Behind the Scenes

In just three weeks we will be performing ‘buckets’ for the very first time (go buy your tickets now from the Abbey Theatre website!!!) We have taken a little break from rehearsals to let things settle and give people a chance to learn their lines (cast: deadline is Monday please 😉 ) BUT there has been a bunch of stuff going on outside of the rehearsal room to prepare for the show.

Promotion
Our trailer went out on Monday – have a watch here – so we have spent some time editing that together from the shots that we took in rehearsals. It was so exciting to make something permanent from the piece that Lucy, Tamsin and Mae created last year. Also we have had a delivery of our flyers and posters – you can take a look at the designs here – so you will start to see those around town through the next few weeks. Finally on the promotion side of things, we spent a day this week (as a results day distraction) designing our programme which will be sent to print very soon.

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Flyers delivery

Set
One of the ways we wanted to stretch Theatre of Minds with this project was by sourcing set from new places. Throughout the piece we are going to be using some furniture to create levels and change location, but one of my biggest worries early on was where we were going to get this from! Through a lot of research and taking advice from many people, we discovered Emmaus. This second-hand furniture store are amazing! Emmaus-Hertfordshire give homeless people a comfortable home environment and the opportunity to work, learning skills in refurbishing furniture. Their shop in St Albans was filled with some of the most helpful, chilled out, lovely people who helped us find the furniture we needed so quickly. Within a couple of days of first making contact, we had hired everything we needed and housed it in our Mum’s office until we can take it over to the theatre! Thankyou very much to everyone working at Emmaus – you have been amazing!

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Some of our furniture

Props
Slowly but surely we have been gathering the props that we need to the production. My props list is now colour-coded with 4 catagories: We have this now; We have a plan to make/get this; Cast do you have this?; Only one specific person can sort this. But my red section is getting bigger and bigger everyday, which is very exciting! 

Everyone is putting so much work into this project and we can’t thank everyone enough for getting involved. Make sure you get your tickets now so you don’t miss out on this very special project!

Tickets for ‘buckets’ are now available via the Abbey Theatre. In order to make a donation to Young Minds after the performances we need to raise some funds beforehand to pay the licensing fee for the play and for props/costumes. Any contributions at www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets will be gratefully received, but if you can’t donate please share the link and help us spread the word of the project.

 

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buckets – Trailer

Tickets for ‘buckets’ are now available via the Abbey Theatre. In order to make a donation to Young Minds after the performances we need to raise some funds beforehand to pay the licensing fee for the play and for props/costumes. Any contributions at www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets will be gratefully received, but if you can’t donate please share the link and help us spread the word of the project.

A Summer of Theatre: Fun Home

As well as working on ‘buckets‘ this summer, I have another little, personal project for the three months before third year. I am trying to see as much theatre as I possibly can, so the aim is to go and see something at the theatre every week that I am in the UK until I go back to uni. Some things are booked way in advance (Hamilton is the last week of August and I could not be more excited!) But I also want to be spontaneous and book last minute tickets when I have a spare evening (if anyone wants to come with me one week, drop me a message 😉 ) So, I thought I’d document this little journey with a post after each show – hopefully I’ll be able to keep this up once rehearsals get started!!

Fun Home

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Date: Tuesday 24th July 2018
Creators: Jeanine Tesori & Lisa Kron
Venue: Young Vic
First Performed: June 2018, Young Vic – UK Premiere

This was one of the first tickets that I booked for this summer. In fact it was so long ago that when me and Lucy picked up our tickets we were very excited by the fact that we had apparently only paid £10 for third row seats! Thankyou very much Young Vic under 25s scheme! Fun Home is a musical I discovered last year after listening to the Broadway Backstory podcast episode about ‘how the show developed from an idea into a full-blown broadway musical’ so the excitement for it’s arrival in London was very real!

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Fun Home is a musical based on the autobiographical graphic novel by Alison Bechdel (if you know about the Bechdel test for films that is her). It features three versions of Alison: as young child who hated wearing dresses; an 18 year old college student figuring out her sexuality; and a grown up lesbian comic book artist remembering her life for her book. Alison herself describes the story rather bluntly in one of the opening numbers: “My father and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town. And he was gay, and I was gay. And he… killed himself. And I… became a lesbian cartoon artist.”

