and the traditional stories.

It's close to what Strindberg was attempting in 1901 when he wrote A Dream Play for his Intimate Theatre in Sweden - he was a revolutionary in text and performance, even then, in turn of the century spaces. In using his text as a template, updating it and giving it shape, we have consciously taken the stabilisers off what a play can be - there are props, locations, sets, costume - it's still what you would recognise, but we're keen for you to earn your dinner and fully get on board with us. That, to us, is a fully immersive, experimental and thoughtful, impossible thing. Much like a dream.

Dreams make a sense that is illusive - time moves differently, space and truths we accept in the daytime, rules even, no longer apply. Repressed thoughts, memories and desires are unleashed, nostalgia, happiness, sadness, loss, lust and just life run riot. And this is Baz's paddling pool. Through the imagination, bravery and boldness of our amazing director Sarah, our cast of Colin, Michelle, Jade, Jack, Laura and George (Laura's cello) our amazing fearless and dynamic designers Naomi and Josh, producers extraordinare Liz and George and our initial holy trio of Catherine, Sarah and Emma who dreamt it up in the first place- we have created form and chaos, physical sets and imagined ones, a fourth wall and no walls. We ask you to leave expectation at the door - in our original manifesto, we professed to create event theatre that is 'alive and limitless'.

dreamplay feels like a love letter to that. And to August, obviously. And his patented 'hypnotising gaze'. Though maybe not. It's pretty intense, guys.

We look forward to have you dream with us!

With love,

Baz x

book in here: http://www.thevaults.london/dream-play

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Flashback Thursday! One of Our excellent Trainee Director's Opens up about the early process...

Good Morning Bazzers!

Do we have a treat for you or what - our first Trainee Director of the project has written us a blog,  postcard from rehearsals all the way back in week one - it's a fascinating read during a week of final rehearsals: to understand and reconnect with the nucleus of the piece, what's changed and what's stayed the same. Thank you Stephen! And we're looking forward to a different experience every night too...

Full of expectation I arrived at the Vatican rehearsal studio for day one of rehearsals for ‘Dreamplay’. “We’ll probably spend the morning sat around a big table, reading the script, drinking coffee and discussing the themes of the play. Bit of uniting, a few games, definitely ‘Zip, Zap, Boing’”. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Following a brief introduction, Sarah led a warm up which involved the company moving around the room, engaging with the space. The warm up was followed by a series of improvisations directly linked to scenes in the play. Exploring the themes and nature of each of them, then discussing how it made us feel, both those taking part in the exercises and those watching.

The rest of the week continued to play out this way, so that by Friday we had looked at every scene. I really enjoyed being involved and seeing this process take shape. It felt like the company had a stronger understanding of each scene, their characters and the play as a whole; a group of fearless, daring performers who took on each challenge with pure enthusiasm and inspiring confidence.

As a trainee director, I assumed that I would spend a lot of the week just watching and observing the process, but instead felt very involved, contributing to discussions and exercises. I even had the opportunity to lead a morning warm up.

It was great observing the work that the company did with movement director Fionn. Seeing them completely let go and use their bodies to translate characters and situations, the physicality of the Clown and the Dancing Girls whilst owning their material and being in the moment. Something that all artists aspire to achieve, but do not always having the space and time to practice and explore.

By the end of the week I could see that all of my expectations were well and truly wrong and I’m so glad they were. I had learned a great deal from Sarah and the company. Even having taken over some stage management tasks, I felt that I had a better understanding of what everyone does. Having worked as an actor for several years and have directed a number of plays myself, this opportunity was a wonderful way to experience work from the other side and observe the many ways and approaches towards text, characters, scenes and production.

I really look forward to seeing the finished piece, well considering a lot will be improvised, a finished piece.

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Signals from the Blog-as-phere...

Ahoy! We are fully on the good ship Baz's dreamplay, and already nearing the end of the penultimate week of rehearsals! This is both bonkers and exciting, Bazzers. As ever we are loving exploring, playing and improvising our way through Strindberg's landscape, armed to the teeth with excellent acting talent at every turn, and with Sarah Bedi in the captain's hat/director's chair - the job is a good 'un. Seriously, guys. We've seen some of it. Dreamy stuff. 

In honour of this excellent  and immersive process, the arts review site Reviews Hub asked our director for her thoughts and 'rules' of engagement in the rehearsal space. Ask and ye shall receive some great comments and soundbites and witticisms that make us feel all grown up and knowledgeable, which we totally are. Got a badge and everything. Anyway, read on for some knowledge, some reflections and some thoughts. Well done, Cap'n!

