Thursday, 27 January 2011

Workshops and other activities in 2010

Graeae’s Signs of Star Shaped Diva and signsong workshop
In May, a group of us went to see Graeae’s Signs of Star Shaped Diva at the Brewery, Tobacco Factory, which we thought was excellent. It was a one-woman show starring Caroline Parker, whom we met after the performance. She was wonderful. A few days later we did the Graeae workshop, which was around signed song. We really enjoyed this, for Alex it was great to work with other deaf actors and performers. For other members of Firebird, it was just great doing signing again and learning some new signs. One of the people we worked with was Fletch, a signsong performer. For more information visit
Community chorus in the dressing room

Far Away by Caryl Churchill

At the end of May, a few of us took part in Far Away by Caryl Churchill. We saw this as the start of Firebird getting involved in other companies’ productions. Far Away was produced by Bristol Old Vic and directed by Simon Godwin; the production involved a chorus of community members of which we were part. It was a great experience. This involvement has also helped us think more about how we can involve people in Firebird performances in the future.

Right: Jenny and Daniel ready for performance of Far Away

Workshop with Amici Dance Theatre Company and Wolfgang Strang at the Lyric Hammersmith
On the 19th June, 14 people from Firebird Theatre visited Amici Dance Theatre Company in London. We did a workshop with Amici and Wolfgang Strang, their artistic director, at the Lyric Hammersmith. After the workshop we stayed on to see Amici’s performance Tightrope. We had a fantastic day. Ann Pugh came with us and filmed the workshop, also Holly Thomas. Holly had been working with us on audio description in performances for visually impaired and blind people. Holly is a visually impaired dancer with Touchdown Dance Company and it was great to have her join us.

Wolfgang working with Steve, Holly and two members of Amici

                                 Top: Sarah being lifted by the 'strong' men from Tightrope
                                 Bottom: Amici and Firebird working together

Alex, Dan, Richard, Sarah and Liz with Amici performers
 in the foyer/bar area of the Lyric Hammersmith
Workshop with Holly Thomas
We had a workshop in the summer with Holly Thomas about providing audio description in performances for visually impaired and blind people. Holly is a visually impaired dancer with Touchdown Dance Company. We want to get funding to do more of this work with Holly.

Back to Back: The Democratic Set
Members of Firebird Theatre took part in Back to Back’s film, The Democratic Set, at the Arnolfini in September. We went to see the film when it was screened at the Arnolfini at the beginning of December as part of the Inbetween Festival. Back to Back are a theatre company from Australia, they experiment with performance in a very exciting way and we would love to learn more about their work.

Workshop with Dorothy Heathcote
Also in December, three of us took part in a Chamber Theatre workshop led by Dorothy Heathcote at Birmingham University. We are trying to learn more and more about Chamber Theatre as we use it a lot in our theatre work.

Workshops that we ran for other people
We did a workshop for the Autistic Project in August. This was part of the work we are developing around working with young disabled and non-disabled people. We also did a practical workshop and a presentation at St Brendan’s Sixth Form College in October.

We have started working with a student and her teacher from a school in South Gloucestershire to plan a work experience package for young disabled people who are getting ready to leave school. We will pilot this plan next July. We also hope to plan a work experience package for young people who would like to work as volunteers with the Company.

Earlier in the year, we also met a GCSE student with special needs as part of her work experience. She came to meet us twice, before and after seeing The Tempest at Bristol Old Vic, to find out more about us and ask questions. Through these meetings we realise that we have a role and responsibility to encourage young people to get involved in the arts when they leave school. The next step for us is about offering good opportunities for these students, as well.

Alex, Dan and Sharlie
Left: The Family group from workshop, January 2011

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