Hi all, Jo here, founder of UTA. I’m writing this blog post to say WOW, my feeling after completing the first term of the Actor’s Playdate is incredible. To those who came, bringing your excitement and energy, your personalities and your laughter, to those who supported it, THANK YOU. I am brimming with inspiration having met and worked with each of you. I cannot express the value that these sessions have bought to our practice as a company, and I hope that participating has been as fruitful for those attending as it has been for me to lead them. On a practical level, drop-in sessions have proved fantastically useful to those who are not able to commit to coming every week. They have also allowed flexibility for some to dip their toes in and try it. Since this was our first term, our sessions have been adapted each week after personal evaluation and from feedback we helpfully received. We have also taken your comments on board and moved the session from a slightly inaccessible Wednesday afternoon to a much more comfy Saturday at 4pm. We have even extended the sessions from 1 to 2 hours, as we’ve found that the sessions are over far too quickly! The rate has remained the same, only now the time has doubled. The £5 an hour/£4 concession price has become £10 for 2 hours/£8 concession, and we aim to keep it low. Attending, you’ll get much more value for money because we’ll be able to run better quality games that may require more set-up, and activities that you’re able to really get your teeth into. As the facilitator, these sessions have a very clear goal to me. I want these sessions to be a place for actors to come back to, in order to feel grounded and ‘reset’ from the …

We stare at our creation Our makeshift speaker A shoe. We’ve forgotten the speaker for this session. The music ‘soulfully’ reverberates from it’s top …. excuse the pun.   This week We welcome Sam and Lily Our two new actresses to join the throng   They assemble as a trio with Alice   Kara again leads the gathering She has fed snippets of her vision for our next performance to our players She oversees their interpretations   Sam, Lily & Alice Entangled A movement for each number A countdown Always connected by a part of the body A hand A foot OK, I’m going to throw a spanner in the works If we rotate Some of the countdown freeze frames involve the players symbolising a phone With their hands   Georgie and Alex Repeating their movements from last week Deliberate digging Deliberate gathering Only faster this time They have mastered their piece Choreographed to near perfection   I watch Alex His facial expressions remind me of John who used to work for the company I voice this to Jo ‘He reminds you of Jam’?…   Georgia and Sam I want you to rotate of your back It’s like you’re working in the tiniest little closet…. Why is this shoe here?!   Our shoe speaker has snuck it’s way into the middle of rehearsals (‘Thanks to Lucy) The hall of the mountain king by Grieg echoes out of Jo’s Doc Martins.

We arrive with 5 minutes to spare before rehearsal starts. Just in time It’s been a while   We’re in a brand new venue The natural light dims as an automated cover slowly creeps over the ceiling.   We start with facial exercises Yawning Massaging Breathing ‘To wake the pallette up’, Lucy says. ‘Reach down to the stomach.’ ‘Wah, WAH!’ ‘You can feel the strain in your diaphragm’. ‘My french teacher called it vomiting’ They sing mi-mo-sa Getting higher and higher Until they can climb no more.   Kara’s turn now ‘Feet up’! Jogging. ‘Knees up’! Jogging. ‘Legs up’! Jogging. ‘Aaand stretch it out.’ Jo squeaks. She’s assembling a frame in the corner of the room. The squeaks accompany the stretches. ‘Once you’ve finished stretches, can you make your way to the mat’. Plank Backwards Plank Fowards Pl- ‘Guys do you want come and join us’? I look up and take a glance at Lucy. We join the throng.   ————————————————————————————————————– Several minutes later I am again reminded that I really should join a gym.   Warm up over The fun begins.   The players separate. Alice B, Alice C, And Alex and Georgie. Sections from a future project are rehearsed. I haven’t seen this before Alex sweeping. Alice drawing. Georgie collecting. Alice exploring. All very purposeful. Individually tasked. Each tailored Each chosen.   As I read through the storyline for our next piece I start to see purpose in the different movements of each player. It’s exciting Philosophical And hides a deeper meaning.   The projector Now constructed by Jo’s squeaky handiwork Is now standing patiently at the far corner of the room. It has a big part to play for this next project. But it’s purpose Will have to be revealed in time.

