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Baz Vibes - Five O'The Best

What's the betting that deckchair on the right is going to order that deckchair on the left go get the ice creams and 'stop being a whiny cow' - Bank holidays, huh

What's the betting that deckchair on the right is going to order that deckchair on the left go get the ice creams and 'stop being a whiny cow' - Bank holidays, huh

Hey Bazzers! Us here again, fresh-faced and sun kissed (ok, slightly sunburned) from that scorcher of a Bank Hol Weekend - and as the longer days encourage shorter sleeves, brightly coloured drinks and the fact that your mum says you can play out later, we thought with all the nonsense happening in the world currently, why not keep it positive with some of our Favourite Things we here at Team Baz have appreciated recently. So without further ado -five of our most favourite things we are digging this month. Lift up the red curtain! (well, not really, there isn't one, but work with us here) 

- Our Mates, Doing the Thing: Out BazPals always keep our dance card very full and brimming with excellence- and with fantastic works of music and theatre such as Laura Moody and the Phaedra Ensemble in their piece 'Medium' (link) there is always an embarrassment of riches from Baz collaborators and pals. And from our ADs too - as Sarah Bedi directed a celebration of the Bard with Globe Theatre players in 'Shakespeare Within the Abbey'. That is to say, Westminster. You know, just casually.

Rooftops, Courtyards and Banks: After a weekend such as this - a shock to the average theatre type, used as we are to working in a black box all day and not stepping outside until sundown. (Hang on...are we all vampires? Fully researched, intense blog to follow) This shock to the system has side affects that include- a sudden, uncalled-for abundance of pale skin, day drinking, lounging and generally 60% less theatre than usual. But with courtyards like Somerset House, housing the Courtauld Institute and Gallery and sculpture court (WITH FOUNTAINS), the small deckchair village that multiplies in front of the National Theatre, or various themed bars on painfully cool Hackney roofs, what choice do we have, really? Yeah, yeah no: we're just taking this to work outside.

Vegan Food: Yes, this can be a bit polarising, forgive us: but unusually, we have, in the Baz triumvirate a Vegan Majority (good name for a band) and majority rules, so. The good weather usually brings out good food stalls - but all year round Hackney Vegan Festival, LDN Vegan Nights and lunchtime vegan street stalls are becoming a common sight. Chuffed. But if you get bored of lettuce, word to the wise: Temple of Seitan do devilishly good Vegan Fast Food. Thank us later.

The Prominently Female Jury at Cannes This Year: Women and film have had a turbulent relationship since time immemorial - but really rocky recent times has not made it a friend to women. This year's jury at Cannes - where, a few years earlier, women weren't allowed into screenings wearing flat shoes -is made up of Cate Blanchett, Ava DuVernay, Lea Seydeux, Khadja Nin and Kristen Stewart. Oh, and a few token men. And it's not even for a female-only category! Progress, thy name is Cannes. Keep it up and maybe film can redeem itself. 

Childish Gambino's Track and Video 'This Is America: Put simply, when art does the thing. Part modern art and music video, this could potentially be installed in the Tate Modern, and featured in your dissertation. Art at its most provoking. 

Special mentions to the upcoming all-female Ocean's Eight film, avant-garde punk choreographer Michael Clark's latest stunning, Bowie-infused offering 'To a Simple Rock n Roll...song' is on iPlayer, starlet Zendaya turning up to the Met Gala and embracing the theme of Catholic imagination dressed as the most fashionable Joan of Arc we've ever seen, but most importantly -  Graeae Theatre Company's Sensibilty Festival in Birmingham coming up later this month, 18-20th May featuring work from D/deaf, blind and disabled artists - more info on their twitter @graeae

More as we get it, but sorry we have to go - a deckchair was just vacated. You get the ice creams, yeah?

Big love and Best,

Baz x

 

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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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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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