DAY 16 - Freshly Scratched at the BAC

 


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Matt
So...here we are then, our second Scratch in one week. This morning, we all arrive at the Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) for our 11am tech rehearsal.The stage is smaller than expected so after a quick 20 minutes tech we are off to rehearse in Kingston.

Firstly we tape the floor in the rehearsal room to the size of the BAC's stage, and start running through our 10 minute section to get use to the stage size.

On Wednesday we made a list of things we wanted to refine after the Blue Elephant scratch. So we made our way through the list, refining little details. One example of this is in the diagnosis scene, adding in Ted (we have now named the puppet) reading a health leaflet, while the doctors/ensemble pull out x-rays and scans around him. We decided to take our time in the imagination sequence, looking at where the puppeteer stands so as to not block the puppet, to making minute details like the head making subtle movements.

After rehearsal we are back off to the BAC, we are last in the evening's running order and so get the opportunity to watch other pieces, which was a welcomed break to our busy week. After performing, we collect our feedback and have the chance to speak to some people.  The feedback below reflects the audiences thoughts and feelings:

"Beautiful. Absolutely charming puppetry. Genuinely moving."

 "Needs music for paper flying about...otherwise promising piece."


"Beautiful and heart-breakingly emotional. My Grandad is currently undergoing similar trauma and is was almost agonising to watch, you really made me feel for the puppet. Huge opportunity of emotionally touching many people. Keep up the awesome work."

 

DAY 15 - The Morning after the night before

Molly
Last night I went to sleep feeling incredibly humbled and overwhelmed by the comments and feedback from our first scratch of CELL at the Blue Elephant Theatre, Camberwell. As with all scratches, the emphasis is on the experimentation and testing of new ideas in front of a supportive audience but as a performer, there is always something incredibly nerve-wracking about doing this. However, the positives of gaining constructive feedback that can be used in future rehearsals, massively outweighs this.

There were a number of surprises in terms of the audience reactions at the Blue Elephant which made us reassess the potential of each section we have created so far. The first surprise was the comedic value of the scene with Ted and the fish. The audience found it very humorous and took a particular liking to the fish with many comments about how much they enjoyed this little character. This was the first moment we presented and I wonder if the humour came from seeing an initial animation or whether it was because the audience could easily relate to the relationship between Ted and the fish. 

During our process so far and in our journey to make our 10 minute scratch performance, we made the choice to create a mini piece rather than a 10 minute extract of a longer show. This was because we wanted to see if we could show the physical degeneration of Ted and whether this would come across clearly, due to a disease or whether it might be mistaken as old age. Some of the audience from the Blue Elephant said that it looked like a story of old age and some commented that it looked like a physically degerative disease so, therefore, we spent much of our rehearsal today exploring way of making this clearer. We wanted to change this today so that we can try a new approach in front of the audience at the BAC tomorrow night. We tried to focus in sharpening the diagnosis section and using brain scans and pictures of neurones to allude to MND without saying it. At this stage, we don't want to categorise Ted as having MND but i'm sure there will come a point where we do, most likely in our longer version of CELL.

I'm intrigued, excited and once again feeling nervous about presenting our scratch at the BAC tomorrow, let's see what the day brings...

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DAY 13 - The Long - To - Do - List

Carly
Well, what a day. The morning was spent trying to finish our building jobs. When we met at the Rose Theatre at 1.30pm, we had a puppet body, a table, a chair and importantly, a puppet head which we are feeling pretty pleased with. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent addressing problems and issues we had with the puppet itself and how we would use it on Tuesday at the scratch. There was a lot of deliberation, running around Primark, BHS and M&S, foam cutting and coffee drinking, but we got there in the end with a long to-do list and left the building at 7pm to go away and do our tasks. We reconvene tomorrow at 10am where I will lead a practical session until 3pm with our work-in-progress puppet. 

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DAY 12 - Blocking

Carly
Over the last week, Matt, Molly and Will all started to develop and build our puppet and props. Foam was being carved, clay was being moulded and tables being constructed. I was in Ireland at a family wedding...my time will come! 

