Goddess- One Year On

Somehow, an entire year has passed since we opened Goddess at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. Nearly 400 people saw the show and many more took part in the art exhibition, workshops and market which accompanied our week long mini-festival. Earlier this month, to celebrate International Women’s Day some of the cast and creative team met up to watch some film from the production and to reflect on the work we did together. Here are some of our thoughts:

SUZANNE DANCE- PERFORMER AND CO-CREATOR
On Saturday 9th March 2013, I watched the Goddess DVD with 2 remarkable women friends. Phyllida Anam Aire,and Sara Trevelyan. They are both powerful, graceful healers and agents for change.
They were intrigued and engaged and touched by ‘Goddess.’ And it was useful for me to notice when I felt the need to explain to them what was happening! Whenever we went to the ancient times, I told them so… I had to explain re the initial mother section, and the nightmare, and why we were drunk. Because they asked! Also it became clear which sections were strong and clear, and which were weaker. They really enjoyed the music, and movement sections, for example, and the warning from the Cailleach of the need to ‘keep the Goddess alive in our hearts, through the difficult times.’ I felt moved watching it with them. It felt bonding and they celebrated our courage for being so ‘out there.’ No doubt this may happen with all of us as we watch it and garner feedback from various friends and family.
As Liz and I showed the short DVD to the Wester Hailes Carers Group on International Women’s Day they seemed visibly uplifted by it and the later discussion was on heroines. I think it can light a torch, a flame, a memory within those who see it. It’s a reminder of our collective and individual strength, beauty and power.
The One Billion Rising initiative felt like a clear call from the Goddess. Women dancing all over the world on the 14th Feb to celebrate and protect themselves. 200 or so of us danced outside the Scottish Parliament. (See amazing videos on YouTube from around the Earth.)
One year on from Goddess, I feel proud and thankful to have been part of the project. Proud of what we created together. I think if and when we revisit the play there is much to work from. To enhance, clarify and strengthen our piece. I hope and trust that when the time is right for each of us and collectively there is more joyful, empowering work to be done.
I honour and respect each one of you for all the work you are doing and all that you are, and are becoming. With all love, from my heart to your hearts,
 Suzanne x
CAITLIN SKINNER- DIRECTOR AND CO-CREATOR
When we set out to create Goddess we did it with no money, little experience and hardly any time. What we did have was a group of passionate people who felt very strongly that  the time was right to create a show that explored the female experience from across generations and across history. We all seemed to be hearing something going on out there, a rumbling of people wanting to talk about women’s issues in a new way. So despite the fact that we had no money, little experience and hardly any time, we felt we had to strike while the iron was hot.
My personal aim for the project was always for Goddess to be a spark and create space for people to have a conversation. My strongest memory of the festival was of people chatting passionately, humorously and thoughtfully in the beautiful hall in the Storytelling Centre. Since then I have had many conversations about the show and what it meant to people. I hope that will continue as long as possible. Perhaps when it stops it will be time to make another one.
The world is of course a different place a year on and if we were to make the show again now it would be very different. I suppose I have a sense that feminism is more in the public consciousness now and there is a call for change across a whole range of issues.
Now I feel that we are busy getting on with it, answering the Goddess’ final question, ‘What shall we do now? This time?’ What a wonderful thing!
Thank you to everyone who gave so much to this risky but important project and love to everyone whose out there working for change.
Best
Caitlin x

We are open! Has the world changed yet?

Just home after our opening performance at the storytelling centre and I wanted to write a quick post to capture the excitement of it all.

Before the house opened we stood on the stage and reflected on all the work that we had done. We were happy, excited, nervous and ready.

The house was almost completely full and I’m fairly sure they were the best audience we will ever have. They seemed to be with us with every moment and couldn’t help responding with sighs, laughs, claps, gasps! It was thrilling. There were some wonderful moments were you felt people in the audience recognise something on stage and that was really important for us.

Some of my favorite comments so far:

“Beautiful”

“People really liked it, and not just me,” (from my Dad).

