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A BLOG BY DUCKEGG INTERN/SHOW CHOIR/YOUNG PRO MEMBER- JONAH KENSETT

‘What do you actually do?’ I get a lot. “It’s not a proper subject’ ‘What’s the point?’. Which is a valid point when you’re talking about the arts.

Beyond your basic argument of the value of escapism, imagination and ‘human expression as food for the soul!’ (blah) what purpose can you derive from what is essentially individual expression?

This type of question occupies my mind a lot and so when, this summer my family took a trip to Palestine to visit the ‘Bet Lahem Live’ festival and refugee camps local to the Bethlehem area, I found myself thinking about this even more.

Just to side track here with an interesting point of reference about the situation in Palestine at the moment; whether you’re religious or not we can all agree that Bethlehem should be one of the most active and prosperous tourist sites in the world, right?

It’s possibly the greatest physical cultural landmark of our own western culture, whether you’re the Pope in Rome or just in a school nativity, Bethlehem is an important place and you’d think it’d be busy. But there’s no one there!

Lines of shops and restaurants and hotels are closed and run down because they have no one visiting them. No tourists. Even the pilgrims, brave enough to be shepherded in to visit the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square, are told to stick together because it’s a ‘dangerous area’, so they’re in and out without giving anything to the locals to help support the town that’s so important to them.

And why do people have this idea that the town’s not safe? Because that’s what we’re being told to think by the people who are trying, and succeeding, to starve the locals of funds and repress their heritage.

The truth is, apart from some of the boy racers who like to whizz around the roads in the center of town at brake-neck speeds, I felt more comfortable wandering around the beautiful cobbled city at night than I do going into town on a lunchtime.

It can’t be overstated that it is a really beautiful place, and what the annual festival there is trying to accomplish is bring a little bit of music, culture and trade back to this town that should be one of our cultural capitals.

Anyway. Back on track…

We visited two refugee camps whilst we where there. We stayed several nights in Arroub camp (on the main Bethlehem – Hebron Road) but the other camp we visited was called Aida camp. The most poignant thing you notice about Aida is the giant blocks of concrete wall that run right through the middle of the camp. Not far from the wall is the home of Alrowaad theatre company. Alrowaad was formed under the mantel of ‘Beautiful Resistance’. The idea behind this is to show resistance to the occupation in a non-violent and inspiring way. Allowing young people a way to channel their energies into a positive art form. Encouraging the young people to live for their country rather than die for it.

I was lucky that shortly after we returned to England Alrowaad was taking part in a national tour of the UK. Although it wasn’t certain till the day before that they would be allowed to leave the country, Alrowaad was able to take a group of young people to UK to show excerpts of their show ‘Children of the camp’.

I offered to help out at the groups Edinburgh show, running errands and flyers in the city for the group for the week that they were there.

I got to see the show several times and I really got to thinking about the role that art has in the world. Abdel Fattah, the director of Alrowaad, describes Theater as the most powerful and expressive tool we have.

There is a lot of talk about theatre and art as an extremely liberal and left wing movement and this is often talked about in a negative way. I think a lot of this comes from the fact that art is constantly trying to mirror life and to create pathos and catharsis in its audience, but when there isn’t a strong reason or voice behind it then it comes across as distant and pretentious. One thing I saw a lot of, in the crowds that came to see Alrowaad perform, was people who wanted to aggressively support them.

People with T-shirts proclaiming ‘Free Palestine!’ in angry red font attempting to bring down the Israeli army with a weaponized jumble sale.

And I don’t think they got the message the company was trying to give out, that anger and aggression doesn’t lead to change.

A lot of people want to be angry, and righteously angry and so they jump on issues like the Arab-Israeli–conflict, Racism, Feminism and politics in order to give them something to vent. I think this is where a lot of this distant and unrelatable art comes from, that can often have a damaging effect.

I realize that I may have led you rather merry dance here but I’ll try and make a point.

So to summarize, what do I want to be taken away from this?

Well for one thing that there is a lot of injustice that we aren’t being told about and our governments are too busy fighting their own little battles to bother about.

Secondly, theatre, and art in general, has a hugely important part in representing the plight of this injustice.

Thanks to my time with Alrowaad I have come to think more about how I view the creative arts and how my writing, reading, performing and viewing could be used.

