BLOG: #PerceptionFest Q&A with Scandal and Gallows Theatre

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Fresh from the success of Heart of Darkness last spring, Scandal and Gallows Theatre are back at Omnibus Theatre with a new staging of Nikolai Gogol’s famous short story, as part of October’s #PerceptionFest. We caught up with them between rehearsals for some quick fire questions!

 

1.     Can you describe your staging of The Overcoat in 5 words?

9 to 5 Russian Fairytale
 
2.     Why do you think this year’s festival theme ‘Going against the tide’ is an important one?
 
The way things have been going the last few years, there seems to be a growing sense that everything is falling apart and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Both of those things aren’t true, but we’ve been made to feel like they are. So a festival that makes people feel the opposite seems pretty bloody important.
 
3.     Can you tell us one other show/event in the festival that you’re excited about?
 
      Futures Theatre Co. seem like they’re that ideal combination of highly skilled theatre-makers and people dedicated to making a good thing happen in the world. Looking forward to A Cracked Plaster Sky.
 
4.     What do you hope that audiences will take away from watching The Overcoat?
 
A little shot of empathy in a bag. To be used when next relevant.

The Overcoat will be at Omnibus Theatre from Wed 4 – Fri 6 Oct, as part of our October festival, Perception 2017. For more information or to book tickets, click here.

BLOG: Make Your Own Zeraffa Giraffa Mask!

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We’ve been having lots of fun at Omnibus Theatre making giraffe masks for our Winter show, Zeraffa Giraffa. We had lots of lovely children making them at the recent Clapham Old Town Fair, and we wanted to share it with you so you can make your own at home!

Remember to always get an adult to help you when using scissors!

Step One: Gather together your craft materials! We used a yellow paper plate (or you can get a white one and colour it in), some coloured bits of paper (we used yellow, orange and brown), a glue stick, safety scissors, a piece of elastic, and a black pen.

 

Step Two: Get an adult to use sharp scissors to cut two holes in the plate so you can see through the mask!

 

Step Three: Using the colour paper, cut out two ears and two horns.

 

Step Four: Glue the ears and horns into place on the paper plate.


 

Step Five: Cut out a circle from yellow paper and then cut once into the centre of the circle.

 

Step Six:  Pull the circle around into a cone shape, and glue into place.

 

Step Seven: Draw on Zeraffa’s nostrils and a smiley mouth, then glue the cone into place on the mask.

 

Step Eight: Cut out some brown squares of paper, these can be any shapes and sizes you like.

 

Step Nine: Glue the brown squares onto Zeraffa’s face, these will make the giraffe pattern!

 

Step Ten: Use your pen to add on any more detail you want. We gave Zeraffa some eyelashes and some fur in her ears!

 

Step Eleven: Get an adult to use sharp scissors to push holes on either side of the mask, thread the elastic through, measure it to your head and then tie knots in either end to secure it.

 

Step Twelve: You are now ready to wear your giraffe mask! Have fun!

 

 

Zeraffa Giraffa will run at Omnibus Theatre from 25 Nov – 17 Dec, and is recommended for children aged 4 – 8 and their families. Visit the website page for more details. 

BLOG: Perception 2017 – a festival of vibrant drama, music and debate

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This Autumn, we are proud to launch Perception 2017, a festival of vibrant theatre, music & debate. Witness performances over the course of October that will examine the impact of making radical choices.

This year, a diverse spread of artists will explore what happens when you can’t fit in. Authentic meets fabricated, cultural stereotypes are challenged, live and digital meet in distorted reality, an unromantic attempts romance and testimonies are relived on stage verbatim.

Highlights include critically acclaimed Scandal and Gallows Theatre, who open the festival with their new engaging and farcical staging of Gogol’s famous short story The Overcoat. Edinburgh hit show Mary and Me from Irish performer and playwright Irene Kelleher, about a 15-year-old girl who gives birth in a grotto, runs for three nights. Futures Theatre returns to Omnibus with critically acclaimed playwright Kay Adshead and new play A Cracked Plaster Sky, inspired by true stories of street prostitution, a story set over 70 years that proposes a different way of being and reveals other shining universes.

