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Current Weekly News

7/02/17

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This week at Spid’s Tuesday session, the children continued to develop their confidence in front of the camera. To start with, we played a one word story game! It involved the likes of a crocodile, flamingo and a unicorn, wow…! The children then split into three groups, two were working on developing their confidence in front of the camera through a postcard story game, and a variety of questions from which they had created themselves. The third group however were working on the stage with sound, light and of course directing! Here at Spid we are now starting to work on the final products of our documentary, so the third group were given lots of questions to think about which hopefully make it in the final cut!

We also watched back the work we had done at the last session, the children got to see themselves on the projector, it was rather exciting for everyone. We then went back through the footage and analysed what was good and what the children could work on for the final outcome.


Far Far Away goes to The Little Angel Theatre!

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On 1st December, we had the opportunity to take 8 of our young participants on a theatre trip; something we try to do whenever we have the extra funding to do so. This time we visited The Little Angel Theatre in Islington to see A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, a puppet show which told the story of an old man that crash lands into a town and changes the days and lives of those who live there. Known for being a damp, rainy village overrun by crabs, this very old man and his enormous wings, bring the town together but also tear it apart; and in the end teach the townspeople what really is important in life.

There was quite a buzz amongst the young people for this trip from the very start, heading out on the Overground amidst rush hour. We made it to the theatre in plenty of time and a few young people who aren’t fond of loud noises had a long conversation with the staff about what the noises were, how loud they would be, when they would happen, and if they could leave during them. The staff were very sweet and accommodating, even offering one young person headphones to wear during.

Once everyone had their snacks, the show started and the magic began. The puppetry was exquisite and very well done! Puppeteers entered the space and did a wonderful job of drawing us into the action and the story. All different kinds of puppets were used, and with a bit of magic, made the space feel full and alive with only 4 puppeteers. The young people were enthralled and loved the show!

Quite a late night for our 8-13 year olds, but well worth it for a captivating theatre experience. We’re on break now for the holidays but will be back 10th January 2017 with our film-making workshops and hopefully more theatre trips in store!

Happy Holidays!

6/12/16

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Posts from our workshop assistants, Ben & Andrea

Andrea:

The Far Far Away group were in a state of high energy and excitement on Tuesday, as they began their warm-up before “The Down Below” radio play performance in front of family and friends.  

Max and Nnenna set up all of the sound recording and P.A. equipment while Ben and Andrea led some exercises to focus the young people’s energy and physical awareness. 

During the two run-throughs on stage with all of the technical equipment, the foley artists and actors refined the work and skills they had been building upon.  They nuanced even further their listening skills so that they were working as one ensemble and, after final notes from Max, they were ready for the performance.

Once the audience were settled, Olivia welcomed everyone to the event and explained the order of events, before introducing “The Down Below”, describing how the young people had devised, written, rehearsed the piece and trained in radio drama techniques over the course of the term.

One word can describe the performance – outstanding.  The actors, now comfortable and skilled at working with the mic, produced believable and amusing characters, taking every opportunity to highlight comedic, dramatic and sensitive moments.  Likewise, the foley team were committed, focused and worked very closely with the text, never missing a cue.  The audience seemed to enjoy the imaginative depths of the play, the relationships conveyed, the atmosphere created and the technical skills on display.  The performance exuded the young people’s commitment and passion in every beat.     

After the appreciative response, including whoops of encouragement, from the audience, Sarah Aliberti was presented with the Jack Petchey award for her achievements during the term of workshops.  She will be able to choose a leisure activity for the whole group to participate in next year.

Next was a showing of the documentary, “Remembering Goldfinger”, a documentary written, directed and produced by the older SPID group.  The film features Trellick Tower, a brutalist tower block in Kensal Town designed by architect Erno Goldfinger.  Beautifully sensitive and evocative cinematography captured the grandeur of the tower’s exterior and the tenants themselves were the main focus  of the narrative, giving testament to their attachment to the building.  Slow motion portraits of the people who live there, who skateboard or create colourful graffiti landscapes in the Tower’s shadow were moving and inspiring.  Overall, it was a piercing insight into the acute significance our habitats and environments have on our lives and how these can be the connective tissue that bind a community and give it strength and endurance.

Following the Annual General Meeting, a nourishing hot meal was provided and this was widely appreciated and complimented by all of us.  Our thanks to the wonderful catering team and the woman who organised it, Marie!

