Archive for March, 2009

Naomi W
March 24th, 2009

Students discover early mornings . . .

On entering the Gold Dust project at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, students at Birmingham School of Acting we were unsure how much freedom and responsibility we would be given. Throughout the devising however we were given complete freedom to input ideas and work on the piece. This gave me a very professional experience as I was, for one of the first times, trusted with the work and what I and we as a team of teacher/actors could creatively achieve for professional performance. Working with Rochi and Paul was equally fantastic, they treated us as any other colleague and we all got along throughout the project, team building at lunchtime over the daily horoscopes!

Going into the first week of the performance I was quite intimidated at the prospect of having to perform professionally and improvise so freely in role, but the amount of research we had done into the roles in the two weeks of rehearsal gave us a great grounding and I think this is something we all achieved well as a team.

What I loved the most about Gold Dust and working with Language Alive! was it’s ability to confirm my future plans. As we began the project I had strongly considered going into TIE when I left university and working with the children so creatively and seeing their pure enjoyment throughout the project has sparked a real desire to embark upon this element of applied theatre and I am now thoroughly grateful for the experience. I think the only bit I didn’t enjoy about the project was the early mornings, but I think this is something that will come with time and the absence of being a student!

Helen C
March 11th, 2009

Long may it continue

Hi, I’m Helen, a board member of The Play House since December 2008. I have to admit, twelve months ago I couldn’t have given you a detailed description of what the position of ‘board member’ entailed and I certainly wouldn’t have anticipated being one any time in the near future. Yet here I find myself, blogging on The Play House website, more enthusiastic about the value of the arts than ever and an eager exponent of the value of getting involved behind the scenes.

I came to be on the board thanks to the Young People and Arts Boards programme, an innovative Birmingham City Council scheme, aiming to increase the involvement of 18 – 25 year olds in the management of arts organisations. Having applied following an email from the University of Birmingham, where I’m currently completing my final year of a BA (Hons) degree in History, I was selected from the applicants to go to a selection day with 13 other candidates, where we discovered more about what the job could entail. Following this, we were offered a free training weekend, which involved interviews of acting board members, discussions of their different roles and responsibilities and how we would respond to these challenges and opportunities. We were then matched to organisations which corresponded with our individual interests so that we were paired with organisations we would care about. I found myself happily paired with The Play House.

Before my first board meeting I had the opportunity to see Out of the Box, a Language Alive! programme, in a school, which gave me a good idea of Play House work in action. This experience demonstrated just how much fun the children can have, with the whole class eager to contribute and join in, and also how the work brings out different sides of every child, appealing to learning styles perhaps not catered for in a classroom environment. Just a brief chat to the class teacher was enough to tell that such a visit can open up doors to a whole range of follow on learning opportunities and projects when fully exploited.

Boards have a rather unfair reputation of being stuffy with a very small pool of members, an unavoidable group whose actions do very little, but my own experience has proved this to be a very narrow-minded view. The people who volunteer their time to be on boards, do so out of a passion for their company and what it can achieve. Perhaps some of them have had personal experience of working in arts organisations, many do not. They do all care about what the organisations can achieve and helping them to realise this, and do so through their knowledge and connections and by offering to be a spokesperson for the organisation in their everyday lives.

I’m still a newbie and learning more as time goes on, but then education was never going to be something that ended with my degree. When it comes down to it, it isn’t just the children The Play House works with that benefit from this great organisation, so can the teachers, practitioners, funders, management and even board members; we’re all on this journey of development together. Long may it continue.

March 4th, 2009

So, why a blog?

I’m not sure everyone at The Play House was as enthusiastic about creating a blog as I was! I suspect though this has a lot to do with the fact I’m a bit of a geek and I’m always suggesting these sorts of things. To me the internet is a fantastic way for lots of people to interact in both formal and informal ways. That’s why I think this blog is a great opportunity. It gives everyone a chance to participate in our world, and meaningful participation is what The Play House is all about.

We started this process with our forays into YouTube and Facebook, and the creation of the teachers’ group – trying to engage teachers and supporters in new ways. We’re hoping this blog will be a bit of a window into The Play House, an interesting source of information, and a stimulus for discussion.

It’ll be about our projects sometimes, but it’ll also be about interesting news we’ve found, or dilemmas that we need to discuss, or things that people have suggested. It’s a way to meet our staff, our board, teachers we work with, and young people that have participated.

We’ll value everyone’s comments and suggestions, so everyone will be able to shape what it becomes. And if you’d like to contribute, please get in touch – we’d really like to hear from you.