Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Monthly Film: Hang Up IRRITATIONS



So, I'm still calling these Monthly Films, even though they clearly run to their own calendar. This one is new piece. New as a short film at least. An extract from the FORTHCOMING DVD of our 1999/2000 show, Hang Up.

This section, the Irritations Section, uses a text originally written for our 1998 show Saved. But as the text for that show took focus as a semi-improvised daily diary, to fit it's varying length of 2 - 5 hours, a set-piece text like this didn't fit any more. We set it aside, thinking we'd like to do something with it. Often when that happens, we never find a way to do something with it.

In the show Hang Up, the four performers swap between characters from one section to the next. Some characters recur, like the lovers who can only use language from the 'Socialising' pages of a English/Spanish phrasebook, and others only appear once - Pizza Guy, for example. In the first two performances Rachael had a teenage prank call character, making annoying calls and calling people names. After two shows, we knew it wasn't working. It undermined the possibility that Pizza Guy was making a prank call (though I never thought he was), and it also seemed to weaken a much more sinister nuisance caller who appeared later. But mainly, it wasn't very funny.

I think by the end of that second performance Rachael already knew that she wanted to try the Irritations text instead. We put it into the next performance, and immediately it felt better, partly because it wasn't specifically about phone calls.

**
The documentation of Hang Up was shot at the start of the second tour, early 2000, in Forced Entertainment's studio in The Workstation. That process produced a short video piece (here), as well as full length show documentation, which will become available again as part of a new set of DVDs launching very soon.

Thanks as ever to Chris for creating this short video version.

**
Documentation extract from Third Angel's touring show, Hang Up (1999/2000)
Camera: Rob Hardy
Edit: Christopher Hall
Director: Rachael Walton

HANG UP
Devised and Performed by Juliet Ellis, Robert Hardy, John Rowley and Rachael Walton
Designed and Directed by Alexander Kelly and Rachael Walton
Soundtrack by Alex Bradley
Lighting Design by James Harrison
Video Mixing by Alexander Kelly
Set Construction by Vision Works
Administration by Phillippa Yates

Commissioned by Arnolfini Live and funded by The Arts Council of England, Yorkshire Arts and Sheffield City Council. Hang Up toured the UK in autumn 1999 and spring 2000.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Clive Egginton


We heard today the very sad news that the photographer Clive Egginton has died, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.

We worked with Clive on a number of projects - he documented the rehearsal process for What I Heard About the World and The Life & Loves of a Nobody as well as taking some production shots for The Machine.

Clive originally approached us about documenting the making of a show for the great Archive Sheffield project. I've just been looking through the photos of that process on Clive's Flickr pages, trying to choose a photo to put with these words.

I chose the photo above because we're just getting on with it - it's a set production meeting - we were a bit behind by this stage, and we might even have forgotten Clive was there. Because that's how he did it. He was relaxed, good humoured - it was always a pleasure to see him when he turned up, and he was always happy to talk, always interested in what was going on. And then as our thoughts turned back to the job in hand, he would just slip into the background, unobtrusive, and get on with his work. And then he would produce all these great images.

There's a Just Giving page in Clive's memory here, raising funds for Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity.

And there's more here about Clive himself and the remarkable Tactile Image project, an incredibly moving tribute for a photographer losing his sight, and a great example of something positive coming out of a terrible situation.

I only really knew Clive through work, but I will remember him fondly. He was good company, a pleasure to have in the room with us, always interested, and interesting. A generous man, who took a damn good photo. A story teller.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Psalter Lane, six years on

It feels like this is the last in the series.*

Six years ago I was asked to write a piece for the Sheffield Telegraph about the closure of "Psalter Lane" - which many people in Sheffield understand to mean Sheffield Hallam University's Psalter Lane Campus - an art school. Sheffield Hallam were moving their art teaching to be part of their city centre campus.

I was sad to see it close. I had attended Psalter Lane as an MA film student, and then did a few visiting lectures there once Third Angel was set up. But I knew it mainly from going to degree shows there - an annual cultural highlight in Sheffield. I was brought up around Walsall College of Art as both my parents taught there, and so I have an ingrained affection for self contained art colleges/campuses. And I live in this area of Sheffield. I felt I was qualified to write something. I said I was sad to see it close.

For several years after that, my walk to work would take me past Psalter Lane campus. Around the time the campus closed, Sheffield artist Kid Acne had painted YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE over the main entrance. Beautifully judged.

Being the obsessive documenter that I am, I began an annual series of updates, as the campus started to become derelict, got demolished, and has now been rebuilt. Or erased. 