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Today we met to discuss how our puppet and prop pieces have come along. We decided that we needed to return to our workshop this afternoon to finish them all for Tuesday's scratch at the Blue Elephant Theatre. But before we all ran off in different directions, we all went through some of our scenes and blocked them. Using a script Will had set up in Google Docs (which is a God send when creating new work), I was able to quickly type up each detail and movement. 

Now that was logged, we went our separate ways to construct. 

 

DAY 11 - Walking and Imagination

Matt

Today's rehearsal, started with the movement of the puppet's legs in action, just the legs, whilst Molly and Will puppeteer. They followed a line along the floor of numbers and words starting from 1 through to 6, as the numbers got higher the puppets walk had to decline, from a steady walk through to a shuffle, as a stick and another stick was added to help aid the movement.

After that we moved onto the diagnoses section, and worked on the ensemble moving around the puppet with flying paper, this is to add to the confusion and to re-create the thoughts flying through the puppets mind, as he is told of his condition.

After lunch we were back to scrutinising the idea of the puppets imagination, what stimulates it? What launches the puppet into a new world that he has never experienced? The stimulant for the scratch performance we are moving towards is his glasses...

As the puppet struggles to pick up his glasses after dropping them, they become alive and the puppet is suddenly thrown into his imagination.

As we approached the end, we documented our progress with video footage, so that we can remember the detailed movement for next week. The following week, will be working on finishing the puppet, the fish and props.Picture

 

Day 10 - The return of Red Threaders


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Carly
Gemma from Red Threaders came back to rehearse with us today, only this time, we were on the banks of the Thames in the Gallery of the Rose Theatre, Kingston. 

We started the session off by showing Gemma some scenes we had created in rehearsals yesterday:
  • The Dr
  • "Initial Symptoms Are..."
  • The Physio Visits - leading into "puppet's imagination" sequence
  • Dropping Glasses
  • 7 Levels of Irritation - The Fish and the Puppet reading his newspaper
Gemma was able to give us some feedback, showing us our strengths and weaknesses and advising us on how to start working in some narrative structure. One issue Gemma did raise was our use of text. We all agreed after a brief discussion that spoken text was jarring with the visuals we had been producing. As two very visual theatre companies, who use very little or no text at all, it didn't seem right that we used spoken word, however brief, to carry the story. From now on we will always try and create a visual way of getting what we want to say across to the audience sans text. 

During the morning session, we quickly came to the conclusion that for our scratch performances at the Blue Elephant and BAC's Freshly Scratched, we needed to give the audience a 10minute taster of a 40min show. With this in mind, we began to hone in on the scenes, developing and structuring them. After lunch, (which we enjoyed sitting in the sun by the river) we moved onto transitions between scenes and ordering everything to make perfect sense for our scratches. 

I think we were all pretty pleased with how today went. Now for some fine tuning and puppet constructing!

DAY 8 - Generating Material

Molly
Yesterday was a really positive day for generating material as we decided to spend the time trying everyone's practical ideas and letting them run. Today was the day that we had to try and extend those ideas and start to shape our narrative. With two scratch performances at the Blue Elephant Theatre and the BAC fast approaching, we decided to make a condensed narrative arch for what we will show then. 

When working on a section about the diagnosis and physical symptoms of MND, we seemed to carve a clear sequence based on our knowledge of how doctors speak and their mannerisms. This combined with our research of the possible physical symptoms of MND were brought together to create an abstract form of diagnosis. However, when we jumped into a different section, looking at the internal, the imagination, it was interesting to find that it was not so clear cut. 

This is mostly down to the fact that the imagination is something very specific and personal to each individual. Whilst doing research for CELL, we read that the imagination can only work in conjunction with memory; you can only imagine situations because they are partly based on reality. So for example, you have a memory of handling a tennis ball, you know what it feels like, how heavy it is etc. The imagination uses this knowledge and then extrapolates it into something out of the ordinary. The imagination is also based on a personal reaction to a situation, for example, if someone is talking to you and you don't want to listen, you might wish to escape and based on that, you might imagine floating out of the window and across the street where you can no longer hear them. 

