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This week the company went off to look for pieces of real life accounts of ‘Mental Illnesses’. True stories by real people, telling their truthful experience of dealing with a time of distress and crisis.

These pieces covered a range of conditions that look at depression, addiction, anger management, and schizophrenia.  It is important in the show, for the company to be aware of the real people who have had to deal with some horrible and life threatening issues; this is where verbatim comes in.

By reading other peoples experiences of bad times and also stories of hope and treatment, we can take a step closer to understanding this subject. We have devised a scene which allows each character to share their story taken from the verbatim text.  The scene works as a ‘Self Help’/’Advise’ group, that meets to discuss and disclose any information, thoughts and feelings for that week.  We see all seven characters arrive at the meeting, through an abstract journey of movement; born from how feelings can manifest themselves as a physical tick or gesture.

Below is the first rehearsal of the movement which will start this particular scene.  What will follow-on from this routine, is each character individually and as a group revealing their story.

The movement works to identify the ‘feeling’ that each actor takes from either their own experiences or the way they feel from reading someone else’s. The music adds a very emotional texture to the piece and for the company helped reflect honestly on this very serious theme of work. As a company we are very aware that although ‘Mental Illness’ can have a certain stigma attached to it; we want to portray the dangerous and difficult side, as well as the hope and normality that is sometimes cloudy by ignorance.

We are not for a second attempting to deliver the notion of a happy ending; but want to dispel the image and label of ‘them people’, because there isn’t ‘them’ we are all just people. We feel that this scene will show that particular angle; that people can get better, do feel better and can live a “normal” life. 

A particular web site of interest is ‘Uncommon Knowledge’, and we are pleased to have a number of people telling their stories and sharing their ideas on the forum with ReFraction Theatre.

Please comment and get in keep in touch by subscribing to the blog for a weekly update, as well as some sneaky extras as the process continues.

Thanks for reading,

Paul – @performeradams – twitter & @refractiondrama – twitter

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We had a busy week, last week; production meetings almost every day to make big decisions for Tunnel Vision and ReFraction Theatre.  We have looked at set design, posters and booking venues for the tour. We also had Jemma from PaperBirds Theatre Company on hand to look over our material so far and give some pointers and artistic guidance.

Lucas is developing a stand up routine that looks at the down fall of a comic’s troubled life.  Angela has developed a scene that takes on the difficulties associated with post natal depression, and Ben is busy writing a scene which will help the structure of  the show with a very down beaten doctor fed up of ‘his’ life. (Ironically)

Over the next few weeks I will give an update of these scenes, and get responses from the cast members to share with you the reader.

The video below is a rehearsal shot of Abi, who is working with the diagnosis of Bi- Polar, and the effects that it has on people who are affected.  She has been working with the extremes that are present in the condition; with manic highs and very depressed lows.  Abi is working to create a character that shows someone who goes through an emotional separation, resulting in the start of Bi-Polar.  The scarf in the scene below, is used as stimulus to represent the source of upset.

Further down the page is a selection of pictures. Throughout the slide show you will see two scenes that are under development by the cast with placards used in one scene, devised by Paul Bowles.  This scene has been created for two reasons, the first being the use of placards artistically; the second is the message.  The message shows how every day, people are suffering in silence with a variety of issues and problems, some severe and others only minor.  The scene allows the audience to read each characters story while having disturbing facts dropped in, and thoughts from deep inside their minds shown to you.

The other scene is a devised movement piece by me and Alex.  We are working on the issue of addiction with movement, and are developing ways to portray the fight of addiction.  For the moment the scene is centred on a bottle; used as stimuli to choreograph and create an initial story.  For the future we may remove the bottle, or substitute it for another prop if necessary.

I will put some video up online later this week showing more work and scene development.  Please feel free to comment on this blog, and ask any questions you may have.  The company will answer and discuss any questions you may have.  

Thanks for reading and watching

Follow @refractiondrama

PAUL – performeradams – twitter

Happy New Year, and heres to a great year for all, especially to the ReFraction Theatre company, who have a great few months ahead to create, rehearse and deliver ‘Tunnel Vision’.

Well, I think its time you met the performers that will tour the show in March – April this year.

Paul Bowles

Paul B completed a HND in Performing Arts at the Oldham College in 1998.
After which he managed to form strong links with Oldham’s Kobal Theatre Company.
With Kobal, Paul has spent the last 5 years working on Fringe projects which have been
performed at; The Oldham Coliseum (Wordsmith), The Contact, The Royal Exchange (Blue), The Buxton Fringe Festival and most recently at The 2008 24:7 Theatre Festival in Manchester.

Angela Bowles ( Yes there Married)

 After obtaining her HND at the Oldham college she worked in various theatre settings, T.I.E, Corporate and Voice over work. Angela also opened the Academy school of performing arts for pupils aged 5-16 years. Through her work at the Academy she realised that she enjoyed teaching, so has returned to university to gain her PGCE.

Ben Guilfoyle

Ben is a performing artist who specializes in acting, writing and singing.  He has studied performing arts at the University of Huddersfield for the past 2 years and is now in his final year. Outside of ReFraction Theatre he is rehearsing for a musical that will tour both Germany and England later in 2010. General interests are; movies, comic books, gaming, and occasionally the odd bottle of red wine lol. 

Alex Williams

Alex was a high acheiver throughout school and college, carrying on to a foundation degree at the University Campus Oldham and gained a 2-1 in the foundation degree in performance.  Alex is an all round performer, but has found in himself a talented  physical theatre performer. Alex is interested in fine art and dance and has also performed in previous touring productions Seven(08) and Breugel(09).

Paul Anthony Adams

Paul firstly studied at the Northern Academy for Theatre and Television, and then progressed to Musical Theatre training at the Oldham College.  More recently Paul has developed himself as an all round performer at the University Campus Oldham. He has a strong passion for ‘Movement – Physical Theatre’ performance and is keen to try daring and high energy movement choreography.  Paul has devised several pieces of theatre over the last couple of years, touring around the Manchester area, studios, schools and colleges and has just finished a very successful show at the Oldham Coliseum Theatre.  Interests are in; Digital and Social Media within the Theatre Industry.

Abi Crayon

Abi has danced and performed since the age of ten with a passion for performance throughout school, college and university. Abi has trained in many dance styles including ballet, modern, tap, contemporary, street and now training in capoeira a martial art and dance.  Abi has had training as a dancer and performer, taking A levels in both Drama and Dance, whilst continuing on to a performance degree at the University of Huddersfield, touring devised theatre.

Throughout her studies Abi has integrated herself in the industry as a creative performance facilitator working with children in both dance and drama fields.  Now in her final year Abi is keen to progress in the theatre industry continuing her freelance teaching work with big aspirations for the future.

 Lucas Southern

Lukas.J.Southern trained for 4 years at Accrington and Rossendale College  (ACCROSS), first on the Btec National Diploma in Performing Arts at which he achieved a triple distinction. Secondly on the FDA Foundation Degree in Theatre and Performance where he gained a 2:1. Some of his roles have figured from a range of classical and contemporary plays from Alan Ayckbourn’s Improbable Fiction to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. After he finishes his top up year at Huddersfield University he hopes to sign with an agent and become a household name as a professional actor.

Well there’s the Gang, Hope that gives you a little background information.

The first production meeting of the New Year is this Monday, (if the snow will let us lol) so watch this Blog, Follow @refractiondrama on Twitter, please comment chat, and spread the blog.

Speak or Tweet soon

Paul  ( @performeradams )

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