Saturday, 17 December 2016

The Princess and the Goblins- The Final Chapter

So the time has come at last. The final chapter of 'The Princess and the Goblins!'
What an incredible term it has been. Back in August when we found an old book in an old shop, on an old London street about a princess who set ended up saving her kingdom from a race of cave-dwelling goblins, we never imagined what would follow. The story was placed on the ideas board for this term, but still we didn't credit it too much. However, as we looked at our options and what we felt we could do with the stories we were choosing from, and which we felt the Chameleons would enjoy most, it became increasingly clear that the tale of Princess Irene, Curly, Lottie and co. was always meant to be put on the stage.

Even still, we weren't if the group would take to the story as we wanted them too. It was unlike anything we have tried with them before. 'Theseus and the Minotaur!' was about a hero who travelled across the sea to defeat an evil monster, while 'The Legend of King Arthur!' was about a young boy who went on a journey to become a better king and defeat an evil witch, meeting many friends and enemies along the way. This story was instead about a young girl seeking to escape the confines of expectation and prove to everyone that she could live her own life.

Irene's character was a complex one. She struggles with the confined life and expectations of being a Princess to a legendary king. She longs for her freedom, but not just from the castle; she also longs to be able to make her own decisions and have exciting adventures. In the original text, though Irene has this character, most of these complexities are not touched upon. The same goes for some of the other characters; Curly, Lottie, the Goblin Queen (or Curdie, Lootie and the Goblin King as they were originally) are very packed characters and it was only when we updated the story to accommodate our group this term did we notice that a lot of these complexities were brought out. We questioned keeping them, as we feared perhaps we had given the group too much to work on.

Our talented Chameleons, however, didn't crumble. They didn't struggle. They took these characters and made them their own, with all of the complexities and inner turmoil that came with them. That has been what has made this term so outstanding. The cast have embraced the complexities within all of these characters and worked hard to portray them with depth and love. Watching them perform today made us realise how proud we were of what they had accomplished. Every week they would come in, fresh faced after a week of school, and be eager to dive into our story again. They loved Irene's tale, and it was this care for the story that made the final performance something really magical.

And so today was just that. Magical. Of course there were nerves, there was pacing and talk about suddenly forgetting everything we had done for the past ten weeks, but then there always is and as soon as the lights came up; the group took to the stage and made it their own. It was a pleasure to watch, as it was a pleasure to explore with them throughout the project.

Well, that's that. The term came to an incredible conclusion. Rarely have we worked with the group and had them so passionate about what we were doing. It has been an unbelievable experience rehearsing each week and all that is left to say is well done to our Chameleons. You are all brilliant. This has hands down been one of the strongest terms we have had with the Anthos Arts Youth Division and we cannot wait to pick up again in the new year.

Merry Christmas everyone! See you next time!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Princess and the Goblins- Week 9

That's right! It's so strange to think that we're almost at the end of what has been one of the best projects to date, but alas today was week nine working on 'The Princess and the Goblins!' and the cast finally had their dress rehearsal. Everyone was really excited to have the chance to perform with all their props and costume and it was a fantastic day!

What would a rehearsal be, however, without a few good games? This week we had to keep it short, however there was still time for a quick round of 'Goblin Attack!' and 'Buzzing Bees.' As always the group threw themselves into the games- they're all pros now after practising for nine weeks- and made some excellent shapes for the buzzing bees game (a personal favourite being 'winter wind on a window'). Once the games were over we took the cast through which props were theirs and what the layout of the stage would be. Then, it was time to begin. 

Now, as this week was spent doing the dress rehearsal from that point on, there isn't much else to write about without giving away the many surprises the group have in store for next week, however there is one thing that needs to be said. The run was outstanding. The group have worked so hard and committed so much time and energy to their characters that the show looks brilliant. There were bits where scripts were required or questions asked, but overall the cast managed the dress run in a professional manner that we would never have expected from such a young group- well, if we didn't know them as well as we do. These guys are a brilliant cast, they are supportive of one another and enjoy working together. That is what made 'The Princess and Goblins!' so wonderful to watch today!

So that was that. Once the dress rehearsal had finished we had enough time to give the group some feedback on their performance and talk about the arrangements for next week as we will be in our performance venue. Though it runs the risk of making this post repetitive; it needs to be said once more how fantastic our cast is. We are so proud of all of them for all their hard work. Next week will be the conclusion to this wonderful project and though its going to be sad to see it end, we're certain that its going to be incredible. The end of the day also saw our goodbye to Exeter Community Centre, which has been amazing in supporting our work and providing a safe environment for our youth groups to play and practice. Anyway, onward and upwards. See you after the performance!

The post this week may be short but don't fret! We had plenty of pictures from the dress rehearsal, so feel free to enjoy them in the absence of our usual babble. 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Princess and the Goblins- Week 8

It's week eight! For seven weeks now the Chameleons have been working hard on bringing Princess Irene's story to the stage. We have seen her escape a castle, explore the city, meet some goblins and even acquire a magic ring, but all of that was leading up to this week: the final showdown between Irene and the dreaded Goblin Queen.

This week was all about action. Almost every Chameleon group show has featured some element of action; Theseus battled the Minotaur, King Arthur fought The Black Knight and then the Dreaded Dragon, and this term is no different. The story of 'The Princess and the Goblins!' features a lot of action and today we worked on staging it. The Chameleons always love when we spend a week working on some stage combat, so today we brought in a few props to help us make this term's battles all the more fun.

We approached the stage combat on this project in the same manner as we have used before. Map out the moves in the fight with the actors before launching into practice. In a similar sense to planning out a dance, it is vital that each move in a scene involving stage combat is planned out so that the actors are safe and the movements look precise. There are two big battles in the show; King George's opening scene and the final duel between Irene and the Goblin Queen. The Chameleons worked very hard and showed a massively professional amount of focus while preparing for both scenes. When the time came to bring them to life, it was wonderful watching the results of all that focus pay on in what were two very entertaining fight scenes.

Once the combat was finished, all that was left to do was wrap it all together. We concluded by practising the final scene between Irene and the Queen and watched as our Narrators brought the story to a close. Having completed work on every scene in the play the time had come to run everything. Starting from the top the Chameleons took to the stage to show the results of their hard work since getting their scripts four weeks ago. This was the first time we had attempted a complete rehearsal of the play but it difficult to tell. The overwhelming effort made by each member of the cast was clear in just how entertaining this rehearsal run was.

And so that's it! The play has been completely staged. The performance is now two weeks away, which is bizarre! This term is going past so quickly; but it's been so much fun and the cast are simply wonderful. Next week we will be having our dress rehearsal, where hopefully the cast will be able to perform a whole run of the play with their costumes and props! Exciting times ahead. Stay tuned!

Theseus and the Minotaur/The Odyssey: Week 6- 'Down in the Labyrinth/ Circe's island.'

A quick blog entry this week- as we are neck deep into rehearsals now and at that point in the term where there's little to say abo...