An Elephant In The Garden

[A look back at Sophie’s experiences at Strike A Light Festival]

I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at The Guildhall to see a theatre full of excited children, settling for the performance. I was equally pleasantly surprised to see one woman, who I later realised would be the only person performing this story for us all.

As someone who hadn’t read the Michael Morpurgo tale, I had no idea what to expect. I suspected there was an elephant involved but that was all the information I knew. It was quite mesmerising to watch an entire story performed entirely by one woman (Alison Reid) with only the use of a few props and the occasional sound effect but it worked so well and I was hooked the entire time. I don’t want to ruin the story for any of you, but an outline of the tale is the story of a mother and her daughter and their unusual journey to find a safe place after their home in Dresden was hit by a bomb in WWII (with the addition of an elephant, of course).

The obscure story was incredibly informative for the children watching, as I feel it’s important for them to learn about such an essential part of history. Although it sounds a bit of a heavy, political topic to perform to children, the addition of it being a one woman show who was an interesting and lively character, made the topic a little bit more child friendly and engaging to watch. I was hooked the whole time!

 

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TEN by ACE Dance & Music

[A look back on Sophie’s experiences at the festival]

I was lucky enough to tag along to the evening performance of TEN by ACE dance and music. My knowledge on dance is limited but I do really enjoy watching theatre and dance pieces so I was very excited to see what all of the fuss was about!

The performance began with a youth dance group and was followed by an exceptional piece of performance from ACE dance and music. This was along the same tribal theme as the rest of the show which was an extensive dance piece which told a story of strength and power.

ACE’s dancing was so powerful and emotional to watch; I was shocked at how just watching them could make me feel. Their movements were effortlessly in sync; it was such a mesmerising performance! I think even if you weren’t necessarily interested in dance (like me), you would still really enjoy watching their strength and flawless movements on stage. It was also really lovely to have the children perform beforehand because the later performance was showing what the youth dancers could one day achieve and aspire to be. Overall, I would highly recommend seeing ACE the next time they perform!

 

Reassembled: Slightly Askew performance overview

[A look back on Sophie’s experiences during Strike A Light Festival]

As someone who has never experienced an immersive audio performance before (like I’m sure many of you haven’t), I had no idea what to expect! You can imagine my surprise when a nurse came through to the ‘waiting room’ and put a hospital band round my wrist and asked me proceed through to the ‘hospital ward’…

As I walked in, there were 6 beds in lines of two, myself and the other 5 audience members were asked to remove our shoes and get tucked into bed. The lights were dimmed, headphones and eye masks were placed on our heads and then we lay down and the performance began.

The audio started playing and it was like I was stood right there, where the noise was happening; it was a truly immersive experience! Every sound that came though was like you were right there in her shoes. The true story is about a woman named Shannon who has suffered a serious head trauma and the basis of the audio is that you can hear what she heard when she was completely unable to communicate with her partner. All of her surroundings, and noises you could hear, all of this whilst you’re literally laid in a hospital bed! It was an amazing story which eventually lead to her recovery. After suffering through such a traumatic deal, she decided to share her struggle using incredible audio technology so that other people could learn about what it’s like to not be able to communicate.

It was such a clever idea and also so informative for people to understand what it’s like for someone to be in that position. I urge people to get involved if ever you get the chance if you fancy experiencing something completely different from a performance!

Beat boxing and breakdancing!

Last Monday I had the pleasure of experiencing some of the workshops Strike A Light are running , including a beat boxing session facilitated by Jesse Ashmore, also known as ‘Brother Beatbox’. Jesse has previously held school workshops in the Gloucester community, and now works with kids from around the ages of 8-18 and teaches the basics of beat boxing. He explained to me how he scouts talent around the city, that wouldn’t necessarily be found if it wasn’t for these workshops.

“It’s really important to me that youth can be confident and sociable. They will learn the basics of how to beat box, but what they really take away is confidence and performing skills which is so important for young people” Jesse tells me. He’s been voluntarily running the workshops for around five years and so far teaches a small group of kids weekly through the Strike A Light workshops, in hope that it will grow and expand throughout Gloucester.

