Do You Mind? @ Brighton Fringe 23rd-25th May

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Do you fancy seeing Do You Mind? at its world premier at a little place called Brighton?

I’ll be at the Caroline of Brunswick with BearDog on 23rd-25th May (Saturday-Monday)

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend so what better excuse to get yourself down to the seaside, grab some gelato and see some theatre

Well we’ve got a little page on their website and it’s looking pretty awesome for more details on Do You Mind?

http://boxoffice.brightonfringe.org/theatre/8906/do-you-mind

Why I am A Puppeteer

I wrote this for my friend and talented musician Chris Moses and I figured I would post it here because it’s chock full of passionImagefull

Why I am a Puppeteer

My name is Joni-Rae Carrack and I am a puppeteer. I stumbled upon puppeteering when I was in my second year at Brunel University and once I tried it I was hooked and I think you could get hooked too.

I always see puppeteering as something that can be tried by anyone. If you have ever played with toys as a child, you already know how to bring life to an inanimate object, you have already believed that they have real lives. Being a puppeteer is just about accessing those instincts once again – and adding a bit more thoughtful technical skill. But it is also as much about playing and making it up as you go along. The only techniques you need are BFF Breath, Focus and Fixed point (and if you remember these, puppets will be your Best Friends Forever)

 

Once you have these in mind, you’re on your way to making some brilliant theatre.

 

Puppeteering has opened up all sorts of opportunities for me – I can play any character of any age, any gender, even any species! With puppetry, the only limit is your imagination. If you can imagine it, I believe it is possible and as a performer and theatre-maker this is not only exciting but very liberating.

 

A lot of the work I do is aimed at an adult audience and I enjoy the challenge that this brings. Puppetry isn’t just for children but is easily accepted by an adult audience. So far in my career I have explored some very hard hitting subjects such as mental illness, the process of adoption and the events of the Holocaust. These shows are the ones I am truly proud of. I wouldn’t have been able to make these pieces without the help of puppetry and seeing the feedback I have received from audiences makes it clear I have made the right decision to use them.

 

Puppetry is also perfect for interdisciplinary work – it isn’t limited to theatre just for puppets – it mixes well with other genres and theatre mediums. For example, I have worked on several operas that have used puppetry as an integral part of the devising process, I have manipulated puppets that have interacted easily with actors and I have used puppetry to support the telling of personal stories.

 

Learning to puppeteer can teach you a lot of skills that are essential to make good theatre – it develops your awareness of being in an ensemble (as you often have more than one puppeteer working on a puppet) you become more aware of physicality and how to convey emotion efficiently especially when you cannot change a puppets facial expression. I even found that using breath and focus has made me a better performer when I’m working without a puppet.

 

If you believe in the potential of a puppet and believe that it is alive, then you can create any piece you could dare to think about.

Sort of Theatre Presents Buttons

After a successful debut showing at last months HATCH Festival at the Little Angel Theatre, myself and my partner-in-crime Dana Segal  will be performing the work-in-progress piece ‘Buttons’ again at the Rosemary Branch next week, on Tuesday 8th October (ONLY 5 DAYS TO GO!)

It’s a part of the Third Hand Opera’s Puppet/Opera Fringe Event organised by the Little Angel’s Associate Artist, Darren East.

To book tickets, please follow the link here, remember we will be performing on Tuesday 8th October http://www.rosemarybranch.co.uk/#/third-hand-opera-triple-bill/4578844544

If you can make it it’ll be brilliant! Again we’ll be looking for feedback (this is still a work-in-progress piece) and we’ll be so excited to hear what you think, particularly as we’re going to start applying for festivals in 2014.

HATCH Festival ON SALE

HATCH festival is now ON SALE.

I will be performing as a part of Sort Of Theatre, with Dana Segal, with our new show ‘Buttons’ on September 5th.

£3 for one show, £5 for two shows.

http://littleangeltheatre.com/whats-on/hatch-2/ …

 

It’s possibly a little too exciting. I’ve loved everything I’ve seen at the Little Angel Theatre and I enjoyed my time at INCUBATE so much. It is such a lovely, generous theatre and I’m not sure I would have even believed last year that I’ll be treading it’s boards.

 

It’s a bit of a huge deal.

Call for Mental Health Metaphors for INCUBATE

Seven months ago…  let me just let that sink in for a second…

Seven months ago I started a sub-project for my Do You Mind? project, which had been brewing in my mind for at least a year called ‘What’s Your Metaphor’.

I had explored and theorised how metaphors about mental health problems were 1) usually an evocative and in some circumstances the only way of explaining the experience of a mental health 2) Could be quite awesomely translated into puppetry

Having already used some of my own experiences of anxiety, panic attacks and mild depression to explore this idea I decided the next step was to ask other people:

 

“What’s Your Metaphor?”

It was a simple question and I got a great response from it and I’m so incredibly grateful and touched by people’s honesty and the terrible beauty of their metaphors.

Now that I have now been given a theatre/rehearsal space to research, devise and develop my idea, thanks to the Little Angel and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s INCUBATE programme. So I am more in need then ever for these metaphors!