Another place we visited whist on our trip was a place called ‘The tent of Nations’. A Palestinian farm located in a valley surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements, we had to climb over a boulder to reach (placed in the road to stop the produce of the farm being driven to market). The farm owners can’t be evicted, because they have the deeds to the land going back decades, and as a result the farm is under constant threat of sabotage or illegal demolition by the Israeli settlers. The farm has become internationally famous as an example of resourceful and eco-friendly farming in the face of constant aggression and on a sign outside the gates is written, in several languages, ‘We refuse to be enemies.’

So when I’m asked ‘What do you actually do?’ ‘What’s the point?’. I turn to this mantra which I think sums up the idea is proof that human beings have the capacity to move beyond shows of strength and power, and to enable understanding through the use of  imagination.

But again that’s just my opinion.

CASTING – DUCKEGG MEMBERS – SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO…

Duckegg are working to turn one of our shows “Santa Claus is Coming to…” into a site-specific piece for future touring of towns and parks.

We are seeking three versatile young actors/actresses aged 7-18 for three child roles in “Santa Claus is Coming to…” THIS OPPORTUNITY IS ONLY OPEN TO DUCKEGG MEMBERS. NO OUTSIDE AGENCIES PLEASE.

“Have all the children from Barton been good this year?” It’s that time again; naughty list – check! Really, REALLY BIG SACK – check! Reindeer (and carrots) – check! Time for Santa to get out of his steamy bubble bath and out into the cold night air. But things don’t quite go to plan on Santa’s trip around the world! Don’t miss this warm and giggly show suitable for all the family. Recommended age of 3+.”

We are a Social Enterprise, with our roots in lovely North Lincolnshire, dedicated to the creation of brand-spanking new writing with young people at its heart. Our Youth Theatre is a thriving community of over 450 wonderfully eccentric young people from across Yorkshire and the Humber taking part in regular theatre classes, LAMDA examinations, the Arts Award and projects. They are our lifeblood and we rightfully place them at the heart of everything we do. Our youth members are valued in every area of the business and have tangible input into our professional work.

Location: The Ropewalk, Barton Upon Humber with some rehearsals in Leeds.

Salary: Travel costs will be subsidised at £50 per week.

Auditions – Morning of 26th October (half term). Rehearsals – 21st to 26th Nov 2016. Shows – 7th-11th Dec 2016 (daytime and evening)

Closing Date 23/10/16

Parents/Guardians of auditionees – terms of casting: Please note that our shows are professional productions and the young people will be expected to behave as such. They must be available for all rehearsal dates at this stage, though may not be called for all. Though we will attempt to work around school times, there will be shows and rehearsals that take place in school time. It is the parent/guardian’s responsibility to gain permission for this time off. A performance licence may also be required depending on the amount of shows your child has been involved in this year – we can assist you with this.

CHARACTERS TO BE CAST

Emma – ‘good’ child

Johnny – ‘cheeky’ child

Eliot – ‘naughty’ child

We are open on the age/sex of these characters.

Auditions will take place on Wednesday 26th October at THE ROPEWALK, BARTON UPON HUMBER.

To register your interest PARENTS/Young people with PROOF of parent consent email haley@duckegg.org.uk with a headshot and details of previous experience/a CV and confirm that you understand the terms of the casting.

CASTING-MALE ACTOR/MUSICIAN- SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO…

Duckegg are working to turn one of our shows “Santa Claus is Coming to…” into a site-specific piece for future touring of towns and parks. **AUDITIONS 31ST OCTOBER IN LEEDS.**

“Have all the children from Barton been good this year?” It’s that time again; naughty list – check! Really, REALLY BIG SACK – check! Reindeer (and carrots) – check! Time for Santa to get out of his steamy bubble bath and out into the cold night air. But things don’t quite go to plan on Santa’s trip around the world! Don’t miss this warm and giggly show suitable for all the family. Recommended age of 3+.”

We are a Social Enterprise, with our roots in lovely North Lincolnshire, dedicated to the creation of brand-spanking new writing with young people at its heart. Our Youth Theatre is a thriving community of over 450 wonderfully eccentric young people from across Yorkshire and the Humber taking part in regular theatre classes, LAMDA examinations, the Arts Award and projects. They are our lifeblood and we rightfully place them at the heart of everything we do. Our youth members are valued in every area of the business and have tangible input into our professional work.

