Sunday, 28 August 2016

Conscious about confidence...

We say involvement in the arts increases confidence so often there’s a danger we take it for granted…but when you consciously witness it happening in front of your eyes it gives you sharp kick of a reminder.

This week I was the drama practitioner on a YTYT/WYTDC Summer School where we started off with 23 children between the ages of 4 – 13 years old, a scene structure and a CD of music and ended up with a performance of Sleeping Beauty where everyone had lines and almost everybody danced…

The process was not smooth – with that recipe it was never going to be but what I became aware of was just how quickly the children absorbed skills, learnt about expectations and grew into the roles they had been allocated.  I saw children who had never danced before start off by being floored by simple choreography but mastering it in a couple of days so instead of watching their feet in fear they just enjoyed the dance.  I saw a shy thoughtful child find the confidence to play the evil fairy with her chin in the air and her arms outstretched and I saw another child who’d never done drama help create the script for his scene and act it our like he’d been acting on stage all his life.  The process of making art creating confidence before our very eyes.  What’s more lots of those children who were dabbling their toe in the performing water for the first time have asked to start making it a part of their weekly lives.

The parents didn’t get to see that gradual development, that was just me and a band of brilliant dance teachers…part of me wishes they had seen the tentative become bold and the struggle become ease.  What they did get to share was the final performance.  It was wonderful to watch the children show their parents what they’d created and what they’d learnt.  Such a sense of pride and achievement and such a reflection of what was a lovely thing to be part of…
The last of the farewell blogs is by Amy...can't believe she's got away with writing so few in her loooonnnnggg YTYT life...

As it turns out, I have been at Yew Tree Youth Theatre for an extremely long time. I have had a good long think and I’m not sure I can actually give you a definite amount of years, but I can promise you there have in fact been a lot of them. I am almost certain I can remember every single Connection’s play since we started (not that I know how many of them there have been, I think I'm going to settle for 13) and I have actually participated in 5 of them. I have been a happy little member of Ruby Company, Sapphire Company, Scarlett Company and Black Company. I've performed in numerous Christmas shows, Miners Memorial Performances, and Summer School plays. I've done various shows at Ossett Town Hall and the Hepworth and many little wonderful and obscure places around Wakefield and the surrounding area. I've loved doing shows that collaborate with dancing which meant I was able to mix two of my favourite worlds together. So I think it would be better say I've been 'in' rather than 'at' because Yew Tree (along with WYTDC) has made up the majority of my life for the last 18 years, and it would be fair to say I couldn’t have been more involved if I tried.

The point of this blog is to try and commemorate my time at Yew Tree because now I'm leaving to move down to London for university, which is crazy really. I don't know what people who don't find them selves rocking up to a space every other week and trying to create a performance venue out of it, do with their time to be honest. How do they not have to get ready for obscure things in ten minutes time and have about 5 things to do in one day? It baffles me hahaha. So within this blog I am trying to pin point things that have made my experience unique. Thus, I think one of the most amazing things I’ve been able to enjoy about Yew Tree is the numerous generations of YT graduates that I've watched go and become incredible and amazing people with such different life paths. These stories are one of the major reasons that I feel both inspired and brave enough to go and do what I'm about to do. So not only does it mean that I know pretty much the population of Wakefield;) I am also so motivated and inspired to go and do exactly what I want to do just like so many of my role models I've seen do before me.

I've made some of the best friends in the whole world here and they’re all pretty mint, as well as being able to stay close to people I thought I'd end up drifting away from. I want to say that I'm a different person because of things I've learnt and skills I've been taught here, but honestly it's just everything I've been so accustomed to, so I'm waiting ready to use everything I know in ‘real life’. I have, however, seen how Yew Tree manages to affect everyone that comes through the doors. I've seen the distance traveled in hundreds of young people and grown ups, truly it's staggering. I have watched people that have become braver, or more accepting, or more creative, or have the ability to build relationships with others or are able to recognise their own amazing qualities or in fact all of the above. All have become better as a result.

Another of the things that I want to say in my last ever (well actually maybe only second ever too but I'm not too great at blogs and they scare me a bit lol but anyway) blog is how much behind the scenes work goes on to make such a smooth ship like Yew Tree sail along. There is so much work, time, effort, foresight (my dad is mint at that) as well as the important creative genius and that's just a small part of it. I think it's very easy just to scoot along in the magicalness of sessions and shows and lines and forget how many things need to get sorted, organised and balanced in order for everyone to have such a wonderful time. I think that's something I can see so well from my position and it's really important to remember.

I can’t write everything down that I want to say because the words won’t go into my head, but this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of my YTYT thoughts and experiences. So I shall just finish up with YTYT is mint and I've loved every second of it, all of the hours and minutes and shows and rehearsals and chilling with such super cool kids and learning from amazing, amazing people. I love squad trips out and I love Kendal lots and I love all the pictures and happy happy times. thank you for providing me with a place to thrive in and grow, I love everyone lots and lots xxx

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Enriched by our legacy...

