Posts Tagged ‘ Education ’

Looking ahead to 2015

It’s been such a long time since we’ve been in touch and we hope you forgive us. Since PROPHESY finished it may seem like we’ve been quiet, but we promise a lot of exciting things have been happening in Baz HQ.

 

With a new year comes a sense of self-reflection and Baz has been no different. As we look towards the future we’ve returned to our values and the mission we set down right at the start. Are they still valid? Are those commitments and promises still relevant? Is the Baz of today the same as that of 2010?

 

We have certainly changed: 2 marriages; a career change; a Baz baby and countless jobs have seen our time grow increasingly more precious, forcing us to focus on how best to protect what we love most about Baz amongst everything else that comes with running a company.

 

Our priority is the development of new and exciting work. To do so requires money. And, oh the irony, our least favourite part is raising the money… Exactly what we need in order to achieve the priority. Fundraising is the hardest and most time consuming part of running an arts company and requires every ounce of energy. It’s a full time job on it’s own requiring a skillset not always compatible with theatre folk. We’ve been incredibly lucky in the level of support, financial and otherwise, that we’ve received over the years from our audiences and friends and we’re determined to honour our promise to pay a living wage to our cast. We’re also determined to do so without pestering those who show an interest in our work and exhausting ourselves. Which is why we’ve been quiet…. We’ve been spending time working out how we can use our skills in order to become financially viable, and consistently so, in order to focus on the best bits of Baz – the work.

 

Excitingly we’ve been working with Teach First; a fascinating charity that trains graduates and supports them through their first years on the job. Alongside their existing program we have developed a series of workshops that we are delivering to their participants. Providing a toolkit of skills, both physical and vocal to improve teacher presence, has been exhilarating and rewarding. Not to mention providing us with a steady income. We intend to build on this side of Baz Ed as well as delivering a pilot scheme for Teach First in both London and Ipswich over the next few months which it is hoped will be rolled out to all new teachers. To help us achieve this we’ve enlisted PJ Crabb as our Education Manager and we’re thrilled to welcome her to the Baz Team. With this now in place we can use our precious time to devote to the next project we’re planning for 2016.

 

The brief was quite simple, and set over a boozy lunch…. It had to be bonkers, European and female. After a lot of reading August Strindberg’s A Dream Play seemed to fit the bill. It ticked the first two boxes straight away and although not written by a woman, it’s sole protagonist is one; a female character that navigates the weird and wonderful dystopian dream-reality. A rare thing in a play written at the very beginning of the 20th Century. We love it. We spent the first half of 2014 exploring it, playing with it and pulling it apart in monthly workshops with the team and a group of invited musicians who have helped open up a whole new world to us. Although workshops are in a hiatus as we concentrate on venues and details and exactly how we want to approach the text, we’re thrilled with the work so far.

 

So I hope that fills you in. We may occasionally forget to blog and post and tweet, but we promise that’s just because we’re so wrapped up in ensuring the future and focusing our time where it’s best placed. We don’t want to be in touch only when we need something. We want a financially stable company with a secure future in order to retain everything we believe is unique and special about Baz.

Exciting News

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At BAZ, we’ve always explored the bond between theatre and sport and over the course of these last few weeks it has never felt more evident.

We are inspired by the training and discipline of athletes and their ability to react in the moment in their strive to perfection; something we try to emulate and instill in our team as we develop the work we’re passionate about.

We saw this quote on the weekend and we felt proud. Our own ‘anything is possible’ happened this weekend too, our hard work and grafting paid off, as we received an award from the Arts Council to secure our production of PROPHESY, and to further develop our Education work and our training.

We couldn’t be more excited and invigorated about what this means and what it allows us to achieve. Many thanks to all who have given their time, expertise and support to us over the years, we are incredibly grateful.

What do you get when you cross fifteen teachers with Baz … ?

A trestle table with crumbs and splashes left over from ravenous teachers attacking the tea, coffee and biscuits. A, now empty, circle of chairs. A few handouts dusting the corners of the room.

Only minutes before the room was buzzing with chatter, individuals tapping out iambic pentameter, discussing the exercises and swapping contact numbers. And someone (me) raiding the very last of the biscuits.

The afternoon had been spent with fifteen teachers from across four South London secondary schools, working with us on our approaches to text. The teachers threw themselves into the session with gusto, and much giggling and chatter ensued. We worked on getting groups of students feeling comfortable and confident in the room, how to work through shortened attention spans and ways of approaching Shakespeare’s verse with students.

I reminded them how in our experience the best verse speakers we’ve ever met are teenagers. That’s what’s so exciting about working with students, there is so much potential there. And yes, of course all classes can get chaotic sometimes, but so what? A little anarchy is no bad thing!