It appears, at this stage at least, that the imagination is not as easy to conduct as a group and although has the potential to be fantastical and to allow the impossible, it has to come from an agreed place of reality. Tomorrow, we will try working more on the imagination and I wonder how slippery it would become. I anticipated that the imaginative sections would be the most free-flowing and creative but it turns out when devising, you should expect the unexpected and not anticipate!

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Day 9 - A very Structured day


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Carly
After our last rehearsal last week, myself and Gemma (Red Threaders) went to the pub and over a cheeky pint of cider, created a plan for the first rehearsal to kickstart the week. After an intense warm up of Hep, Rubber Chicken and a Penguin Race, each person in the group had to lead a one hour session. I was the first to kick it off. 

I really enjoy using Ariane Mnouchkine techniques at the beginning of a rehearsal process. So we began with a few simple games to focus. We then moved on to connecting with music. Over a few days, I had created a Spotify playlist called "CELL inspiration". From this, I began to play some of Yann Tiersan's music. The rest of the group began to move around the space, pausing when the music stopped, speeding up and slowing down with the tempo and contrasting sharp movements with smooth. Objects where introduced and the interaction with each other. Soon, short scenes began to develop and I quickly scribbled them all down whilst watching. 

After a short break, I then taped together each persons fingers and giving them tasks to perform within the same boundaries as the previous task. I got the idea from Professor Paul Allain who works lectures at the University of Kent. The aim, was for the performers to feel for themselves the restrictions that develop over the loss of control and movement with your body's muscles. As they performed their tasks, things became laboured and slower and I could see the frustration on their faces at times. What I did notice though, was how they quickly found another way of completing their task, it may not be how they naturally or originally would approach it, but they did always find a way. 

We moved onto to Molly's session. Here, we focused on what we had started the week before with Gemma, developing the Dr's character. Molly structured our movements, repeating motifs and adding in important pieces of text to create a scene that showed the symptoms of MND and a snapshot of a diagnosis. 

Will's session focused on the puppet and his character. We specifically looked at a little habit, where the puppet takes off his glasses to rub his eyes and then drops them and how this can be repeated to show a dengeneration. We also explored the deterioration of speech and voice qualities. Although we don't want to use speech, we are considering the use of breath and small noises. In order to protect our voices and to really understand the anatomical structure of the voice and what happens to it when you have MND, we are going to pose a list of questions to Little Cauliflower's associate artist, Voice Specialist, Ross Anderson-Doherty. 

Finally, Matt led his session, here we explored 7 levels of irritation where the puppet is at home, reading his newspaper but is distracted by his fish. With this exploration, Matt wanted to A) look at the domestic situation of our puppet and B) start thinking about the character of our puppet. With Molly on the right arm and Will on the head of the puppet, we developed Matt's excerise into a short scene, which we hope to show Gemma tomorrow. 

Overall, today was an exciting one. The Smoking Cauliflowers have started to create some material and we can't wait to start developing it! 

DAY 7 - The Royal Hospital of Neuro-Disability

 

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Matt
Today, I went to meet Helen a specialist speech and language therapist at The Royal Hospital of Neuro-disability (RHND) in  Putney.

As I got off the bus and walked towards the hospital, I had no idea what I was about to encounter. Approaching the front gate this amazing building appears, RHND moved there in 1867.

After signing in, I'm collected by a colleague of Helen's and shown to a technology room, but on the way, I hear vibrant music and pass an open door which gave me enough time to look in, what was inside made me stop briefly, patients and their family, friends or partners dancing, the majority of the patients in wheelchairs but absolutely loving the class.

Finally I'm in a room waiting for Helen and there are 3 patients in this room, all of who have a neuro disability. The first man I see is incredibly playing scrabble using his eyes. The second also with his eyes writing an email, and the 3rd being set up with some new technological device that allows him to communicate using a sort of morse code.

Im then introduced to Helen and I explain the show and the idea and progress with my questions. After asking about how Helen got into speech therapy I ask her how she would diagnose someone with MND. After a short pause she answers, "it wouldn't be easy but that I would focus on the positives", which was an answer I didn't expect, after a person is diagnosed I can only imagine the thoughts that run through your head, but to have someone give you that news and then to focus on the positive, can only describe the great work that happens at the RHND.

