June 16, 2008

Listening

by Aoife Mannix

In the night when it rains, I wrap myself around you for extra warmth, rock to the drumming of your breathing,  the windswept landscape of your dreams.  How young you look.  Tiny holes in time where the stars fall out  and they have to break up the moon  to make new ones.  UFOs hovering.

I’d like to be kidnapped by you,  to have no forwarding address.  Just leave the breakfast on the table,  the coffee going cold.  Walk out into a golden morning,  stand on a hill with the sea  stretched out a blanket below us  and the whole day free from interference.   I lie with my hand on your chest,  tuning in to the tapping of your heart.  Trying to learn its secret rhythm,  the other places that you go.  I’m knocking on your forehead  with my clumsy questions.  Your mysterious bruises,  the way grief catches in your throat.

I’d like to curl up inside you.  Float in the waves of your skin,  shoot stars across your eyes.  Take long walks  through the corridors of your lungs,  and find every door unlocked.

Stay

June 16, 2008

Stay

by Aoife Mannix

An earthquake of crickets, violins across scorched earth.
The blueness of the water after the siege is over,
the sun sinking in perfect pitch to the orchestra of the church bell.
This moment of all moments in heaven.
If the sea were to stop,
if the stones were to erode into moon wolves,
if the tide were to give up ticking,
if all of time turned out to be an hallucination,
I would still be here with you, now and always.

In the brightness of the North Star,
the warmth of your skin flowing through me,
silver ripples across the night sky.
I hold your ship inside this glass bottle,
a message washed up on the shores of your eyes.
Rescue me, believe in me.

When the walls burn down and the stars go up in smoke,
when the mountains turn their backs
and there is nothing but broken glass on your tongue.
In the sadness of this lost music,
the ghosts of all those in between places,
I will be the light switched on
to drive the shadows from the room.
And no matter how late the hour,
I will never ever leave you.

Feedback on Pool Piece

June 12, 2008

I just wanted to say how absolutely fabulous pool piece is. I visited Amwell view this morning for a meeting and was told my son Toby was taking part. I was allowed to sneak in for the last 10 minutes. The attention to detail, visual spectacle and accompanying sounds, music and singing were all awesome and I found it quite moving. I just wanted to pass on my thanks and appreciation for creating a truly unique and incredibly rich experience for my son and the others taking part.

- Julie, Parent

Lullaby me cuddle dry me

June 11, 2008

Lullaby me cuddle dry me

Soak up my tears

With hands that have sponged

Every cut

Every bruise

Every fall.

 

Lullaby me cuddle dry me

Kiss my cheeks rosy

So they’ll know no thorns.

Kiss petals on my eyes

So all visions bloom

Kiss sap into my ears

To honey all I hear.

 

Lullaby me cuddle dry me

Play with my toes

Toes that will dance with your smiles

Toe that will flee from your frowns

Toes that will

Run to you

Run to you

Run to you

Every time you call.

 

Lullaby me cuddle dry me

Blow raspberries on my belly

Because our laughs

Suck darkness from night

Make colour from dry palettes

Find music where sounds have died.

 

Lullaby me cuddle dry me

Lace your fingers into mine

Weave your history into my hopes

Swaddle me in applause

And buffer me from boos.

 

Lullaby me cuddle dry me

Breathe a breathe we breathe together

Until our scents

Tingle on our tastebuds

Mingle in our lungs

Linger in our thoughts.

 

Lullaby me cuddle dry me

Squeeze all the water out of me

When tears fill me up

And make my eyes swim.

 

Lullaby me cuddle dry me

Place your hands on my head

Place your lips on my cheeks

Place your heart in my heart.

 

By Joseph Coelho

First Scratch day

June 11, 2008

We have been split in two groups (Apple and Cart) The group I am in will be performing to a group of babies and toddlers this thursday, I am joined by Oily Cart performers Nicole Worrica and Kathy Toy and easter Region artists (provided by Theatre is) Kathyrn Holt – Storytell, Sally Abbott – Writer and practitioner, Emma – Painter. After experimenting with initial ideas around bubbles and having me as a stylised ring leader we settle on a plan for our version of poolpiece around around a chest that I open to reveal an inspiration for our activities for instance when i first open it bubbles come out and we then lead the group through making bubble with silver bowls  under the water, popping bubbles in the air, placing bubbles on the body. One thing is very clear – making effective interactive beautiful theatre foe this age group in a pool is very hard to get right. Tim Webb (artistic director of Oily Cart) looks over our shoulders with the mantra – ‘less is more’ we find we must constantly re-assess what we are doing and why and that many compliations quickly slip into the design. I have five of my poems (Welcome to the pool, Low low low, Byron Laughs, Collective Pool Nouns, and Spit POP Spit) laminated by the side of the pool – note to self laminated does not mean water proof!- which i am drawing on to add poetry to the performance but it has become clear that I have to write as we go through the process in order to have poetry that is appropriate to what we are doing. Last night I wrote a new piece ‘ lullaby me cuddle dry me which i hope to include at the end where we give parents the opportunity to cuddle dry their children you can view this poem and the rest under poetry. I’m off to take my hayfever medication and get back to the pool!