After getting to watch these workshops, it was clear to me that the young people were having a lot of fun, and it was great fun to watch too; even our intern Aylin was joining in!

After this, I attended one of the dance workshops facilitated by Jamaal & Joel.
It was an intimate group as it’s only been running for a few weeks. The group meet every Monday and learn how to break dance which as far as I’m aware isn’t widely available in Gloucester. It’s a great opportunity for young people to keep fit and enjoy doing it! The people who attended had a great time and told me they’ll be inviting all of their friends!

It was great to experience the work Strike A Light do first hand by attending and observing their workshops. Having a community investing in the youth of Gloucester and that offers great opportunities is something that should be utilised, so if you have any questions, the SAL email address can be found on our info page!

For more info on how you can join our Beatbox workshops, click here

Sophie

Strike A Light blog writer
www.strikealightfestival.org.uk

 

The beat box and dance workshops have been generously supported by The Ernest Cook Trust, Arts Council England, and Gloucester Guildhall.

The new Strike A Light blog & an interview with intern, Aylin Ozkan

 

I wanted to briefly introduce myself as the writer of the new Strike A Light blog! My name is Sophie and I’m a student at The University of Gloucestershire with a passion for writing. My purpose for writing the next several posts is to give everybody reading a chance to learn a little more about what the good people at Strike A Light are getting up to over the coming weeks; documenting festival preparations and the festival itself.There’s a lot going on in the office right now, with the festival being a week away! But amongst the chaos, I managed to get a chance to speak to the Marketing and Events Management Intern Aylin Ozkan, who gave me an insight into what it’s like to work for Strike A Light.

 

Aylin has been working hard with SAL since Autumn 2016 and is sadly approaching the last few weeks of her internship. It was really interesting to get a look into the organisation from someone who was a newcomer (just like me) and is now at the end of her experience with them; it sounds like she’s had a busy but extremely fun time! Aylin’s role has been paramount to the organisation of the festival itself, along with all the external activities SAL get involved in. Her main achievement has been ‘The Green Room’ where she’s arranged and hosted meals (thanks to connections she’s made with a local supermarket) in which she invites performers to make arrangements for the events they’re involved in, but to also get to know them and make them feel at home whilst they stay in Gloucester. On top of this, she’s been busy marketing and promoting SAL by being active on all of their social media channels. ‘What I enjoy most about working with Strike A Light is that I’m always doing something different, it never gets boring here and there’s always something to do!’ she tells me. “My organisational skills are better now and my confidence levels are higher than before, which will help me with teaching […] I have also gained skills in communicating with a range of different people”. Although Aylin was a science student at university, she has a strong passion to be able to combine the sciences and the arts into one learning experience, and eventually wants to become a secondary school teacher. Aylin explains: “I have learnt a lot more about the importance of the arts to portray a variety of different ideas”. This is great experience for the line of work she wants to enter.

 

Now she has learnt these transferable skills (with many thanks to SAL), she is now able to take the next step in her career. Aylin ended the conversation with “SAL was basically the best time ever and I’m sad that I have to leave in two weeks”. We wish her every success in her journey to becoming a teacher and we’re glad she’s had such a positive experience! Be sure to look out for upcoming posts and interviews with the performers you’ll be seeing in this seasons festival…

Sophie

 

Strike A Light festival dates

Wednesday 29th March – Festival Launch Night, Gloucester Guildhall

Thursday 30th March-Saturday 1st April – Neverland, The Redwell Centre &                   Reassembled, Slightly Askew, Gloucester Guildhall

Friday 31st March & Saturday 1 April – Bucket List , Gloucester Guildhall

Saturday 1 April – Gloriator, Robinswood Primary School

Monday 3rd April – TEN, Gloucester Academy

Tuesday 4th April – Work in Progress, Gloucester Guildhall

Wednesday 5th April – An Elephant in the Garden, Gloucester Guildhall

 

 

 

www.strikealightfestival.org.uk