Week 4 – Characterisation and Shadow work

Claire Coache worked on getting the performers to develop their individual Frown town characters. We revisited the ‘silly walk’ exercise and each performer needed to decide which body part should be used to lead the rest of their bodies for their own Frown town character. This was layered with the LeCoq’s seven state of tension exercise. Both these exercises enabled the performers to make creative choices and find their own embodied Frown town character. Performers were then asked to add their characterisation to their already created choreography. It is fascinating to see how the different techniques add layer upon layer of detail to the choreography and characters. The choreography was first developed by myself  using Laban’s movement theories in mind, yet LeCoq’s techniques have brought a different aspect to the choreography and enriched it. The beauty of collaborating with people who bring different skills and techniques to a performance project!

Creating the shadow puppetry section for the journey between Happy town and Frown town was full of experimentation – experimenting with lighting options, characters and shapes.

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A morning with the Hereford College of Arts Music students was spent sharing creative material we have created so far and listening to music that the Music students have created in response to the story so far.

In two separate creative spaces we both created a mountain goat that Pim and Tiddle will meet on their journey of the mountain, which was a delightful realisation…we clearly are all having similar ideas.

Next week we will be working further on Happy Town and we look forward to continue to work on the Shadow puppetry in the rehearsal room together with the Music students.


Week 3 – creating performance material

During this weeks rehearsal and development process for A bottle of happiness we have been preparing for the shadow puppet rehearsal, which is scheduled for next week. The shadow puppetry will be used for the three journey’s that Pim and Tiddle make over the mountain range that separates Happy Town from Frown town. We decided what the weather may be like on either side of the mountains and what characters Pim and Tiddle may meet along the way. A mountain goat will definitely be met.

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Claire Coache – Artistic Director for Open Sky – also joined us for our rehearsal. Claire got the performers to explore their physicality using the LeCoq method, with a particular focus on creating the bodies of characters for Happy Town. By using one body parts to lead the rest of our bodies the performers identified what kind of character the body represented, from clumsy to curious to confident – a whole array of different embodied characters were found.

The rehearsal was filled with lots of laughter, as you would expect to find in Happy town.

Textile students also joined the rehearsal room to develop colour and design ideas and to observe the character creation process.


A further task we managed to work on this week was a smooth transition from the Happy town set to the Frown town set – transitions are always incredibly important to me and finding ways of making these slick requires rehearsal time.

Within 10 seconds we manage to transform the stage with just a few simple movement.

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Week 2 – Creating Frown town and costume

The BA Performing Arts students have now been introduced to Pippa Goodhart’s story ‘A bottle of Happiness’, by Tiny Owl Publishing.

The contrast between the two different countries within the book were drawn out and the rich country was quickly named ‘frown town’ by the students. It is important to us to make the different places very clear within the performance and we are doing this through costume, set, movement and music, with some inspiration drawn from the illustrations by Ehsan Abdollahi.

In Frown time space is limited, like when one is in a city – no eye contact or physical contact is made between individuals, people are on their mobile phones. The actors will be wearing suits and black shades. The set is grey and placed to allow little room for movement. The movements that the actors make are monotonous and angular, moving on straight lines and only able to move forward, backwards or side to side and never coming into direct contact with any of the fellow frown towners.

Frown town 2

We played with this idea and used various different music to find a beat that would work best for the scene, as this beat will be passed on to the music students as a basis to create the ‘frown town soundtrack’. We found that using music that was electronic would suit, as it would imitate the technology that the actors are engaging with on stage – their mobile phones. The beat was found to be around 120 beats per minute.

We discussed how all of ‘Frown town’ could then be contrasted in happy town, by setting the set up so there is far more space to move, actors engaging with one another through eye and physical contact, laughing, sharing, dancing and singing with one another. In terms of movement the contrast will be seen in curved lines and circles and freedom in movement, rather than the rigidity displayed in Frown town. The set will be colourful to match the patch work costumes of happy town. Happy town will be worked on in the weeks to come.


Finally this week we had BA Textile students joining us to commence the process of deciding upon and making costumes for the people of happy town. Every actor was given a base garment and textile students will be adding to this to create the happy town costumes for the performers.

Costume selection Happy town

A bottle of happiness – week 1

This year’s Hay Festival project will again be created in collaboration with Tiny Owl Publishing. The publishing company have shared their book ‘A bottle of happiness’ written by Pippa Goodhart and inspiring illustrations by Ahsan Abdollahi with us to develop a children’s theatre performance that will be performed at the Hay Festival on 29th May 2019 in the Starlight tent (tickets to go on sale soon).

To create the performance the BA Performing Arts team, has teamed up with Artistic Director – Claire Coache – from Open Sky Theatre. Claire will be offering the Performing Arts students advice, feedback and direction throughout the development of the ‘Bottle of happiness’ production.

We have also teamed up with Contemporary Design Craft student Lilly Rishworth-Huppert to create a puppet and Ferel Smith to create the set.

Lilly has already been working hard on her dog puppet design, which will represent Pim in the performance.