I guess there is an implicit criticism or complaint in this series of posts. We should be building art schools, not getting rid of them. Hallam still has a fine art department. But there's something about the contained art college campus that gives it a different energy and atmosphere. (The same is true of performance courses, and though I have less connection with them, I instinctively miss Bretton Hall and Dartington. University of Hull @ Scarborough is next.)

You can see all of those previous visits here.


And here is a last visit. The first one where there have been other people around. I tried to have a look inside the Show Home, but it wasn't open.
















    


*But knowing me there'll be a Psalter Lane 10 or 11 years on...

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Inspiration Exchange at Greenbelt: Story of the Day


As ever I choose too many stories in advance - more than I can possibly swap in (in this instance) five hours. That way I'm not deciding exactly what stories are told. And as ever I feel bad in advance for the stories that won't get told.

And just like last time, a newer thought occurs - to wonder about the stories that people who will come in to the Exchange will tell me, stories they don't know yet that they will think of and tell today.


We open on time, and it's non-stop for four hours.

I swap AN ESCAPED LUNATIC ON CANNOCK CHASE
For CAMEL ON THE BEACH

I swap DEAD JELLYFISH
For I'M GOING ANYWAY
A story told to me by a couple about their son, and contrary to my earlier thought, this is a story they knew they were going to tell me before they came in, the story they came in to share, in fact. Their late son. Their inspiration. Those of us listening know we're privileged to hear them tell it.

I swap A 6B PENCIL
For INSPIRED BY M

I swap DESIRE PATHS
For A RUCKSACK, A PENGUIN & GREAT DETERMINATION 

I swap I'M GOING ANYWAY
For THE SIDESWIPE

I swap 01369 870212
For A STRANGE NIGHT

I swap "YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!" "I KNOW!"
For WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE

I swap 4 FOUNTAIN PENS
For A PANTS DISASTER

I swap TAKE THE CAMERA HOME
For LEARNING TO BE PATIENT

I swap LETTING GIRLS BE
For KATE LOVE

I swap A PANTS DISASTER
For REAL LIFE SUPERHEROES

I swap A VERY M1 CHRISTMAS 
For MAD CRAZY DOGS

I swap CAMEL ON THE BEACH
For "YOU DON'T HAVE TWO TONGUES & ONE EAR"

I swap TAKE AWAY THE SCAFFOLDING
For CATHERINE WHEEL: SETTING THE WORLD ON FIRE

I swap THE BIG FIREWORKS
For MAX & DOM'S BIKE RIDE

And then there's a pause. Even Dominic, who's been with me for over three hours, has to go.

A little re-set in the tent. Stretch the legs. Stand up straight. Sunlight.

It occurs to me that today is a day of stories about determination in the face of adversity - particularly, sadly, adversity in the shape of cancer. Stories of finding what makes you happy, and what makes you who you are. About what we believe, and about what we choose to believe.

Stories about the importance of other people: friends, family, community, this place we're in, this festival. Stories about love.

I swap 36 DAYS LOOKING FOR STUFF IN THE FRIDGE 
(during the telling of which I double-check the maths of this statistic and am reassured)
For AGE OLD MEDICINE.

**
Then, after the telling of this Story of the Day, a woman with a five year old daughter falling asleep on her lap, asks if she can hear LETTING GIRLS BE. And so the conversation carries on, and rather than stopping, the Exchange seems to wind down into the evening around it.

Thanks to everyone who came in for listening, and for your stories.



Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Third Angel at Greenbelt Festival

We’re really looking forward to (finally!) making it to the Greenbelt Festival this weekend, particularly as two Third Angel pieces will be there alongside two piece we’ve mentored. If you’re going to Greenbelt, and you want to seek us out, here’s where and when to find us…


photo: Elliot Roberts
Third Angel presents
An epic journey in a stationary minibus
SATURDAY 23rd 11.00am,  3.30pm & 7.00pm
THE WILDERNESS (next to The Kindred 24 Hour Café)
To an audience of just 14, Alexander Kelly recounts what he learned as he followed in the footsteps of his Grandad – on a bus trip from the Midlands to the most northwesterly point of Scotland: Cape Wrath. Heartfelt, moving and funny, and one of the hits of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
Three shows on Saturday – in a minibus!
Sign up on Friday between 6–8pm at the minibus.
Age recommendation: 14 and over



Third Angel presents an
SUNDAY 24th 12.00 – 5.15 pm
STAR POND
Third Angel’s Alexander Kelly would like to have a conversation with you, and do you a swap: idea for idea, inspiration for inspiration. Drop in for as long or short a time as you would like, swap a story or just listen, as we follow a trail to see what unexpected places we end up in by sharing our inspiration. You can find him in a bell tent by Star Pond.
Final storytelling at 5.00pm at the bell tent (Star Pond). Suitable for all ages.

plus…


Hannah Nicklin (with Alexander Kelly):
A CONVERSATION WITH MY FATHER
SATURDAY 23rd 7.30pm & 9.30pm
This is a story about my dad (a retired policeman) and me (a protestor). It’s a story about fear, bravery, what it feels like to be kettled, SuperTed, the Lone Ranger, policing the people in front of you, and being sent out of class. It’s about working out what matters, and standing up to protect it. It’s about Them and Us.