Helen then put me in contact with a Doctor in London for some further research.

Thank you Helen for your time.

 

DAY 6 - Red Threaders

Carly
The sun was shining in lovely Canterbury today and "Smoking Cauliflower's" were joined by Gemma, one half of the dramaturgy company, Red Threaders. We began the rehearsal with catching Gemma up on what we had achieved in previous rehearsals and the workshop. 

After explaining our work on our puppet's character, Gemma used various methods in order to probe more information and opinion out of us. One method, was laying out small pieces of coloured card on the studio floor, each colour representing a different category. We had:
  • Relationships (from sister to physio)
  • Various items of medical equipment our man could potentially acquire over time
  • Numbers (representing levels of importance, pace etc) 
  • Emotions and feelings
These cards are to be used over the devising process as a way of maintaining structure and cohesiveness. We can remove as many cards as needed over time or add to the pile. Leaving this behind for future reference, we got up on our feet and started some physical activities to get the creative juices flowing. Using photographs as stimulus and character building, we began to get somewhere with the physicality of potential characters in the piece, one example, is a doctor. 
Overall, Gemma helped get us up and moving in the space, allowing us to think more about the physical without neglecting the importance of a clear narrative and through line. 

 

DAY 5 - The Workshop

Matt
So having decided previously we needed a puppet, to start to play with, myself (Matt), Will and Molly went to the Little Cauliflower Creek Creative Workshop in Faversham. The day before, me and Will had worked out the elbow and knee joints, and had started to make them.

We started the day with a few stop-off's to pick up some needed materials, to really get us going in the workshop. It was important as we started to make the puppet that we thought about every single body part in detail from the shoulder joints and the head mechanism to the minor movements of the foot and hands, this took time and careful planning, however after discussion a prototype was started. The head and body was then started to be carved from foam by Will, and Molly was fitting the upper arm and lower arms, and the upper leg and lower leg together. 

I started to work on the shoulder joint, trying a few methods to get the fluidity of movement that we wanted. Eventually both arms were fitted with shoulder joints. Molly and Will were then carving the hips, which will fit to the bottom of the main chest. I then carved the feet and hands which I then gave to Molly to carve in some detail. I was then working on the hip joints, and connecting the lower leg to the foot. Will was carving from wood, the head mechanism.

By the end of the day we had all the parts for the puppet, but ran out of time to connect it all together....Our puppet is nearly ready....

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DAY 4 - Rehearsals with 2

 

Molly
With the need for a puppet to use becoming very apparent during Monday's rehearsal, Will and Matt spend the day at the LC workshop in Faversham, leaving myself and Carly to grapple with developing and building from yesterday. I think it's safe to say that the ideas for this show hav

e been very free flowing and the subject topic combined with the internal/external idea make a huge and brilliant creative springboard. As ever, it is how you turn those thoughts and images into something practical that an audience can watch.
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We started the day by grouping together the visual ideas that came out of an exercise done during Monday's rehearsal. The first categories were, Specific and Non-Specific, the former being defined as a more rounded ideas that have a place within the character and narrative decisions already made and the latter being broader, more poetic notions. We then further grouped the Specific section and came out with four groups, Medical/Science based, Work/Routine based, Imagined situations and Emotions. 

The plan for the rest of the day was then to get these ideas on their feet and work out some things to try when Matt and Will came to join us for the last couple of hours of rehearsals. To say that this rehearsal was a frustrating one, is an understatement, both myself and Carly felt as though progress was slow and with only two bodies to work practically with, it was very difficult to create and realise the images we both had floating around in our heads. I came away from the rehearsal feeling rather dissatisfied with our progress, as is often the way when you don't quite managed to practically articulate your creative ideas. 

