As 2012 draws to a close we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on Coruscate Theatre’s activities over the past year and a half and update you on where we are headed in the next.
This year has been extremely busy for us at Coruscate Theatre. Having branched out to London in 2011, as well as keeping our base in the East Midlands, we came across new opportunities and were faced with new challenges. The first of these challenges was how to run the theatre company from the two bases – a consideration which, in the end, has actually offered Coruscate Theatre a wider network and the ability to operate and adapt to different environments.
Coruscate Theatre in the East Midlands
Our East Midlands base set about networking within Nottinghamshire and offering Coruscate Theatre’s support to different theatre venues and schools across the county. We ran adult sessions at the Nottingham Arts Theatre for a term, bringing together like-minded individuals to share, enjoy and experience in a safe working environment. Open Act ran for 10 weeks and saw a number of individuals grow and develop, and consequently move on to join The People’s Theatre Company, (openact.wordpress.com).
We also directed a production of The Boy Friend at the Nottingham Arts Theatre, offering us the privilege of working with young, talented individuals from across the county. The reviews from parents, staff and the press were very encouraging. We consequently went on to direct Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in August of this year, in which we worked with a wide age range of young people to rehearse and deliver the play in just one week!
Having established the need to network in Nottingham, we collaborated with other emerging theatre companies to begin NETworks (Nottingham Emerging Theatre Works), which is an organisation designed to support and encourage the work of emerging theatre companies in the city, (visit www.nottinghamnetworks.co.uk for more details). We also collaborated with Nottingham Beyond Borders and provided a theatre workshop to non-native English speakers in order to help develop their language skills. The somewhereto_ programme offered us some fantastic opportunities, including our unique experience of performing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games (see below).
Our co-director, Georgia Munnion, undertook a Management and Marketing Placement with New Perspectives Theatre Company, in which she was able to find useful and practical ways of developing Coruscate Theatre’s business plan. She now delivers mask workshops for their Step Up ensembles. Our business plan encouraged us to pursue avenues of specialist training with the Universities and Colleges around Nottingham, as well as to try our hand at corporate training. Both these areas are still in draft stages and will be pursued at a later date.
Our performance arm, The Experimentrio Project, (experimentrio.wordpress.com), successfully performed All in the Timing and The Curioso, and was offered funding to develop the latter and take it to a festival. Unfortunately we were unable to follow through with this, and instead turned our attentions to collaborating with emerging artists around Nottingham. We began rehearsals for our production of Fern & Rose, which we intend to revive and perform again sometime in the near future. Our annual Christmas show was very successful in December 2011, with a greater uptake from schools.
Our East Midlands Director, Georgia Munnion, was recently offered the position of Creative Projects Manager at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton. This position will provide her with opportunities to learn and network, consequently helping Coruscate Theatre to thrive in the current artistic climate.
Coruscate Theatre in London
Our newly formed London base, run by Lori, got off to a fantastic start with collaborations with schools and Rose Bruford College (where both Lori and Georgia met!) At the Rose Bruford Arts Award Week, Lori represented Coruscate Theatre as the supporting artist for Year 9 students who were all working to complete their Bronze Award. These fun-filled few days involved mask-making, devising a masked performance based on the students’ ‘arts heroes’ and outdoor work around the College grounds, culminating in a final performance in the Rose Theatre. The work ranged from Mozart to Nicki Minaj!
Coruscate Theatre’s schools work really took off with shadow puppetry workshops for Btec students, devised theatre for GCSE and an introduction to drama for Key Stage 2 students. Our involvement with festivals, both in London and the Midlands, also grew considerably this year. Lori hosted puppet-making stalls and performed a short performance of The Gingerbread Man at the Lichfield FUSE festival and at the Fortune Green Jester Festival, using storytelling and puppets to engage and entertain.
Lori has continued with her Puppetry MA and spent the Summer of 2012 working with some prestigious British puppeteers, including Steve Wright, Ronne Le Drew and Liz Walker. She is currently pursuing her passion for puppetry and is performing in Pinocchio at the Little Angel Theatre until early next year.
The highlight of our year in London was performing Fern & Rose at the London 2012 Paralympic Games…
Coruscate Theatre at the Paralympic Games!
On the 9th September 2012, we had a once-in-a-lifetime experience of performing a half-hour version of Fern & Rose at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Loaded with suitcases of props and a rotating washing-line, we traipsed across the huge park to a spot slap-bang in the middle of ‘London Way’.
We set up our performance area, marked out by a picnic blanket and our one-man-band musician, amidst crowds of passers-by and onlookers. The atmosphere was captivating and a massive distraction to our get-in! Knowing very well that our audience would mostly be stopping briefly to watch moments of our piece, on their way to the final games of the event, or to grab some lunch and soak up the atmosphere of the last day, we prepared ourselves to engage and entertain as many people as we could in the 3-hour performance slot we were given.
Competing against loudspeakers blaring out music, megaphones enticing the crowd to move away from ‘London Way’ (and thus our performance area!) towards the lunch areas and final games, and a number of other groups and individuals of roaming entertainment, we fought against the blazing sun to offer our audience a highly energised story of friendship, loss and love, taking them on a journey through the two characters lives’ and the female generations.
We performed our piece twice, in two different locations, challenging ourselves with audience interaction and developing moments of ‘play’ within the story. We were fortunate enough to have audience members stay and watch the full performance and their feedback at the end was positive and rewarding. We embraced the overwhelming atmosphere of the park, the constant flow of audience and the opportunity to challenge ourselves as performers, and consequently had an unforgettable experience.
Even if we were unable to engage certain audience members, or failed to draw attention from every passer-by, we certainly caused a stir with our washing-line! Passing comments of “Is that really a washing-line?!” and “Oh, I didn’t realise I could hang my washing out here to dry!” confirmed to us that an audience is always looking for something different and unusual to turn their attention to. We hope, as a theatre company interested in experimental and innovative theatre, we can continue to cause a stir and grab our audience’s attention.
As we move into a New Year, Coruscate Theatre also moves into a new ‘phase’. Its co-directors are fortunate enough to be able to pursue their own passions and interest – Georgia for managing projects, engaging communities in the Arts and working for a prestigious regional theatre, and Lori for carrying out specialist puppetry work with schools and arts organisations, and performing in puppetry shows throughout London. We will use this exciting time for career development to feed all of our gained experience and knowledge into Coruscate Theatre, in order that it continues to grow from strength to strength in the future.
So although 2013 may seem like a quiet time for Coruscate Theatre, we are merely lying in wait for all future opportunities, whilst our co-directors dip their fingers into new, inspiring pies!
Thank you for all of your continued support. We look forward to working with you again in the near future.
Georgia Munnion & Lori Hopkins