Seeing the show for the first time

June 11, 2008

It was astounding to see the show in all its glory. Talking to the cast and crew it was clear that their first week of performance had been a very special, deeply moving, one for them. They talk of the joy of being resident in the school and having the opportunity to get to know the children and see them change as the days progressed.

I watched two shows on monday (Umbrella man’s day) The production has a real sense of peace and tranquility. The cast are obviously very experienced and skilled in what they do being sensitive to the children and responding to them and their needs. The production is calm and offers a lot of space as well as moments of high energy. The pool changes over forty minutes from a serene still pool to an undulating ocean and back again.

The production looks gorgeous – the costumes, the set pieces, the lighting all are beautifully executed, a chinese boat about a meter across is shored on one side of the pool. White sails sit around the edges, and umbrella trees of white and silver and light arc over the pool.

Charlotte

June 11, 2008

Charlotte

By Mark Foster

Starry night
She holds on to me –
loving
Don’t wanna let go
How much joy she brings
star in a bright sky
tightening all the way
wherever you are
this is new for you
Charlotte

After the first week at Amwell View

June 8, 2008

POOL PIECE
As I write we have just completed the first week of a two week-long residency in and around the hydro pool of Amwell View School in Ware, Hertfordshire as part of a three-way collaboration between Apples and Snakes, Theatre Is (Arts Council England East’s beacon young people’s theatre organisation) and Oily Cart. Between now and mid-July we will be taking the project to three other schools in the London area.

The key feature of POOL PIECE is that in each school we will be working with a group of 16 young people with either Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities or an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and that we will be working in an extended way, with the performances stretching over a period of 6 days. In Amwell View the six days are consecutive, but in the other schools they will be spread out, with one or two day visits, peppered over a period of five weeks. By working in this extended way we hope that everyone, the young people, their parents and teaching staff and the Oily team members will benefit. The principle, very much based on our experience of the extended version of BLUE which we performed as part of the 2007 Manchester International Festival, is that we will all have the time to become familiar and confident with one another, and that this knowledge will lead to more effective interaction with much longer-lasting results than are possible with a more conventional approach.

We rehearsed POOL PIECE for a period of 5 weeks, and much of that time was spent in the hydro pool at Livity School in Brixton. I am deeply grateful to Geraldine Lee, the school’s Head and a former member of the Oily Cart Board, for allowing us this extensive access. Many of our rehearsals involved some of the young people of the school, and so, even during this preparatory period, we were able to see the value of building relationships with the participants over time, and how this enriched the quality of our work with them.

Half way through the rehearsals the Oily Cart team travelled up to Birmingham for a day of training in the techniques of Intensive Interaction led by Phoebe Caldwell who is the leading expert in this way of working. In brief, Intensive Interaction is a startlingly effective means of communication with people who do primarily rely on verbal language. It is especially useful as a means of breaking through to people who because of their autism or other disability exhibit very challenging behaviours. Phoebe’s day was an inspiration to us all and has had a profound effect on POOL PIECE.

As soon as we opened at Amwell View at the beginning of June it was clear that the flexibility and ability to responds to each participant’s requirements that we had built into POOL PIECE was extremely beneficial. Although there is a clear structure for the piece, it also encourages the performers to listen to the vocalising of the participants, and to observe their body language – then respond, and carry the dialogue forward using that language.  To some extent this approach has underpinned all Oily Cart performances for young people with severe learning disabilities, but the extended contact time of POOL PIECE, and the influence of Phoebe Caldwell, has empowered us to take it to a new level.

Of course, it’s early days, but I believe that POOL PIECE is connecting with its young audiences – and their carers – much more consistently and powerfully than was the case in previous Oily Cart productions. The parents and staff who have been present certainly feel this to be true. At times the very experienced members of the Oily Cart team have found the reactions of the young people emotionally overwhelming. The greatest tribute to the work comes from the expressions and the body language of the young people themselves who, in the course of a just a few days have travelled immense distances from apprehension and tension to a beaming, delighted, calm.

POOL PIECE depends on the intelligence and skills of a particularly talented Oily Cart team. This is an absolutely vintage ensemble comprising Griff Fender (Company Stage Manager, Mark Foster, Debbie Longworth (DSM & Mark’s PA), Kathy Toy (musician/performer and the only one new to the Cart), Sjaak van der Bent & Nicole Worrica. They could not be bettered.

Max Reinhardt has composed some wonderful music for the piece. It is played on instruments abstracted from an Indonesian gamelan, loaned to us by Jamie Linwood, the instrument-maker and long-time friend of the company. Max is also making a major contribution by actually playing in the shows.

POOL PIECE looks ravishing thanks to the set, props and costumes conjured up by our Head of Design, Claire de Loon, the lighting devised for the especially interesting circumstances of the pool by Jens Cole, and the choreography of Katie Green. The challenging logistics of the POOL PIECE tour, which not only takes place in and around the water, a fact that immediately complicates everything, but also involves multiple fit-ups in a series of venues, are in the capable hands of our Production Manager, Jesus Gamon.

