Friday, 30 September 2011

End of Week One

I. Feel. Amazing. Seriously, I really do.  I'm not sure whether this is because of all the physical exercise we've been doing, or the fact that after 15 months of worrying if going to Circomedia is the right thing to do I finally know that yes it is, or maybe it's just the beer and pizza that the school laid on for the end of our first week, but to be quite honest I couldn't be happier right now.  And yes, I know that the hard work has barely begun. I know that the risk of injury is high, and that I'm going to be pushing my body and mind to their limits.  But it just feels right, and at this moment there is nowhere else I'd rather be.

And this is the sunset as seen from my cycle home tonight.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Launching into the Unknown

It has begun.  On Monday morning I turned up with knees trembling at Circomedia, knowing nothing, fearing everything.  And so far, well, it's been rather good fun actually.  We are a group of 29, with a whole range of ages, experiences and interests.  We've had very informative and practical introductions to aerial, acrobalance, equilibristics and manipulation (that's juggling to me and you, or E & M, as I shall now refer to it in a very knowledgeable way), and also performance and conditioning classes.

Today was the dreaded fitness test.  I can't really get over to you through the medium of the blog exactly how scared I have been of this.  Before each student begins at Circomedia they are sent through a list of the fitness levels that the school wants you to have achieved prior to the start of the course.  This includes wondrous things such as the fact that you should be able to do 4 pull ups with you palms facing forward, 5 full tricep press ups and be able to straddle (open your legs whilst sitting) to an angle of 120 degrees.  Hmmm... easy for some, not so much for others.  However, Circomedia's attitude is that each student works within their own capabilities.  There are no good and bad results (at this stage).  Your scores are recorded and act as a benchmark you'll work with and be tested on again in the next six weeks to measure improvement.  Oh, and we also did a killer 20 minute circuit. I am feeling the burn.

In the afternoon Bim Mason, course director and co-founder of Circomedia, talked us through the different elements of the course.  He talked about the phrase 'running away with the circus' and told us that he used to not like it (good job he hasn't read this blog yet), as it infers that the circus is a place of dreams; or a romantic notion that people have of leaving the drudgery of their everyday life and starting over again.  Can I just say that I don't believe my everyday life was a drudge.  I rather enjoyed it actually - being in my lovely comfy house with my lovely comfy partner in Nottingham.  I miss it, I really do.  And what I'm doing here feels like the exact opposite of running away from something.  I feel like I am finally accepting that yes, I am going to be poor for the rest of my life.  And that's because there is simply nothing I can find that I want to do as much as this, and creativity is at the heart of that.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The beginning...

So, about a year and a half ago I was sitting on my sofa on a blustery day, wrapped up warm and drinking a cup of tea, and I had this idea - Why don't I go and train full time at a circus school?  Wouldn't that be great?  Wouldn't it be fun!  Wouldn't it make me so much more employable as an actor?!  NO!, said the voice in my head.  It would hurt, be very expensive and is a very silly idea.  Sensible advice.  However, from that point on the seed of the idea began to grow, and bit by bit started to feel like it might actually have something in it.  I could use the new skills not only as a performer, but as a theatre maker and movement director, specialising in the dramatic integration of circus into narrative theatre.  I asked for advice from other theatre makers who seemed genuinely enthused by concept, and so set about finding out how to make it reality.

And so here I am, nineteen months later and absolutely terrified.  I have auditioned and been accepted into Circomedia in Bristol, one of the only circus schools in the UK, where the emphasis of the training is on creativity, devising and new approaches to circus.  The lovely Arts Council have agreed to support me and everything is in place for the first day on Monday.  Monday! Oh. My. God.

The purpose of this blog is to allow the training that I'll be undertaking to be shared, to create interest and ultimately to raise the profile of the use of circus arts in theatre.  I'm a Nottingham based actress and intend to remain so, meaning that any learning in Bristol will be brought back to the East Midlands at the end of the training, and then... who knows?  Any ideas?  Any at all?

So please watch this space and join me on this wonderful technicolour journey into the world of contemporary circus.  It's going to be exciting, scary, thrilling, nervewracking and most certainly painful.  Arnica cream at the ready everyone.