Monday, 29 February 2016

Take a Leap!

Yes, I'm still alive - with reference to my previous post a few months back, of which You can only see the title... That's because I wasn't yet acquainted to my new smartphone. But the title pretty much summed it all up!

I've actually just realised that I never got the chance to post pictures from my leafleting days,  so I'll do it as soon as I can sit at my pc.

Yep, that means that I currently have no time to sit down and write using a keyboard. Instead, I'm using pen and paper, and I write everywhere and anywhere a new story pops up in my head. And it's a lot of them... Can You hear them? Ssshhhhhh... Listen...

Can You hear yelling and screaming? I hear these voices every day, been hearing them since I got sacked for writing A Day In The Medical Room.

Haven't told many people - and I'd like to keep it that way, so please keep this to Yourselves... Every single character in that play longs to get out, they want a story of their own.  "You can't bury us here forever", I heard once. Do You get it? I have just over forty characters in search of a story. If I write a play-a-year, I should make it before I turn 90!

And stories are coming! You should see their faces when they finally leave their original play, the one that'll never be staged (because the school, in the dismissal letter, stated that I'm not allowed to do so).

It's challenging having to juggle this with everyday life but when writing becomes an urge You've got to leave everything else: these people are killing me, I feel responsible for all of them, for giving them a voice in the first instance, so the least I can do for them is give them a story.

A lot more than just writing is going on - I don't do boring stuff, You know? But,  since I am restarting this blog,  I'm going to leave a few things out, until next time...

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Return to the Present!

I want to tell You a story, a story that is stranger than fiction…

Last year, I lost my job because of the project featured on this blog.  I gave a copy of my play to a colleague who had more experience than me in working with youngsters in the Performing Arts.  I asked her to read it and give me some feedback after she responded enthusiastically at the news I was writing about my experience.

The next thing I know, I’m in the head teacher’s office who suspended me pending an investigation.  The latter went on during the second part of last year, and ended with my dismissal at a disciplinary hearing.  The reason was that I had breached confidentiality and human rights, although the panel that dismissed me did not believe I had acted maliciously.

My counselor concluded that writing the play was the way of the Subconscious Mind trying to prove that I don’t have a language barrier, a statement I was  constantly reminded for seven years.

Very recently, I lost another job because the head teacher sent unfair references to my potential employer.

I’m not prepared to wipe out seven years of my life worked with passion in a secondary school just because I have made a mistake.  I apologised and recognised my responsibilities.  If I made mistakes it was only out of inexperience and acted to the best of my knowledge. Yes, You read it correctly… seven years of my life. 

I want to share it here because I need to move on – RIGHT NOW!

I’m not sharing this story so that I can take it on someone or point my finger at others’ insecurities.  I’m not responsible for how others interpret my stories, for what they receive when I communicate with them, or even for what they think about me.  They have to take their own responsibilities.

This ‘incident’, as it has been defined, will not follow me in my present, will not compromise my reputation, will not change the course of my ship.  I have plans and dreams; that’s what I must concentrate on, and I feel I need no one’s permission to move on.

After being declined the job because of the references, I still had to provide for my children so, after a week of despair, I got back on my feet and – albeit feeling rather wobbly – I found the only job that didn’t require references… I became, for the first time in my life, a leaflet distributor!

Oh, the joys of distributing leaflets, pamphlets and magazines around an inhabited place…  Firstly, I must publicly declare that there is quite a satisfaction in inserting something through a door – I never thought I could feel such fulfillment in my entire life!  Equally, it could be very frustrating when someone refuses what You’re delivering, or there is NO LETTER BOX, or there’s a dog silently waiting behind the door for You to stick Your fingers through the letter box and attacking the leaflet You carefully delivered with such pleasure!

I’ve been leafleting for 42 days. During the first two weeks I went around roads and streets crying at my new condition, if it wasn’t for the beautiful sunshine that forced me to wear sunglasses in an attempt to disguise my tears, alas unsuccessfully!  Then the victim voice inside of me that constantly enquired about “Why is this happening to me?” or “I’ll never have my reputation back as it was before!” or even “I’ll never be able to find a job in my profession ever again!” started dying down, as my attention happened to focus on the beauty around me.

I was lucky enough to be the only one on the team that liked leafleting in the villages of Buckinghamshire.  There are some pearls out there, far from the town where I live, gorgeous little gems where the community spirit is still alive.  I’ve been greeted mostly in a very friendly way; I’ve been asked to hand out “a couple of leaflets for our next-door neighbours, so You don’t have to go all the way round there!”; I’ve been thanked from behind doors and windows for delivering; people even opened their door to thank me!  I’ve been even greeted by some animals too, so I’m posting pictures below.