Started in 2015, Perception is Omnibus Theatre’s annual festival about changing perceptions through challenging preconceptions; about the judgements we make and what judgements do to us.

Perception 2017 runs from 3 – 28 October at Omnibus Theatre, Clapham. The full programme can be found on our website at the following link- http://omnibus-clapham.org/perception-festival/

What will you bring to the debate?

 

#PerceptionFest

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Website: www.omnibus-clapham.org

BLOG: Work Experience Life at Omnibus Theatre

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We asked the lovely Leah to tell us about what it’s like to do Work Experience at Omnibus Theatre…

My name is Leah and I’ve been doing work experience at Omnibus Theatre for a week. I currently go to Lambeth Academy. Omnibus Theatre has been a very inviting place which has opened up my eyes as to what I want to do in the future. It is located in Clapham Common, where the old library used to be. When people say never judge a book by its cover, take notes! I first judged the whole idea of working in a theatre that was originally a library. In my first opinions I thought it was going to be completely undeveloped with books scattered everywhere- waiting to be replaced but I was completely wrong. Omnibus Theatre is a warm, welcoming place with staff that are caring despite not knowing who you are. I even thought I would be treated differently due to the fact I’m a secondary school student, again… I was wrong. I recommend visiting Omnibus Theatre.

On my first day I had to research ‘Michael Faraday’, a British chemist and physicist scientist. My first impression was “Great. Learning.” Obviously sarcastic. Yet again, I was proven wrong because those facts made me really question “If Michael Faraday never existed, would the modern technology I use today even exist?” I went home that Monday questioning my brother and obviously he knew nothing about the scientist, which made me seem extremely smart. I can’t wait to go back to school and question the science teachers. However, I really wish this work experience didn’t have to come to an end.

On my second day I was helping the most amazing catering person ever, Sally! Sally gave me an insight as to what a cafe/bar looks like when it first opens up; honestly it was a completely new experience for me. Even the washing up was new for me. I was delighted to work beside someone as hard-working as Sally and it really did make me feel more welcomed with the Omnibus Theatre.

On day three, I was continuing with the work I did on Monday. Again researching but the more I researched the more interesting facts I discovered. Did you know Michael Faraday was inspired by the book ‘Conversations of Chemistry’? I was even part of the Omnibus Theatre meeting. To know what everyone’s role is, gave me an idea as to what kind of role I may enjoy. What made the theatre more welcoming is the cats that seem to stroll pass me every now and then, during our meeting- they even took part to share what they’ve been up to.

Overall, I really enjoyed working at the Omnibus Theatre and my 5 top tips for anybody considering having work experience is:

1. Use the dishwasher when it comes to washing up!
2. When there’s work, set yourself a time you determine to finish at.
3. The quicker you finish, the quicker lunch arrives.
4. Don’t just research basic facts, find the juicy ones!
5. Ask questions, because the more information you know from what you need to do will benefit massively.

Interning at Omnibus

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Caroline talks about her experience as an Omnibus intern…

My name is Caroline and I’ve been an intern at Omnibus Theatre for the last nine weeks. I’m currently enrolled at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama doing a Masters Program in Creative Producing and as part of our studies, we were encouraged to do a placement in a theatre. When looking into placement opportunities, I decided to try working at a small venue where I could learn real hands-on skills and get the most out of my relatively short internship. And, indeed, Omnibus has been quite hands-on.

On my very first day, while producer Juliet Clark was telling me about the current projects, she suddenly said: “Oh and by the way, we have an opportunity come up to program a Short Film night for our LGBT+ festival Unnatural Acts. It’s happening in three weeks time. Do you want to take charge of that?”

My first reaction was: What? Shouldn’t I be making tea?

Obviously I said yes.

Being in charge of an evening, however small it might have been, was really exciting and taught me more about producing than any handbook could have. I had autonomy to choose the artists involved, organise the evening, write the deal sheets, prepare the tech, host the night…. Not many venues have the ability to give their interns real responsibilities like that. Of course, this sometimes felt overwhelming, but I was always able to ask for help and the evening turned out to be a great success.

So, what do interns do at Omnibus?

Every intern is attached to one or two specific projects. Over your time here you might start by supporting the marketing campaign of a show, researching its audiences, and eventually drafting contracts for the actors involved. The beauty of this is that you see the development of a production and you become part of its journey. This enables you to take on more complex tasks, as you can see the connections and have an understanding of the subject itself.

