Carole – Caithness Cogitations
After waking up to the news about Brexit on Friday 24 June, I made my way to Central Station in Glasgow to start my journey up to Caithness for a weekend of workshops in a bit of a daze. I was joined on the train at Stirling by Heather McLean from Caithness District who had been visiting friends and attending the SCDA Youth Final the previous Saturday. It was lovely being able to to pass the time together talking about everything under the sun including the momentous vote. On arrival at Inverness we were told that the train up to Thurso had been cancelled – it was looking very unlikely that I would make it in time to deliver the 2 workshops scheduled for Friday evening. However, after a 50 minute delay we were moving again.
On discovering the train wasn’t actually going to Thurso and after trying all the different media at our disposal we arranged to be collected from an alternative station. Needless to say the first group had started by the time I arrived but I summoned up all of my energy and ran into the rehearsal room removing my coat on the way. I had been asked to focus on the musical Zombie Prom – a pastiche of musicals like Grease and Hairspray and with such a short amount of time I chose to work on energy levels and creating our own version of a hand jive. Thanks to Alan Gerrard and his wife for sending up some food for me to eat as the second workshop started and someone else did a warm up! I was in such a rush that I didn’t manage to get any photos but hopefully some are going to wing their way down to me and I can post a couple at a later date.
Saturday arrived and I headed over to Wick – thanks for the lift Heather. The life of a drama advisor is never predictable and last time I was in Wick the afternoon session with young people was completely oversubscribed and we were bursting at the seams. This time it was the opposite as my visit clashed with someone’s birthday party and preparations for the Gala. Good things come in small packages however and with a lot of re-jigging of the plan I spent a great afternoon with 3 lovely, talented and enthusiastic participants who didn’t mind at all that I had to shelve a lot of the activities that require a large group. I’ve pasted in a couple of photos later on and hopefully you can see that we still managed to have a good time!
Saturday evening was a read-through of the upcoming production of Blithe Spirit. It wasn’t quite what I had planned but as nothing had gone the way I expected so far during this trip I put the plan to one side. My job is to deliver what a club wants and needs and the group made the decision on what would be most useful. At the end of the evening I talked through the research I had put together with a particular focus on status and the manners of the middle and upper classes in the 1930s. I was particularly proud of my research into ‘how to make a martini’ (the ratios and even the ingredients have changed significantly over the years) with more time we could have tried it out whilst holding a conversation tackling that age old chestnut – how to make the business look natural while you are acting in a scene. There was a lovely post on the Wick Players Facebook page before I went to bed back in Thurso which left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling – tired but happy.
Sunday and into the final stretch. Thurso Players afternoon session – improvisation and devising – my speciality. I have to confess here and now that I become so over-excited that the few photos I did take were far too blurry for me to publish here which is a real shame as the group were so open and experimental even though they all professed to be terrified of improvisation which enabled us all to just play. I think that I managed to de-bunk some myths and by looking at ways to use improvisation within the rehearsal process as well as a tool to devise new work there was something for everyone.
We upheld the tradition of chinese food before heading into the evening and the director workshop. I had been asked to ‘go back to basics’ in directing so we looked at director preparation. There were mostly new people but I wanted to make sure that there was also something for returners so we did some character analysis using a couple of short scenes. I think that everyone found that the most useful part – taking the theory and putting it into practice. There’s a photo of us working included here – the messiness of the table is an indication of the creative process and most importantly there was plenty of time within the workshop to answer specific questions.
So in summary Caithness still remains one of the highlights of my year. A long trip but always worth it.
A special mention goes to Audrey who looked after me in fine style – even helping me to stay on track with my diet by getting all the foods in that I could eat. We talked long into the nights about theatre and plays and she took me for a couple of nice walks to clear my head in between workshops. Her hospitality was second to none and she made it as easy as possible for me to just focus on the workshops.
See you down the road.