The Actor/Musician playing SANTA must be a flexible actor, strong vocalist, comfortable multi-roling and proficiantly play guitar. Percussion skills (particularly the cajon) are useful, as are any other handheld instruments.

A driving licence and ability to drive a van is helpful for future plans.

Young people are at the heart of everything we do as a company. There will be three children in this production and our actors are expected to act as role models for them. Therefore enjoying working with young people is a mandatory requirement of this post. There is a level of mentoring involved.

There is no accomodation provided with this position.

Auditions – 31st October. R&D – 21st to 26th Nov 2016. Shows – 7th-11th Dec 2016.

Equity rate – £447.50 per week

Santa can be played by a male of any age 20+. Strong vocals and musicianship skills are a must – there is a lot to pick up in a short amount of time. Santa is played at different points in his life so it in some ways it isn’t a ‘traditional’ santa role, therefore don’t feel like you cannot apply if you are not an elderly, larger gentleman!

Email haley@duckegg.org.uk with a headshot and CV to apply.

A blog by Duckegg Show Choir/Young Pro member Jordan Bainbridge

‘You can’t do it’. As a human being I’m sure you’ve been told this at least once in your life, whether this be to do with your sexuality, race, gender, ambitions or a variety of other things. However what I’m talking about are ambitions, because being an actor is a ‘ridiculous dream’.

I went to a very academic school which was already a bad start! Being a person that is *cough* academically challenged … well at least compared to the geniuses that are my friends. I found it very hard, because if you were more creative than academic you got minimal to no support at the school in question.

I have known from the moment I started attending classes at Duckegg 5 years ago that this is what I want to do as my career, and nothing was or is going to stop me from achieving this dream … no reality. Whenever we had a tutor lesson at school that involved talking about what we wanted to do when we grew up, or what college or university we were going to attend I always felt excluded. As I just wanted to act, direct, paint and take photographs not spend my time taking exams. The teachers just thought I was a dreamer, that I needed to get my head out of the clouds. I tried to explain to them that I wasn’t dreaming that I had done work for Duckegg – going on tour with Peter Pan (one of the best experiences of my life), but they refused to listen and told me to speak to a careers adviser. Who as you may know don’t think that acting is a ‘real’ job.

I did have one teacher who didn’t try to make me into something that I wasn’t – my english teacher. He believed in me and didn’t tell me that I was just dreaming. He encouraged me and helped me believe that maybe I was better at writing and creating than I thought I was.

Having spent the last 5 years of my life being beaten down by the system and people who were meant to help me achieve what I want to do. I decided that there was no way I could do that again – spend more time in an environment that made me feel so insignificant, stupid and irrelevent for wanting to do what I love and what makes me happy.

So, now is when life really begins. I’m going to be doing what I love everyday and I won’t be squashed into a box that no matter how hard I try I never seem to fit into. I can paint what I like, write what I like and be me.

I am going to be working for Duckegg, doing a photography course, an online English literature A level and sociology A level, auditioning for jobs through Casting Call Pro, whilst doing my regular classes at Duckegg and working on other creative ventures!

I wanted to write this to show that there is more than one way of achieving what you want; you don’t have to do things a certain way. School then college then university just isn’t for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with that, no matter what schools say. As long as you work hard towards your goal it doesn’t matter how you get there … (within reason … obviously)!

A blog on writing by Duckegg Young Pro/MT member Joe Spence

Writing Plays
I don’t write this as an expert. I’m not. Nor do I try to be. Where the Director puts into place the last details, it is the writer who has the real control. They put words on people’s tongues, stories and messages in the audience’s minds and also create a new world. It’s nice to be in control of things, even if nobody knows that but you.

Some people believe there is a “Magic Formula” to writing plays. There’s not. There’s tips and hints but ultimately it’s down to you. A person with an idea with a pen. The only thing that can stop you from writing something is yourself.

But, tips wise I might be able to whisper in your ear while nobody else is looking.

Write down everything you hear. Ideas are begging you to write about them constantly. Take inspiration from everything and everyone and never be scared to steal stuff. True inspiration doesn’t exist and everything is a “copy” or a “parody of” or “Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games” so do it. One of my first English teachers once said to me: “Writers are burglars and thieves.” Maybe there’s a few mixed messages there but I digress.

