Recently, I took part in a play for a new charity called Educate2Eradicate. The play is entitled “Duty” involving 12 teenagers from around Waltham Forest. In “Duty”, we follow a girl who is in the middle of her GCSE’s and is told by her family that she is to marry a man she has never met before, back in her home country. The play tells us about forced marriage and honour abuse and how it happens right under our nose.
It all started when the founder of Educate2Eradicate, Arifa Nasim, received a belated birthday present for her fourteenth birthday. The book is called “Daughter of Shame” which was written by a survivor of a forced marriage, Jasvinder Sanghera. The book tells the stories of young women who are forced into marriages and sometimes killed because they try to escape an abusive marriage. This moved Arifa so much that she decided to spread awareness. Three years later, she launched her first campaign and completed her GCSE’s with As and A*s.
Being a part of this amazing charity has really opened my eyes. I never regarded those practices as something relevant in my life or in the UK. But, this happens all over the world, sometimes closer than we think. I believe that this charity will help 100’s of girls and boys who are at risk of a forced marriage. I wish the very best for them!
Visit: www.educate2eradicate.co.uk for more information and helpline numbers.
Collaborating with Lambeth Libraries and the Readers and Writers Festival for a second year has been an exciting, daunting and enriching process. For the past four weeks we have all been reading page after page of high quality submissions from around the borough. Like last year I think we have all been shocked by the talent that is around and the vast range of material that is just waiting to be staged in a variety of formats. It is such a shame we are not able to produce more but with the establishment of our Writer’s Workshops it is certainly an opportunity for everyone involved to discuss our work and learn from one another.
I personally have the pleasure of directing The Lilies (by Riona Millar) and The Body (by Olu Alakija). Both together are such excellent examples of what this project allows us to experience. Olu shows off his amazing talent with a three hander exploring both an individual’s life journey but also asks us to explore some very relevant socio-political issues. Meanwhile Rionna is just 15 years of age and won the Under 21 catagory. She has managed to produce such a complex narrative that looks at the internal struggles of characters far in advance of her own age and experience. She is definitely a talent to watch for the future.
This has also given myself and the other directors the opportunity to work with actors both familiar and less well-known; experienced figures of the theatre world and exciting emerging talents. It is certainly a pleasure to listen to stories both old and new.
The performances are ‘staged readings’ which means that they have had some time in the rehearsal studio with professional directors and actors. It gives a flavour of the writer’s craft and offers the audience a range of stories and more importantly voices to engage and hopefully provoke some thoughts and reactions.
I certainly hope you come to support the writers and creative teams and if you are reading this after the event – you enjoyed yourself and will pass the word about what you experienced.
Sixteenfeet is looking forward to some exciting new projects including our New Playwriting competition in Spring and our first ever pop-up panto SNOW WHITE next Christmas, as well as preparing for a summer tour of all time favourite Wind in the Willows. This adaptation, by local writer Andry Walsh, has been given a contemporary twist. Join the loveable Ratty, Mole, Toad and Badger as they embark on their adventures. The action is set to an original score by Guy Holden and will be available to download in the next few weeks.
A look back at 2014
Before looking to the future I would just like to share my personal highlights of 2014.
The Year started with FIRST DRAFT in partnership with Lambeth Libraries as part of the Lambeth Readers and Writers Festival – the brief was to write a short play with a maximum of 5 characters and open to anyone who lives, works or studies in Lambeth. The plays came in a trickle & then a torrent with – 50%in the last two days! We were totally overwhelmed – and delighted. There was some brilliant writing, ideas and voices – getting a concensus was – difficult! Instead of 5 plays we ended up working on 8 and presenting all of them on both nights in Clapham Library in the Mary Seacole Building at the end of May. One challenge was locating the air conditioning which may be great for keeping the library cool but was in competition with our actors – and winning! Due to the sterling efforts of Tim & Andy and a little help from Cllr. Matt Parr – we managed to get it turned of 30 minutes before the first performance!
In July came the WW1 recital – an evening of poetry, prose and music on the eve of the centenary of the outbreak of war. I was asked by Brockwell Park Community Partners to put together a programme to complement Jason Flemyng and Charles Dance readings of WW1 poetry. We compiled a programme that represented Women and minority voices and the wealth of material available was incredibly moving and timeless. My special moments of that evening were Tony Glennon’s beautiful rendering of ‘On Flander’s Field’ and Lila Clements unaccompanied ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’. Everyone gave their time for free and felt privileged to do so – on a beautiful sunset evening in Brockwell Park redolent of that famed ‘golden summer’ of 1914.
GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE ENDINGS – really had us flying by the seat of our collective pants! A totally new and intricate story – with multiple choices. We were blessed with a terrific director in Vik Sivalingam and endlessly adaptable writer in Andy Walsh plus a knockout, talented, adaptable and musically talented cast.