I smelled all the variety of roses I spotted in every single garden, and learned that, no matter how much effort You put in making a cottage garden, if You don’t include lavender, it will never be an authentic English cottage garden!  

I’ve seen beautiful houses and neglected houses.  Once, I was passing by a house so neglected that I had to stop and look at it properly, and decide whether or not I was dropping a leaflet.  A second later, I swore I spotted the silhouette of a person from behind a window and, while I was trying to convince myself it wasn’t so, the silhouette waved at me.  I waved back in astonishment, thinking the house was haunted and I had just been waved hello by a ghost.  And legged it!

A courier with a sat nav once stopped me asking for directions!  Fortunately for him, that was the second time I was leafleting in that village and already knew it like the palm of my hand.  Many villagers leave kind and funny messages for postmen and couriers inviting them to leave parcels in boxes left outside entrance doors. Everybody look after each other. 

In some villages, You can get a box of eggs and leave Your money in an honesty box.  The eggs are left outside, in large containers that bear messages like “Free Range Eggs, box of 6 for £1, please leave money in little jar”.  The containers are right on the pavement!  And how grateful I’ve been when the village had its own little pub that was open all day, so I could be blessed with a toilet break!

I’ve been going around villages not carrying a bag across my chest like the rest of the team, but pulling around a water-proof shopping trolley, one of those You buy when You stop driving but still have enough energy to walk to the shops.  My beautiful black wheeled trolley, now parked in my garage!  I bought it after my right hand went under the knife (see previous posts) and I couldn’t drive for six weeks.  It served its purpose brilliantly on this occasion, although at times it was barked at by dogs walking with their owners, as they mistook the trolley for my pet!

All of a sudden I realised that I had stopped feeling sorry for myself, and that I was actually enjoying what I was doing!  I no longer felt the victim of my own circumstances.  At some point, there has been a real shift in consciousness.  I realised that, if I wasn’t going back to work in my profession, it was not going to be the end of the world after all, because I finally understood that I have many resources and talents.

I have been blessed with a very hot summer, I guess that helped, so it really felt like a summer job, a sabbatical, a kind of time-out, definitely a blessing in disguise – as it proved to be in the end.  When You’re stuck in a mental fixation, You’re not able to see the surroundings, the alternatives.

During this time-out in which I was not engaged in anything in particular but rather practised (not without struggling) to stay in a neutral state, I went for an audition, and got a part on a play that is part of a major project to commemorate WW1 this November.

Needless to say that what I’ve been through sparked more ideas for new stories, and that I’ve been (and I’m going to be) quite busy for a while writing them, since I’ve also been invited to join a playwright group, where artists read each others' scripts and then give each other feedback.  What more can I ask for?

This is what I’m going to focus on… my dreams, my talents, my creativity, because this is what I’ve denied myself for a very long time: believing that I am not deserving of creating, of daring outside my comfort zone, of being exactly who I Am… An Artist!

There is a way of writing that is universally accepted as phenomenological, which is based on how artists experience and interpret the world around them, but this could be only for a few to know and appreciate. What I want EVERYONE to know, is that phenomenological writing is my favourite style, and one that characterises my writing since I started at the age of 12.

If my passion looks like over the top to You, it’s none of my concern.  If I appear to You like I’m up myself, it’s none of my concern either, so please deal with it, because I’m back stronger than I was one year ago, and growing!  I remain open and receptive to all positive criticism and advice.

I want to conclude this post and start a new chapter with two famous words, very appropriate today, in memory of one of my favourite actors ever: Carpe Diem!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Give me a break!

When I was in my mid teens, I took part in a major theatre production organised by the youth group within the parish church I used to attend.  We adapted and staged Jonathan Livingstone The Seagull!

Among other leaders of the youth group, I was involved in all stages of the production, from the adaptation and building the script, to props, costumes and even choreographed one of the dances. It was a tremendously enriching experience that inspired me to take up Dance and Performing Arts, although later I was vigorously discouraged by my parents who couldn't see how a job in such sector could make me a rich and happy person - bless them!

One of the ideas that started seeding itself into my very core was to do more, combining youth and the arts, one of the ways - in my personal view - with which youngsters could have been kept away from the streets and avoid them getting in to trouble.

This idea never left me, even if I ended up doing something completely different later in life than I should have done.  While running these workshops now, and exploring the theory behind Drama with this small bunch of young people, that seed has come back reminding me that there's still time...

Nevertheless, I'm going to take a sabbatical period right now, to reflect on what has been done so far, and where we go from here! It is fair to do so because today last year I started this blog (the jouirney started a long time ago!) If You happen to know about Mercury going retrograde from today, You'll know approximately how long this period is going to last!

'Till next time!

Friday, 21 June 2013

On Status!