A big part of my time here at Omnibus was assisting our marketing department. I would draft tweets, take Instagram pictures, even come up with marketing campaigns myself. There is something very empowering about seeing your ideas come to life. I remember how proud I felt when I saw one of my tweets online.

Of course, not all the tasks you do here sound exciting to begin with. As every intern in the world knows, there is printing to be done, flyers to be sorted, or errands to be run. However, the people here always understood that these tasks are just as vital and the amount of appreciation I have received here has been very refreshing.

There is a reason why the Omnibus is able to take on so many interns: they know what it means to be one. Many of the people working here started off as interns and there’s a real sense of commitment in them. For instance, Rhian (Creative Learning Producer) checked in with me every other week to make sure I was still hitting my learning goals. And if I wanted to learn something specific, I would always be able to ask for a related task.

Being an intern at Omnibus has been an incredible experience. I have developed as a producer and grown more self-confident in my abilities. Overall, if I had to pick one thing that has stood out the most from my time here, it’s the people. It’s surprising how heartwarming, hard working, kind and full of laughter everyone here is. As interns, we are a vital part of this organization and after nine weeks I really feel as if I have become part of this team. I can only encourage everyone to come and visit this vibrant place.

My top 10 tips for getting the most out of your time at Omnibus?

1. Be proactive. Be curious.

2. Ask. No one can help you if you don’t say you need help.

3. Do you want to learn something specific? Ask. Tell someone about it and ask for a related task.

4. Be brave. Ask to learn things that you cannot do yet.

5. Don’t look down on ‘boring tasks’ – They are just as vital.

6. Don’t be shy to ask for advice, guidance or training. You’re here to learn, not to perform.

7. Go and watch stuff at the place you work! Why wouldn’t you?

8. Socialise with the people you work with. You might end up with vital industry connections. Or even better, friends.

9. Keep a journal of your internship and reflect – you’ll be surprised how quickly the time passes

10. An Internship will always only be as wonderful as you make it. So make the best out of it.

Intern photo

Some of our lovely Spring interns! (from left to right) Maddy, Lucinda, Caroline, Rachel, Pasche and Olivia

 

 

Five Minutes with Grace Smart (Designer, Spring Offensive)

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We caught up with Grace Smart, designer of upcoming show Spring Offensive, to discuss her work.

GraceSmartPic

Grace Smart studied Theatre Performance Design at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts and graduated in 2014. The following year she won the Linbury Prize for Theatre Design for her work on Saint Joan at The Lyric Belfast. Her recent design credits include Wonderland (UK Tour); Here Lies the Remains of Mercy (Theatre Delicatessen, Sheffield); Shopping & F***ing at the Lyric Hammersmith and Bar Mitzvah Boy at the Gatehouse (all 2016), In 2017, East Is East for The Northern Stage, Nottingham Playhouse and Blasted at Styx, London.

Why Spring Offensive and why now?

Spring Offensive is a play about identity, especially national identity. I think the themes on patriotism are fascinating – how quickly does being proud of ones country become a disdain for others? How willing are people to shoot themselves in the foot to defend their country? What does it mean to cling so tightly to a sense of ‘Britishness’? These questions are obviously hugely resonant right now.

What is your favourite play?

My favourite play is A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams – in fact I’m a big fan of all his work. I recently have also become obsessed with Red by John Logan, it’s about the work of Rothko, and the relationship between the world and artists.

What has been your favourite design job to date and why?

That’s a toughie! So far it probably has to be St Joan for the Lyric Belfast, it was incredible designing a play written during the Easter rising, using such a remarkable female historical figure, in the country George Bernard Shaw lived in. Of course, a close second was doing Shopping and F***ing at the Lyric Hammersmith. Partly because it was such a radical retelling, and partly because it’s a fine play title to tell people you’re working on over and over.

What is the biggest challenge with designing Spring Offensive?