“It’s got my blood boiling again!”

“I think men would really like this too”

Hurray! Really pleased with the response so far. Anyone see the show tonight wanna comment?

Bring on tomorrow- there’s a workshop, then a market, then a show! Woo!

 

Caitlin x

 

Rehearsal Blog 21st and 22nd Feb

It’s been so busy round here we haven’t even had time to put up this great blog performer Kari Ann Shiff has written. Sorry folks.  Here it is.

Out of the Living Room and onto the Stage

 

On Tuesday last week Maiden & I were first to arrive to room 5:18. When we walked in I noticed a mark up taped on the floor – “Hey, someone has marked a set on the floor! They can’t rehearse another show in here, that’s our stage pace,” i complained. “That’s not another show,” replied Maiden, “that’s our set. See?” And it was. How exciting!

 

Anyone walking in on rehearsals the last several weeks would have noticed the way we have set up our own mini living space on one side of the room. I say “living space” because it is more than a Green Room; it is really a “Living” Room. Research book & magazines, instruments, candles & incense – our ‘mental’ props on one table; chocolate gingers (a staple!), crisps & oat cakes, fresh juice & all varieties of hot drinks – our ‘physical’ props on another. “Surely this can’t be a rehearsal room!” one might think upon entering. But it is; for as much mind-stimulating creative work as we have done within the boundaries of our living space, so have we done equal amounts devising on our feet. And now, since Tuesday, we’ve been almost entirely outta the living room and on to the ‘stage’!

 

What this has meant for us:

 

1. We are tired – More tired than we have been thus far; and believe you me, we’ve been pretty tired. The better part of 8 hours a day on your feet in the stage space devising is both exhilarating and exhausting.

 

2. We have a show – Of course, we’ve had one all along, but now with lines of masking tape marking out our set, we are seeing the first layer of it-all-coming-together. This is a very exciting feeling!

 

3. We had our first audience – We have a set, we have a show, and we had our first run through of it-all-coming-together for an invited audience of keen observers. And we did it, we got through it! (Whew.) Lynne, Hana, and our production team all gave us some very positive feedback, as well as some very helpful constructive food for thought. (Yes, there were chocolate gingers on hand; thank the Goddess for Border’s Dark Chocolate Ginger biscuits & tea! We are steadily nurturing our addiction…)

 

4. We’ve been ‘rewriting’ – Okay, not really rewriting, as we are not allowed to write (see blog for the 12th about that), but rather reworking. Now we have our set laid-out, we are seeing where some things need to happen differently. And now we’ve had a run through, we are seeing where some things should happen differently. And now we’ve had an audience, we are seeing where some things could happen differently. Do you see the pattern?

 

5. The benefits of trust exercises really show when devising – Far more than just learning to freefall with my eyes shut into somebody’s-gonna-catch-me’s hands, the trust exercises played in my theatre school days have enabled me to trust this process. It’s been a lot of work so far, and there’s still more to do, but we can see the whole thing coming into fruition. At the end of the day, or week, it’s all been good; hard work, but good.

 

Kari Ann- The Mother

Rehearsal Blog-25th February

Sorry for the gap in blogs. It’s been incredibly busy!

We had our first run through this week and invited some helpful friends (Lynne Clark and Hana Mackechnie) to watch. We had some really great feedback and everyone seemed to agree that the play made sense. Excellent news!

Production week looms and we are upping our rehearsal time which is really exciting. We also have some publicity out there. Check out the poster!

The production team are hard at work and it is great to have so many talented emerging professionals on board. Go team!

It’s now less than one week to go until our first event kicks off and the ‘I AM WOMAN’ art exhibition opens. We had a phenomenal amount of submissions and the exhibition team were working well into the night to select the final pieces. It’s encouraging to see so many artists are making work around similar themes but phew that was some tough art selecting. I can’t wait till the preview evening on March 2nd, 7pm. There will be live entertainment (stand by for details) and some more of that tasty Idun’s Cider on hand, mmmmm.