Can you help me?

Here’s a brief(-ish) rundown of what I’m looking for

I started What Is Your Metaphor? to find and collect the metaphors used by people with mental health issues to communicate their illnesses to other people.

One of the most famous examples is Winston Churchill’s references to a ‘big black dog’ which was a metaphor for his bouts of depression.

‘What’s your metaphor?’ is a question for anyone whose experienced some sort of mental illness or mental health issue. I’m especially looking for people who have had a direct experience with mental illness, but I’m more then happy to receive metaphors from people who have had experience with other people’s mental illness (we really cannot forget the people around us who help, because it is unfortunately too easy to)

With any luck examples of peoples metaphors will help other people speak out about their mental health and soon the stigma and discrimination will diminish. This is what this project is about after all. I want to encourage people to talk about their mental health by giving them a vocabulary.

So what I would like is your particular brand of mental health (if you have a label for it) and your metaphor, it can be one sentence (“My head is dislocated”) or more (“I feel as if I am in a pit, its dark and lonely and I can’t escape…”)

For example, here is my metaphor:

Anxiety – I feel I am invisible sometimes, like there’s no-one that can see me, or hear me and I am making no impact on the world.

Feel free to post these anonymously as a comment on WordPress

Or you can email me your metaphors at: whatsyourmetaphor@gmail.com

Lastly, from the bottom of my ever palpitating heart, thank you to all those that contribute. I  appreciate that its sometimes tough to admit or express what goes on in our minds and you are helping me to take that positive step forward. Hopefully one day it won’t be brave to send things like this.

 Some of the metaphors will most likely be used very considerately in the Do You Mind? Project, a puppetry project for an adult audience and, unless people post anonymously ,they will be contacted if I think about developing something around their metaphor.
Please find more information about the Do You Mind? project
Please find more information on the initial call for metaphors on the What’s Your Metaphor page

Little Angel INCUBATE

I’m so so thrilled and pleased to announce that I was one of four companies that has been accepted to the Little Angel and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s  INCUBATE programme!

INCUBATE is a Research and Development scheme formed by the Little Angel, (the home of British puppetry) and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama where you can find the (Centre for Research into Objects and Puppet in Performance) to allow companies and individuals to develop work using the resources and expertise of these two organisations.

I will be continuing my work on mental health and metaphor within these two encouraging organisations.

So I’m pretty damn excited!  Not only will I have a brilliant (and FREE!) space to devise, I have enough room to fit enough people (something I’ve been struggling to find on my non-existant budget) to generate some fantastic ideas and encouragement from two very important and influential organisations in the British puppetry world.

This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting and working towards for almost a year. This is where my work with finally begin to sprout.

And it’s an opportunity to other opportunities. This chance to R&D my ideas will lead to more solid ideas, it will reveal ideas that I can then develop work on, that I can then Scratch and then I can actually perform, which is all I’ve wanted.

 

It’s a real step in the right direction.

 

It reminds me exactly why I want to be a puppeteer. It reminds me that I am definitely part of this community and that makes me ridiculously happy

 

Now I have a huge To-Do list to contend with (which included posting on here!) including gather more material, finding performers, writers, musicians and artists to come join me for the week and finding funding so I can give something towards the time they’ll be giving me. I really can’t wait to start and there is so much work to do before…

Puppeting Away

I haven’t posted in a while BUT that hasn’t meant that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy puppeteering my little socks off. Even though the winter months were quiet my life at the moment is revolving around puppets and I have been in demand!

I have quite a few projects on the go at the moment, all currently at their talking and devising stage but now they are all picking up momentum.

So in the past few months I have been:

-Volunteering at the Little Angel. I’ve been doing some ushering and helping with the theatre’s children’s makers courses, including their Easter week long course and their Saturday Puppet Club

– Making a LOT of puppets (A LOT of puppets) and finding my own style of making

-I also made grass and flowers for the Little Angel production ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’

-Continuing to play around with the ‘Do You Mind?’ and other mental health related ideas

-Collaborating with director, producer and fellow Brunelian Dana Segal.  We’ve founded the new theatre company Sort Of Theatre (Website currently in production but will be launched soon) and we are currently working on a new production (Working Title: Buttons) which focuses on the themes of the Holocaust

-I worked with Oliver Hymans from EyeSpy Arts for his R&D for his new production ICARUS

-Working on a piece about my own experiences with puppetry and healing for a documentary led by Charlie Ryder 

– Written a lot of proposals!

-Auditioned!

-Been rejected!

-Been accepted!

I will hopefully update and add a few more details about each of those points very soon and I’m pretty sure I’ve left some big things out!

 

There is however one big piece of news that really deserves it’s own post…..

Kafka’s Wound Nominated for an Award!

Kafka’s Wound was my first post-uni project and I’m thrilled it’s been elected as a contender for the “Best Digital Humanities blog, article, or short publication” award.! I helped devise, made puppets and puppeteered for a short film that was apart of Will Self’s digital essay Kafka’s Wound.
Please encourage voting athttp://dhawards.org/dhawards2012/voting/ before midnight on Sunday 17 February 2013. Our entry is the last one on the list for that award. Yay!! How exciting!

