środa, 23 lutego 2011

last 3 weeks in NuL

1. snow - everything stopped. Schools cancelled workshops, our groups couldn't come... 
2. World AIDS day - Quince's night, karaoke, pub quiz about AIDS, costumes.
3. Leek - playing pool, medieval instruments, delicious diner
4. Leeds - Hanukkah
5. London again
6. Charlotte's birthday - balloons, marzipan party, games
 7. World in our college: presentation of ourself in everyday life - workshops with kids about goals, self-confidence, stereotypes.
8. Dinner at Paul's house - lovely evening, beautiful meal.
9. Sofa party - we finished renovating settee in our house, it took almost 3 months, we had to take off an old material and upholster sofa again - we saved 7000 pounds by doing this ourselves (Joan - land lady, her neighbours, me and Paschale)
9. LOST: three days in a row we were meeting our groups at 9.30am at the theatre and we worked whole day to show performance at 7.30pm - very intensive but important and fruitful time.
- YPTC: stories about dreams, and how they can become nightmares.
- ESOL: story about an island where there are certain rules, island without girls - only one tribe hides in the forest. We used this picture to listen to the stories of young people, who made the long and dangerous journey from their homeland where they were not safe, to England where they found new home. 
- Strethcross: crazy family with hundred kids, fairies, pirates, cave of lost socks, Santa Claus and grate fun.
10. Presentation - final of our placement, summary and nice meeting. 
11. Christmas Party at the theatre - secret Santa, dancing, food. I had opportunity to say goodbye to everyone. Paschale and Melin (one of the lost boys from Peter Pan performance) performed for me apiece for musical saw and voice in a toilet -beautiful music and grate acoustic!

środa, 15 grudnia 2010


Last days I finished a lot of projects, but still I have a lot to do.
In last week I shot my own film. The temperature outside that day was minus 10, but everything look beautiful, because was frozen. I'm editing it now- I think it will be a good summary of technical things which I have learned here.
I thought about this film from the very beginning. First I made pictures which could be inspiration for successive shoots, after that I started thinking about the script. It was really difficult - how to tell about my time here, my work experiences in arts, not in a boring way? I decided to use Ola, she was walking across the places, which are importan for me here.  All the time in my work helped me my "boss" from Junction 15 - Darren.
A lot of shoots were made in the surroundings, I didn't write about this - I work in really important and pretty part of Stoke - in Burslam. Unfortunately in my opinion it is also forgotten part of England. I want write something about this place where I worked, but also where I spent my free time.


The title 'mother of the potteries' belongs to Burslem. It was a centre for pottery manufacture, you can still see bottle ovens here. Many buildings in use today date from the 18th and early 19th centuries. During my work experiences I was introduced  with the work of The Burslem Regeneration Company, which try improve situation of this place.

The School of Art
It's the place where my company has the office, but it's also a centre of local artistic life. Years ago students from the school played an important role in the local pottery industry, now it's a self - financing, not for profit arts community and creative industry development organisation.The company works with diverse community artists. Many companies have offices in this beautiful building. I had an opportunity to work with a lot of them. I also made a project with Tony Jones - we took a photographies of this place.

The Leopard Pub
I'm writing about this place, because I spent many of my evenings there. It's one of the most beautiful pub which I know, which hold a lot of hidden secrets. Hotel with tunnels is only one of them.

We had also first screening of the film about domestic violence, the official premiere will be during Stoke Your Fires. The festival of the moving image. There is the trailer of our film:

More information about film: DAMAGE FILM


piątek, 10 grudnia 2010

winter time

In the end of my placement (that is how I should start decribing this experiance...) I have a chance to participate one more time in the events I became familiar at the very beginning. As Ola O. has already wrote on 25th of Nevember we had the Heart of Engagement Cafe - this time especially for local volunteers. One week later there was similar workshop for smaller, but very keen to discuss group. Both meetings gave me the possibility to follow the process with higher awerness and better understanding. And I took part in more active way - I presented the feedback after the first exercise (people were discussing posed question with the others sitting by the same table, making notes on paper table clothes, writing the most important issues on post-it notes - and that is what I collected).

