Sunday 18th February, 2018
For those not familiar with the Cockpit theatre, it is a fabulous little venue in Marylebone. It is a chameleon of a building. Used for rehearsal spaces, a main theatre auditorium with 420 seats and a bar where they host a number of different events. Whether that is presenting shows, hosting events, training days, industry events, the Cockpit is an incredibly welcoming space which cherishes new creators and their works.
They have been working on a brand new hub focusing on those making theatre. This hub will consist of classes, courses, workshops, talks and drop in session in order to aid people with new skills and to share and develop their own ideas. Various workshops will take place as well as the weekly drop in session scheduled for every Wednesday at 6pm in the bar.
In this blog I shall be giving a run down of the launch day, what went well, what I didn’t like so much and then I shall be delving into what is on offer and what taster sessions I took part in. These will be in more detail explaining exactly what we did and what you can expect to see followed by MORE information of the available course along with prices, date and time frames.
From the moment I stepped foot into the theatre I was greeted with a fabulous friendly welcome which you can always expect from the Cockpit staff. You’re always made to feel welcome there and I truly believe that this would be the best place in London to take evening classes/courses/share ideas with other creatives.
When we arrived we were given the agenda detailing everything that would be happening over the next 4/5 hours. There was also the breakdown of the taster sessions happening through the day with 3 lots of 40 minute session with 10 minute breaks.
The agenda for the morning:
(I’ve circled the taster session I attended)
The numbers were very disappointing considering how any people had booked on. All of those people who were no shows really missed out on some great sessions.
The first session of the day was ‘From Theatre Maker to Film Maker’ led by Steve North. This was great and provided a brand new experience. Steve has had a very colourful career initially starting off in acting and has now moved into theatre making. His most recent achievement was co-writing the short film ‘Through the K-Hole’ and directed the hard winning ‘Cregan’.
His actual course is a lot longer however we had a great insight. He stripped it right back and we started looking at our own memories and how they are personal. We did a simple exercise of writing down three different memories: one from last year, one from last week and one personal memory from any point in our lives. We then paired up and had to tell the other person our memory. It was then open for them to retell that memory to us and then in the group when we all came together, stood in the dark. It was a very strange experience because these memories that had once been our own where now someone else’s. It was such a strange feeling listen to your own memory from a different person. I found myself sympathising and nodding my head as if I was sympathising with the person even though it was what I had dealt with. We did this a few time but it was a great way to see how we connect to personal stories and the benefit of focusing on a personal experience when starting to write the concept and script for a short film.
The second taster session of the day was with Sarah Fraser and focused on making theatre from scratch. Obviously this is a very broad topic and her course will delve in deeper to the whole process but it was great what we did in the session.
A little background on Sarah – she has helped create the theatre company ‘Hoax’. In 2012 she graduated from the Central School of Speech and Drama with her MA in Classical Acting. From there she has worked in immersive theatre and has had a real focus on physical theatre, using voice on the body to create brand new work.
It was basically a whole game session to break the ice and make everyone feel comfortable around each other which is obviously key when working in a team which need to be very close and on the same wave-length. The improvisation game was fabulous. We were simply handed a scarf and told to run wild with one rule: the scarf could not at any point be used as a scarf. It was great to see people improvising and for others in the group to so willingly join in with ideas. Everyone was on board 110%. Sarah’s energy and passion was infectious and I strongly believe that people on this course will benefit immensely.
The third and final taster session I took part in wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. If you have read my previous blogs and review you will have noticed that I like to go into things ‘blind’. Without knowing the story/previous reviews/or reading much on the theatre website so I did not read into each of the different taster sessions. I simply turned up on the day and selected whatever sounded interesting to me. This was the ‘making theatre using visual and physical techniques’ session led by Miriam King.
For some reason I was expecting it to be very heavily focused on props and scenery and other ways of presenting the story on stage. I was very wrong. Miriam specialises in physical movement and how that tells the story. The exercise we did was very beneficial in understanding how to ground ourselves and move into a neutral state. This would be perfect for actors when transforming into drastically different characters from their normal selves however I did struggle to connect and enjoy it. I know that sounds really harsh but it just wasn’t something I enjoy. Miriam is very experienced and really puts the whole of herself into her teachings.
Before I knew it the taster sessions where over and it was time to watch the performance of ‘The Silent Stream’ which was written and performed by Jonathan Brown.
This was definitely not my type of theatre. I started drifting into my theatre reviewer state (not that I was there to review the performance). We saw this performance as Jonathan Brown runs the ‘Making theatre as a solo performer’ course which will be running as part of Theatre Maker. Having read up on the one man show since I have seen it, I do believe that there is greatness behind it. Especially as its has sequels entitled “Betsy: Wisdom of a Brighton Whore” (a one woman show) and “The Well” (ensemble piece). I would be intrigued to see these pieces now. I found the performance of ‘The Silent Stream’ to be very slow. It seemed to be a little all over the place and was very hard to follow. I personally feel that it would work better as an ensemble piece. This might help it flow better especially when two or more characters are presented at once on stage. What I saw definitely had potential though.
Anyway, this isn’t a review on that show, its a write up on the whole ‘Theatre Maker’ launch day experience! I really enjoyed it from the start. I have to admit ‘the Silent Stream’ was the only let down. It didn’t advertise the course in the best way and I think a lot of people were lacking enthusiasm by that point. From the taster sessions I have seen, I really do have high hopes for what the Cockpit have planned.
Below I shall include all the information you will need about the different courses, prices, time frames, and dates as well as links to the cockpit so you can keep up to date with all of their latest information and for the possibility to attend any future taster sessions.
The classes which will be offered area:
- Making Theatre as the Entrepreneurial Artist (£100, 4 weeks, Monday March 5th-26th, 10:30am-1:30pm)
- Making Theatre Using Visual & Physical Techniques (£160, 6 weeks, Wednesday March 7th-April 11th, 7pm-10pm)
- Making Theatre from Scratch (£130, 6 weeks, Tuesday March 20th-April 24th, 11:30am-1:30pm)
- Making Theatre as a Solo Performer (£310, 5 weeks, Thursday April 5th-May 3rd, 6:30pm-10pm)
- Making Theatre with Storytelling (£80, 3 weeks, Wednesday April 18th-May 2nd, 6:30pm-9:30pm)
- From Theatre Maker to Film Maker (£180, 2 days, Saturday April 21st-Sunday April 22nd, 10:30am-6pm)
- Making Theatre Using Commedia Dell’Arte (£160, 6 weeks, Wednesday May 9th-June 13th, 7pm-10pm)
- Making Theatre with Improvisation (£160, 6 weeks, Thursday May 10th-June 14th, 7pm-10pm)
For more information on Theatre Maker at the Cockpit: http://thecockpit.org.uk/Theatremaker
Follow the Cockpit on twitter for all of the latest information: https://twitter.com/cockpittheatre
Thank you or reading this far! Here is a little reward – If you book onto a course before 6pm Monday 26th February, 2018 you can take full advantage of the one-off launch day code ‘INVOLVED18’ to get 15% off! You’re welcome!
Life is too short. Take the chance and make captivating theatre!