Point Two: Understand Theatre. It’s difficult to write a play without knowing what you’re dealing with. The logistics. The lighting. The budget (usually zero pounds and zero pence). Only when you understand who you’re writing for and why can you begin. Don’t write out a cheesy aim like some A Level Drama Student (utter hypocrisy, I know) “To convey catharsis to the audience about the lack of education on a council estate in East London” for example. But enough about Eastenders, you need to know what it is that makes it tick.

But one thing it doesn’t have to do is fall into a category. Maybe ’twas ol’ Billy Shakespeare who hath instilled such frightful reckonings, but every play doesn’t need to be “a comedy” or “a tragedy”. Every real story has peaks and troughs in emotion and it’s the only way to keep the audience interested.

That’s really it. I suppose. Ooh, one more thing, break the rules. Every single one of them. Anything’s possible. “Has anyone written a play that takes place on a cabbage farm in the middle of the Sahara Desert that takes place in reverse chronology in a hyper-realistic form with a talking rabbit and a squid called Kenny?” I probably shouldn’t told you about my current idea, but you need to think outside that box. Some people don’t believe in the legend of the box, but it’s there. Escape it. Don’t be a sheep. Following the crowd’s fun for a while but it’s not really you, is it?

I hope I left you with enough to dwell with there. So remember, inspiration is everywhere, understand the conditions, have an idea why you’re writing, write with highs and lows and above all, listen to nothing I have said and make you’re own rules.

JOB OPPORTUNITY – APPRENTICE TEACHER

Duckegg Theatre Company is a Social Enterprise, with its roots in lovely North Lincolnshire, dedicated to the creation of brand new writing with young people at its heart.

We have a large education arm – the Acting School – with over 400 members across the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.

 

We are looking for reliable, positive and hard working freelance Apprentice Teacher (aged 18+) to train to teach in our Acting, Voice, Dance and Musical Theatre classes (Mini Eggs – 3-5, Junior – 6-12, Senior – 12-19 and Young Pro – 16+ levels).  We currently have classes in Scunthorpe, Barton Upon Humber, Brigg, Grimsby, Gainsborough, Selby and Leeds.  The successful candidate will commence with one Junior class in March (Franklin College, Grimsby – Monday evenings), gradually expanding their area into Senior and Mini Egg divisions as their training progresses.  The ability to be able to work as cover staff in our other areas is beneficial.

We pride ourselves on the quality and qualifications of our teaching staff and want to give members of our Youth Theatre the opportunity to train to a high level as teachers within the organisation.  It is crucial for this role that you are a self-starter; we will not hold your hand but we will provide a community of best teaching practice and mentoring through your course and the teaching hours you need to progress.  This is a fantastic opportunity to train to teach within a supportive arts environment.

 

The ideal candidate would be:

- over 18 (or 18 this academic year)

- willing to enroll on and work through an in-service Cert-Ed/PGCE course (courses available locally, one evening a week – enrollment and any fees are the responsibility of the apprentice, government funding is currently available) moving through the course within two years.  Alternatively the apprentice could work through the LAMDA LSDE Level 5 qualification, but a willingness to progress through a Cert-Ed/PGCE is preferred.  Please note, GCSE English and Mathematics at grade C or above is a requirement of Initial Teacher Training Courses.

- qualified in a relevant field to a minimum of level 3 (or expected this year), though level 4-5 is preferred.

- willing to shadow other Duckegg teachers to improve teaching practice.

- willing to attend professional training courses, 6-weekly teacher meetings and other CPD opportunities.

- an inspirational, positive leader, with the ability to work in collaboration with young people to create excellent art.

- have some teaching experience and have the ability to move students through projects, reaching key targets.

- performing arts industry experienced, or interested in developing their arts practice alongside their teaching work (being a dual professional)

- willing to gain knowledge of the LAMDA acting and musical theatre syllabuses.

- A self-starter, with the ability to use initiative in lesson delivery.

- able to deliver fast paced, high level lessons.

- confident dealing with parents, theatres, working with money and using dropbox.

- able to work on a freelance basis.

 

The apprentice teacher freelance rate is £14 per hour (teaching hours only).

Please apply by submitting your CV and covering letter to haley@duckegg.org.uk

Closing date:  14th February 2016