Previous short courses at the uni have finished, so it is a right time to strat something new.This week there was the first session of 'Making It Happen' - the course about community arts for community artists mostly. I have been observing what community arts is in practice (working in New Vic, meeting the community photographer, people from B-arts and Junction 15, attending Lound Mouth Women sessions...) for last nearly 3 months, but yesterday I learned about its history and roots, political and economical aspects of the develepment. I had also my '5 minutes': I presented what 'community arts' means or can mean in Poland and how it is connetcted with culture(al) animation. That was really exciting to show who is Jerzy Grotowski and qoutate Grzegorz Godlewski and Leszek Kolankiewicz in Stoke...


That was another possibility to prepare myself for the presentation we three have on 20th of December that is to sum up our achievements and experiances here. We discussed it during the meeting with our carers  in the end of November.

I also:
  • took part in World AIDS Day organised by Borderlines in New Vic Theatre: I saw Borderline members (including Jula) dressed up as queens and ruuning karaoke competition (we were singing Queen's songs) and pub quiz (that is something we haven't already mentioned, but is very popular here) about HIV and AIDS supported by police officers;
  • saw first official screening of the film about domestic violance - production of Junction 15;
  • had a debut as an actress in Ola O.'s film about out staying in Stoke-on-Trent: we spent the whole freezing day outside documenting the most important venues in Burslam, Hanley, Stoke... Ola O. will introduce this production soon.
fot. o.o.
Entertainment (with Ola O.):
fot. o.o.
  • 'Peter Pan' performance in New Vic Theatre (thanks to Sue): actors flying under the roof and above the audiance, very warm atmosphere, really good piece of art;
  • 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows': not because of the personal choice, to be honest, but it turned out that watching Harry Potter's films in Enland is much more exciting: the same fireplaces, the same lining, the same wallpaper, streets, biuldings as all around...

fot. o.o.
Weather conditions:
10 days of real winter have just ended with real English rainy day yesterday. 2 cm of snow caused cancelled or delayd flights, trains and cultural events, closing some of the schools and coughing in the buses. No winter tires, no insulation in houses. But there was beautiful. Not further than one our from Stoke by train in London's direction.


piątek, 3 grudnia 2010

Yizkor tour

For three weeks we toured Staffordshire, taking our educational play, Yizkor around secondary schools. For anyone who thinks a life in the theatre is easy, they've never done a Borderlines tour. We met every morning before the sun had even risen, gathering round the urn for a quick caffeine fix. Then we'd pile into the tour car (project manager Kelly and Chris would take the white van) and the working day would begin.
On the back seat, it was breakfast time for actress Emma and myself - the smell of pre-made porridge and fruit out of tupperware pots filled the car. In the front, volunteer Brendan tried to navigate while the second actor, Kyle, drove - faltering slightly and stalling at almost every hill start, traffic light or cross road. The mission was to keep the right white van in sight and never deviate from the path set by Kelly.
When we arrived at the venue of the day, we would have very limited time to complete a full theatrical get-in. This meant our entire Eastern European shtetl had to be unloaded from the back of the van and installed into the performance space. We had to set up chairs for any number of audience members - 80 to 240 - and rig all the lighting and sound gear to make sure our production was up to New Vic standards.
There was sometimes time for a quick cup of tea before the audience began piling in and the actors needed to escape to get ready. I assigned myself the role of Emma's dresser, stylist and hair stylist, and would lead her to whatever hidden away corner of the staffroom we could find. Each day we fine tuned the dressing routine a little more and the ritual piling on of layers became smoother and faster with each show. I can now part knotty hair expertly with almost any tool at my disposal - forks, hangers or pencils - and have plaited standing, kneeling and even walking down the corridor.
Then the show would begin.
Yizkor was a play, set against the backdrop of the Holocaust, about two Jewish teenagers who lived side by side in a small town in Eastern Europe. The play tells the story of their teenage years and the struggles they face living in a Nazi occupied Europe through 1939 to 1943. It is a story of loss, strength, friendship and courage in a cruel and challenging time. The end of the play sees the older of the two friends hand his companion's baby brother over to a non-Jewish farmer's wife - that was my role each day.