The biggest challenge is building the atmosphere of the room with out building the room. In an ideal world in my mind, we would have one audience member only, every single night. And that audience member would be forced to sit at the table with them, eat the stew, etc etc. I want the whole audience to feel like they’re in the room, that they can’t get out, and that they might have to stay the night too…

Spring Offensive will run from 18-30 April, book your tickets here

See more of Grace’s work on her website

 

A Q & A with…Deborah Manson

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March’s exhibition at Omnibus is Deborah Manson’s ‘A Labour of Love’. Inspired by her daughters’ personalities, Deborah Manson creates intricate and colourful heritage quilts.

 

What inspired you to start creating quilts?

I make paper collages with painted and found paper, selecting and placing colour and shapes together to create abstract compositions. I experimented with the process of placing and stitching hand dyed cloth together in a similar way to my collages.

Through my research I discovered the quilts and quilt makers of the Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Their quilts are layered with personal and social history which inspired me to make the ‘Eva’ and ‘Islay’ quilts.

How did you choose the materials?

I like to work with natural fabrics such as organic linen which I hand dyed in colours which I felt reflected elements of each of my daughter’s personalities. I also included pieces of their favourite outgrown clothing. Each piece of clothing holds personal meaning and my daughters were involved in the selection of the clothes that were to be included. I also included some second hand fabrics, such as the green silk which backs the ‘Eva’ quilt.

How involved were your daughters in the process?

They were very involved, right from the beginning stages. I see the quilts as a mother daughter collaboration. They made large scale paintings and collages with abstract shapes which they felt represented their very individual characters. I based the designs of the quilts loosely on their work. They had a lot of fun doing huge wall collages from cut out paper and dying the yellow fabrics with Weld. They were also involved in the quilting. There are parts in each quilt which they dyed, appliqued and quilted.

What was your initial goal when you started this project? Has that changed as the process has evolved?

I suppose my initial goal was to make sustainable textiles. I started this project coming from a printed textiles background and wanting to develop that. Through my research into historical British and American quilts, emotional sustainability and materials the project changed to become something much more personal.

What have you learnt during this experience?

It’s made me much much more aware of the connections between people’s stories and materiality; leading me to conclude that people and objects and in the case of this research, handmade quilts are inextricably connected through life histories, stories of hand making, cultural practices, memories and emotional bonds and that these important connections can help makers and designers to reassess the value of the things we make.

What projects will you be working on next?

I am researching materials at the moment and have been experimenting further with natural dye. I have set up a dye and print workshop in a local school where I am currently an artist in residence. This research will lead into some new design work and a new collection of handmade textile pieces, possibly including more quilts.

Our Actors Alive trip to The Globe

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Our Actors Alive Jack Petchey Winner Lara tells us all about her recent trip to the Globe

Hi! My name is Lara, and I was the winner of the 2016 Jack Petchey award. If you win the award, your drama group gets some money, and the winner gets to decide what to spend it on. I chose to spend it on a behind the scenes trip to the Globe Theatre and this is what we did there.

Our tour guide was the Technical Director of the theatre. We first went up to “heaven” which is a space above the stage, with a trap door which many actors have been lowered through. After that we went down to an area where some props were being stored and entered a huge lift that took us down to the stage. We went up to ‘Juliet’s balcony’ and saw down onto the stage. It was easy to imagine how terrifying it would be to perform there! We went on to the stage and delivered some famous lines from Shakespeare.

Globe Benches

The scariest thing we did was go down to ‘Hell’, which is the space underneath the stage. It was extremely cramped and claustrophobic, but seeing the trapdoor and sticking our heads out was probably the highlight of the trip. Next, we went to see the costume and prop stores. They were both piled high with strange items, some costing hundreds of pounds! We were allowed to try on some hats and see how we looked, and also got to pick up two different swords. They were extremely heavy and luckily not sharp, but our tour guide said that if you sharpened the blade, it would be exactly like the kinds of swords they had in the Elizabethan times!

Hat Globe

I really enjoyed the trip to the Globe, and I think everyone else did too. I am definitely very happy with the way I chose to spend the money, and I can’t wait to do our production of Romeo and Juliet this March.

