Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Firebird Theatre Newsletter, May 2014

The year is passing quickly and we thought it was about time we put together another newsletter to let you know what we have been doing since we were last in touch.

Please feel free to contact us if you want to know more and we will do our best to answer your questions and give you the information you need.


We are currently concentrating on devising work for performances for disabled students from local schools. We are working in partnership with BOV with this project. We are also talking to teaching staff at Briarwood School for advice and help with planning. The performances will be an introduction to the theatre for children and young people who have not visited before and will be presented in the Basement at Bristol Old Vic. We will include photos of the work we are doing towards these performances throughout this letter.

Playing with The Tempest
 We are looking at The Tempest again – this time Prospero’s story when he was Duke of Milan, before the story of The Tempest begins. We feel we know the story well and it is great to revisit it and think about it again. The idea is to present the story over four Monday mornings in the autumn term as four developing episodes. Our aim is to make the story as clear as possible and introduce students to the whole experience of visiting the theatre and watching a play. We will use things like costume, props and lighting to help tell the story and for young people to discover how Firebird uses these conventions. We also hope to design learning resources for the students to use in the classroom.

We have also worked with Jack Drewry again. Jack worked with us in The Breadhorse last year. Jack joined us in-between two visits he made to Asia and Australia touring We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

The Looking Ahead Training Conference for medical professionals at Bristol Royal Infirmary on February 24th. We performed an extract from The Breadhorse and gave a short presentation and took questions from the floor. We thought it was a good event to do and enjoyed doing it. We asked the delegates questions and got lots of answers, here are a few:

What did you learn from Firebird’s performance and presentation this afternoon?

They all become like one voice as a group

Thought provoking

(How important it is) Working together, team work.

What did you understand from the performance?

The importance of equality

Excellent role models

How we should treat each other with respect and dignity

What did it make you feel?

Mixture of happiness and sadness

Uplifted, happy that you are trying to change people’s thinking

Challenged, happy, sad, inspired.

What did it make you think?

(We should) Always try to understand each other.

What a fantastic theatre company

About how we treat each other

Miranda, Prospero's 3 year old daughter

Workshops for new people

We have also run four workshops for people who have expressed an interest in finding out more about Firebird. There have been 10 people who will have done a workshop with us (our last one is on 19th May), more people than we thought. It is very difficult to make decisions about who we can support and how: our resources are very limited. We have decided that we will invite some people back to work with us for a longer period, say 6 weeks, before making decisions about what happens next.

Propero's enemies

We met with members of Made in Bristol (M in B) at the Bristol Old Vic on 31st January and heard about what they were doing. They also taught us some warm-up games that we have been using in our workshops for new people. Some of us went to see The Tinderbox in April, this was performed by the Young Company at BOV and some of the M in B people were also involved – we really enjoyed it, thought it was excellent work and used lots of storytelling techniques.

After The Tinderbox, we also attended the performance made for fundraising Gala at Bristol Old Vic, which was smashing and very funny: a lovely afternoon and evening.

Prospero's work load!
In April, a small group of us visited Briarwood School to see a performance of Jack in the Beanstalk. It was great to meet the students and teachers we had worked with before again and to meet new students. The performance was great fun and we appreciated being invited to see it.

Derby-based Theatre Company, Hubbub Theatre, have been successful with their funding application. Congratulations to them. This means they could afford to pay Firebird to do a workshop for them, they have asked if we could do it on 28th August. 

Prospero's soldiers

Trustees’ news

Currently, Brian Davis from the Company is attending and observing Trustee meetings. Brian is interested in becoming a trustee and this is part of the process of finding out more about how the Trustees work together and being voted on board.

The Stephen Knight Memorial Workshop Fund

We have recently written a brief for a choreographer to work with us for the first workshop in memory of Steve. Please see the brief below, if you are interested in knowing more. This decision was made by all the actors in Firebird Theatre. Mayk, Matthew and Kate, are going to help put us in touch with possible workshop leaders. We have not ruled out workshops with our patron Kathryn Hunter or other actors we love working with but these will be planned for later on. 

Funding and donations

Our Business Plan is now at the stage where everyone is looking at it to agree it. We are very pleased with it and want to say a big thank you to Katie Keeler and Theatre Bristol for their work on this. The plan is to use it to try get long-term funding. This will take the worry away of having to think about fundraising all the time. It will also help us to describe what we do, who we are and what we need funding for. Once the Plan has been agreed we will post it on our website for people to look at.

We are pleased to welcome Antigoni Messaritaki and Jane Edwards Reynolds to our Friends and Supporters Scheme.

We also received donations from two people and will seek their permission to include their names in the next newsletter.

Please feel free to help Firebird by encouraging people to join the Scheme; small regular donations can make all the difference to Firebird and help us plan our finances in a better way. People can find more information about joining the Scheme, or supporting Firebird with a ‘one-off’ donation by going onto our website: http://www.firebird-theatre.co.uk/supportus.pdf. Alternatively contact us by post or telephone, see contact details below

Coming up!

28th August Workshop with Hubbub Theatre

October 14th Creative Minds South West: a conference to be held at @Bristol to look at how we measure quality in art, performance and film made by disabled people with learning difficulties. Firebird and sister organisation, Artists First, will be taking part in the conference, alongside other groups and organisations based in the south west, including the Misfits and Openstorytellers. Please visit www.creativemindsproject.org.uk for more information

Workshop brief

For the Steve Knight Memorial Workshop Fund, we have £350 to pay someone to run a day’s workshop for us.

Workshop length: 2 hours in the morning (10.30 – 12.30) LUNCH 12.30 - 1.30 2 hours in the afternoon (1.30 – 3.30pm) to include tea and coffee breaks

What we would like the workshop to cover:

Moving together as a group (the ensemble) – group movements and individual movement

Touch, e.g. Holly with Sarah

Creating focus on stage

Symmetry and asymmetry

Pace on stage: slow and fast- changing pace, creating energy

Sign and gesture, e.g. drinking, eating

Positioning on stage; height, spacing

Ways of helping us not to fidget on stage – when we are on stage and the focus is not on us (e.g. sitting on side of stage in 9 Lessons)

Basic dance moves: remembering some of us have mobility problems and one of us is a wheelchair user

Creating ritual, e.g. the placing of the shells in the 9 Lessons

Making shapes with our bodies, e.g. making the horse

Exits and entrances

We can give examples and explanations if our list is not clear. If you are interested in running a workshop for us, please email or write to us telling us a bit about yourself and send us a workshop plan. We do not expect anything long, a couple of paragraphs would do but we would like you to be clear about how you would work with us. Thank you.

Firebird Theatre Ltd . Registered in England and Wales No. 5728116
Registered office: 5 Dial Hill Road, Clevedon, North Somerset BS21 7HJ
Registered main Charity Number: 1115658 www.firebird-theatre.com