It is no surprise to me at all that this show won 5 tony awards – the writing is awesome! It captures the essence of the source novel through “caption” in the lyrics and interspersing the three timelines, showing us snippets of each one at a time. But the show also expands on this and focuses on grown-up Alison working out how to get her experiences down on paper. Kaisa Hammarlund as Alison was on stage all of the time, watching her past self and remembering the events, so the story became clearer to us as the audience as Alison recalled her past more clearly. I got so much more of this side of the production than I had from listening to the soundtrack – the piece as a whole made so much more sense to me.

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The finale in particular was so beautiful, with so many layers that I hadn’t picked up on before. All three Alisons on stage together as grown-up Alison fits everything together and comes to terms with her relationship with her father. I will never listen to “Flying Away” the same again. Thinking about it, the shows opening was also very exciting – simply because it was so subtle. Hammarlund walked out on to stage, with the house lights still up and the audience chatting away, and began her performance: silent and slow, looking through the papers on her desk, beginning to draw. We were in the performance before we even realised it – beautiful.

I have to mention Eleanor Kane as medium Alison in particular – she was incredible to watch. As an actor she had the wide-eyed, funding yourself thing spot on and encompassed all of the youthful energy of young Alison with the mannerisms of grown-up Alison starting to take shape. But when she started singing, her voice had such power and maturity that I didn’t want her to stop. Her solo “Changing my Major” was hilarious and touching: I was in awe as she really shone in a cast of 8 fantastic actors.

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Having never seen anything at the Young Vic before, when we entered the auditorium, the stage seemed quite a strange shape but they utilised every corner of the space. The revolve was brilliant for jumping between memories and more and more set was used as Alison remembered more about what happened. There was a section at the front of the stage, which went on slightly too long for me – it seemed appropriate at first but only having a strip at the front of the stage seemed to restrict the movement after awhile. But overall the staging really fitted the style of writing.

There are so many things I could mention: the telephone calls were all performed out to the audience in a stark, white light; the actors were trusted several times to own the space and capture the audience with their solos; the three children bringing life and energy to the ensemble – it was such a good show and could easily go further. At an hour and 40 minutes with no interval, me and Lucy left feeling like it could have gone on and on and on.

Fun Home continues it’s sold out run at the Young Vic until 1st September 2018.

Themes of the Play

By Bethan Hughes

When we first read through buckets, we spotted multiple references to technology and social media in the text. It took us by surprise as at first glance, the play’s overriding theme is time and how we choose to spend it. However, the more we rehearse buckets, the more I understand how technology and time fit together within the context of the play.

The idea of living for the moment is something that is very prevalent in buckets. My character, Eve, struggles a lot with this and tends to over analyse events. This is perhaps hardly surprising in an age where everything can be so easily captured and replayed or photographed and put online. At one point, Eve even asks a character ‘Are you filming this?’ It’s hard for her to enjoy a moment for herself when she fears that other people could be watching it later. Both the joy and danger of social media and posting online is that it connects people so much so that everyone can feel involved in something that has been shared by one individual and perhaps removes some of the buzz you felt from actually ‘being there’. It’s possible to document so much of your time online now to the point where it’s unsurprising that your ‘timeline’ is a personal page on Facebook and Twitter.

It is so frustrating to me when everyone has their phone out an event. I attended a concert with friend and cast mate, Hannah, last month and was appalled to see that most people around us had their phone out to record the songs pretty consistently throughout the night. This culture of trying to capture a moment to preserve for the future, means we run the risk of actually missing the moment in the present. Sure, I may not have video evidence to show people of Hannah and I belting out Love Story with Taylor Swift  like others in the crowd might, but that doesn’t matter to me. I don’t need to prove that I was there. I chose not to watch the night through a screen and instead to enjoy the atmosphere firsthand – and I had a better time for it.

All this is not to say that technology and social media are to be avoided entirely. Theatre of Minds has been utilising social media a lot during rehearsal to keep our followers updated with what’s going on (I would definitely recommend watching our instagram stories!). buckets’ references to things from Twitter to gaming are not designed to turn us against them but rather to illustrate just one of the paths we can take when choosing how to use our time in a busy world. The structure of the play, which is a series of non-linear exchanges also reminds us that some  moments in life are too short and too significant to put on hold whilst someone takes a picture. It is more important to experience than to document.

