Sunday, 9 April 2017

NT Connections 2017 "Three"

As is our yearly tradition, today's blog tells the story of Three our National Connections production from the point of view of the actors - a talented and brilliant group of young people who produced a piece of theatre that genuinely entertained their audience...

John
As the lights went down on our performance of Three, there were many things passing through my mind: predominantly, frustration at the power cut cancelling our show. As the lights went down on our performance of Three for the second time, what went through my mind instead was the gratification of performance I have been chasing since I first started acting, gratitude to Sarah, and to the kind staff of the Crucible and National Theatre, and a desperate need for a kebab and some sleep. I'm glad to have been able to be a part of it all.

Jacob
There’s an old saying that’s a bit of a cliché that says “it’s impossible to describe … in just a paragraph.” Now while I’m not usually one for clichés this one does actually apply to connections. But that doesn’t mean I won’t try my darndest. This was my first time doing connections and to be honest, we couldn’t have been doing a better play. Well at least not one that would accommodate my selfish need for not only laughs but also a play that doesn’t involve too much of me doing hard exercise which is always a bonus. Now that I’ve got myself indulgent twaddle out of the way I may as well talk about the actual experience of connections, and it was by all accounts an amazing experience. It was probably my first taste of putting so many hours into a play and even sacrificing a large chunk of my holiday for it. You may ask “was it all worth it?” and the only answer to that question is a resounding yes, the sheer enjoyment and experience you get from taking part in a nationwide drama event is such that I would give up all of my holidays (maybe not Easter though, chocolate eggs are pretty important). So in conclusion to a pretty haphazard paragraph, connections has been one of the most brilliant experiences I’ve had with Yewtree and with acting in general so if you want to do connections, do it. And if you’re just a casual reader of this blog then take it from me, connections is pretty great.

Eve

So for the past 2 years I have taken part in National Theatre Connections, each time being such a delight, with both plays giving me new ideas and techniques for my acting. This years “Three” by Harriet Braun seems like the typical rom com, but this comes with a twist of inner voices telling the characters inner thoughts! I can say that the script was new for me as not many of the plays I have participated in have been involved with comedy as such so this was both a challenge and a lot of fun. It involves three teenage stories, along with a hilarious narrator which left a lot of the cast in stiches for the majority of rehearsals as well as our audiences at performances. Playing an inner voice myself, it was definitely good to see the thoughts of a character that is completely different to your own personality. I played Lena’s inner voice along with Emily beside me as Lena. What we focused on was Lena’s different personalities from her status at school and her own insecurities in her private life. We discussed that my acting came from Lena’s mind, whereas Emily acted from the heart. Both working together to create the perfect character of Lena. It was good to see the different ways she thought and interacted with other characters, Jamie in particular. What I figured about Lenas inner voice is that her first thoughts are all judgemental, without any sort of kindness of such. As we know from the script that her main priority is her “cool” boyfriend Daz, who appears to not show as much love and care for Lena as she does for him. Although he is never introduced to the script, the audience and actors get the impression of Daz being the typical heart breaker, which is partly why Lena appears to show no interest in Jamie to begin with.

As well as being the voice inside of Lena’s head, what also made it fun was the transitions for props between scenes. We allowed it to be as natural as possible, adding bits of humour as well as contact with the narrator. As this was a new style of piece for me, what also made it different was the prop settings that we got to work with for scenes. This included wine bottles, rugs that were similar to grass and a specially made white fence for my scenes in particular. This for me helped to create a more realistic setting and didn’t make it feel as though they were props.

Our first performance took place at The Cluntergate centre in Horbury, which I admit felt the most nervous. I now know that it was a success! The positive feedback from our audiences was incredible which then gave myself as well as the cast confidence for our other performances. The different places where we performed also helped me confidence wise to be a lot braver and to attempt new movements on stage. Our second performance took place at Crofton academy where we performed equally as well.

