Rachael Young: Blog Post.

Rachael’s show, The Way I Wear My Hair comes to The Yard in week 8 of N.O.W ’14.

Watch the trailer.

I wake up in the morning and I feel like shit, I’m not sure what direction my life is taking. I’m a thirty something and I’m not where I thought I would be, I promised myself I would go to the gym at least three times a week and so far I’ve worked out a grand total of zero times.

Something needs to change.

The Way I Wear My Hair is an interactive lecture which explores the phrase ‘Strong black woman’ – what that means on a personal level and also the wider connotations of the use of that term within British society

Watch me present a satirical case for the connection between hair-styles and strength of character.

Watch me reinvent myself, as I become a radical feminist leader like Angela, fierce powerful and sexy like Beyonce. Watch me create my own reality like Frida (minus the un-plucked brow). Changing my hair allows me to create a new identity – a super sonic version of myself. There’s something about changing my hair that gives me a confidence boost.

Look out world, there’s a bad ass in town and she knows what she wants.

But like Samson, when the hair’s gone, the extensions have been removed and the colour has washed away, all that’s left is you.

Book your tickets.


The Balloon by Carolyn Defrin: Designing Story

About 10 years ago, on a classically brutal Chicago winter day, I remember driving through slushy streets and hearing a radio program about hot air balloons. It inspired me to write a short story about a family that lived in the basket of one– which enabled their adventure-some lifestyle. It was ok, but not great, so I abandoned the idea.

Years later, I came back to the image. I liked the impossibility of putting a hot air balloon on stage and also felt like it was an elegant metaphor for letting go after loss.
But rather than write a play, I started to sketch out a long form poem about a pilot dreaming of finding his family after losing them in a plane crash. The hot air balloon (similar in airiness to a parachute) became a surreal rescue device–an expanse of the pilot’s heart that would carry him through his tragedy. I was more drawn to image than plot and dialogue at the time, so the poem felt like a better medium to develop the story.

Last year I shared this poem with a group of designers and we began a series of collaborative workshops to lay the groundwork for a multidimensional approach to performance. We brought together actors and puppeteers to work with miniature set models, xbox 360 kinect cameras, and video projections.

Integrating performance, media and design was hugely informative as a means to discover new ways of telling a story–but as a writer, it turned out to be just as influential for the actual story I wanted to tell.

Experiments in technology and scale offered a way for me to understand the fragile appearance and disappearance of characters into impossible worlds; and while this approach fit with the story of one man remembering his family, it also opened the door for another story to unfold. I started to think about not just one character’s memory—but two—and what the space between those two characters’ memories looked like? If one character on one side of the world was thinking about the other at the exact moment that the other was thinking of him—where would they meet? What could that imagined space look like? How could memory and imagination carry two people through a separation that was out of their control?

My process as a writer is perhaps backwards—I tend to find an image I love and then negotiate what story might fit around it. I’m sure it would be easier to discover the story first, and then move into design and performance—but there’s a satisfying mystery to falling in love with a metaphor and then finding out which story it belongs to. Design has carried key clues for me in this process and is as much a part of the writing as the text.

As we prepare for a new round of rehearsals next week, The Balloon continues to take shape. I look forward to sharing its latest form with you soon at The Yard.

Watch the trailer.
Book your tickets.


The Drowned Girl by Kelly Jones : Development Diary

‘Kelly knew she was a Mermaid the moment she gaffa taped a cornflakes box to her legs’

Watch Kelly becoming a mermaid!

So, I know that isn’t a cornflakes box in the picture and it isn’t really a mermaid tail either, one fin is much bigger than the other as if in some kind of ridiculous homage to a famous clown fish. But for me this is where the project The Drowned Girl really began. It began on a freezing cold beach in Anglesey (The mother of Wales) wearing only my pants, with parcel tape bound around my legs and a Go-Pro Camera strapped to my head.

Two weeks before, I had found out that I had been selected to take part in the National Theatre Wales summer camp residency. Along with 19 other artists we were to be taken away from the stresses of our everyday life and given two weeks to work on a project of our choosing. I’d applied with a project that was sort of something to do with something about maybe my childhood possibly sensory or immersive in a one on one performance basis. I didn’t really know what it was but the thing that interested me the most about it was the blur between reality and fantasy that I had within my own childhood stories. The tales of me imagining I was a mermaid swimming along the kitchen floor compared with the reality that I can’t actually swim and nearly drowned twice as a child. For me the idea of fantasy and freedom of youth is something we try to cling onto as we get older, a friend and I would often talk about the 19 year old version of ourselves we become the moment we go back home. Why does this happen? How does a place you haven’t been to for years make you revert back to the age you were when you were last there? Everything you see, smell and taste is a time travelling device that banishes your morality and makes you see a younger , less responsible you , staring back at her in the chunky chip vomit on the floor. What was the difference between the 19 year old me and the Kelly I am now? The most obvious thing is my appearance and somehow being in Anglesey learning about the myths and folklore seemed to fit with this idea of the romantic tragedy I was having with 19 year old chunky chip Kelly. There is a Folktale that originates from Anglesey based on the Selkie. Selkie’s are seal people who when are brought to land shed their skin to reveal a beautiful siren like body. Often fishermen would steal their skin and lock it away from them so they were never to return to the sea and their real form. This really influenced me and the choices I made about the project and after looking at the stories from my childhood it became evident that this was a piece not only about youth but about body image.