Tickets for ‘buckets’ are now available via the Abbey Theatre. In order to make a donation to Young Minds after the performances we need to raise some funds beforehand to pay the licensing fee for the play and for props/costumes. Any contributions at www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets will be gratefully received, but if you can’t donate please share the link and help us spread the word of the project.

A Summer of Theatre: The Jungle

As well as working on ‘buckets‘ this summer, I have another little, personal project for the three months before third year. I am trying to see as much theatre as I possibly can, so the aim is to go and see something at the theatre every week that I am in the UK until I go back to uni. Some things are booked way in advance (Hamilton is the last week of August and I could not be more excited!) But I also want to be spontaneous and book last minute tickets when I have a spare evening (if anyone wants to come with me one week, drop me a message 😉 ) So, I thought I’d document this little journey with a post after each show – hopefully I’ll be able to keep this up once rehearsals get started!!

The Jungle

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Date: Wednesday 18th July 2018
Playwrights: Joe Murphy & Joe Robertson
Venue: Playhouse Theatre
First Performed: December 2017, Young Vic

I have been trying to write this post for awhile (as you can see from the show date above!) – just struggling to get my thoughts down in a cohesive way. The piece made me think so many things and had such an impact that I think I’ve struggled to articulate that. Going in I didn’t really know that much about the piece other than that it was about refugees in Calais, and now reflecting on that there is only so much you can say in a review without ruining some of the spectacle, so I will try not to include spoilers!

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There are two options for seating arrangements at the Playhouse: up in the dress circle on the “White cliffs of Dover” or downstairs in the “Afgan Cafe” in the heart of the Jungle. My dad and I were sitting down in a corner of the cafe, against cushions (and the odd stuffed tiger!) while others sat at the tables of the cafe right up against the stage. Walking in to the space you pass the small kitchen and makeshift beds, onto the dirt floor of the main space and into the best pre-show ever! We found our seats by the Sudanese flag and shortly after were handed a leaflet printed in four languages about an emergency meeting and offered “Chai” in a polystyrene cup – it was already awesome!

The piece itself started with a bang, so lively and confusing – much like the camp itself I imagine – as we started at the end of the story before being brought back to the beginning by our Syrian narrator, Safi. The plot focused on some key characters – the leaders of the different communities; some British volunteers trying to help – but also told shoot off stories life in the Jungle and how the residents had come to be there. I felt so involved in the piece from the word go – the energy was incredible and the piece so intense I have no idea how the actors pull that off 8 times a week.

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It was the sort of piece that I imagined not to have an interval, but I actually think the break was utilised very well. The play was very cleverly split into two halves so that in Act 1 we met all the characters and watched them make the most of their surroundings, building a life for themselves. But then as soon as we hit Act 2, everything is much darker – all the more hard hitting because we had had the break to reflect on what we had seen so far and get over the spectacle of the cafe.

There were actors everywhere all the time. During one meeting of the community in the cafe, a man came up to the working tap right in front of us, washed his face, ate some food, brushed his teeth and left – it was all so normal and yet so bizarre to be set against such life-changing discussions in the centre of the space. The use of torchlight was also so beautiful. It felt like such a generous way to act because actors would light each others faces on stage – making sure they could be seen for their key moments. But it also allowed them to change the time of day and the atmosphere in the camp so quickly – highlighting the irractic nature of the danger these people are facing every day.

After the curtain call I had to sit for a moment to absorb what I had just seen before I could get up and head home. My dad and I think talked about it all the way home: things we hadn’t thought about before; moments we remembered; even things that the other hadn’t noticed despite being sat in the next seat along. It wasn’t sad, well it was sad but not emotional. I was more stunned by how little I new about something that had happened so recently. I knew that in 2016 thousands of people were stuck in Calais, but I’m not sure I had registered the full impact of that before now.

This is a piece of theatre that EVERYONE should see. This is exactly what the art form is for, so please, please go and see it if you can. 40% of tickets are under £25 – I would have paid so much more than the £15 I spent on my ticket for that performance. I can only dream of ever creating something with such an impact and such an important message. A beautiful piece of theatre.

The Jungle runs at the Playhouse Theatre until 3rd November. Buy your tickets NOW! 