Finally, our thanks to the SPID team – Nnenna, Helena, Olivia and Katrine, Max, Jack, Rob, Karim, Tehlal, Ben and Andrea for creating a memorable term and special thanks to all of the young people at SPID for their enthusiasm and dedication throughout.

Ben:

Last night’s performance of the eagerly awaited “Far, Far Away” was a great success.Earlier in the evening the rehearsals were led by Andrea and Ben who led the group through a physical and vocal warm up, then it was straight into a read through. Each and every  young performer in the production was fantastic and should be really proud of themselves. A special call out to Sarah, who is one of the performer’s fromthe production who won the Jack Petchy award. Well done to the team at Spid who worked behind the scenes of the production.

22/11/16

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The young people at SPID achieved a lot in the workshop last Tuesday. We kicked off with a vocal warm up to prepare for recording the radio script and then split into two groups : the Foley sounds group and the actors group.
Max led the Foley sounds group in the kitchen where they created very good quality sound effects including the sound of rushing water, squelching footsteps and the sound of a football being kicked during “keepy-uppy”. Everyone took their turn to create an effect and their practice during the previous weeks had paid off. The group undertook the Foley sounds with great skill and professionalism and Max was very pleased with the results.
In the meantime, the actors group were busy doing a “read through” of the script and thinking about their characters and the situations they were in. Talal guided this session and helped the actors to think about how they would react in real life if they were in these situations. This helped people to focus and expand even further their understanding of the script and the stakes involved for each scene. Following this, Talal led the careful recording of each scene from the top of the play – all the young people were very focused and remembered the training they had been given, such as microphone skills and page-turning techniques. Everyone was very disciplined and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience. Talal found them to be disciplined and enthusiastic, showing many of the skills needed to be a professional actor.
The larger group of actors, who were off-script and not needed for recording, took the opportunity of taking on various roles in the play they hadn’t attempted before. Nenna and Olivia were very impressed with the way the young people committed themselves to this exercise. They then spent some time imagining a sequel to the play – lots of different ideas came up and some people expressed an interest in writing their own version of a sequel.
Special thanks go to Mahala and Kane, who took on the roles of Lemar and Mr. Giant Rats at the last minute and made of great job of sight reading and performing.
All in all, everyone seemed to go home with a great sense of achievement and satisfaction, having put their skills into practice – and with great aplomb.

15/11/16

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At Tuesday night’s session at Spid Theatre the workshop was led by Jack, assisted by Andrea and Ben.

The budding actors were divided into two groups. One group were the actors and the other group was  foley team (sound effects to you and me).

With Jack leading the foley group, an array of brilliant sound effects weredevised and created.  The sounds consisted of squeaking rats, fishing rods, laughing rats and rabbits! Also to add to that array of sounds was the creation of squelching footsteps of a sly rat and bouncing football!

Later on the actors and ‘team sound effect’ got the opportunity to put their hard work into action with a run through. Though the production is in the early stages it is looking fantastic. So watch or shall we say listen to this space!

08/11/16

 

On Tuesday afternoon, Max got the Far Far Away workshop off to a fun start with the ball and name game :  you throw a ball to someone in the group, but you have to say their name first – it’s a good way for people to get to know each other.  Then Max explained to us all how, when we make a radio play, we create the sound effects.  He explained that these are called Foley sounds.  These can be anything from the sound of footsteps on a pavement to a flushing toilet.  Using his audio equipment, Max played us some of the sounds he had prepared and we had to guess each one – not as easy as you might think.  One of these was a series of different sounds that actually formed a little story :  the sound of someone filling a kettle with water; the kettle being switched on and beginning to boil; a doorbell ringing; footsteps crossing a room; a door opening and the sound of a human voice gasping in surprise.  It was a challenge identifying all the different elements of this “sound story” but we enjoyed being audio detectives !

Our next activity involved dividing into two groups; some people went to record Foley sounds with Max and the other group worked on the play text.  Recording the sound effects requires a lot of focus but is very rewarding when you listen back to your handiwork.  Max got the group involved in creating the Foley sounds that will be used in our production and these included making the sound of rushing water to evoke the sewer scenes – this was done by using the kitchen tap and the washing up bowl – easy when you know how !  Max demonstrated how to use the audio equipment and, just as in a recording studio, called for silence from everyone during recording to avoid any background noise.