‘It’s funny how hard that was. I didn’t realise it was so hard just to get used to being looked at. Sounds silly. I hadn’t realised. That must be how my students feel all the time.’

‘The rhythms of verse, it’s just like music. I understand that.’

‘When actors speak verse like that – that’s when magic happens.’

A Circus Life

Sometimes I pick up some spare ignored fruit I bought in a misguided moment from my dusty fruit bowl and attempt to juggle. Each time I’m utterly shocked I can’t do it. I feel like I spend my whole life juggling metaphorically and I’m pretty sure I share that thought with you and countless hundreds of people who must juggle on a daily basis (minus the stripy trousers and red nose), surely gaining a party trick out of it is only fair compensation? Juggling a work/life balance, juggling children and relationships, juggling work priorities, we all have something to juggle.

Baz has its fair share of juggling and jugglers; from poetry competitions to education workshops, selling advertising space to arranging parties, negotiating venues to writing letters – not to mention having to pay the bills with other jobs, different projects and commitments that distract you from the juggle. Sometimes all this juggling detracts from why we started in the first place and what we are so determined to achieve. Once in a while as we get carried away keeping track of the million and one balls we have going round in the air we need to stop. Carefully get off the unicycle, put some of the balls gently down back in the fruit bowl and take a moment to pick up and admire the biggest ball of them all – the reason we started – our passion for making theatre. Sometimes this ball needs juggling all on its own, with our full focus and two steady hands to really appreciate it. And then, only then, we can start introducing the smaller balls once again, one by one.

Once they’re all back in rhythm we stop caring whether we can juggle some dried up granny smiths or not. We’re already all juggling even bigger things – and that’s a far more impressive trick.

Stripy trousers never suited me anyway.

What happens next …

This week Baz Education ran a Macbeth workshop with 9 and 10 year olds. In our rehearsals we talk ad nauseum about playing the story as if we didn’t know what was going to happen next. Suddenly we find ourselves in a room where our audience genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen next …

 

Me: Has anyone heard of ‘Macbeth’ before? What do you know?

Kid: Is it a love story?

Kid: It’s about desire.

Kid: Is there shouting?

 

Me: … so now I’m going to ask you a question and if your answer is ‘yes’ I want you to run to that end of the room and shout ‘AY!’. If your answer is ‘no’ I want you to run to that end of the room and shout ‘NAY!’ Ready? Should Macbeth tell his wife about the witches.

[general commotion, shouts of ‘Ay’ and ‘Nay’]

Kid: Can I go in the middle if it’s a ‘maybe’?

Me: Of course, if you want.

Kid: What’s the Shakespeare for ‘maybe’?

 

Witch: Banquo, your children shall be kings.

Kids: That’s much better – Banquo’s one is much better!

Me: Really?

Kids: Yeah definitely. Your children, that’s MUCH better. Poor Macbeth.

 

Me: … so Lady Macbeth and Macbeth agree that they are going to kill the king.

Kid: Oh yeah, I bet he creeps up on him in the dark and gets his food and then when he’s not looking he puts the poison in his food and creeps away, with a big smile like this because he’s just poisoned the king and he goes somewhere else and waits to hear the news so he can be all like ‘oh no!’ like he didn’t know already but he did. Yeah. I bet that’s what he does …

 

Macbeth: Murderers, kill Banquo – secretly.

Banquo [in audience, shocked]: Miss, can I fight him back?

 

Me: … and at this feast an uninvited guest turns up –

Kid: One of the witches?

Me: Not one of the witches, it was –

Kid: Banquo’s ghost?

Me: Yes!

Kid: NO WAY?

Me: Yes way!

Kid: NO WAY? I just guessed that! I just guessed that!

 

Me: … so Malcolm says …

Malcolm: Cut down a branch and hold it in front of you.

Me: When the army marches and each one holds a branch in front of them, what do you think it will look like?

[general amazement]

Kid: LIKE A MOVING FOREST!

Kid: No way!! They tricked him, the witches tricked Macbeth!

Kid: He thought a forest couldn’t move but it’s going to! They tricked him!

 

Macbeth [reads]:’ Macbeth, your wife is … dead’ DEAD??!! My wife is DEAD? DEAD?

Lady Macbeth [from audience]: Oh my days, Miss I was lying down, I was LYING DOWN! Just like I was dead, and he says I’m dead! Oh my days, oh my days! It’s like I KNEW! Miss, I was actually lying down!

Macbeth: DEAD?? My wife is DEAD?

Kid: Why did she die?

Kid: She’s a loony, innit?

 

Me: … and then, at last, finally, Macbeth dies.

Mac beth: Aaagghhhghghghgaaahgghghg

[He dies dramatically]

Kid [spontaneously leaping up, conducting]: Da da, da da da dada –

[Entire class sing the Eastenders theme tune]