However, upon reflection, an interesting concept arose. In order to find a way forward with just the two of us and no puppet, we started to work with one of us temporarily taking the role of puppet. We started to play with speeding up the physical process of MND, so the puppet (Carly at this point) went from having full mobility whilst writing, to dropping the pen, the pad, her arm and eventually not even being able to hold up her own body. It was therefore my responsibility as an outside body to come in and protect and support Carly, for her to be able to write, to stay upright. This then provoked another potential avenue for exploration that the puppeteers are not the enablers because although they theoretically allow the puppet to move, they are working on the basis that the puppet's movement will physically degenerate and therefore, the enabler is the person from the outside, a contained forced that does not and cannot come from within the character. 

 

DAY 3 - Canterbury

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Will
It was our first day rehearsing down in Canterbury as a collaborative today. We spent most of the day discussing the background and personality of our protagonist.

'He' is a solitary man who's let life carry him along with no real ambitions until now. He has a chair, and possible a pet fish (a Blackmoore), oh, and he likes trains. We think he has a brother, but no wife. A job, but no career. And, most importantly, an extraordinary imagination. 

Questions we are hoping to answer this week are:
  • How does he react when he is first diagnosed with MND?
  • Who does he tell?
  • How does it change his outlook on life?

 

DAY 2 - First day of Rehearsals - Matt

Matt
Funny how on my way to rehearsal today I see the word "Puppets" mentioned in the newspaper 3 or 4 times. We find ourselves rehearsing in the airy Gallery space of The Rose Theatre, Kingston. The rehearsal starts with the sharing of scientific, factual and realities of information researched so far for Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

After a short discussion involving exciting ideas, impossible set ideas but the creative imaginations are flowing, we are up on our feet, playing with an interesting fact that some cases of MND start with people yawning, dropping things, tripping and struggling to pronounce some words. This was built into a physical score of us taking the sound and movement, quickly this evolved into an ensemble score which we all individually contributed. From dropping a pencil case right through to the person who dropped it receiving it back again, as if they had never dropped it.

Our central character, who currently stands as a puppet, sparked conversation into how we he would move, his characteristics and mannerisms. Carly was sat in a chair, and a series of strings were attached to her (almost) every limb. We then proceeded to experiment with the movement of dead weight human limbs, although our puppet probably won't be a marionette, it gave us the sense of man power that is needed to move the limbs, and for Carly to experience the feeling of having her limbs moved by other people...

This experiment threw into the pot of ideas many pondering questions...

As the MND starts to take over our puppet, does this require more puppeteers to support him, or does it take in the first place 2 or 3 puppeteers to manipulate him, and during the process puppeteers drop out, until he only needs 1 to manipulate him?

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DAY 1 - Molly and Carly Research

 

DAY 1 - Molly and Carly Research
Molly
How strange that the very first thing I read on my first day of research for CELL was that MND affects men much more than women. How strange that from the very beginning our central character has always been a man, right from the very outside of shaping our idea. I wonder if the two are linked at all? I wanted to find out why MND is more prevalent in men but as I started digging around, it seems that this is one of the many unanswered questions about the disease. The simplest answer, is that they do not know. 

All this not knowing, this speculating, this guessing got me thinking about the more tangible side of MND so I started looking into the human qualities, the stuff that we and hopefully the audience, as people, will know, understand and recognise. I was perhaps a little naively shocked that when people contract MND there is no immediate sign that would raise alarm, nothing that is particularly out of the ordinary. I was searching through the MNDA website(http://www.mndassociation.org) and was reading personal accounts of people who have MND. Many of them commented that very mundane and human actions started to happen more frequently, for example, they started to drop things more often or they started to trip over their own feet. These actions, which would not be deemed as strange then build up but slowly, over a passage of time. For me, this was something I could immediately access as I have the experience of doing both of these actions. It hit me that if I started dropping things more often, I would probably think nothing of it at all, I would probably think I was having a bad day, I was tired, I was being clumsy. It is perhaps only in hindsight, only in warped, slowed down memory, with a diagnosis, with a label that one notices them...

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Carly
For me, I felt I needed to understand the scientific explanation of MND before I started to research anything else. I knew the disease affected the nerves in the brain and the spinal cord, but how? So, I went to the Templeman Library on the University of Kent campus and started sifting through books trying to understand exactly what happens. To condense, the cell body of a motor neurone receives messages from another cell through its axon, (the signals or messages between neurones are called synapses) creating muscle movement. In a person with MND, the nerves become damaged, meaning their muscle control weakens and the muscle itself wastes away. 