Hello friends, Phew! We’ve been so busy we haven’t had the chance to get in touch for a while. So much has happened, where do we even begin? We’ve begin working on our third project: Intersect. This piece is easily our most ambitious and exciting one yet. We even plan to leave the shire (Bristol town) with it! Intersect is inspired by various stories, philosophy, and our relationship with technology. It’s looking utterly fantastic if we do say so ourselves. We’ve said hello to some incredible new actors for this project (hayyyy!), and we’ve even switched up our venue, leaving us feeling re-energised. We’re launching our crowdfunding campaign for this project very soon, and to reward you for your support we have a ton of great rewards. If you’re interested in getting involved in this piece, we’re holding auditions! Information is available here: http://bit.ly/2g6NyQZ Here at UTA we try to open doors for people to get involved in what we do. We’ve held so many amazing workshops, including our hearty Lecoq series with the fabulous Igne Barkauskaite and a movement and voice workshop with our composer and vocal coach Lucy Hannam. We’ve even held a series of open rehearsals with our incredible collaborators! For September we have a new weekly session, the Actor’s Playdate. The first term begins on 6th September, and you can come along to individual sessions or save yourself some money and book for the whole term. Find more info here: http://bit.ly/2uI6knX Wowzers! As if that isn’t enough, we’ve been sharing our journey on Instagram, and our Blog. Don’t forget if you’re looking to keep up to date with all of our news or events you can join our Antetheatre Workshops & Opportunities facebook group, or subscribe via email. Laters alligators! Jo & The Team

It’s a puffer fish?! Of course to me, I can clearly see that the green ball that’s currently rolling around the floor of the studio is in fact not a puffer fish. But to Kara and Cat, it is anything they want it to be. 4 of our actors are participating in a leading imagination activity. One eyes closed, is being led on a journey by the other.   As I look over again, I can see the Slavka is leading Georgie. Tip toeing across the room. Pausing to kick a ‘stone’, which in reality is one of the yoga blocks from the cupboard. ‘Oh be careful of the stone’! Her story, it seems at the moment, is outer space themed. She leads her to the corner of the room. Into the rocket. Onto a stool. ‘We’re taking off in 10, 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1….’ She shakes the rickety stool sending Georgie into orbit. ‘Blast off’!! ‘Someone took my shoes!’ I glance over to Cat and Kara. Cat is crawling through a ‘darkened tunnel’, (underneath the chairs placed around the room). ‘You do know you haven’t got anything on your feet right?’ ‘Yeah’. Jo swaps in to take Kara’s place. But Cat is now leading. Slavka and Georgie have now swapped too. ‘Oh be careful of the tree!’ Slavka waves her hands around in confusion. Brushing the ‘branches’ (scarf) off the ‘tree’ (coat stand) away from her face.   Cat now seeing the stand, utilizes it also. Guiding Jo underneath it’s branches. ‘Look up’. Says Cat. We can see the ceiling’. Jo looks up, eyes still closed obviously, but in her minds eye, she could be seeing a totally different ceiling. One with a chandelier maybe. Or a glass ceiling where you can look up into a starry sky. Cat guides her to …

‘In your own time.. Kara, our workshop leader slowly paces the floor. ‘if you can find a place to stop for me’.    The actors bring their warm ups to a graceful close. Intently listening for the next activity. ‘Now we’ve got close to one individual, we’re going to get close to all of us. Like a school of fish.’ Our players start to huddle together. ‘Explore different heights different levels, different speeds. Have fun’ She smiles. They begin. A collective. Always someone leading. It’s hypnotic. They are so in tune with each other. Georgie leads. Then Slavka. Then Eduardo. Then Cat. Smiles break out as some of the leads’ movements become more erratic. No one in this group is shy. Each has a movement to share. The wish for it to be mirrored. Even I smile as the movements become faster and more elaborate. As I see some mirroring dance movements. I suddenly think how funny it would be if the lead suddenly decides to try the macarena… Hah! Slavka shouts. HAH!!!! About half a dozen people echo her immediately. Thud! She pounds her feet against the floor. THUD!!! They follow. Haka style. Another movement. Like a dinosaur. Arms out. Flying. Like a collective of geese. A herd. ‘Lovely, well…I think we’re all warm’. Laughter.  

