Every year Level 1 BA Theatre Students make a three-day visit to Featherstone Castle, an historic building near Haltwhistle, Northumbria. This field trip allows students to make site specific theatre in response to the building, its grounds and its history. This years work notably featured a haunting array of spooky devised work, performances that concentrated on theatre images, sound and space and moved away from dramatic representation to create environments for audience to experience the live situation as a presentation of tasks, gestures and text. Two students, Alex Kaniewski and James Harris have provided reflections on their experiences (below).
“After being told that we were going to make theatre in an old, semi derelict castle in the middle of the Northumbrian countryside, most of us did not have a clue what to expect and little did we know what an amazing experience it would be. To have free reign of an entire Castle and the ability to explore its vast network of interesting rooms, corridors and stairways was nothing less than exciting and enchanting. The aim of the trip was to create work in response to the space around us, with most groups playing with the ideas of supernatural spirits, the history of past occupants and the general creepy atmosphere of the place. It was a very interesting place to work, as sound and movement could be very effective without the need for much verbal communication, a simple whistle was enough to have our audience frightened and disorientated. It was also a great opportunity to get to know each other, and the friendships we have developed by working with new people will be invaluable as the course progresses. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Featherstone Castle, and the experiences that I have shared with my course mates I feel has brought us all closer together.” (Alex Kaniewski Level 1 BA Theatre)
“A memory that I will always treasure was walking to the river. In my hands I held a glass full to the brim with water and a small stone inside. Was this a representation of life; a tiny stone in a vast sea of water? We were asked to throw the water and tiny gem back into the river and speak a meaningful word aloud or to our selves. Almost as if we were giving an offering to the gods. I screamed ‘Mercy’. I questioned my self, why did I say that? Nothing. Its no mistake that a site can contain a flood of emotions and memories, especially when you’re driven hours away from home. Featherstone Castle, like most odd looking places, was brought back to life by some measly looking theatre students for three-days and I will always remember it.” (James Harris, Level 1 BA Theatre)
The first of this semesters Performing House series began last week with a performance by graduate theatre company Verb Arts. Performers Amy Camsell & James Norris presented ‘A Mothers Trace’ a work that questions one’s ability to parent – or ‘mother’. ‘A Mothers Trace’ uncovers a traumatic past and discusses the repercussions of parenting from parent to child, Camsell & Norris took a scrupulous and unforgiving look at their own potential as compassionate and caring parents.
YSJ Theatre Lecturer Dr Eirini Nedelkopoulou has edited a special issue of the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media. This special issue, edited with Mary Oliver (MMU) is entitled ‘Hybridities: The intersections between performance and science and the digital‘ and considers productive interactions between performance and mathematics, physics, neuroscience, biology and computation. Asking questions of how science nourishes, moves and changes performance and performance studies through the development of digital tools.
Dr Nedelkopoulou has also contributed to the issue with an interview with belgian-based immersive art company CREW (pictured).
Issue 9 of Theatre Pages, our in-house magazine for Theatre @ YSJ, has been released this month. This autumn issue concentrates on questions around objects in performance, asking if objects themselves perform.
With contributions from an International cohort of artists, graduates, current students and academics, Issue 9, takes a diverse approach to considering the role of the object or prop in contemporary performance and theatre.
Notable contributors are Chicago based artist Mark Jeffery from Atom-r Theatre Company, Actor and Performance Maker Jane Arnfield, New Zealand academic Kingsley Baird and local artist, storyteller and YSJ PhD Candidate Cath Heinemeyer. York St John Theatre staff contributions come from Helen Turner, Jules Dorey Richmond, Matthew Reason & Nathan Walker, and graduate BA students / current MA Students Victoria Little, Lawrence Crawford, & Jonathan Curd.