We had a sharing we had to prepare for and I really wanted to play with projection and the idea of unzipping from your skin to reveal you. On a cold raining day unable to swim I strapped a Go Pro Camera to my head and made my way, in my pants onto some Lion King-esque rock that hung over the sea. The tide was coming in, my legs were going blue and I nearly fell about a million times on the slime that covered the rock, but it was beautiful. I sat on the edge of that rock, parcel taped a fin to my legs and then wriggled down into the water. Talk about suffering for your art! After, I went back to the house we were staying in and cuddled the radiator for hours whilst my body was over taken by the dreaded summer camp flu. I began to write in my note pad and started putting into place the ideas and influences of my day in the sea. At the sharing I projected the video onto my stomach, the place where during pregnancy a child lives for nine months, a place where youth lives and play lives in actors and creatives. I was dressed in a make shift mermaid costume from a Holyhead charity shop and was sharing something I was really proud of.

Since coming back from summer camp I have been working on the show under the direction of Anna Poole and am very excited to be starting rehearsals this Monday, ready for my Yard debut in week 3 of NOW’14. I finished editing the script yesterday and really can’t wait to get stuck in and will keep you updated on how the rehearsal process is going.

Watch Kelly becoming a mermaid!

Still Score by Tom Adams… part of #Week3 of N.O.W ’14

Ahead of Still Score in week 3 of N.O.W ’14, Tom Adams share a slice of his rehearsal diary…

For the first 2 weeks of rehearsal of Still Score, the Director, Laura Mugridge, and I went down to Miracle Theatre’s studio in Redruth, Cornwall. This was the perfect place to devise the show. It had a woodburner and views over the Redruth hills. We had the blackout blinds up though for most of the rehearsals to see the slide projection better but we knew the hills were there.

As this show uses slides and has a nostalgic feel, it felt great to have the smoky wood smell infusing our work. And our clothes and hair.

Making a fire is a nice thing to do in the morning before we started work. We had to forage for kindling outside.
Anyway, I brought down with me to Cornwall three boxes of instruments, including two guitars, a synthesiser, 2 music boxes, an acoustic harp, and a kazoo. I did not want to be without anything. Be prepared.

We layed all the instruments on a table so I could pick them up anytime and play.

I also had a slide projector and 500 slides. I knew I wanted to make a show using these slides but had no idea of the structure.

I had a loose idea of Birth to Death but we felt that would be too linear.

I knew I wanted to play music to accompany the slides but for how long, with what slides, I did not know.

We knew we had a scratch showing on the final day of Cornwall rehearsals to an invited audience but did not let that affect our process.

We played. We improvised. I liked to improvise musically with the slides to give us a feel of how we wanted the show to be in it’s finished product. I like that. Making the show in full from the start. No matter how rough it is.

Time went by. I got tired. I know this sounds silly but working five days a week, 10-7pm, I am not used to. With 2 days to go before the showing, I could not think of anything, anymore.

Still, the showing, arrived and we put together all the stuff we had created, surprisingly, it was about 45 minutes of stuff, and then we showed it. I am always reminded of Samuel Beckett’s quote about failing. I like to fail, because only through failing do you find out how to succeed at failing better.

We just showed the material with no structure, but from this, I now know how to structure it.

I am now writing lots of music in January ready for rehearsals in Reading at South Street Arts Centre. Our opening night is 30th January. Twitchy bum time.

Find out more about the show and book your tickets here

New Year, New Yard Collection… N.O.W ’14 opens in just 4 weeks!

Happy New Year!

We hope you’ve had a brilliant break.

It may be cold outside, but things at The Yard are hotting up as we prepare for our first collection of 2014. And what a collection it is… 20 extraordinary artists and companies explore what it means to be right here, right N.O.W.

The collection opens in just four weeks’ time, and our bar will be open and buzzing again every Tuesday – Saturday from 6pm ’til late as we welcome new chefs to The Yard Kitchen and look forward to new events and parties in the bar.

Watch this space for news of our upcoming events.

And there’s more…

Not only can you see two wonderful new shows every night during N.O.W ’14 for just £10, we’ve got some offers that will let you fill the New Year with brilliant theatre, without hitting your bank balance…

That’s right, come to any two double-bill nights in the collection for £15 or any four nights for just £25!

Find out more about N.O.W ’14 and book your tickets here.

We can’t wait to welcome you to The Yard this year for more of the brightest and best new work, right here in the heart of East London.

See you soon!