Our final performance took place at the Crucible theatre in Sheffield, and after the dramas that took us all by surprise on the day of our expected performance we smashed it on Monday night! As well as feeling exceptionally proud of my cast, I also took pride for the play of “Zero for the young dudes” performed by CAPA. Their gripping performance literally left me at the edge of my seat the entire time and left me with so many questions afterwards their show had finished. Now that “Three” is officially finished, it hasn’t quite sank in yet that another year of Connections has finished. It is easy to say that I will for sure be signing up for the next year’s performance! Of course, our show would have never been as successful without the fabulous Sarah helping us to gain what we achieved out of performing, as well as learning new acting techniques that will be useful in the future. From working on this play, it has given me whole new experiences which I will be able to add in for future shows. Overall, the play does seem simple in some ways but for myself I can class it as one of the most difficult plays ive performed, but certainly one of the most enjoyable!

Helena
This year was my first time doing Connections, and let me say it was not a disappointing experience. After having it bigged up for years, I was really excited to finally take part in one. There were many things I loved about the experience but, the overriding highlight was working with a group of amazingly talented people to create a piece of just plain lovely theatre. The play on the surface was simple and very rom-com, but in great Yew Tree fashion, we uncovered the truth behind the seemingly easy going text of Braun’s play. I think what I really liked about the play was that it was a piece of text about young people for young people. It was interesting to play scenes the correlate so closely to all of our everyday lives. I think it brought a real sense of honesty to the show. Subsequently a thought provoking and touching performance was made. Thank you to all the wonderful cast members who made the experience so enjoyable and Sarah for being the amazing director who helped us find the integrity and vision of the play. Oh! And thank you to the National Theatre for letting us perform in the absolutely snazzy studio at the Crucible. Here’s hoping next year’s performance will create even more wonderful memories!

Sam
Ah, Connections. As an experience, this is probably the most rewarding piece of acting I’ve done at a young age; seeing dedication pay off is always satisfying, but performing ‘Three’ was a transcendental experience for me this year. There are some people who’ve done five, six Connections plays, and I envy that of them – this was my second and last, but I’d jump at the opportunity to do an infinite amount more of them. Performing in Sheffield was obviously a delight (much like last year’s performance in Kendal was), but it was also staggering to me, as I sat and witnessed every single member of the cast reach a level of acting I haven’t seen before. Spending six months on a play, scenes can seem over-rehearsed, boring, tiring, unnatural, but in Sheffield I saw the spontaneity, the performance, the sheer acting ability that makes an unmissable show. It’s given me faith in acting and such proudness of our Connections cast that ‘Three’ will live on with me forever. I just hope I can put on such a performance in the House of Commons some day. Love, your favourite manbun.

Ellie
The thing I'm going to be taking away from connections with me is, definitely all the more technical things like diction and projection, but also friendship and learning to adapt to roles to make them fit with others, the experience has been eye opening and made me realise how much I want to focus on acting in the future, it was definitely worth all the time, effort and stress!

Emily
So this has been my 3rd year of connections and, once again, it has brought on many new challenges to develop.
Back in November, when auditions were originally held, I was lucky enough to get the part of Lena (The one I wanted too). The whole idea of having an inner voice to each character interested me in a way (especially with having mine be Eve) and I thought it brought something different to the play. However, this idea was definitely underestimated on how hard it would be to portray convincingly to an audience. Something clicked for Eve and I before our Sheffield Crucible performance, something we hadn't thought of before. With us playing the same character, you would think that our thoughts/feelings/actions would be identical yet we figured this wasn't the case as we discovered that Lena herself led with her heart yet Lena's Inner Voice was solely led by her head. This made Lena's final decision to go chase after Jamie a decision done by herself, then the inner voice realising that this is what she needs so accepted it.
In many ways for me, Connections 2017 has been the most challenging yet as there were many different challenges (and I'm not just talking about Sheffield's power cut). For example, Lena (on paper) seems like your stereotypical "it" girl at school however I soon discovered (with the help of the inner voice) that she goes way deeper than that but her social status at the time is more important to her. Also the fact that there were two people on stage constantly that I couldn't see: Lena's Inner Voice and Jamie's Inner Voice so getting round the logistics of that was interesting.
All in all I have throughly enjoyed Connections 2017 and can't wait for next year!
Dec
Well what can i say?

