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Location, Location, Location: Promenade's Place

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Car Park - Baz's dreamplay, 2016, Laura Moody being amazing on the Cello

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Car Park - Baz's dreamplay, 2016, Laura Moody being amazing on the Cello

Helloo again Bazzers, on this the eve of summer! Could it possibly be true that we are about to get...warm? The evenings are drawing out and it’s a lovely day to be outside - this is promenade weather - and for the uninitiated we ain’t talking about parasols and lace. No, we of course refer to theatre occurring in pub gardens, on roofs, underground train arches, as we found last summer at The Vaults - truly live, truly unpredictable, and truly vulnerable to plane noise, but hey you can’t have everything. We kid, we love those metal birds, who needs soundscapes? *rolls eyes but we love it* 

One of the main things that Baz’s manifesto set out to achieve from the start was accessible theatre, for all - we have massive respect for London’s rich theatre history and it’s theatres - the old and cherished and the new and bold. The only thing is that these beautiful, gold-embellished venues aren’t meant for throwing around paint in and climbing up curtains - the kind of crazy thing we are wont to do - exhibit A being a half-full bathtub being splashed around in every night at The Vaults, that kind of thing- therefore a lot of high profile theatre events tend to stay in the traditional realm, with lots of revivals. And that’s great- far from underestimating our rich theatre and playwriting history, we honour it, we hope, by moving the action to new and unexpected places.

In 2011, we performed Macbeth in a crypt in Holborn, in 2013 the entire Greek Myth canon in a single room in Shoreditch - for us, it’s about taking away as much as possible and seeing  what we can still work with. Great theatre companies like Punchdrunk take over full warehouses, and almost all of the then abandoned Battersea Arts Centre for their projects, marking, we feel, the first shift we felt in the industry away from seeing promenade, experimental theatre as gimmicky or worse, looked down upon. Our most recent production, a version of Strindberg’s dreamplay at the Vaults in London, moved our audience, from courtyard, to stairwell, theatre, to tunnell and beyond, on a scene by scene basis. The majority of our audiences didn’t bat an eyelid about being moved from space to space, sometimes able to sit, sometimes not - Bazzers unite - but those who were being introduced to us, seemed bemused, occasionally annoyed about the upheaval. For us, theatre is a group activity - it’s not sitting with your feet up and eating popcorn - in essence, we don’t want you to be too comfortable, all the time.
 

Er, take that last statement any way you want. We are experimental, after all and that is what we want you to do.

But what remains is the irksome idea that sitting down in a beautiful dark room that is adorned with cherubs is still the standard - Baz loves that stuff more than anyone else, but that’s partly why we made our manifesto in the first place. We of course don’t want to do a disservice to major theatres doing excellent and ground-breaking work, on and off west end - Lucy McCormick’s devilishly entertaining Triple Threat at the Soho is a definite pick - go forth and see it and then never forget it, really just try- but when a member of the Baz Team got to go to a piano recital just recently: where applause is restricted to between movements, coughing is a killing offense and the line between performer and audience has never been so clear: in status, in skill, in tone in such regimental fashion - makes us seem a bit moany over here in Theatreland. Sort it out, classical music concerts. But in all seriousness what do we, and other experimental theatre companies have to sacrifice in order to court the proscenium arch audiences and break through to the mainstream, you ask? Well thank you for asking, but we counter with maybe that it shouldn’t ever be mainstream-ised (is a word, shut up) and that we belong in the weird crowd - discovered by all you delightful weirdos (or Bazzers in this private circle *raises champagne glass*) as you perhaps tell your friends about this bonkers piece of theatre you saw, or you post it online….and maybe that’s the true future of experimental theatre: it’s not, by its nature, there to to earn a place in the prim and proper books of history - it’s meant to be a live, thrown against the wall, one time only event. Truly utopian in nature - anyone can do it! It can happen any place, any where - it’s groovy like that. Viva abandoned cark parks, real parks, fake parks with astroturf, roofs, underground stations, crypts and night clubs in the daytime, your front room - anywhere we can make theatre together... and let’s all arrange to meet back here to see the panto in December.

What do you know. Maybe there’s room for us all - even if you have to stand a little bit. Look at these people, they're loving it! Cheers!


Love,

Baz x

 

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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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