"The muscles first affected tend to be those in the hands, feet or mouth and throat..." (www.mndaassociation.org)

When reading further about the symptoms on MND, I got stuck on changes in speech. Speech errors such as malapropisms (e.g. a spoonerism - You have hissed all of my mystery lectures) and tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon become more prevalent, some consonants become harder to say (p, b, t, d, k and g), the voice begins to sound hoarse, low pitched and monotonous. In The Student's Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience, Jamie Ward explains: "Speech production normally only exists when someone else is around to engage in the complementary process of speech recognition." This made me think a lot about our main character. They will have to have someone else to engage with through speech in order for us to show its decline, whether that be directly at the audience or with another character on stage is something for us to look at in rehearsals (we are all very unsure about a speaking puppet though...)

After the science reading, I began to think of our creative process. Discovering these tips from Doctors for MND patients, I thought they would help us as a collaborative company throughout the rehearsal process, giving us something to 'check in on': 
  • Recognise what was and what is now
  • Remain involved in the world around you
  • Retaining a sense of humour is life-enhancing

 

BAC Next Thursday

NEWS UPDATE - get your diaries out!

On the 29th March (next Thursday) Smoking Apples will be taking part in Freshly Scratched, an evening of scratch performances under the theme of Theatre and Puppets. Organised by the BAC in association with Puppet Centre Trust.

Its Pay What You Can, so please come along, and pay what you can. Have a look at the BAC website for more info.

Best wishes,

Russet x

 

Animate Kingston and The Brits

We are now in full swing with Animate festival, a wonderful new cheeky little festival set in the beautiful Kingston Upon Thames. We have been performing every Monday and Thursday evening as part of Animate Kingston but more on that later.

 

As you know Smoking Apples set off to Prague at the beginning of February to perform the scratch of our new show The Wordcatcher and to run a workshop with Czech residents. We successfully taught some basic puppetry skills to a very enthusiastic and multi-national group, we had Czech participants as well as American, English and Scottish expats now living in Prague. All in all it turned out to be a very enjoyable workshop. The company who invited us to perform - the Prague Film and Theater Center - are keen to get us into the British Language Schools in Prague to run some more workshops and we are very excited about the opportunity of returning.

 

Personally I will be heading over to Prague on the 15th April for 5 weeks of fun in Czech lands. I hope to improve our connections in the Czech Republic and will be auditioning to work with the lovely Blood, Love and Rhetoric Theatre. Jonagold and Golden D. will be joining me for a week or so to see what we can do.

 

Back in England we have been thoroughly enjoying ourselves by building a plane, making ridiculous videos and writing some short scenes set in the First World War, this is all in aid of Animate Festival. Today we took part in the Sopwith Extravaganza - an afternoon of fun on the lawn outside All Saints Church. Smoking Apples and Dumbshow Theatre reunited in a paper plane throwing competition, war time sing-along, dancing on the lawn, and finally unveiling the beautiful and magnificent Sopwith Camel. An excellent model built by Jonagold who has even put a video of the plane's creation on you tube, why not have a look.

 

The festival will continue over the next 3 weeks so if you find yourself anywhere near Kingston do look out for us, and don't be shy to say hello. For those of you who have already encountered us in our excellent costumes, towards the end of the festival some of those lovely characters will return. Annie, Hazel, Lieutenant Banbury, and perhaps the lovely Annabel will appear.

 

Finally, any music lovers may have noticed Kate Bush's nomination on the Brit Awards. What an honour to have worked with such a talented woman, and what a joy to see a clip of our video on national television, to catch our 2 seconds of fame again have a look at this clip.


Please keep looking at the website for further updates, and don't hesitate to get in touch with any queries, you'll find an email us form here.

 

All the best,

 

Russet.

 

Kate Bush, Animate and Prague

Hello!

Well this is all very exciting! Kate Bush has put the music video we worked on up on the site. Please take a look and let us know what you think, its the opening video on www.katebush.com or you can find it on youtube here. There is some great feedback on the page!