More from me soon

Caitlin x

 

Rehearsal Blog- 12th February

Magic and Cliches

This week we have finished putting the building blocks of the play together. All characters, scenes and moments are set and we pretty much know where we are. Phew! It’s been a roller coaster week as we deal with both the beauties and challenges of devising theatre. Here are some lists outlining the good and the bad of the devised theatre making process.

BEAUTY 

1. Sometimes magic happens– ACTUAL magic. Struggling to create a scene earlier this week I suggested we solve a cheesy moment by having the character read a poem her granddaughter wrote. Whilst rehearsing the beginning of the scene Belle wrote said poem and then Suzanne read it in the next improvisation. It was the first time any of us had heard it and it was perfect. Both characters were able to respond instinctively, the scene was solved and there was magic in the room!

2. People don’t talk like they are reading– Personally I’m sick of hearing the written word onstage. I would much rather hear thoughts and feelings please. We are attempting to make this play with a full script and set lines but without the actors ever seeing their lines written down (see challenges).

3. Personal stories– We created a scene this week called ‘The women who danced on the bombs’. It comes from a real life story told by Suzanne that is quite special. Using this and many more stories that we have shared during this process has helped ground the play in something we find true and also kept our passion for the project burning. We have been able to incorporate some of the comments and stories we have heard through the blog and the public workshop we held too. Devising is keeping it real folks!

CHALLENGES

1. Cliches– When improvising we can stray towards cliches as these are the first thing that pops into our head. They make us feel safe and satisfied and sometimes they are useful. We’re going to be inviting some helpful theatre friends in as the cliche police to call us out on these in the coming weeks.

2. Actors hate not being able to see their lines written down–  because they are scared they will forget them. It also puts me in a funny power position where I can see them and they can’t and sometimes they feel they are being corrected. We haven’t figured out the best way to get around this yet. At the moment the actors are writing down key words to get the order of the scene but no actual lines. Anyone been through a process like this before that can offer advice?

3. Killing babies– not actual babies, idea babies. We have too many ideas and we can’t get them all into the play. We have to let go of some of our ideas and we have to help each other to do that. It’s a baby killing support network. BKSN. We’re getting quite good at it and are considering opening ourselves up for hire after the show is finished.

 

Thank you again to everyone who has contributed to the blog this week! Look out for some more questions coming your way.

 

Caitlin x

Rehearsal Blog- 6th February 2012

Things we have discovered this week in rehearsals:

  1. The Arts Complex where we are rehearsing is magical! If you wish for something to make your set out of, a man will appear with a trolley full of it.
  2. The company require at least one box of chocolate gingers every two days.
  3. Creating a fictional egalitarian society that an audience can really buy into and believe in is hard! It still feels like mumbo jumbo- stupid patriarchy getting right into our brains.
  4. The amount of tea drunk is exactly related to the amount of comfort breaks needed.
  5. Our play is funny! My tummy muscles were actually hurting after Tuesdays rehearsal.
  6. People are super generous- we made our sponsorship target on Sponsume- thank you lovely people!
  7. Gillian Smith is an excellent and ambitious set designer- great to have her on board.
  8. When Christianity took over in Scotland, people started hiding goddesses in songs, stories, embroidery and most famously Christian Saints!
  9. The Triple Goddess probably didn’t exist in this part of the world- bother. But there are enough clues hidden in the folklore to suggest that people probably believed in something very similar- phew.
  10. Patricia Monaghan is really cool and will share an abundance of useful information in exchange for nettle tea- thanks for visiting us Patricia.
  11. Stuart McHardy is also really cool and shares our love of chocolate gingers. His knowledge of Scottish goddesses is brilliant and he even helped us find a name for The Mother.
  12. When rehearsals are going well- eight hours feels like five minutes!

Thanks to everyone who has helped contribute to the blog so far. We would really like to hear your views on themes in the play. Why is it so hard to imagine a society before patriarchy? How do you feel about what it means to be a woman today? If there is a new feminist wave coming, what shape will it take?

Have a great week

Caitlin x