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In the first of a regular series taking us behind the rehearsal room door, writer and director Sarah Bedi shares her thoughts on creating the complex world of dreamplay, opening in September at The Vaults in London.

Day two of rehearsals for dreamplay. Day two of playing, experimenting and feeling our way towards a complex dream-world that already feels endlessly surprising and unnerving. It’s early days yet and already some ‘rules of play’ are emerging from the room. We’ll keep adding to these as rehearsals progress until finally, we have a complete set of guidelines … but for now this is where we are at:

Rule #1: The parameters of our dreamplay are the same as those set out by Strindberg in 1907 in the preface to his A Dream Play:

“The characters split, double, multiply, evaporate, condense, dissolve and merge. But one consciousness rules them all: the dreamer’s; for him there are no secrets, no inconsistencies, no scruples and no laws. He does not judge or acquit, he merely relates; and because a dream is usually painful rather than pleasant, a tone of melancholy and compassion for all living creatures permeates the rambling narrative.”

Rule #2: The audience is the dreamer. We are in their subconscious. In a dream every person you meet is part of you; they must be as there is only your subconscious. Therefore every character our audience meets is also themselves, we are all part of the same consciousness. As the audience is the dreamer, it is to them the adventure happens.

Rule #3: There is a transaction with the character Daughter/Agnes: we become her and she becomes us.Daughter/Agnes/Audience goes on a quest to find out why humans suffer. We encounter suffering in various guises. Fear. Shame. Rejection. Loss. Anxiety. It’s everywhere, and it repeats. Endlessly. Perhaps this is human existence.

Rule #4: Everything in the space is live. Everything is physical. Nothing is ‘pre-made’ and therefore nothing is ‘pre-decided’ or ‘pre-determined’. Where possible, lighting is made through practicals operated by performers. Actors change characters in front of us, and we don’t rely on theatrical ‘tricks’. The magic is a different sort of magic that happens in front of us and with us. It’s open and generous and present.

Rule #5: In a dream anything can happen. This is not a get out clause. In the seeming chaos, there needs to be order – even if it’s order of a different kind. Dreams are made up of feelings, thoughts and the fragments of everyday waking life. There is still a structure of sorts: perhaps a spongy, bendy, illogical sort of structure, but it’s still a structure.

Rule #6: A dream is open to interpretation: there is no single ‘true’ reading of a dream. dreamplay is equally open to interpretation: there is no single ‘true’ reading of dreamplay. This is a show that isexperienced through the body as much as it is through the mind. It is not an intellectual experience, nor is it didactic. We aim to give the audience a bunch of dots and leave them free to join them however they want. Some will guess at our intentions, others will create their own story/meaning. Both are valid and right.

dreamplay runs at The Vaults, London 10 September to 1 October 2016

Read it online here: http://www.thereviewshub.com/production-diary-sarah-bedi-on-rules-of-engagement-for-dreamplay/

 

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The French Discotheque and You (have more in common than you think)

Like most of you Bazzers, we here at Baz HQ are dismayed and a bit broken by Britain’s decision regarding the EU. Still. Apart from anything the cross-pollenisation of cultures, works, and talent from all over Europe will be sorely missed. From all other angles, political, economical or just purely human, a massive loss. But. We are sure you have had enough dissection and debate to last a lifetime, so here, let’s celebrate some of the best movers and shakers of our neighboring nations instead. Movement and dance are very important to Baz – keen as we are to provide experimental and challenging theatre, this does not limit itself to purely dialogue. Not by a long shot!

Like you, we were not expecting, on a soggy Friday evening to be transported by one performance on the Graham Norton Show. Enter Christine and The Queens  - your new jam, and no excuses. You’re putting this on your toast every morning from now on. Unrepentantly French, incredibly catchy, electronic dance, yes yes – but the dancing was like a play. There was a dialogue to her movements with her four male dancers, and clad in the exact same outfit, a uniform, even – this was a genderless presentation of what a music, art and theatre could be, all together. Post performance interview, she praised her choreographer responsible for “that great genderless energy” and her dancers for making her apparently no less awkward, in fact “I’m still awkward, but now with style” Us too, Christine, us too.