There were two YTYT events this week – the first Black Company rehearsals for our imminent performance of Remember the Oaks.  It’s a strange rehearsal process this one – due to summer and holidays I am having to weave the pieces of the performance back together a little like a patchwork quilt.  We have new members in the cast and people from the original production that can’t be in it…so there is a certain amount of adaptation involved.  I’m also being able to use the benefit of hindsight and iron out some of the creases of the original staging.  However because of the people involved and the way the play is constructed I have no doubt that the production will be just as magic as it’s premier performance.  A noteworthy delight of the rehearsal was having Ellen back after completing her post-graduate diploma – she’s with us on loan while she waits for her agent to get her some excellent auditions.  I say wait – I have no doubt she will be working hard to create opportunities for herself.  Ellen’s talent and energy have always been plentiful but the development she’s had at Mountview was tangible in her rehearsal technique this week – she was so present in the room, so responsive – such openness…it’s going to be brilliant to have her back even if it’s only for a short time.

And then on Friday there was the annual summer games day – a modestly sized group of YTYTers rocked up to have a full day of gorgeous gamesiness.  This resulted in another visit from an erstwhile youth theatre member - the divine Brittany – who has blogged about the day what it was like to be back.  I am both honoured and joyful about the connection that lasts with YTYT members who have moved on to the next chapter, just as Lottie is about to do.  In the last 2 weeks I’ve had cups of coffee with two more past members and with every meeting and conversation and visit I learn something from these excellent individuals, which then feeds into what I can teach the current member of the youth theatre.  Their experiences and their generosity in sharing them enrich me and YTYT and that is yet another thing to be grateful for…
Hello there and welcome to this blog – for anyone who doesn’t know me I am Brittany Dore, Yew Tree graduate who cannot seem to shake Yew Tree from her system (an undercurrent theme of this blog).  I was asked to write this blog after my most recent return to the Games Day session which, as you can probably guess, was the most fun I’d had for quite a few weeks – which isn’t surprising considering I’d spent the weeks prior in the archives for historical research but moving on…
We began the day with the usual best and worst before jumping into the actual games.  Now if I had a better memory I would tell you what order we played the games and who won each and the like but unfortunately I don’t so here’s a few quick highlights of my favourite moments.  So let’s begin with the fact that the session has a decidedly ‘Olympics’ feel to it – with things such as a ‘make me’ and the two touch scenes being based around the Olympics or other sporting events.  My team made a scene about a rowing competition which is quite ironic considering I ended this day with blisters on my hands in the same places I get them when I actually do row….no one can claim Yew Tree isn’t realistic!  Other highlights for me included the list game which I had never played but quickly became a firm favourite (especially considering I won and was able to do a history final against fellow history student Amy) and what I would call ‘angry games’ such as Aggression and the infamous Ratchet Screwdriver which are good for all that het up energy.  I think my favourite thing about the games day, however, was the feeling that I’d never left.  Whether it was the fact that I was still able to trash talk with the best of them or could jump straight back into creating scene or I was actually able to remember how to play some of the many games we played it was incredible how I felt I just slotted back in with the Yew Tree people and activities. 
This brings me onto the second point of my blog – the ongoing impact of my years at Yew Tree.  When Sarah mentioned to me that I could write about Yew Tree as a whole and if it’s still part of my life I did sit and think about the past two years at university and how it had affected me and it quickly became quite obvious the lasting impact those 2.5(ish) solid years had on me.  It’s obvious to me that it had an impact on my confidence.  Standing in front of a room of fellow second years and some lecturers to present our group research into Nazi Germany teaching techniques was scary, and other members of my group really struggled.  But then I remembered – I’ve stood on a stage in giant gold trousers dancing to Queen’s ‘A Kind of Magic’ – standing in front of a crowd is not unusual to me because of my years as a Yew Tree-er. So I took a deep breath and embodied that girl who could stand on a stage and perform (except I performed a very boring report about geography textbooks in 1940s Germany – I would much rather have been a genie).  The impact is also obvious in the times when I sit in a hall with some friends before we go waterbottling (which is handing out bottles of water to people coming out of the uni nightclub on a Saturday night) and someone suggests we play ‘Moo-Off’ to pass the time until we got outside and everyone is surprised that I win most rounds.  But that’s not unusual to me because I’ve had years of playing the Laughing Game which is essentially the same thing as a ‘Moo-Off’ – even the Yew Tree games have prepared me for University life!  Finally the impact of Yew Tree is obvious to me in the tiny things.  I remember the preparations for the Christmas shows which would often involve Sarah lecturing us about breathing techniques – breathing right into the diaphragm so you can project your voice.  Now I am here to tell you that that breathing technique is actually incredibly useful when out in the middle of reservoir trying to row your little heart out – who would have guessed breathing wouldn’t just help you on stage??