About the awards:

“Digital Humanities Awards are a new set of annual awards given in
recognition of talent and expertise in the digital humanities
community and are nominated and voted for entirely by the public.
These awards are intended to help put interesting DH resources in
the spotlight and engage DH users (and general public) in the
work of the community. Awards are not specific to geography,
language, conference, organization or field of humanities that
they benefit. There is no financial prize associated with these
community awards. There were many nominations and the
international nominations committee took quite awhile to review
and debate each nomination. Please seehttp://dhawards.org/faqs/

for this and other frequently asked questions.”

The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings – Review

 

 

I love the theatre. I love plays, I love devised work, I especially love puppetry, I even love seeing bad shows because they’re very fun to talk about afterwards. But one big bugbear I have about theatre is how quickly shows come and go (apart from the odd show, such as War Horse, which I’ve seen about three times and would happily watch again and again). You maybe have the chance to see it once before either it sells out or the run ends. What I would give to see Handspring Company’s Or You Could Kiss Me again, the show that really tugged that part in my heart that told me I had to be a puppeteer. Luckily, I have the beautiful show burnt into my memory. But to see it again would be a huge treat and I will be forever pining for a revival. So when given the chance to see another beautiful show, a year on, I took the opportunity with both hands and even took someone who hadn’t seen it with me.

 

That show is The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings at the Battersea Arts Centre, a show brought to us by the Little Angel Theatre and Kneehigh Theatre. I had already seen the show when it was at the Little Angel Theatre, a small, intimate, old but ultimately magical venue, so it was interesting to see the same show in a completely different setting. Of course theatre is not like films or book where the material is the same no matter how many times you return to it (although the experience can be different). Theatre is live and so is subject to an amazing range of variables, which can be pretty scary for a performer let me tell you that. From the very small, like where a performer takes a step or a breathe to the very big such as a change in venue.

 

However the BAC is certainly a good temporary home for the Very Old Man. The BAC is another old building with a huge amount of character (It also happens to be the home for the Puppet Centre Trust!) and even as you step into the building you can’t help but notice the nets with feathers and crabs clinging onto them, draped like bunting on the staircases a special bit of dressing just foreshadowing the show.

 

The theatre itself was much bigger than the Little Angel, with a cavernous ceiling and bleacher-style seating. Which means the audience sat looking down on the action which made me feel like I was closer then I was when at the Little Angel. The show felt bigger but not quite so intimate. It’s a fine balance but I feel the BAC achieved it. A different venue also brings a different audience. Instead of an audience full of children as I found with my first viewing of the show, this audience were mostly adult artists and theatre lovers. But I like to think that both audiences felt that lovely child-like fascination.

 

So yes there were difference between both shows (I think they may have also swopped one of the puppeteers) but it was still the same delightful show that literally made me gasp.

 

This is puppeteering at its very best. All the characters were alive with their own personality even those who were not fully articulated and are manipulated with a few shakes. Sometimes even the main characters weren’t always completely manipulated. And this is the touch of a true puppeteer. These are people who can make you believe in something with a few simple touches or a careful swing of a leg translates instantly as walking. It is at once incredibly precise and also very playful, inviting the audience to use their imaginations, engaging them further into the piece. They even played with being puppeteers, interacting briefly with their puppets, with each other, without breaking the illusion of the invisible puppeteer they had already established.

 

But what are amazing puppeteers without amazing puppets, these ones being designed by the legendary Lyndie Wright of the Little Angel. They are beautiful, expressive, enticing and incredibly clever. From the deceptively simple rod puppets to a bike riding puppet. This show is the first I have ever seen that involved a puppeteer using their own mouth to balance a puppet, the puppet being a chicken doing a tightrope walk (these chickens stole the show as well as a mumbling old woman!)

 

The piece is funny, charming and will quite happily appeal to all ages in a very simple unpatronising way – the holy grail of family theatre. But it has some very tender and heartbreaking moments that show the range of emotions that puppets can draw in an audience.

 

The piece is backed-up by the beautiful music, which I’m happy to have stuck in my head (seriously WHERE CAN I GET THAT MUSIC!), and the clever set and staging which hides some magical an unexpected entrances until the very right moment.

 

This is what you want in a puppet theatre. Great design great puppets great puppeteers and great music. I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time

 

I hope this is a show that keeps on returning. But if not, it has formed a memory that I will take with me as one of those great inspiring puppet shows.

 

Kneehigh Website – http://www.kneehigh.co.uk/show/a-very-old-man.php

The Little Angel – http://www.littleangeltheatre.com/lat/whatson/forthcoming/MjQy

Having a Mental Illness Doesn’t Make You Mental – Article

Just linking an awesome article written by a friend I met at Uni, Lauren Summers, about mental health which she asked me to contribute to. I speak specifically about my puppetry and the links I’ve found through mental health.

http://www.dontmindlife.com/2013/01/14/mental-illness/

Follow Lauren on Twitter – @WriterNerd

And also visit her blog – Diary of a Self Confessed Nerd http://wildcreations.wordpress.com