Following the play, we would lead a series of workshops aimed at exploring the themes and issues raised. All interactive sessions, one activity was a simulation using buttons to represent people and asking the youngsters to choose a group to exterminate. Another session focussed on the importance of names and identity. One looked at inner strength and how to keep hold of this however hard times get. And my own workshop used a selection of games to look at trust and responsibility for others, linking this to Zegota (a Council to aid Jews during the Holocaust). We opened each workshop with a group discussion about stereotyping and tried to encourage the students to think about the relevance of this to their everyday lives and how it can become dangerous - as in the Holocaust.
After this full day's emotionally challenging work came the last physical workout of the day - our get-out. The packing up of the whole shtetl back into the van, ready for another day somewhere else in Staffordshire. Then the long journey back to the New Vic and sometimes a de-brief with the whole company. We had this choreographed like a dance by the mid-point of the tour, and we knew how to run it the most efficient way possible. But that doesn't mean it was always perfect. One day Kyle left his costume hanging in the staff toilets of a school and didn't realise it until we were setting off the next day. On another occasion, Kelly left the clean laundry at home and Kyle had to perform wearing my trousers and Emma was left in just a vest at the end of the show. Brendan over-slept one morning and had to be picked up, unshaven and bleary eyed, from the corner of his road. Chris contracted some mystery illness which took him off the tour for three days. And I managed to demolish the wooden cart which Kyle and Emma used to bring all their props on with. But, we got through all those obstacles and kept the smiles on our faces.

Although this was an educational tour, we had two special performances. One was at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, and the other was at the Jewish Community Centre in Leeds for the Holocaust Survivors' Association. It was a great priviledge to meet Wal - one half of the couple that inspired this play. A Holocaust survivor himself, it was amazing to see him again in the audience in Leeds. He is a truly inspirational man.

This was a very moving piece and we felt a great deal of responsibility in raising awareness about something as important as the Holocaust. The intensity of the tour meant it was essential for us to find ways of keeping our own spirits up and maintaining high levels of energy from start to finish. So we made sure we found the lighter moments in our days and took the time to enjoy Stoke and all it has to offer. One evening we took a trip to the Monkey Forest and danced and giggled our way around the Garden Centre and Christmas Market, picking up vintage CDs for nostalgic sing-alongs on the journeys that followed. Kyle and I were neighbours, which meant it was easy to spend time together and unwind and shake off the heaviness of the days.

sobota, 27 listopada 2010

2/3 of the way through

The majority is behind us, but still I'm doing new things.
Firstly I describe that what I should have described long time ago...

During my visit here I sit in in the lecture From Muybridge to Murch...a brief examination of technological advancements in film's history. It's an introduction to certain aspects in the study of film and its history.

I work regularly with The Cultural Sisters, who are the creative, visual and participatory arts organisation. I think their work I can compare with polish organisation - Laboratorium Edukacji Twórczej.
When I saw their studio it made an impression on me, thousands of arts material, they have everything!
Their mainly tool in their work is preparing costumes, but they also use different kinds of art.

In the Monday evening we have workshop with children, when we do many different thinks using art. More important for me is our Wednesday workshop about mental health (how take care of mental health). It's so interesting, because I have possibility to see how introduce children in the serious subject.

Get Talking

I also took part in the final of Get Talking, I was shooting and now the material is waiting to be edited.  Ola W. wrote more about this course.

What's more? The most important think in the last days for me was the exhibition "Small is beautiful".