Such a synapse-firing performance got us thinking here at Baz HQ about movement and how important it is to Baz. Conversations without words, mirroring action, that strange other level of intimacy brought about by choreographed movement comes down to much more than arriving in the correct spot to catch your dance partner. Trusting your scene partner with a performance, with lines, is one thing, trusting them with your body is quite another and that’s what makes it so fascinating and vital to Baz. This piece, showcased in Wim Wenders' excellent tribute/documentary of  Pina's work couldn’t prove the point more:

An absolute hero of dance and a true visionary, her multi-talented, multi-cultural (ha, see how that worked out, almost as if we’re all on one planet and should learn to share hah…that’s the last of it, we promise) company of talented, free, ego-less dancers have placed such trust and faith and loyalty to her vision that it makes us here at Baz choke up a bit. Dance seems to be the perfect companion to the artistic project: as an impossibly cool French collective supporting equally cool French pop, or to showcase the discipline of the thing with Pina, or, as shown in last year’s Tate Modern celebration of Musee De La Danse, dancing among the most important framed works of the 20th century, not as decoration, but an art form in and of itself that has just as much to say.  If not more. And if the image of people from all corners of society and culture coming together under a massive disco ball to dance to music blasted through the speakers any which way you want is not Utopia, we don’t know what is.

Just gone 3:30 on a Tuesday? Feeling a bit self conscious? Sure, but why wait until the christmas party? eff it, let's dance, Jeff! THERE IS A MASSIVE DISCO BALL! 

Just gone 3:30 on a Tuesday? Feeling a bit self conscious? Sure, but why wait until the christmas party? eff it, let's dance, Jeff! THERE IS A MASSIVE DISCO BALL! 

Though our aim here at Baz is to bring something new to you, exciting and experimental – we are mainly seeking to show you the importance of the things we take for granted – bumping into someone into the street and apologizing, for example – dialogue and movement. Means next to nothing on a rainy day in May, but put it on stage it changes – lead them out of the theatre and have them watch it, choreographed on that rainy May day in the street, it changes yet again. Like Music, like dance, like art and like theatre, that division between artist and audience is always blurred. That’s why you might find Baz cast members doing anything from sitting on an audience member’s lap, or pulling them into the performance space to laugh derisively at someone else. Community. Inclusion. What we could do with right now.

We’ve all danced like loons in the club, right (Baz had the distinct pleasure in trying to replicate Christine and the Queens moves in a sweaty bar off Soho at Pride 2016 a few weekends ago) And we’ll never dance like these amazing so-and-sos that make up  the companies like the Michael Clark Company and DV8 who can recreate that free, sweaty and stuffy experience with style and realism, like actors onstage - the real experience, replicated. Like a good photograph, like a classic painting, like good writing, dance is vital and dancers capture that moment too, in the purest way. Plus those dancers move it most probably better than Baz can ever do and with a lot more style.


But as Christine says. Awkward, but with style.

 

We heart you, dance.

 

Happy dancing days!

 

Love, Baz x

 

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Signals: A Baz Blog on Good Things in the Theatre

Rakish Charm...Gwyneth Paltrow showing that all you need is a cod-piece, a false beard, firm handshake and you've made it. You're an actor in Shakey times! Shakespeare In Love, 1999

Hi there Baztecs! (too weird? Sorry.) I know right? Two Blog posts in a week! Well, it’s only because we love you all so much – and like the ‘fun aunt’ we’ll keep going with the treats until there is an Augustus Gloop type situation. We are looking forward to that. Anyway, we here at Baz like to chat and share what we are up to, and how we respond to modern British theatre: what it encourages and what it lacks, and thought this Baz Blog should be shining a light on positive signals and flares coming from the theatre world – and things that get Baz excited and pleased to be part of the landscape. Bullet points ahoy!  

 

 

  • The Tate Modern gets its first-ever-in-the-history-of ever female director in Francis Morris  http://www.a-n.co.uk/news/new-director-of-tate-modern-announced (Baz heard this name on the radio and assumed it was another male appointment and then nearly spat tea everywhere) Fantastic to have a woman running a big building in central London, looking forward for visiting + inspirations very soon.

 

 

  • A forever shout out to the all round good folk/fiercely talented/ dedicated/ samaritans/warroriors at Act For Change working to banish theatre inequality based on gender, race, sexuality, and disability are a treasure trove of sources of material, wonderful events and talks and the latest news: http://www.act-for-change.com

 

  • And another shoutout to the fantastic work that the fantastic people at Sphinx Theatre  produce, with regular groundbreaking shows, talks and salons on tackling how 52% of the population speak for such a small number of voices in the arts http://www.sphinxtheatre.co.uk and also to Talawa Theatre Company with vibrant, important work and opportunites  always reaching out to the BAME community, and with an wonderful version of King Lear in Birmingham and a smash with Theresa Ikoko’s Girls, it has remained a touchstone of emerging talent and new writing:  http://www.talawa.com/about/ and the same can certainly be said of Tamasha Theatre http://www.tamasha.org.uk who continue to offer wonderful opportunities for new writers and work about the multiculturalism of Britain today.