ALICE visited Morden Hall park where we swapped a walled garden for a rose garden, Streatham Rookery Gardens – a hidden Lambeth gem – and the Walled Garden in Walpole Park, Ealing. Once again Lewis Carroll’s story worked its magic with a fantastic cast & exceptional Alice band in Tony, Caleb, Lauren & Wendy.
A definite highlight was the company barbeque organized by Nicholas Anthony the director of ALICE. Another was The Teddy Bears picnic for Sixteenfeet Friends, (link) and the Mad Hatter’s tea party at Morden Hall Park.
A Sixteenfeet wedding
October this year marked our first Sixteenfeet wedding. Andy and Yi met after a performance of his adaptation of WIND IN THE WILLOWS in the Walled Garden, Brockwell Park. They had their reception in our rehearsal room Brixton Community Base decorated by Sam and Lauren, who interned with us last year.
So many people made this year special as well as actors, directors and designers the stage management team and volunteers who we couldn’t do without so finally a big thank you to Jen, Sam, Lauren, Hannah, Jenni, Matt, Sarah, Josh, Harris, Lea, and Donna.
New ways to support us
. . . while you shop online
Ticket sales provide less than a third of the income we need. If you would like to get involved there are many ways you can support us. You can contribute to Sixteenfeet by signing up to www.easyfundraising.org.uk and choosing us, we receive a percentage of every online sale you make – this is donated by the retailer e.g. John Lewis, M &S and Amazon so costs you absolutely nothing but really helps us.
. . . a great present for friends and family
We have now introduced a range of gift memberships, whether your a parent, godparent, grandparent or theatre we have a membership that will suit you with one click. See our support page.
If you would like to sponsor a production or advertise in our programme do get in touch. If you are interested in being part of our team and making things happen do email email@example.com. Whether it is a few hours to help with admin or marketing or work experience we would love to hear from you.
Do join our mailing list or follow on twitter to find out the latest news.
Banner for Promotion!
Promotion isn’t easy when you’re a small company with limited budget. Almost everywhere you turn, promotion methods cost a lot of money and have limited effectiveness. The de rigueur method of pushing your business these days seems to be something of a shotgun approach – lots of channels, lots of money – but that’s not really an option for us. We use printed PVC banners to promote our events, and here’s why.
Firstly, banners are quite cheap. We use a company in Huddersfield called Aura Print and they’re very reasonable. Ten banners at 8ft x 2ft came in at a shade over £250, and that’s including VAT and delivery. You couldn’t get an advert in a magazine (or indeed on most websites!) for anything like that.
Secondly, a well placed banner can receive a lot of attention. We place our banners in the parks and National Trust areas around London. There’s a lot of footfall in these places and a lot of people see the banners. As they’re usually on foot, they get a good minute or so to read what’s on there, as opposed to zooming past in a car.
Lastly, a banner can be quite stylish I think! We design ours so that they fit in well with the environments in which they are placed. They’re not an eyesore like many – we try our very best to make them pleasant to look at.
So there we go. Banners work well for us here, maybe they could work for you too?
To say the last few weeks have been eventful is an understatement! So, I’ve moved lock, stock and barrel down to London and started my production internship with Sixteenfeet. It’s been a steep learning curve so far but a fantastic experience; I’ve been able to do so many things! I’ve been involved in the marketing, production and even the creative part of the process. I started off by watching the cast in rehearsals in order to give me a real understanding of Twelfth Night and the concept, director, Jenny Lee had in mind. Interestingly, she’s set the play in the 60s. This idea of the old generation versus the new wave works really well. In Twelfth Night a lot of the young characters are rebelling against the old order. Malvolio, played by Phil Childs, is a prime example of the old being battered by the young. Not forgetting the introduction of live music and original songs the show is set to be a hit. I’ve also been handing out flyers (one of my not so glamorous jobs) but it’s such an important tool to generate new interest in the production.
We had a great run at Morden Hall Park (despite a bit of rubbish weather) and Brockwell. The performance space was perched on the top of a hill with some spectacular views of London and it was lovely to see the audience all huddled up together on blankets, fighting for whatever space they could find. Due to the beautiful weather our numbers rocketed to about 150 each night!
Finally, I want to leave you with this link. It’s a new film with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn called ‘The Internship’. How appropriate!
I can probably count the number of times I’ve been to London on one hand. Originating from the West Midlands: I’m a young director, fresh out of University, looking for any experience I can get my hands on. Enter stage right, Sixteenfeet Productions. A Brixton-based theatre company that specialises in site specific performance. Two weeks ago I met the artistic director, Caroline Funnell, to discuss their new outdoor production of Twelfth Night. She explained the concept for this intriguing new project and offered me a production internship. Which with no hesitation I accepted. Work is difficult to find as a recent drama graduate and so I’m really grateful for this opportunity.
The past couple of weeks have been a real eye opener. First of all I’ve learnt to always stand on the right hand side of the escalators, not to bother with my phone on the tube as it just won’t receive any signal and finally working with a professional theatre company can be an exciting, dizzying, tiring, wonderful experience. And so, I’ve started this blog so I can share these moments with you.