I guess the point I’m trying to make in this rather long blog (sorry) is that you can leave Yew Tree, you can move 100 miles away and only come back at holidays and drop into special sessions, but Yew Tree will never leave you. 
So until the next holidays, it’s been a pleasure!
Brittany xoxo
Lottie's farewell blog...

Attending Yew Tree sessions has been an integral part of my life for quite some time now - minus my brief hiatus last year (but we’ll just pretend that didn’t happen) - so I can confidently say it’s going to be pretty weird without it. For some reason, it always seemed like university and leaving home was in the distant future, one of things that you know is going to happen at some point, but doesn’t seem like it’ll ever actually get here. And now it’s here. And quite honestly, I have no idea how that happened. The past 4 years or so at Yew Tree have been an absolute blur, filled with ridiculous sessions at Sapphire and slightly more serious ones at Black. I have so much to thank YT for, enough to probably write a book, but I’m going to keep this relatively short and sweet.
I think more than anything, I’m grateful that Yew Tree provided me with a place to go to completely escape academic chores; it constantly allowed me to be creative without the confines of a mark scheme that dictated what I could or couldn’t do. I’ll miss playing games and being carefree on a Thursday night, but I’ll also miss the ability to lose myself in a piece of work; to build something from scratch and finally feel that elation and pride at the end of a performance when you know all your hard work has paid off.
Thank you to Sarah for having confidence in my abilities even when I didn’t, for pushing me out of my comfort zone to make me the best I could be (I’d still like to object to being lifted though) and for generally helping me to retain some of my sanity during A Levels. Thanks to all the people I’ve spent the last few years with, I’ve made genuine friends for life and it wouldn’t have been the same without you all.
It turns out London is quite far away so I’m not sure when I’ll make it back next, but I’m also not sure who I’d be without YTYT in my life... So yeah, I’ll definitely see you all soon x

Sunday, 14 August 2016

No Siesta For Us...

Theoretically it should all be quiet at the moment…normal Yew Tree is having a well earned rest but due to one thing and another it turns out that in actual fact the YTYT buzz is still well and truly in evidence.

Our Plays in a Day are proving very popular and this week was no exception. In my absence due to summer schools over the last couple of weeks Alice has been running them brilliantly.  This week, however, I was able to join over twenty children in a tale of princesses, knights and monsters and it was a joy.  I have a bee in my bonnet at the moment about how important it is for theatre practitioners and playmakers to think about the stories they want to tell and why they want to tell them..  This story was created in partnership with the 6 – 11 year olds taking part and the result made me very happy indeed.  Our story told the tale of someone making a mistake – taking responsibility for their actions and the community joining together to fix things.  Of course the children had no idea that they had made something with such a lovely sentiment – they were more concerned with the fact that they could play princesses, knights and monsters all day!  If this is something you are interested in our next and final Play in a Day is on the 1st of September where we are going to invent a story starring Wilma the Witch.

Another insistently excellent buzz is Remember the Oaks – you’d be forgiven for thinking that we were all done and dusted with that at the end of July – but no…turns out there is a part 2.  There is more work to do to make sure this memorial to the miners that lost their lives 150 years ago happens.  On Saturday I, Oz and some exceptionally generous YTYT members joined The Oaks Memorial team on a windy corner of Trinity Walk.  We were showing off the statue to the people of Wakefield and telling them the story of The Oaks disaster in order to raise money for the memorial.  While we were there we finalized plans for a second performance of our play – I am so honoured that those involved in the project valued what we did so much they want it to be performed again.  If you missed it the first time or want to see it again – all the details for our second performance are here!

Finally I am writing, writing, writing…there are so many scripts to complete before September it’s making me dizzy – Emerald’s and Sapphire’s are done – Scarlet’s scene structure is in place which for physical theatre is all I need so just Black, Gold and Jade/Orange to get done – goodness. The silver lining?  Once they are in place September promises to be rather lovely as they are going to be joyous to rehearse.

As you can see there is little evidence of any kind of slow down this summer – no siesta for us…simply because there are too many exciting things for us to consider any sort of a snooze…
Foreword: This will be possibly the cringiest, soppiest and probably longest blog in the existence of blogs, so if you aren’t into that sort of thing then i’m very sorry.