A quick note on Wednesday's workshop (I seem to have lost track of time these days!)  Albeit a smaller number of attendees - teenagers are very busy people - we had one hour to explore the concept of Status in society.  One of the actors' first impression was to come up with the word authority, which sums it up!

Activities were based on who and why has authority in different scenarios and how Status can change within a situation, but not before linking this to Emotions and how to observe someone's status from their non-verbal communication.

I used an activity I found extremely interesting during one of many workshops I enjoyed with Pepper's Ghost some while ago.  French playing cards are handed out and, without showing the card to the others, the actors have to portrait the given Status on the card only through body language, face expression and eye contact (if applicable).  Status is directly proportional to the number / figure on the card, the ace being the lowest status and the king being the highest.  I gave it a twist, though, and handed out the Joker, too!   :D

They enjoyed taking their Status around twice, thankfully drawing different cards both times. It was amazing to see how they verbalised Status matters that are often taken for granted, coming up with amazing description and terms and really trusting their intuition.  In fact, at the end of each turn, they had to guess each other's Status, and they were amazing!

Not sure if I mentioned this already, but working with Pepper's Ghost, a theatre company based in Worlverton, Milton Keynes, has enriched and inspired me immensely.  I was very lucky to work with extremely talented people of different ages and from various backgrounds.  I did log my experience and feel I can draw from it safely like rummaging in a prop box and knowing exactly what to find!

On top of this, when I was dreaming to get into the magical world of Performing Arts through a youth project in the parish church I used to attend a few years back, I got hold of an interesting little book, which I later lost, along with my Dream.  This happened because I was not ready then to allow the Dream to take off.  Now, I bought it again and want to share it with You in case You also feel that working with Youth is one of the ways forward.

The booklet is entitled Act Out! Drama and role-play activities for young people and was written by Vanessa Rogers, published in the in the UK by the National Youth Agency (ISBN 0 86155 295 4)  It's a precious piece of writing to have at hand, although nowadays more activities can be downloaded with easy access to the Internet.

I'm still feeling a bit weird, though...

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Emotions [4]

Here we are at the end of another exciting and weird week!

This week didn't see the script as the main protagonist of our workshop: young actors preferred to concentrate on Emotions, especially things that they observed in between our meetings, and transpose them into stage context, analysing in particular how to make them credible for the stage.

We also used music to explore Emotions and how it affects the way we feel, using a playlist made of music I was hoping they didn't know. It was interesting to see that most of the listed Emotions they came up with matched (they were divided in two groups), whereas for some other tracks they picked completely different feelings.  One of them even shared two tracks from their iPod, so we had ten pieces of music in total.

We then passed on to movement, linking this to non-verbal communication and how we express Emotions without words! It was very interesting to see how a feeling can be expressed through movement, even without being an experienced dancer.

This concept reinforces one of my deepest beliefs: that we are all capable of creating movement and rhythm - it's in our blueprint, it's just a talent that needs to be nurtured!  It was also beautiful to see how those who chose to use movement to express an emotion from their list did so safe in the knowledge that they were not judged or criticised: these young actors know that the space I created is safe, and that fills me with pure joy!

We're moving swiftly in to exploring Status next week but only for one hour!
Nevertheless, I have exciting activities that should sparkle discussion!

I have a lot more to share but I like leaving a bit of suspence every now and then, but I'm tired and not 100% myself at present, so I'll say good night and have a fab week ahead!  :)

Monday, 10 June 2013

Emotions [3]

Keeping the momentum and anticipating next workshop, which is all ready to be shared with those amazing young actors.  We'll still be focusing on Emotions, hoping that some new faces will join in.  Thespians were given a "homework": to observe and take note of people's non-verbal communication in diverse situations.  This is going to be fun to share!  I'm also introducing a closing activity this time in line with non-verbal communication.  It'll be very interesting to see how far they've gone to explore Emotions and how we express them in daily life.

Next week and the week after, I decided to work on Status and therefore gently  introduce a bit of Stanislavski methodology. And that's June concluded.  July will most probably see our choreographer working on routines and exploring movement until the group breaks up for the summer holidays (school's out on the 24th in most UK counties!)


Inspiration keeps on flowing now that the door is open, so I wrote this today and with to dedicate it to all those out there on a Journey, just like me:

Look inside, my Child
You know
The very thing that makes You wild

You grow
You dare
This is the Life You always wished to share

Hold on
You're near
Don't You allow to spoil it by that fear

You can achieve whatever lies ahead

Just trust
Your Power
And see Your Passions blossom like a flower

And You
Will see
That You're already what You're meant to be.

My wish for all Human Beings is to face their True Passions and Desires, recognise them and just follow them - what are You waiting for?

I don't know where this Journey is going to lead me, to but I'm really enjoying working on it right now, with no rush!  And that's what's so beautiful, as well as how naturally it's all happening!