Puppet mould


And she has kept us up-to-date with her progress – from the moulding of the head of Pim to the decorating of Pim, which has been heavily inspired by Abdollahi’s illustrations.

Puppet being decorated.jpeg

Music students are also collaborators on the project and we are hoping for live music to be taking place during the performance.

For our first rehearsal and development day we have Frantic Assembly running a full day workshop for movement inspiration that will feed into the project.


The Little Black Fish – final days of rehearsal and performance

Busy, busy, busy….are the three words to describe the last couple of weeks of our Little Black Fish process.

The final rehearsals involved tweaking the ending of the performance and adding further material into already created sections to give the little old lady a narrative throughout the performance that would draw the audience in and allow them to relate to the story.

The rehearsal in the Starlight Tent at the Hay Festival gave us the opportunity to further tweak our created material and identify any areas that we would need to further consider in regards to the space that we performing in.

The preview performance at the Hereford College of Arts on 24th May, gave us the opportunity to identify any areas that we would need to develop in the remaining rehearsal time available to us, before the premier of the Little Black Fish. Feedback from Performing Arts and Music students and staff was useful and allowed the performers to be aware of points within the performance that the audience may react to.

During the Hay Festival performance the show started off with a child from the member of audience being so involved in the performance from the outset that he got off his chair to help the little old lady puppet reach for the ball of wool that represented the little black fish. A very beautiful moment.

Realising the importance the story of the little black fish holds in publisher Delaram’ s life and seeing her and her team from Tiny Owl publishing company being moved by the performance meant the world to the performers, Purvin (Aritistic Director from The Fetch) and myself.

After the performance we were thrilled to help Tiny Owl Publishing  with the 50th Birthday Celebration for ‘the little black fish’ book. 50 years since it was first published. The children at the Festival got to walk around and follow the puppets and everyone enjoyed a fantastic slice of cake.

A fantastic project that has involved so many people from various disciplines come together


Element Workshops

Photo by Sean Crawford Photography

I will be running Element Workshops over 4 sessions from Eaton Bishop Village Hall throughout September on a Tuesday evening 6.15pm – 7.45pm. I would love it, if you could join me and treat yourself to some ‘me time’ this September.

We will be connecting with the four Elements – Earth, Water, Fire and Air and discover how they feature in your life and how you can draw new inspiration from them to  integrate into your everyday or creative life.

Each week a different element will be explored through embodiment, movement, dance, play and meditations within a small group.

I am a trained Dance Movement Psychotherapist and Movement Practitioner and will guide you through the session to allow you to explore, experiment and discover in a safe environment.


Dates: 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th September 2018

Time: 6.15pm – 7.45pm


Eaton Bishop Village Hall, Hereford, HR2 9QW


£40 for all 4 sessions to be paid prior to the first session

Booking is essential, as places are limited.

To book a place:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/elements-workshop-tickets-49127744406 or contact me using the below form to book your place or if you have any questions.

Questions you may have:

Do I need any dance experience? No, not at all. It is about connecting with the movements that your body authentically creates, rather than a specific dance technique.

Do I need to wear anything in particular? I recommend wearing comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict your movements. You may choose to go barefoot or wear soft shoes with a sole, so that you don’t slip.

Do I need to bring anything in particular? A bottle of water and a mat or blanket is all you require.

Thank you for your time and please do get in touch if you have any questions or feel free to forward this email on, if you think you may know someone who might be interested.


Time for self = transformation

Having a holiday and time off work  has allowed me to connect with myself and connect with my purpose again.

Transformation ….transformation…transformation…. is the common thread throughout my own life, but also in the lives of so many people I have come in contact with over the past 20 plus years. Giving family members, friends and students nudges and support when and where needed to guide them into a direction in which I can sense they will find themselves, flourish and create a positive contribution to the world – and seeing the individuals progress on their journey with contentment gives me great joy. Our lives come together for a short period of time for ‘my work’ (not that it ever feels like it is work) to be done and then we drift apart again.

For some time now I have been wanting to share what I have learned over the past years that has helped me feel enjoyment and fulfillment in my life, but I had not found the right format. During my morning run,  the format of how to share what I want to share suddenly came to me and now that I know what it is, it feels pretty obvious – and that is the beauty of it – it is simple and it is in the format that I know so well – the format I have been working with for years – Group workshops.

My aim is to allow people to have time to connect with themselves in a safe space and explore the elements, which may turn into a transformative experience for the individual.

Like my run this morning – giving myself time to be with myself, connecting with the element of fire (the sun was shining!) being with and becoming aware of  my body allowed me to figure out how to progress with something in my life I have been wanting to do for a very long time.

I want people to have the opportunity to see their lives through four different lenses by exploring the elements: earth, water, fire and air.  Exploring the role that these play in their lives and hold a space in which they have permission to experiment with new ideas in a safe space that will allow for blocks to be shifted or confusion be shifted into clarity. By raising a bodily/ embodied perspective on life, new solutions can be found and integrated into everyday life that result into transformation.

So watch this space everybody, as the workshop content is forming very quickly and venues and dates are already being explored. Can’t wait to run the workshops!