"HELLO"

This is my 3rd year doing connections and each year something new gets brought to the table. But the main difference this year compared to all the other years was that there was no kendal. Anyone who has done connections knows how special 1 place can be. However Sheffield brought memories which I think would live with us forever...

"Three" was such a joy to be part mainly because it wasn't about 'War and politics'. The play benefited us as a cast because no joke we are a hilarious bunch of people. For me the character of the narrator really gave me the opportunity in to make a fun and enjoyable character. This was defiantly a challenge as i tend to always be the bad guy or bully for reason which I'll never know. The amount of fun i had being able to play a character cared about peoples attention and always wanted to be in the spotlight was a joy .... hmm sounds like someone i know. To be honest i loved being there boss out of everyone like we established near the end of the process i was Jesus and everyone else my 12 disciples. The whole experience of playing the narrator was a challenge to learn all those lines.

(2 hours before connections week started) So i was sitting in front of the telly watching Jeremy Kyle and my mum walks in and shes all like "shouldn't you really be learning your lines". Connections week is also a massive highlight to the week, eating cheesy chips everyday from nice nosh was the way forward. All the character building work was so helpful especially as i never had any socialisation with other characters. So a story which defiantly needs to be told is performance day. Friday 31st march was our performance day and well it turned out to be a total black out. Shoutout to Tom Osborne who decided he wasn't just going to be in "Three" but also "zero for the young dudes" with CAPA college. So after a technical rehearsal which got everyone so excited and the pre show buzz had finally arrived there a power cut and the show gets cancelled so were all so annoyed. Me and Alice had being walking around Sheffield since 10 o'clock lost but there always a positive to come out of a bad situation. We decided to have a spontaneous party, nothing better than a BBQ, few drinks and people you love singing along to the Three playlist. Helena using a chicken wing as a microphone must be the funniest thing i've ever seen.

Being part of connections 2016-17 gave me opportunities to explore a different sort of character going out of my comfort zone. Sarah has definitely helped me to be a better actor throughout the experience. Im going to miss performing with everyone else but mainly the people who's last connections it will be. Unlucky for them i cant wait for next year and to anyone thinking "should i do connection?" The answers is YES. BEST EXPERIENCE IN MY TIME AT YEW TREE

Tom
Comedy is really hard. As silly as it sounds, that's the thing I'm taking away from connections 2016/17. I think there's an assumption that comedy is easy, and that if you just read the lines with some enthusiasm, you'll have no trouble putting on a great show. And as much as I'd like that to be the case, it turns out that creating a play that's both grounded in truth and yet as funny as it was intended to be is a real test of acting ability. It is testament to the fantastic cast of Three, that they were able to pull of such a tricky task, and I couldn't be prouder of each of them. They've all been on such a journey, and the leap in ability has been astronomical. We've worked together on this project for a good few months now, and I couldn't really ask for anyone better to put on a show with. Special props to my man Sam Mandi-ghomi, as he's the one who's head I've had to live in for the whole process, and he has made that a thoroughly pleasant experience, and as much as it pains me to say it, I have learnt a lot from him and working together on this with him. So yeah, thanks for that mate. All in all, the thing that I think is so important about connections, is that I've done 5 with ytyt, and I'm still learning as much as I did in the first.