Our other group of young people focused on some of the sewer scenes and had fun exploring each character’s motivations and intentions.  We talked everything through first and everyone made a very positive contribution and put a lot of thought and energy into imagining how their character would feel along their journey.  We read through the scenes several times and they really came alive, each character gradually becoming more and more defined.

Towards the end of the session, everyone had a brief time “on the mic” again – getting another chance to hear how they will sound on the microphone and everyone had remembered the techniques they had been shown, such as leaving a four-finger distance between the mic and the mouth.

Thanks to Max for a really enjoyable session.  We look forward to next week……

 

02/11/16

The young actors this Tuesday were introduced to how to record a radio play. The start of the session involved a couple of ice -breakers and warm ups that involved “The sun shines on me”. Which gave our young actors inspiration and energy for the rest of the workshop.

Beforehand, Max, our facilitator who led the workshop got the young actors to compose and sign a group contract, which laid down a few ground rules for the sessions, such as supporting each other and working together as a team.

Afterwards Max got the group to record animal sounds (which was seriously funny!). Max showed how the sounds were recorded and how the recording equipment worked.

After a brief break, a read-through of the script followed. Every young performer read really well and displayed great talent for the roles they may be cast in.

Max  and Olivia, who was also a Workshop Assistant, led a great session and were very supportive to the young people.

18/10/16

Voice actor and radio producer Jack led this week’s workshop. Jack and Abi devised a word game, which involved saying a sentence with various emotions.  The exercise involved every one sitting round the table and being split into two groups.  One group was A and the other group was B. Each person from each group had to choose an emotion without the other  group knowing what the emotion is!  Each group had to guess the emotion and if they got it right, they scored a point! All our budding actors did really well in the exercise.

Afterwards we had a read through with everyone getting an opportunity to play each character from the forthcoming production.  The actors with their scripts were seated round the table and all very eager and excited. Under the guidance of Jack, they were guided through to play the characters and how each character would display their emotions. Patrick’s interpretation of TP was very scary! Amelie was very funny as Lemar!

At the end of the session the actors got an opportunity to practice on the mics and again to display what they learned in the workshop.

A really good session led by Jack and great support from Abi, brilliant work from the young people.

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11/10/16

This week saw the second part of our fascinating workshops with voice actor and radio producer Jack. In last week’s session, Jack took us through lots of top tips on how to use a mic and showed us examples of different genres of radio programs and a video of a working recording studio to give the Far Far Away voice actors and Foley artists a real feel for the professional world of radio drama. Then, it was over to the group and in just 5 minutes they had made a radio drama, confidently narrated by Tia and accompanied by a team of Foley artists who brought Tom Tom’s fate vividly to life in a scene from Richard O’Brien’s Pig in Boots.

To start off the workshop this week, we listened to the raw version of last week’s recording to see what had worked well and what needed improving. We all agreed that the narration was clear and the sound effects, especially the fall and the splatting cabbages, worked but were too quiet. How could it be improved? Jack played an edited version with 30 seconds of pauses cut out, the volume of the sound effects enhanced and some funky music added and the change was amazing. With a just a few simple edits our scene was starting to sound really good. So, what did we need to remember when using the mics and recording? It was time to think about Jack’s top tips from last week:

1) Stay hydrated

2) Warm up with vocal exercises

3) Check your distance from the mic

4) Check your volume and be careful when making loud sounds

5) If you make a mistake, don’t panic. Say the line again as the mistake can be edited out.

6) Don’t P on the mic and watch out for the Bs!!!

Keen to get started, we then began our first read through of the original script the Far Far Away group planned with Karim in the first sessions of our Radio Theatre Project. It’s a really great script full of lots of cool characters and a rabbit that gets…ok…no spoilers here, you’ll have to come and see our live recording, but, I’ll give you a clue – it gets stinky!! The group rehearsed some of the lines speaking into the mics and thought about how they could change their voices to show the emotions of the characters. Amelie had some good ideas for a funny voice she could use for her particularly wicked character.

To finish, we brainstormed some ideas for the sound effects the Foley artists could make. What is a Foley artist? Foley is the reproduction of everyday sound effects that are added to film, named after Jack Foley who in 1927 first started to create sound effects for films in postproduction. In radio drama, the sound effects are recorded live at the same time as the dialogue. Jack’s top tip for budding Foley artists?

“Start to listen to things and think about if what you are hearing sounds like anything else.”

Can’t wait to hear what the group comes up with next week!!!