Rehearsal Video Diary 2

buckets – Rehearsals in Full Swing

Tickets for ‘buckets’ are now available via the Abbey Theatre. In order to make a donation to Young Minds after the performances we need to raise some funds beforehand to pay the licensing fee for the play and for props/costumes. Any contributions at www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets will be gratefully received, but if you can’t donate please share the link and help us spread the word of the project.

Rehearsals: Week 4

By Anastasia Raymond

This week marked the end of our first stint of rehearsals; after four weeks of hard work we’re taking a two week break to enjoy the glorious sunshine and let all that we’ve achieved so far sink in!

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Hannah, Bethan, Tamsin, Lucy, Flo and Staise

Thankfully we were back to rehearsing in the lovely air-conditioned Studio this week; although in 30 degree plus weather no amount of air-conditioning could have completely prevented rehearsals (especially the more physical ones) from being a sweaty affair! We started the week in the wonderful position of having blocked and refined just over half of the show, and on Monday morning we headed to the Studio ready to crack on with the next section of the play. Over the course of our four days of rehearsal this week we have made amazing progress (even if I do say so myself!). At the very start of rehearsals- a whole month ago- we split the play into 8 sections, 7 of which are now blocked and well-rehearsed! This is such a lovely position to be in before we take a break. As actors we have done a significant amount of the play to know enough about our characters to allow us to make personal choices about their pathways and backgrounds over the break. I’m sure from Beth’s point of view as director, it also means that when we come back to rehearsals in two weeks we can be relaxed in the knowledge that most of the play is already set, but excited by the prospect of having one section (which is in fact the climax of the entire piece) left to create. This will help to keep rehearsals fresh and stimulating, motivating us through the second stint of intense rehearsals leading up to the show itself.

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This week has also been another one of deliriousness, tiredness, and hysterical laughter, especially surrounding the silliness of some of the scenes we’ve been working on! As a cast we’ve really gelled, and rehearsals are genuinely incredibly fun. We’ve really enjoyed promoting the show on Instagram, having to take over Mae’s role as designated rehearsal vlogger on the Instagram story as she had already had enough of us and jetted off to tropical lands! We’ve made use of the Instagram poll and ‘ask me a question’ story options and will continue our vlogging as we each take buckets line learning on tour to our various holiday locations.

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Staise, Bethan, Hannah, Tamsin, Flo and Lucy

On Thursday morning (the last day of rehearsals) we actually managed to run everything that we had so far. It was so exciting and, in a way, relieving to realise how much we had done, could remember, and how nicely the piece was already flowing (even though we were Mae-less and have a chunk left to fit in). So, we head off to our holidays with a sense of pride in our accomplishments, needing to sleep for about 4 days straight, with buckets related homework set by lovely director Beth, but already looking forward to reconvening with a new burst of energy in two weeks time.

Tickets for ‘buckets’ are now available via the Abbey Theatre. In order to make a donation to Young Minds after the performances we need to raise some funds beforehand to pay the licensing fee for the play and for props/costumes. Any contributions at www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets will be gratefully received, but if you can’t donate please share the link and help us spread the word of the project.

Rehearsals Week 3

By Hannah Crisp

What a fantastic week of rehearsals this has been! This week we have been rehearsing on the main stage of the Abbey Theatre, as opposed to The Studio which is our performance space. Therefore we had to get to grips with which end is which, where the audience are, and the overall size of the space in relation to The Studio, but we soon got used to it and carried on as normal. We have rehearsed for four days and made fantastic progress and achieved a lot. We continued to block scenes and the piece is starting to take shape and come together which is very exciting for everyone involved.

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Lucy, Hannah, Bethan, Tamsin, Staise and Flo

A few of us in the cast had our final Summer Concert with our school on Tuesday. This, mixed with intense rehearsals, has led to a lot of tiredness in the cast which can sometimes result in mass hysteria and deliriousness! However as a cast we are continuing to grow closer so sharing these moments, whether they be hysteria or other emotions, is making the rehearsal process more special and memorable.

The most exciting part of the week has to have been Thursday; we spent the day filming clips for our trailer (keep your eyes peeled for that). Throughout the day we experimented with different locations in the venue – where each part of the trailer could have been filmed. It was a new and unique experience, as we were creating something that is going to promote our show, making the whole day very rewarding.