 

 

  • How could we ignore the momentous occasion that is an female Henry V about to open at the Open Air Theatre in honour of Shakespeare 400 and bound to be every bit of a chest-bump as the original as well as a pleasing reversal of the Shakespearian male: female ratio. 
    https://openairtheatre.com/production/henry-v

 

  • And finally, Bechdel Theatre's awesome work and aims are surpassed by their new venture of recommending Bechdel-passing theatre, setting a date, visiting in a group then discussing it afterwards with the actors, writers and directors. Like some kind of awesome book club but with moving people – the next one in in July: https://bechdeltheatre.com/bechdel-theatre-festival/

 

There. That should sort of set you up, for forever. No need to thank us (there’s no expectation, really, so bin that box of chocolates idea...really) just do so by getting out there and experiencing the art, the culture and the something a little bit off the main path. Then talk about it, gesticulating wildly with red wine in hand. Everyone’s a winner. Just remember white wine doesn’t get red wine out of cotton. That’s a myth.

Just a tip.

Happy theatre-ing! You lucky so-and-sos.

Baz x

 

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Spotlight 3: An Ode to an Afternoon at the Southbank Centre

Alternative title: Lament on the sofa seat with the Thames View that got Away...old microphone, sparkly dress and everything. Ahem. 

That elusive Sea View...

That elusive Sea View...

Hello Bazzers!

We hope you’re having a great May so far – long May it continue...(alright, we’ll stick to the day job) and welcome once again to another Spotlight!  Typically Baz has done this in deference to a person that has inspired Baz either in their body of work, beliefs or some of both, paying tribute and most recently our respects (seriously what is up with 2016?) to people we have lost and have inspired our approaches, aims and methods. This month however, we want to doff our cap to that most 1950s Brutalist multi-levelled masterpiece: the Southbank Centre.

That would have been a really weird build-up to a person like Parkinson, wouldn’t it?
 

No we definitely mean it: the Southbank Centre, formally known as The Royal Festival Hall, first opened in 1951, it has recently undergone massive changes that solidify it as a totally happening place to get lost in with your laptop in tow looking desperately for a spot that has a good view of the river, near a coffee bar and a loo. Most often, you’re disappointed in your weirdly specific search and end up finding a corner of the Centre that you never knew existed and swear to keep secret the location until you hit the grave (a bit melodramatic, but you get where we’re going with this)  - it’s ripe for creative endeavours, both personal, and professional, as there is literally something going on every turn you take: from a Jazz festival, free yoga sessions and most memorably, a ballroom dancing convention complete with mirrorball.
 

With all this going on, it’s easy to forget that this is a thriving professional arts venue, home to world-renowned orchestras like the LSO, and currently, the amazing Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the London Philharmonic Orchestra to name a few – but there is also a massive emphasis on important festivals and debates: the annual Women of the World (WOW Festival) takes place here every year with so many great key speakers and debates it makes eating, going to the loo, or any other human activity hard to complete for fear of missing a thing. It’s also a hub for culture and multi-cultural sources (and sauces), with festivals of, art, food and photography from stunning places all over the world.
 

But aside from all of this, this is a Baz-approved fave spot for the atmosphere, creative and community feel this venue offers. That and the free wi-fi and comfy sofas. For all us Baz-istas to get together is a real feat in and of itself, and the Southbank Centre/Royal Festival Hall/Sacred Meet-y Place is just that – comfortable, cultural, London’s Common Shared Space. Many a wonderful BazPlan (copyright it.) has been born here, and seen through to it’s final stages, making it as such our rather oversized, public, and loud living room.  It has catacombs too, little offshoots that feature everything to further comedy and music performances and premieres, or where Baz is sitting right now, in the Poetry Library, surrounded by Plath, Sexton and Larkin – not bad work partners, whispering to us from different corners of the floor to ceiling shelves. It’s just possible to hear the delighted shrieks of the children on the terrace playing in the fountain below. 

Sixties Solace in Poetry (Poetry Library, Level 4 Southbank Centre, May '16)

Sixties Solace in Poetry (Poetry Library, Level 4 Southbank Centre, May '16)

Bewitching, Beguilling, Be Seated, Be Sated and Be Ambitious and do as Baz does at the Southbank Festival Hall (should totally change it to this by the way) You won’t regret it. Kisses, Royal SouthFestival Hall Centre, we owe you. (but the wi-fi is free, right? just checking)


Love, Baz x

 

 

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