Beth
So this years Connections was the first Connections I have done and I have to say that it was such a great experience, I was pretty nervous about the audition process as I had never done anything like that before, but lucky I managed it and got to be in the play. The play was a challenge at first because we had no idea how we were going to play the inner voices and if they were allowed to use eye contact with their character, but it was a fun experience, the fact that we performed for a local audience at Cluntergate in Ossett and then at Crofton high school, we then went to perform at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre with the Capa cast and both shows were amazing, I am looking forward to doing Connections again and I cannot wait to see which play we choose.

Hollie
Connections this year was an odd but fab experience I joined the group late and still got to feel part of the amazing team and be proud of what we created. So sad it's over and I don't get to work with these amazing people. Ly all

Alice
Connections 2017 is over and despite the fact that we haven't gone to Kendal this year, the experience still hasn't failed to give me an overwhelming sense of achievement (probably due to the minor set back that came in the form of a power cut on performance day...) However, we still managed to smash our final performance and seeing everyone so pleased with how it went reminded me why I do this. Connections isn't just about one performance, it isn't about how many people come to see our show, it isn't about  who can be the best, it's about bonding with an amazing group of people and entertaining an audience through several shows and managing to improve every single time which, in turn, allows us to mature as actors and take away such a valuable experience that we'll never forget. I'm so proud of everyone, bring on connections 2018!!



Monday, 20 February 2017

A review of our NT Connections performance of Three by Toni Stephenson

There are few better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than a good Rom Com; Love Actually, Bridget Jones, and anything starring Colin Firth or Hugh Grant. Watching the Connections cast perform Three was essentially a live version of my favourite weekend pass time (made even better by the simple fact that it was Yew Tree).

The humbling story of six teenagers becoming three couples was made engaging and comical by the presence of their "inner voices" played by different actors. This made for interesting viewing, watching a pair of actors play the same character in slightly different ways; one more revealing than their counterpart, as none of the other characters could hear what they said. An example of this was Emily and Eve playing Lena, where Eve, portraying Lena's inner thoughts, was more harsh to her love interest Jamie for being unpopular, whereas Emily's version only expressed Lena's reluctance through her actions, which revealed to the audience something about Lena's insecurity, rather than seeming rude, which is what might be assumed by the audience without having heard her thoughts. Similarly, Jacob and John's partnership comically personified the conflicts that people often have in their minds during an awkward situation; in this case a failing blind date.

The narrator played by Dec was a treat and the small interactions with the audience throughout the play were part of what made the stories so accessible and relatable.

Something also commendable was each actors ability to look through the inner voices as though they were not there but only in their heads. I imagine it would be difficult as an actor having a conversation with someone who is not supposed to be a physical being, since a lot is based on action and reaction. However, cast did this brilliantly.

One final thing which deserves a shout out is the set which created a much needed hint of summer in February (a small reference for the Dan Stevens fans out there). They were neat, simple and efficient. It really felt as though a small garden had been created with the green rugs and miniature fence. Similarly, a canal side bench was transformed into a hotel room with a single throw and some cushions. All was smoothly arranged by the cast ensemble in a way that gave the play the personalised Yew Tree stamp.

All that is left to say is that the hard work of everyone involved payed off. Each of the three storylines were performed in a way that gripped the audience. The cast made us laugh with the characters, cringe with them and root for them all to find a happy ending with one another... Thank goodness Katie X was a diva and late on stage at the concert!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

John a valued and excellent member of our cast of "Three"