Ever seen us burst through your place of work and start clambering all over everything whilst you just tried to eat your lunch? No, of course not, you were too busy being wowed by our grace and skill. Don’t worry. We get it all the time. Well, either way, as part of a new series fetchingly labelled WOEATDN? (What on earth are they doing now?) – we thought we’d take a minute to explain some of our antics. This video is of our second street-based antic. As part of our first ever collaboration with Irrational Behaviour, we created some exceedingly functional clowns (characters from our piece Auguste and the Moon, April ’16) and took to the streets of Bristol’s St Nicholas Market! Enjoy! (Lovingly captured by Emily Merrifield.)

Ever seen us out on the street and slowly inched away? No, of course not, you were drawn into the fun weren’t you? Well, either way, as part of a new series fetchingly labelled WOEATDN? (What on earth are they doing now?) – we thought we’d take a minute to explain some of our antics. Starting with this video of our first ever street-based antics. As part of our first ever collaboration with Irrational Behaviour, we created some cheeky – no, helpful – cleaning clowns (characters from our piece Auguste and the Moon, April ’16) and took to the streets of Bristol Broadmead! Enjoy! (Lovingly captured by Emily Merrifield.)

Eduardo’s turn today.   Purple yoga mats are introduced to the team, pulled out of the cupboard at the corner of the room. The deep puce colour contrasts dramatically as they are placed on the black darken floor.   As Nina Simone’s ‘my baby don’t care for me’ croons through the speaker at the end of the room, I can’t help but notice that nearly everyone, despite their current engagements, is tapping or shaking along to the tune. Including myself it seems as I look down to see my foot tapping rhythmically.   Back to the actors. I see different interpretations of this piece of music. Different stories. Each is in their own bubble.   They each start using props to add to their pieces. A coat stand. A tissue. A yoga mat. As they start to get closer to each others spaces, they start to invade albeit incorporate themselves into each other’s stories.   ‘The connection should be physical- a connection between the two people- explore more’.   The spontaneity of these pieces make watching even more interesting.   Two perform a zombie like dance, making the other impassable. One takes sudden interest in the yoga mats. Sliding them one into another across the floor. Slow. Deliberate.   ‘Be careful with your movement-don’t be sloppy- pay attention to detail’.   Two on the floor now. Dragging. Paralysed.   They become involved with each other when they want to. Alone Then together. Her story becomes theirs. Two lives conjoined. Three lives conjoined.   The three sit in the middle of the floor. Together. They cocoon. They separate. Passing ships.   Still. Pause. Reflection.   ‘What is the most difficult thing to do when we’re acting’? Eduardo paces. He looks round expectantly.   ‘Relaxing’. ‘Corpsing’. ‘Revealing’. He stops ‘Say that again’. …

We’re walking. Trying not to put too much weight on your feet. Fill the gaps. A neutral walk. And now, if I meet someone and they meet me, we jump, and we, haha, well we try to clap. Eye contact. Acknowledge each other. And when you clap hands say your name. Try to walk faster and faster. Energy. And when you walk too fast start running. The sound of many light feet thumps on the dance floor as people run and jump. Now slowing down. Lowering yourself. Collect your breath. And now when you meet someone you’re going to do a little provocation, a little street fight. And then you can make sounds, stupid sounds, stupid movements. – ‘Shwaaa’ ‘Ha!’ ‘Katoo! -‘   Ok, lets get back to normal walk. You can feel the energy in the air. Hear only feet and breath. And now we’ll try to do its called the walk of giants. So, very big body. As big as possible. Imagine you’re MASSIVE. And you’re walking through amazing MOUNTAINS. And you look down on little people. You look down through the wind. How do you meet that wind in every movement? A massive storm is coming. Meet. Say hello the way giants would speak. Big voice. Booming voices. – Hellooooooooo! – After a large amount of fun with this one, the actors are arranged into two groups. Ok. So I want you to tangle yourself. Try to cross the space like that with as little sound as possible. Try not to crash into each other. The team to cross to the other side wins. The two teams, both a large clump of indistinguishable bodies with many legs, slowly lurch towards one another. No words are said as everyone concentrates. It’s bizarre, beautiful, surreal. After a while there is a sigh, as a group becomes accidentally de-tangled. On …