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This week has also involved further exploration of our characters, each day I, and I can imagine I speak for the other cast members too, am feeling more connected to my character. This is due to rehearsing more, having more character based discussions, exploring our characters relationships in relation to the themes and a fruit and vegetable related activity, which was introduced to us all by Beth!

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Bethan and Mae, Staise and Tamsin, Lucy and Flo

We also have a lot of fun posting on social media to help promote buckets. Especially posting on our instagram story throughout the day with updates of our rehearsals, (however this week we have had a few more rogue hysteria based ones) so make sure you give us a follow so you can see just what the rehearsal process is like! This week has been fabulous and as each week passes we all continue to get more excited about our production of buckets. Bring on next week!

Tickets for ‘buckets’ are now available via the Abbey Theatre. In order to make a donation to Young Minds after the performances we need to raise some funds beforehand to pay the licensing fee for the play and for props/costumes. Any contributions at www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets will be gratefully received, but if you can’t donate please share the link and help us spread the word of the project.

Presenting ‘buckets’

We are delighted to be reveal the poster designs for ‘buckets’. Thankyou so much to Kirstie Childs (instagram: @kchilds_design) for working so hard with us to get these perfect – we are so so happy with the result and couldn’t have asked for more.

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Poster design by Kirstie Childs

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Back of the flyer created by Lucy Wilson

Flyers and posters are being printed as we speak and will be in circulation soon, so keep your eye out! You will also be able to spot us in the Odyssey programme for August: we’d like to thank Jill Taylor for helping us to organise the advert. It’s all very exciting and we are so grateful to everyone who is helping us with the project.

Tickets for ‘buckets’ are now available via the Abbey Theatre. In order to make a donation to Young Minds after the performances we need to raise some funds beforehand to pay the licensing fee for the play and for props/costumes. Any contributions at www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets will be gratefully received, but if you can’t donate please share the link and help us spread the word of the project.

An exploration of time: Moving On

By Anastasia Raymond (cast member of ‘buckets’)

When anybody asks, “so, what’s buckets about then?”, the best summary I can think of is, “it’s to do with time; how we use it, make the most of it, and take measures to control it”. Time is important for everyone; every character in the piece and every person you meet on the street has their own idea of time and how best to fill it.

For me the word time causes concepts of past, present and future to spring to mind. I recall the memories and events that have shaped who I am and think excitedly about those future events- yet unknown to me- that may determine who I will become. Having just graduated from university, I have now completed my stint in full time education. This period of life spanned 17 years, from age 4-21 and during which I attended 3 institutions- Fleetville infants/junior school, Beaumont Secondary School, Cambridge University- and now my time in education is up. My future is no longer planned by educational structures and my time is free for me to do with what I please. This feels weird, this is unfamiliar territory, but this is exciting!

Looking back, throughout my childhood and teen years, time seemed to pass at a more leisurely pace than in does in adulthood. The six-week summer holiday seemed like a life time, with day after day of unplanned, spontaneous fun being had with friends and family come rain or shine. Now at age 21, time feels different. It passes so quickly, and before you know it six weeks has come and gone. Days are busier, weeks are filled with events, and spare moments for spontaneous activities seem to be few and far between. Yet reading and rehearsing buckets has made this idea of an uncontrollably fast passing time contestable. The characters in the play take charge of time, and it is the brief moments or chance encounters that change time specific plans, that have the largest impact. buckets allows us to see time as controllable; it may seem to rush by without leaving any room for our own input, but this is not the case. If you do not like something that is taking up of your time, change it. If there is something that you want to do but feel you do not have the time, do it. We all too often use “I don’t have time” as an excuse to get out of things that we are in fact scared to do- and I am personally very guilty of this.

Now, as I look forward, I promise that I will try to take more control of my time, and that I will spend this time doing the things that I love. This starts right now, with a summer spent in rehearsals for this brilliant show, alongside an amazing cast and crew, with all of us working to enjoy and make good use of our time together.

Tickets for ‘buckets’ are now available via the Abbey Theatre. In order to make a donation to Young Minds after the performances we need to raise some funds beforehand to pay the licensing fee for the play and for props/costumes. Any contributions at www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets will be gratefully received, but if you can’t donate please share the link and help us spread the word of the project.