It’s about me, and my dad.
There are also some jokes in it. Because serious things are worth laughing at a little bit.



Unfolding Theatre:
BEST IN THE WORLD
(Mentored by Third Angel)
SUNDAY 24th 5.30pm & 7.00pm
There is a world that can transport us from the ordinary to the extraordinary, where we are one perfect throw away from greatness, a place where we can all be champions. That world is darts. Through this noble sport, Alex Elliott asks the unfathomable question: “What does it mean to be best in the world?”

Join him on a hilarious, occasionally heroic and heart-warming journey, featuring true stories of success, live darts and celebrations of our own personal triumphs. Motivational bananas included. This uplifting show will renew your faith in life and darts. Who knows? You might be the best audience in the world.

**


And if you’re going, we would also recommend that you see Bobby Baker on Saturday, too.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Monthly Film: A PERFECT CIRCLE




July’s Monthly Film is A Perfect Circle, which we wrote about quite a lot as we were making it:


So I asked Chris to reflect on the actual shoot. He said:

I didn't want to make this film. I wanted to make something entirely different. But we ended up in a studio in Sheffield for two days making A Perfect Circle.

Which was a good start.

We abbreviate to APC when we talk and write about it among ourselves. I'm not that happy with the title to be honest but I've never thought of anything better so perhaps I should stop moaning.

No comment.

There are couple of things about the making of the film. We borrowed the overhead camera and gaffer taped it to the lighting rig in the studio. I had no way of knowing whether it was properly in focus and exposed by the time I managed to lean over and hit record. I managed to overcome my mild vertigo by climbing twenty feet up the ladder to do so. 

It was essentially a two camera setup on multiple takes of the entire process, with me doing close ups and wides on the floor and the borrowed camera on the birds eye view. I also had to guestimate as to whether or not I would be in shot if I moved in for any extreme close ups of the powder or the feet.

Climbing with gritted teeth up the ladder to retrieve the footage for a quick mid-shoot review was not fun. As you can see, the footage was ok. We had a coffee and carried on.

The main part of the shoot was a highly rewarding experience, lighting Gillian, her performance and the action to make it other, elevated. Ditching the storyboards very early on in the first day. Finding new ways of framing the process using angles and perspectives that the theatrical experience couldn't replicate.

Alex and I have written and spoken about the editing process in other places and about the intentions behind the piece. I had two additional motivations when making A Perfect Circle, rather prosaically one was to learn and find the limitations of a new piece of editing software - hence the large amount of frame blending during the extensive slow motion shots - and to attempt to create something elegant, fully formed, which needs no additional explanation in order to be enjoyed - like a piece of music.

I learnt the software, which is now defunct five years after the fact, I'm unsure as to whether or A Perfect Circle can be enjoyed without knowing what is happening. 

I did also want to make a dance film and this was the an opportunity to do so within the Third Angel fold.

So to paraphrase Meatloaf, two out of three ain't bad.


So I'd just add, A Perfect Circle is best enjoyed watched on as big a screen as possible, turned up loud...

**

Third Angel presents
A Perfect Circle
9min 32sec. HD.

A female human being performs a ritual: an attempt to describe a circle and an attempt to describe the world as if all you could see of it were the series of images carried on the Voyager satellites, the two furthest-travelled human-made objects from the Earth.

Devised by Christopher Hall, Alexander Kelly, Gillian Lees and Rachael Walton
Performed by Gillian Lees
Music by David Mitchell
Camera and Edit by Christopher Hall
Production Assistants: Cristabel Horne and Dan Wray

Commissioned by Sheffield Contemporary Art Forum for The Sheffield Pavilion2009. Supported by Sheffield Hallam University and Leeds Metropolitan University. With thanks to Sheffield Independent Film. Third Angel is regularly funded by Arts Council England and supported by Site Gallery, Sheffield.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

NPO Funding Announcement


We have a really exciting, ambitious programme of performance, mentoring and partnerships planned for 2015-18, which we’re now hugely looking forward to delivering as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. 

We’ve been well supported by ACE over the last 3 years, and the stability now afforded to us by being an NPO will allow us to plan even further ahead, put more time into development and support other artists and arts professionals in new ways over a longer period of time. 

We would like to thank Arts Council England, and the many people who supported us in developing the programme of work for our National Portfolio application, and everyone sending us their good wishes. We really appreciate it.