It's often suggested that the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it - that is, should you want to learn French, move to Par-ee and parlez Francais. The idea roughly extends to just about any hobby; for example, after a week locked in a room with nothing but a guitar, I should imagine you'd be able to ring out a vaguely tuneful Smoke on the Water. There doesn't, however, appear to be a means of becoming an actor via immersion. Locking yourself in a room and maintaining character for a week sounds more like a horrific psychology experiment than a means of learning. The closest reasonable analogue for an amateur actor then, would be something along the lines of Connections week. Every year, the National Theatre takes scripts from established writers and distributes them to youth theatre groups up and down the UK, in a scheme called Connections. At Yew Tree, once we have one of these scripts in hand, we will hash out a rough version of our show in preparation for a week of intensive rehearsal in the February half-term - more snappily known as Connections week. Serving almost as a boot camp in preparation for our local performances, lines learned and scenes blocked, we polish and obsess, and practise and revise, and emerge as young actors at the top of our game. The beauty of this practice is not in the end show, beautiful as it may be. In the sense laid down by JFK, it is less a matter of what the actors do for the show, but what this show does for the actors. I write this the night before our performance of Three by Harriet Braun. In roughly 20 hours, I will be stepping off stage (to applause, hopefully) and going for some fresh air. This does mark some personal significance, incidentally. It was after the performance of Hacktivists in 2015 that a few friends and I, on a whim, asked Sarah if we could join Yew Tree. Tomorrow therefore marks my rough two-year anniversary of deciding to try my hand at acting, and if I may, I'd like to use this to segue into a slightly more personal take on the whole experience. Some people collect coins, others fancy philately, but I like to think of myself as collecting hobbies. There are countless instruments, half-finished paintings, watercolours, acrylics, sketching sets, electronic components and notebooks that I can see littered around my room from where I write this. Most of my hobbies get left by the wayside after a few weeks of obsessive interest in them. Since I started acting, however, I've not passed up a single opportunity to do so. The following, to the best of my understanding, is why. The reason there is no way to learn to act by immersion, and the reason I keep finding myself coming back to it, is because acting does not reward the obsessive, or the perfectionist - it punishes them. Try to improve by rehearsing excessively, and become overrehearsed and lack spontaneity. Rehearse the bare minimum to preserve spontaneity; you will miss a great many dramatic possibilities. Analyse the script all you may, but if you intellectualise too much you will lose emotion, but act without thought and you'll lack understanding. You may throw yourself at this brick wall until you are at the brink of walking out, cursing nitpicky directors, bad writing and impossible characters but the barrier to a better performance is, and always will be, psychological. If you want to be a better actor, the answer lies at least in part within your psyche. Therein lies why I love acting. Two years ago I found the creative outlet I needed, and which has shaped me. No other pursuit has forced me to so closely examine who I am, or to be more self-aware. This week has demanded I allow myself to experiment, that I overcome a fear of falling flat to find interpretations of scenes that I hadn't considered. I have been dragged out of my own head, asked to consciously be unconscious of my thoughts and opinions and react in real time to what happens in front of me, to give greater credence to my intuition and emotion in a way that I could not do before. Intelligence and empathy, analysis and emotion, confidence and self-criticism are all required in equal measure to act. Qualities we all hope to possess have been earned, through hard work, by actors, and pursuing them is surely a constructive way of spending a half term. To summarise in a pleasantly smart manner: acting builds character. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to pursue a passing interest in acting to this point. I am fortunate that institutions like the National Theatre run schemes like Connections, and fortunate that groups like Yew Tree exist for people like me on weeks like this. This string of good fortune can be traced back directly to deciding on a whim to see Hacktivists that day. And so, should you happen to come across a show near where you live, I advise you to go see it. You never know where it'll take you.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

We've had a lovely weekend here at YTYT - Gordon - one of our visitors gives an insight into why...

Last August a group of 20 amateur theatre enthusiasts from all around the country gathered in Coventry as part of the NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) Summer School ‘Directing Drama’ course run by Sarah Osborne.