Something i’m sure no one knows about my Yew Tree journey is that it almost didn’t happen, if it wasn’t for the relentless pestering from Katie Ludvigson I most likely wouldn’t have been a yt’er, so thank you Katie.
The first play I did was The History of Theatre performed at the Wakefield Theatre Royal with a cast that is now scattered all over the country doing amazing things and some still in Wakefield preparing to leave or continuing on with their YT journey. Devising the play was possibly one of the weirdest and simultaneously funniest experiences in my life as for my first ever YT session I stood in a box with Jack, Emma and Lucy (a very small box i might add) pretending we were travelling through the.....History of Theatre! Now the average person would leave a session like that thinking maybe i’ll be sick next saturday or all of them, but anyone yt’er past, present or future will tell you that this was a defining moment, allowing a newbie like my old self to realise that there are plenty of other aspiring actors that are extremely imaginative and a little bit weird too.

From then on my love for all things YT only grew, i volunteered for as many extra projects as I could, including my favourite to date: Dickens day at Nostell. On this day I got to dress up as Miss Havisham, wearing my Step-Mum’s old wedding dress in a grand dining room, down the hall from the ghost of christmas past, as well as Fagin and his band of pick-pockets. The extra projects were always so refreshing to do in addition to normal sessions and other extra plays as they were so different and an entirely new experience with a group of yt’ers that

you didn’t necessarily see at your usual session.

I think my favourite play that i’ve ever done with yt was Mugged, a play that had been done years before and was others to edit at the same time.
performed last year as part of the 20 year anniversary of yt. I played Soph, a character different from any i’ve played to date. I strangely thoroughly enjoyed being put out of my comfort zone as far as acting goes, if you ask
tosbourne he’ll let you know much of a struggle and how many practices it took to be able to hold his hand on stage, i blame the man hands from yours truly. The small cast was also so different to the usual 20+ cast size i was used to, it was nice to work closely with the other 5 main characters, we became very close throughout the process, and as much as me and Leah had to battle against the boisterous nature of Sam, Tom, Dec and John together as a group I think the result of the show definitely showed that the cast did amazingly, even though I’m biased, everyone who came to see it had nothing but praise to share, and I
always hoped that we made the actors who did it before us were proud of the show we put on.

Now for the hideously cheesy part (i did warn you). The friends i’ve made at yt are the kind that i will always be friends with, even though we are all going off to uni at various places in the country or staying behind to continue on with yt and school/college, we will never lose touch, i mean it will be impossible with all the group chats and pages and messages ect that we all have. I’m going to make a few shout outs to those who have made my time at yt very special, if you aren’t named it’s not because you didn’t make an impact it’s most likely because i have run out of time writing this, or i’m acutely aware of the fact i’m approaching my third page of this blog (sorry Sarah). Firstly there’s Alice who has literally become somewhat of a little sister to me, i am so proud of all the amazing roles she has played, and how she had blossomed as an actress from her first day at yt to the present, my little short stack is going to be extremely annoyed that i’m leaving her for cobbled streets and historical artifacts that Lincoln has to offer unbeknownst that you can never get rid of me i’m like a bad smell, but not smelly, and i come baring costa and snacks. Up next is SQUAD!!! From connections week of the Hacktivist performance in 2015 the five of us, myself, Dec, Amy, Libby and Hollie have become very close all because one lunch time we were left alone and decided to take more selfies than necessary and plan some legendary gatherings where we sang big spender and embarrassed each other plenty. Then there is the gals who have helped me develop my make up knowledge and always been there to listen to my problems, Grace (my bubba), Ysanne, Helena are not only the MVPs of makeup but they are also absolute goddesses at cheering me up when i’m not feeling 100%. Sam, my OMN partner in crime who doesn’t mind my lack of tone or range, Tom who i’ve literally acted with so many times it’s crazy couldn’t ask for a better oppo though, he has put up with my inability to hold someone’s hand, my lack of consistency and on the whole just me. Thank you Oz for lighting and providing the sound for pretty much every play. Thank you to each and every yt’er, you are all great and very snazzy individuals.

My farewell blog wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to the person who is the reason all of these experiences and friendships are possible, Sarah. I can not thank you enough for everything you have done for me over the past 3-4 years and all the times that you’ve made me believe in myself and made me realise there are things i’m actually good at. Thank you for every role you cast me in, for always knowing what’s best for me and helping me to achieve everything I can, I will well and truly miss yt and everyone there who have made my time there as amazing as it has been.

I want to say one last thank you to everyone for all the opportunities and laughs and the general experience of being apart of something so fantastic, but most of all i want to say thank you to that little box, because without you I wouldn’t have all of these amazing memories to reflect on now. Without that little box i’d just be some girl, with a restricted perception of the world around me, instead i am Georgia, actress, soon-to-be historian, blogger, sound technician (pushing it) and a part of a group who do exactly what they say on the leaflet. We act, we play, we direct, we create, we debate, we inspire (cheeky bit of dramatic license).
So here i am signing out for the last time in a yt blog, Love each and everyone of you,
Georgia xx