 

 

A Q&A with… Diana Burton

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Omnibus are currently exhibiting work by Diana Burton, an artist who works with a unique material.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My love of Textiles and making in general came from my Mother, who taught me how to knit and stitch. I recently completed an MA in Textiles at Chelsea College of Arts. The course enabled me to get back in touch with making as an artist. It also expanded my knowledge of sustainability and instilled a responsibility to consider how we can place at the centre of our practice, an ethical and moral approach to producing as artists, designers and makers, so that we can make better choices about our consuming

Why did you choose umbrellas as material for your work?

I think umbrellas chose me! An uncanny encounter with a discarded broken umbrella evoked memories of lived experiences.  A deeply personal project emerged and I began to photograph discarded umbrellas where they lay. The urban site is like a graveyard for broken umbrellas. The detritus of material culture in general, can invade our sense of ‘all is well’ and evoke an element of dystopia. For me, discarded umbrellas represent a sense of ‘all is not well’ and are a metaphor for broken bodies and those who are discarded by society.  After photographing the found umbrellas, I collect and re purpose them into hybrid, bio-mechanical sculptural forms that aim to replicate the disturbing initial encounter.

What are the challenges of working with umbrellas?

One challenge is collecting a greater volume of umbrellas so that I can create sculptures on a larger scale. So it needs to rain much more! I enjoy the practical challenges of working with umbrellas. It has become quite a cathartic process, which enables my relationship to umbrellas to shift and evolve. Sometimes they can look foreboding and repulsive evoking trepidation and at times they are a thing of beauty with their enterprising mechanism and sculptural form.

What’s next for you as an artist?

I have just finished an MA and I am hoping for more opportunities to exhibit my work, so I am engrossed in collecting and making. I am also currently preparing a PHD proposal and looking for a position as artist in residence.

A Storyteller’s Experience

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On the last Thursday of every month we meet up and six storytellers share their tales in front of a live audience.

Last month Sudeshna Choudhury told an inspiring and poignant story about the little things that can have huge effects on others and on the world. She felt inspired to write to our hosts – Laurel Lefkow and James Richardson – about her experience on the So, This Is What Happened… stage.

Dear Laurel and James,

Thanks very much to both of you for inviting me and organising such a wonderful event – you are both truly the quiet unsung heroes of the storytelling story!

I absolutely loved my first Omnibus storytelling event! It was a super evening and every one of the amazing storytellers were so different with a different style, yet gave us so much insight into their world and charmed us with their unique stories. There was a whole world covered within the six stories!

The venue and audience were all delightful and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my story and so glad everyone liked it! I loved all the other stories and thought my fellow storytellers were courageous and generous and such fun! And I thank each one of them for making this an evening to remember!

dsc02854

I hope to see you all soon again and enjoy listening and telling more stories. I really believe proper true storytelling is an endangered species and is only slowly recovering thanks to dedicated storytelling lovers like you.

I think storytelling as an artform is not as appreciated enough, as it should be, considering it to be totally vital in our society to keep us human and connected to ourselves and others, create goodwill and love, and a wonderful source of guidance, insight, wisdom, inspiration and fun!

Think of Thomas’ deep and humorous insights into the fascinating world of law and its ethics which he experienced and battled with, Juliette’s family world of love and connection to the outside world by being less rich and trusting the universe to provide, Frederick’s humorous but very insightful world into humans being neither too bad or too good and guidance for life from unorthodox sources in a world of stag parties, banking and bank robbers, and Yaron’s moving account of his battle to understand and overcome the human condition of depression with wisdom, patience and love that is inspiring in his triumph over it. Mine was of course about the positive domino effect of proactive encouragement and praise to change people’s lives for the better globally or locally from our little corners of our worlds.

Storytelling is also important in how it connects the younger generations to the older ones especially in learning the stories of their families’ history.

Or indeed of the world of the older generations (like in Roddy’s fascinating story of the ordinary people in Estonia during the upheaval of USSR at important historical moments, but which was also about the indefatigable human spirit and hope in difficult times). So storytelling must continue to be encouraged and fresh air blown through the small fire sticks that are our current storytelling efforts till it becomes a big cheerful crackling fire to keep everyone going!

Good luck in all your endeavours and naturally I bless you all for your wonderful storytelling efforts ongoing!

Sudeshna x

Next month’s So, This Is What Happened… is on Thu 24 November.

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Interested in telling your story? Get in touch: enquiries@omnibus-clapham.org