Sunday, 17 November 2013

Happenings in Boye By Red Corner

Hello all!!

Lot's has been happening in the Red corner. I seem to be constantly on the go. However, I needed a break from working on Dreamland and this last week was spent having dinner with family and friends, shopping, reading. And for some reason I've been quite tired too. Every once in a while, I get a week when I am tired after I get back from work and need a good couple of hours to get back to me! And need to stay low for a dew days.

So, here is my week in pictures:

Xmas shopping has already started in London. You'd think there is no recession in this country by the amounts of people shopping. I only bought a few essentials from Uniqlo. And spent a while at a haberdashery department, but in the end, didn't buy anything (purely because the line at the check out was so long).

Apart from Xmas shopping in London, lots of other things are happening in London. One of them is The National Theatre's 50th birthday. When we went, the theatre was full, the foyer as well as the shop, and the three theatres. I took a few pictures of an exhibition in the foyer of the theatre, marking the anniversary. 
First, the amazing Maggie Smith, a good few years before Downton Abbey:

Laurence Olivier playing Othello, when it was "accepted" to "black up" if you are a white man playing a black character (quite ridiculous and disgusting):

The ever wonderful Michael Gambon when he was young:

Me and Samuel Beckett (only time we will feature together, unfortunately. I am in the background, taking this picture):

And then, Ian Mckellen. He looks like Keith Richards, don't you think?

Next few weeks will be super busy too. I am resuming work on Welcome to Dreamland, (so, so much to do), meeting lots of friends, going to theatre, not to mention work. The problem is that I have started reading my favourite book and I have no idea how I will get to do all the things and not just stay put and read. The book in question is Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure. I read it first time at university over ten years ago and till today, I have never read anything that good. I might do a post just on that book soon. So, after all these years, it is time to read it again. I was supposed to do lots of things at home today, (clean the house, life admin, things like that). I only managed changing bed sheets and doing laundry. In fact, I better finish this post too - I want to read a little before bed time.

What are you are up to these days? Are you busy, or taking it easy? And what book are you reading at the moment?

Have a lovely week everyone.

Red xx

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Barbie Massacre

Hello all!!

Remember a few weeks ago I wrote about Barbies I had hidden in my wardrobe? And then when I didn't know what to do with them, after falling in love with their atrocity in 15 minutes, I put them on my writing table. Well, I found a new place for them, and this time on my bookshelf in my sitting room.
Et voila! Ta daaaa! (as ever, click on the image to enlarge).

I know, you are saying how creative :-)
Well, I cannot see a better way to use them than this. They look so "pretty" on my shelf, don't you think?

And you ask yourself, but what did she do with the bodies?! Don't worry, they are staying where they are. For now. This is a work in progress and when inspiration hits again, part of the bodies will find their boxes too. Heads or no heads, they a Barbie symbol amounts to the same.

This little "creative" moment is my small feminist statement :-)

Hope you are all good. Have a lovely and creative week, whatever shape it might take.

Red xx

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Welcome To Dreamland

Hello all!!

As promised last week, today's post is going to be about a show I have been working for quite some time. The performance is called Welcome to Dreamland and it is about a young woman who flees her home country due to torture and rape and looks for safe haven in the UK.
After applying for asylum and subsequently after being rejected, she ends up on the street, with no money, no food and no help from anyone. New immigration laws in the UK are particularly harsh. People are rejected asylum on a very random basis, without the applications being checked and investigated properly. Once the person is rejected, they are free to appeal the Home Office decision. However, all the support is taken away. That creates a huge number of destitute rejected asylum seekers. They are left on the street, with no legal representation and only a £10 voucher that is given to them by the Red Cross. They are often detained (practically imprisoned) without a reason or notice, for months on end. 
These people are invisible. You never see them on the street begging, as they do not want to do anything to get on the wrong side of the law. They refer to themselves as "shadow people". Not many people know about their treatment. It is inhuman and barbaric  yet it is happening all over the western world.
I spent years on research; reading stories, meeting people, thinking up ideas and images for this piece and earlier this year I have been invited by The Platforma Conference to perform an excerpt from Welcome to Dreamland. The Conference was in Manchester and it had performers, refugees, immigrants, theatre and art makers from all over the world. I performed at the Manchester Museum and was really honoured to be a part of such great event. Although my director Anna and I are making a one hour long show to be staged at a theatre, this time we performed first 20 minutes of Dreamland in the reception of a Museum. We had about 50 people, some from the Conference and some passers by. It was wonderful and feedback could not have been better. An Arts Council woman (for my overseas readers, that is a government body that awards grants for art projects) loved the piece and wants to have a meeting with me to see how she can help. Usually, when you are staging something you have to beg Arts Council to come and see you. I was very, very lucky that she was there. Talk about right place, right time.
I also had a great response from other theatre makers and some art organisations too.

Here are a few pictures of the performance. The Museum is not ideal for what we want to do, so the pictures do not exactly tell our story. Nonetheless, here they are. I sectioned off performing space with glass ramekins which I later use to create a journey, a path for our character:

My woman's daily routine, washing herself and getting ready for work:

One day, she puts make up on and as a result she gets lashed and then later raped for speaking against the torture:

Next, she walks to the Home Office (where you apply for visas). The walk is strenuous and scary. We have our woman walk on glass to represent the danger and fragility:

My feet and the floor are covered in lipstick that looks like blood - result of her journey:

Amazingly, even though we of course didn't have theatre lights or good floor, all these things translated to the audience. I know that it will look more powerful in the right setting too.

So, the hard work begins now. Contacting all the people that I met in Manchester;  networking to get us out there; raising money; applying to the Arts Council; meeting people to create new opportunities and of course finishing the show. We aim to premier the show early in the 2014 somewhere in London and then tour it. Berlin, for sure, but also other venues. I am sort of itching for Edinburgh again, but we'll see.

I met a woman who runs a women's theatre company Open Clasp in the north-east of England. She introduced herself as a political activist who wants to change the world one play at a time. I love that. I am on my way to join her, and I have not felt this alive in a very long time.

What makes you feel alive? What is the situation for the immigrants in your country? I'd love to hear it.

Thank you for visiting. I see in my stats that people from all over the world come and read my posts. I am very grateful for that. Thank you.

Red xx