Also at the moment we are working on some pieces for Animate Festival in Kingston upon Thames, here is a video of Matt (Jonagold) hard at work, posted on our facebook page. (Surprise ending - it even surprised me!)

This week we are also preparing for a weeks trip to Prague where we will be meeting with such wonderful companies as Buchty a Loutky, and Blood, Love and Rhetoric theatre, and also Prague Film and Theater Center. We will be performing our 20 minute scratch titled The Wordcatcher which some of you may have caught at the Lyric Hammersmith last week in association with PFTC.

That is all for now, as I'm sure you will agree with have been busy, but we are always glad to hear from you, so please do drop us an email or join our mailing list.



Best wishes,

Russet

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Smoking Apples.

Just before the year ended ITV's Ad of the year featured the Weetabix advert at Number 15 (about 12 mins in) including puppetry from the lovely Golden Delicious and Jonagold and it's already looking to be a very exciting new year for the Apples.

On the 20th January Smoking Apples have been asked to take part in a scratch night at the Lyric Hammersmith in association with their main feature from Frantic Assembly. We are very excited indeed to be performing at the Lyric and hope to see some of you there as we test out some new material.

When we are not preparing for the 20th January we will be rehearsing for Animate Festival in Kingston Upon Thames. This festival is going to take place over 6 weeks, starting in mid February and will include lots of little performances from a great collection of artists. There will be 2 main weekends in the festival where all the company's and their work will come together and perform in the Market Square. Smoking Apples are going to be collaborating with Dumbshow again and we are really excited about it after having so much fun and success with Seething Wells and The Defeat of King Cholera

Smoking Apples will be making some further contacts with our friends in Prague, with the help of Babicka Jablko. Babicka (Johana) is our newest recruit and we look forward to collaborating with her on some projects and performances in Prague and the UK and so we have arranged to pay her a visit and get the ball rolling. Babicka trained with the company both in the UK and in the Czech Republic as our two colleges do an exchange of students and she has been an inspiration throughout our friendship. By the way, Babicka Jablko means Granny Apple because when asked her favourite kind of apple Johana said, 'The one's from my Granny's house'.

We also hope to run some more workshops and have got lots of fingers in lots of (apple) pies, so we will keep updating you with news and stupid jokes. Speaking of stupid jokes, if you haven't seen it already, check out our puppet skills in the latest Webuyanycar.com advert, and listen out for my awful joke in Behind The Scenes.

For now, on behalf of the fruit bowl I'd like to wish you a very happy new year,

Best wishes,

Russet

Noah on Holiday

Dear all,


Another little update for you, the wonderful Matt has been hard at work directing and editing a short film of our puppet Noah. Please have a look at Noah on Holiday and do leave us some feedback, or email Matt at matt@smokingapplestheatre.com.

Noah is the star of our first performance Whispers from a Wandering Tent, and there are some more photos on our Gallery page form this performance.

I hope you are all enjoying your holidays, or the season at least, if you are busy at work.

Best,

Russet

webuyanycar.com advert is now live on youtube!

Very excited, please check out the advert here and the making of video here to see our interviews!

Apart from that Merry Christmas one and all.

Best,
Russet

Website updating and visiting Prague

Hello,

Russet (Hattie) updating you tonight.


So as you may have noticed we have been making some well needed changes to our website. Look out for the new photos from this years performances of Seemingly Invisible and The Defeat of King Cholera.

Also if you have a look at The Apples you can have a look at some of the other wonderful artists we have been working with. Our most recent addition to the page is Johana Vanousova, our Czech correspondent. As you may have noticed Smoking Apples have studied in Prague and performed in that beautiful city a few times. We like to try and keep our connections going and as such I am on a short trip to Prague at the moment.


We plan to return to Prague as a company in early February to set up some meetings and see if we can perform in Czech Republic as well as performing in the UK. Today I bumped into an English performer who lives and works in Prague, he was in a production we saw when we first visited the country, I hope this is a good omen for our plans for 2012.

The site is not quite finished yet, but I hope you are enjoying the new images and information.

Best wishes,

Russet

Smoking Apples

Currently updating the website with Ben & Jerry's helping us!

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