For several of the rehearsals and for some of the opening performances at Amwell View we were joined by the poets Aoife Mannix and Joe Coelho, from the Apples and Snakes stable and they have already contributed quite a substantial number of poems, their responses to the work in the pool.

Some of these poems will be used to inform and inspire the APPLE CART leg of the POOL PIECE tour, which will take place during our second at Amwell View, the week beginning 9th of June. During this week the Oily Cart team will be joined by Aoife and Joe, plus 6 artists from the Arts Council’s Eastern Region who have been recruited by Theatre Is, which has the goal of promoting best arts practice in the Eastern Region. These 6 artists, who include directors, visual artists and performers from the East,  first joined us for a development week at Amwell View back in February.

During the APPLE CART week we will divide poets, Eastern Region artists & Oily Cart company into two teams. Each team will then devise two scratch performances for the pool: one for the young people of Amwell View, the other for either a group of under 2’s (with or without a disability), or for a group of people who have been affected by strokes. These scratch performances will not be an attempt to dramatise the poems, but we hope that the poetry will have a catalytic effect on the devising processes of the two groups.

I am fascinated by the potential of bringing  the Oily Cart’s interactive, close-up and multi-sensory approaches to bear on these two audiences, one of whom, the stroke support group, we have never tried to work with before. It will also be very interesting to see how poetry can facilitate communication with two groups who do not rely on verbal language.

The POOL PIECE rehearsal process and the weeks of performance at Livity, Amwell View & Watergate schools, is being extensively videoed by Paul Williams & Edgar de Oliveira, and the results will be analysed by Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk of the Department of Psychology at the University of Dundee. It is hope that the resulting paper will be published in academic journals and that a DVD of the work will be available for schools and anywhere else where we can spread the word.

I must stop writing about POOL PIECE although, as I know you’re beginning to worry, I could go on & on. I’ll conclude by expressing my gratitude to Jan Liversage & Penny Warner (respectively the Head and our contact teacher at Amwell View), to Stuart Mullins, Andre Bath, Claudia West and Michael Corley of Theatre Is, and to Lisa Mead from Apples and Snakes for their invaluable help in bringing both the POOL PIECE and the APPLE CART project to fruition.

Umbrella Man’s Day

June 8, 2008

Umbrella Man’s Day

by Aoife Mannix

A dozen miniature glitter balls hang suspended over the water,
light dances waves along the wall.
The pool shimmers with disco droplets,
warm yellow blue through gentle mist
as the boy in the wheelchair is welcomed
to Indonesian chimes rolling rhythms from the mystical east.
White rafts are lowered to float small rings of soft splashes,
an electric turban lights the way.

Sweet hellos of gong struck gold purple pantaloons.
Third eye reflections breathe the burble of the smoke machine,
umbrellas sing their silver necklaces
draped around water drumming.
Sponges splish splash as the little girl
sways to the curl of her perfect burst of smile.

The sailing boat bops up and down
in time to the rhythm of rain.
The striking of the big gong freezes all
but the near silent whispering of water.
Bowls skim the surface, perforated wishes,
streams of laughter through golden light.
A riot of raindrops on open palms.

The mallet strikes wonder into the whoosh of colanders,
umbrellas open to the spraying of gamelan shelter,
and we are safe in clear plastic, a bubble of a home.
The happiness of children exploring silver tumblers,
bubbles that emerge from the deep.
The girl giggles as music is poured from a jug,
the joy of spray showers pattering on windows
where words are not needed.

The boy holds his own language in storms of sheer delight
as the white umbrella blesses his face with water kisses,
and all is still and soft and mellow.
The music eases into a rhythm written backwards
in the sky of clouds calling the names of children.
Aisha, Jacques, Tommy, Toby, Thomas.
We recognise ourselves in this opening of hidden treasures.
The drumming of goodbye dances
wrapped in pool dreams of possibility,
the squeeze of love in the grin of a child.

Pool Piece

June 8, 2008

Pool Piece

by Aoife Mannix

Crystal showers through silver colanders
catch the triple light
as glitter balls rain on water.
The little boy stands by the poolside,
his eyes shimmering with music,
smiles of splashes
as the gong strikes laughter.

Umbrellas are shared
in the protective weight
of lifting silver storms.
The patter of spray shooters
as the gamelan kicks in.

The bubbles bounce to wooden tin beats
in time to the onslaught of raindrops
squirted between children.
Splashing silence,
beyond language, there is the haze
of gold swimmers jumping into blue excitement.

A sailing boat of dreams,
patterns liquid on the skin.
Reaching the unreachable,
the priceless pouring of purple connection,
who we really are.

See yourself in the mirror of a child’s name,
in the leaps and bounces of another world reflected
as the boy steps into the pool,
balances perfectly on the hands of sponges,
sings his own churning of floating mirrors.

Bubbles chanting song waterfalls,
the towel massages of drifting back to land.
Wanting to escape dry reality,
having to wave goodbye to the lights.


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