On this exhibition  you can see my, Ola W. and Julianna's photography. It's only one of things which we made with Tony Jones. I wrote about his course in which I and Ola W. took part. First part was about exposure and other technician's things, the second was about composition. But I hope it's not the end of our cooperation, we have more common plans.

The World Cafe

It's another project in which I took part with Ola W. The World Cafe is a really simple tool which can be used by people wanting to involve others in conversation and dialogue. People are invited to an informal cafe for a drink and chat, they sitting in small groups around a table, but every 20-30 minutes people change places and  continue to discuss the issue.


środa, 24 listopada 2010

time's running

To start with the very current event: today there was a celebration of the final session of Speaking Up course. And that was the last session of the last course that I was taking part from the beginning of October (and now I am looking forward to the first sessions of 'Making it Happen' - another course run by CCU, dedicated for cummunity artists).
Last week I saw the presentations of Volunteering and Get Talking students and I had my own small presentation as a part of Getting Communities Involved course. That was a possibility to listen a bit more about braod volunteering experiances and The Big Talk's projects invented by members of My Health Matters. I have my little contribution to one of these projects: I spent one day in the local school (Bentilee), where two students are going to renovate the school garden. They were interviewing parents and school's staff looking for volunteers. We had also short lessons for each class. I was taking pictures.

The presentation about this project and the other about community consultations were also the possibility to work together with Ola O. Not for the first time, to be honest. Ola helps me recording interviewing Get Talking lecturers and the previous Get Talking student that want to share their experinces.  As the result I have a material with Penny and Kate from CCU, the REACH member, the local community developement worker, the outreach worker from The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and all the leaders of My Health Matters.

Our (my, Ola's and Jula's) placements "cross each other" as the last paragraph shows. I try to support workshops for YPTC that Jula described in one of the posts. With Ola O., we took part in very special visit in Wightwick Manor (National Trust). It was organised as a part od Heritage2Health: "The project developed from an initiative into wellbeing and health that was partnered with WestFocus Health Network, the Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, Kingston University and St George's University" as the website says... Staffordshire Univeristy is sharing the ideas and practise with mentioned institutions. We were in Walverhampton in very diverse group of lecturers, students, volunteers and people with learning disabilities. We were guided around the manor and than we had time to do some art activities like taking pictures and scatching. The results of my job are partly presented in School of Arts in Burslem, where there is the Photographers' Collective of North Staffordshire exhibition ("Small is beautiful") that invited us three to join.

I am getting more and more familiar with London, where I spent the next weekend, I visited also Liverpool - I do most of important places in 'Midlands' area...


piątek, 12 listopada 2010

Lost and found

                Islands made by ESOL group participants during one of the workshops.
With the ESOL group we created imaginary islands with their's own rules, in order to explore new-Lost-Boys stories.   

For the last three weeks with YPTC we created stories around objects. We were taking about situations when we were lost or we lost something. From those two ideas we came to a point when we are telling stories from a perspective of precious things that we've lost.
Just as we can loose our treasured possessions, perhaps our possessions loose us. Maybe objects can also feel an absence of their proprietors...

On Friday October 29th we changed into witches, the undead, Frankenstein's monster and co. and we went to scare children in Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre
We had dark and eerie fun...

For three weeks Sue has been working with Emma and Kyle on Yizkor performance. They created a moving, touching, affecting peace of theatre. 
During this time I was reading about the holocaust, the porajmos,  Auschwitz, "Żegota" and it made me a bit depressed.
Over last week we started our tour, we visited 4 schools and met around 450 kids. During workshops we talked about the eight stages of genocide, rules for humanity, inner strength, trust and responsibility.

I went to London again. This time I visited friend in Dulston, and one in Brixton. I spent some time on a river bank and in the City. I met my auntie and my cousin. 

I went to see Life of Riley in which my flat mate took part.
We went with Olas to see contemporary dance in Regent Theatre. 

This week abound in various parties. We had Al's birthday, Bonfire, a party for volunteers, borderline's pseudo-karaoke and few after-parties.