Sunday, 12 May 2019

Theseus and the Minotaur/The Odyssey- Week One: 'Two Stories, Two Heroes.'

Summer term has finally arrived and after a nice extended break, yesterday saw our Chameleons return for the group's tenth project. Four years ago, when we sat down and jotted down ideas for what the company which we had somehow acquired would be doing, the concept of running a children's weekend group was one which we never thought would last long-term. The previous Anthos Arts had come to an end, with the original team leaving it behind and with them a number of links were lost and we had a lot of work on our hands. The group, simply then called 'the younger group' was a means of helping to build new links within the community and help inspire the new generation of artists in Exeter, as the original mission statement had sought to do.

It went well, we re-branded our 'younger group' as the Chameleon Group, and our 'older' as the Anthos Young Company with the new intention of making it a long term-endeavour and here we are today. A lot of reflection has happened over the build up to this term where it seems surreal that we are now entering what will be the tenth project for us. The Chameleon Group has continued to expand and has created some fantastic pieces of theatre. It is still so much fun and each term with the group really does feel like a new adventure. 

Prologue rant out of the way, this term we are (as most people who follow us will know) creating not one, but two performances which will be based on stories from Ancient Greece. As a team we have a real passion for the mythology linked to this period, admiring it also as the birth of theatre today. 'Theseus and the Minotaur' was our first ever full-fledged show with the Chameleons and so it seemed fitting that we would revisit it to mark the big one-o. Alongside Theseus will be a brand new story, based upon 'The Odyssey,' following the adventures of Odysseus as he tries desperately to return home after the Trojan war and the troubles he faces along the way.

Two groups, two heroes, two stories. A lot of Chameleons have joined us this term and we're excited to get to the stories at hand. For the first week though, we wanted to ease everyone in. We have all manner of familiar, new and returning faces in the groups and as it has been nearly two months since 'The Girl and the Fox' we thought that some games, some catching up and some general fun would be a fantastic way to start. Both sessions got off to a humorous start; with laughter aplenty as the Chameleons got stuck into some classic and some new games.

The shape game must be played; it's like gospel to us...what would a term be without shapes? It's an activity that has a great many benefits; encouraging teamwork, engaging imaginations, teaching communication and is always a great way to break the ice between Chameleons old and new. Our favourite activity however was creating a machine. The groups were asked to enter the stage one-by-one and become part of a machine. They are not allowed to communicate what the machine will be but must work together to try and compliment what each other were doing.

The machines in both groups were very interesting. What's more, we asked the Chameleons afterwards what they thought the machine was making. Each member had plenty of wonderful ideas and while they had worked together to make a machine that worked in unison, their concepts were all vastly different.

Each group then had a chance to explore the characters and story of the shows they would be respectively working towards. In both cases, several Chameleons presented a wealth of knowledge; either about the stories themselves or the context surrounding them, which added to our discussions. We had one bring in a book on 'Theseus and the Minotaur' for us to look at and were told all about stories, books and audio CDs which had been read/heard at home. This made our roles more fun, as we were able to explain how our versions have taken the mythologies and built upon them, drawing from different myths and characters from the lore. Our shows are rarely straight adaptations, we like to embellish on characters/events to make things more interesting.

These are big stories, however, and so we wanted to get the Chameleons exploring them in an active and fun way. True to form, we took the groups through a speed run of the show, asking them to act out different parts as we narrated them. The speed-runs always descend into a bit of madness but are always a lot of fun.

There is no denying that we have two fantastic groups, all of whom are keen on the ideas for the shows and eager to get started. Following up, we intend to look further at the mythologies behind the show, exploring some of the Gods, Goddesses and monsters which feature. It feels like it is going to be a wild term for us, but we are excited to see how both shows will develop. Side note- as there are two groups this term, there may be weeks where we will have the one blog post for both groups, and times where we may do a post for each group, circumstances depending.

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