During this course the embryo of an idea was conceived to have a ‘mini-summer-school’ reunion up in the Wakefield area in January 2017  - 5 months later 8 intrepid people from Bedfordshire, Cornwall, Hertfordshire, Kent, Cumbria and County Durham descended on the (somewhat chilly) city of Wakefield to experience a series of workshops over this weekend. All with one purpose in mind – to immerse ourselves in workshopping and improvisation – Yew Tree Theatre style.
Friday evening these 8 theatre aficionado’s arrived at the West Yorkshire Dance studio to observe the Gold company rehearsal in action. I personally imagined what it must be like for a tight knit group of talented young performers to see their rehearsal space ‘invaded’ by a group of strangers. They could so easily have become very introvert at such an invasion of their personal space. Nothing was further from the truth as none were fazed as they, with openness, accepted our group as welcome visitors.
The Saturday saw us reconvene at the Hepworth studio for a workshop on improvisation – again several of the youngsters from the previous evening such as Tom, Jacob, Ellie, Beth and Lucy joined us, accepted us as equals and before long we shared the common language of theatre. A Saturday evening rehearsal back at the dance studio and our group were seeing, now familiar, faces once again with a mutual respect during their workshop rehearsing of ‘Three’ (a piece I would pay good money to watch when performed).
Sometimes youngsters get bad press – well that press should have seen what 8 would be directors from across the country saw – commitment, talent and self discipline. Whilst credit must be attributed to the calm un-flappable force that is ‘Sarah’ the companies of Yew tree should give themselves a massive pat on the back for their un-swerving effort and aptitude.
On Sunday afternoon the eight visitors made their ways back to their respective corners of the country after a 5 hours workshopping of different directorial techniques but will leave behind a re-born respect for all the skills shown by Yew Tree and their generosity of spirit. Hence a personal thank you from myself and my fellow travellers to all at YT for allowing us to share for a brief moment the abundance of talent in this small corner of Yorkshire that is Yew Tree.

Gordon Richardson

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

YTYT Highlights of 2016

There has certainly been a lot to say about 2016 and lots of it hasn’t been the happiest.  Reassuringly however the YTYT year has been packed with enough highlights to keep it’s status as a place to retreat to, a place to escape the uncertainty, disappointments and loss of the world outside…this blog serves as a record of my greatest highlights…

The first event in the YTYT year to qualify as a highlight has got to be our NT Connections performance, “Eclipse/The Darkness in the Light,” which had it’s local performances in February and the regional performances in Kendal in May.  It was the second time I had directed this Simon Armitage poetic play but this production was very different to my initial go at it.  It classes as a highlight for lots of reasons including the sheer scale of the production – a cast of over 20 creating a partner piece and 3 versions of the same play.  It also classes as a highlight due to the quality of the performances and writing it inspired from the casts and my final reason for it achieving the highlight status is how delighted I was with the final scene – the power of the poetry in the writing, the physical and vocal commitment of the actors and the unity of the actors created something unforgettable.

Second in the highlight list is, “Maybe this Time,” as a director who famously assiduously avoids any musical theatre I surprised myself by thoroughly enjoying every moment of directing this play which involved not just acting and singing but dancing as well – surely the very definition of musical theatre.  Ossett Town Hall provided the perfect setting for this tale of gangsters, true love and aspirations and the performers were an absolute class act…

Third in this pick of the pops is, “Remember the Oaks,” if I had to describe this project in one word it would be honour.  To be commissioned to create a play by the NUM to remember the men and boys that perished in a mining disaster – to make history come to life and to do this with an entirely committed and talented cast was off the scale rewarding.  This reward and honour was amplified significantly by the wonderful audience we performed to…all in all a powerful and poignant thing to be part of…

The final flourish in this flashback of fantasticity has to be of course the Christmas shows.  It’s absolutely the best way to finish every year…a perfect mixture of nostalgia and newness – watching the performances of each company and seeing how far each actor has come whilst remembering how they were the year before…whilst celebrating the contribution of each new member we’ve picked up along the way…it’s the nicest Christmas gift available to a youth theatre director.


Just in case you were worried we already have a number of potential highlights lined up for 2017 – February will see us performing our NT Connections play – “Three.”  In March we’ll perform it at the Crucible in Sheffield.  In June Black Company will perform Macbeth at The Calder – a gallery of The Hepworth, Wakefield…and those are just the ones we know about now…keep your eye on us you never know what’s around the corner…so for now let us say thank you to everyone who has been a part of our 2016 –we appreciate each and every one of you and all you give and do and we hope you enjoyed your YTYT year as much as we did…
Lucy is our guest blogger!

Well I never thought that after 3 years I would be back at Yew Tree but here I am! I came to Yew Tree for 5 years from 2008 to 2013 and it completely shaped the person I am today. Yew Tree was where I discovered my love of acting and because of that I did a BTEC in acting at college and went on to study a degree in drama at university... For 3 months. I left uni after finding out I was pregnant. One year and one baby later I found myself really missing the stage when I happened to stumble across a post on Facebook asking for actors to come and be a part of Macbeth and I couldn't resist.
The thought of coming back after such a long time was a daunting one, would I be welcome? Would I fit into this new generation of black company? But I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Everyone was so welcoming and it didn't feel like I was starting in a new place like I though it would, it felt like coming home. 

I got to do my first bit of acting in over a year and played games I haven't played since I was 18, and though I may be a bit rusty I'm sure I'll be back on top form again in no time! And what better way to get back on the stage than by throwing yourself into a full length Shakespeare play? Go hard or go home I guess!

The faces may have changed but Yew Tree certainly hasn't and I can't think of a more supportive place. 

Thank you Sarah and Black company for making my transition back into Yew Tree such an easy one. It's good to be back.

Monday, 7 November 2016

This is an additional blog - the narrative of Scarlet Company's physical theatre piece for the Christmas shows...I was inspired and thought they might like to see their story in print...scroll down for my mainstream blog of this week - readiness...

She knew it wasn’t going to be easy – committing to a career in dance was infamously difficult – she knew there were no short cuts…that every inch of progression was only achievable through hard work…but she was prepared to do it…prepared to work as hard as she could because of how dancing felt when she was truly absorbed by it…when she allowed herself to be entirely enslaved to it…

To move, to leap, to fly, to glide, to dance,
To connect with every living soul.
No feeling like it, all thought entranced.
Perfect placement, yet within the control
Such freedom unfettered, beyond compare.
Alive from finger tips to the ends of feet,
Ev’ry nerve, ev’ry sinew, entirely aware,
Knowing in that moment you are complete.
A gift to be taken, vital to teach,
To dance as if no one is watching you,
You’re alone in a place out of reach
And a deepened self-knowledge ensues
What you are, what you’ve been, what you will be
Awake to ev’ry possibility

It was only when she thought about what her friends were able to do…about the freedom they had that she felt any regret…while she grafted and sweated it out in the rehearsal room knowing her grades at school were suffering she knew they were at the cinema, out in town…with friends…carefree…they didn’t have to worry about the next exam, the next show, the next competition…it was all she had time to care about it…

At least Julian understood – he would wait for her to finish class and then walk her home – a few stolen moments of company, of freedom from responsibility…time for her mind and body to rest and her heart to be restored…somehow he seemed to understand that her priority would always be dance…she was lucky to have found him…


That night though she had shrugged him off – hardly noticed as he walked off sad and bewildered…as soon as she picked up the red shoes she had known that nothing in the world was more important than putting them on…

There was a voice in her head...it asked her, "What do you want?"
"To dance," she replied
"And what will you give?"
"Anything..."

As soon as she answered a darkness descended upon her in the form of the spirits of all the dancers that the red shoes had danced to their death…they began to impel her to dance - slowly at first – beautiful fleeting duets – she felt the grace and beauty of her partners and was inspired by it…then the dancing became more frenetic – she wanted to stop but she was powerless…nothing she did could stop the momentum…she was spun and twisted and turned…the shoes had a life of their own…their was no escape…after what felt like an eternity she was lifted into the air and then dropped to the ground – the spirits were about to consume her…when all of a sudden they were gone and in their place stood Julian…he had come back to her…chased the spirits away with his care and selflessness - he removed the shoes and took her hand…she was safe…