Sep 282015
 

Apologies galore, but the bespoke site for My Father and Other Superheroes appears to have been hacked. We’re still sorting this out, but do pay attention when Google alarmingly tells you not to open it. We’ll sort it ASAP.

That said, October is an exciting MFOS month with three shows that will close out the tour. Here they are, with booking links that won’t blow up your laptop…hope to see you there!

Friday 2 October – Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 8 p.m.

Thursday 15 October – Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday 18 October – Hillingdon Literary Festival, London, 6:30 p.m.

Jul 272015
 

Ah, what an evening it was…a sultry summer Southbank Saturday, and a sold-out house to witness the emergence of five shiny, startlingly beautiful pieces of performance by the participants in Re:Play. We were lucky enough to be part of Poetry International 2015, one of the world’s most venerable poetry events – it was founded by Ted Hughes, don’t ya know – yet still one of the edgiest.

In many ways, Saturday’s event was the end of a long road that began last autumn and has involved masterclasses, scratch sessions, writing rewriting and more writing and rewriting, tears and fears, and a tremendous amount of creative verve.

Big props to all of our Re:Players: Ria Hartley, Gael Le Cornec, Afshan Lodhi, Lucy Sheen, and Yomi Sode. Thanks also to the eminent poets, performers and writers who’ve given them, and us, guidance along the way: Ola Aminashawun, John Berkavitch, Inua Ellams, Stacy Makishi, Polarbear, and Lemn Sissay.

You haven’t heard the last of Re:Play, and there’ll be pix and vids coming soon. Not an ending, then, but for now we’re going to bask a bit longer in its wondrous beginning.

Oct 172014
 

Re:Play is a new development programme for up to five advanced Black, Asian and minority ethnic writer-performers interested in developing, and performing, a one-person show addressing a critical social issue. The programme includes:

  • A £1,000 bursary plus travel to Re:Play activities
  • Four master classes between January-July 2015 exploring writing, performing and producing with some of the best practitioners working in the industry
  • A mentor to provide critical feedback and guidance throughout the Re:Play process
  • At least one scratch opportunity
  • A showcase performance in July 2015 at London’s Southbank Centre (date TBC)

Re:Play welcomes applications from BAME writer-performers of all genres who are currently resident in England. You will need to be available on selected dates between January and July 2015.

Background

Re:Play is a collaboration between cultural producer Nimble Fish and writer/performer Nick Makoha and has evolved through their work together to produce Nick’s one-person show, My Father and Other Superheroes. The show is touring England in 2015. Both the tour and Re:Play are supported through a generous grant from Arts Council England.

What do we mean by ‘critical social issue’?

My Father and Other Superheroes is an autobiographical one-person performance about Nick’s journey from childhood to fatherhood. It follows his struggle to come to terms with the responsibilities of being a parent and his confrontation with his own father’s absence.

Nick worked closely with the Fatherhood Institute to inform and develop the themes of his work. The result is a moving, often funny performance work that also gets audiences thinking about fathers and families in new ways. As one member of the British Council put it, “After leaving the theatre, my first reaction was to phone my dad to see how he was.”

To Apply:

We need five things from you as part of your application:

1)    A outline of the social issue you wish to tackle and your motivation for doing so, which might be autobiographical, political, cultural or just based on passionate interest

2)    A one-page treatment of your idea

3)    A short description of a charity you would like to connect with, and why. You may include a letter of support from the charity if you choose.

4)    A CV highlighting your relevant achievements and links to selected work online.  These can be included as attachments but please don’t include more than four.

5)    Up to 400 words about how Re:Play would affect your professional development.

All applications must be received via e-mail no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, 7th November 2014. No late entries will be accepted under any circumstances. Subject line should be ‘Re:Play application’ and e-mails sent to getnimble@nimble-fish.co.uk. Interviews with short-listed candidates will be held w/c 24th November. We regret that we will not be able to provide feedback to applicants who do not make the shortlist.

Jun 262012
 

first published in ArtsProfessional on 21 June 2012

I have just finished training new creative agents for a Creative Partnerships project. We spent an exciting week looking at how we could help teachers explore new ways of delivering their work, and how young people – particularly those who are disengaged from learning – could find innovative ways to take ownership of their educational experience (and thus like it more and do better in school).

This is not a time warp: the year is 2012. But wasn’t Creative Partnerships defunded by the Coalition government in 2011? Didn’t it wrap up about this time a year ago? Yes in both cases. The work I just finished was in Norway, one of several countries now embracing ‘creative learning’ projects driven by, or directly modelled upon, work developed and delivered in the UK. The project is led by Creativity, Culture and Education, the organisation that ran Creative Partnerships in the UK, and which has since found a receptive audience for creative learning work across Europe and beyond.

The countries investing in UK-style creative learning are by no means the world’s low performers. In a 2010 survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Norway ranked ninth out of 31 countries for science, maths and reading; the UK ranked 20th. In Lithuania, where the nationwide Creative Partnerships programme has just launched its second year, more than 90% of the population pursues education beyond the minimum requirement, one of the highest rates in Europe. The interest from schools in Lithuania is phenomenal, with twice as many applicants as available places.

What’s happening here? The answer is simple. Independent thinking, collaborative working, risk-taking, creative problem solving: these are what give 21st century workers an edge, as reports here and internationally show time and again. The leaders of other countries know this, or are waking up to it. They want their education programmes to deliver the skills which will be key drivers in future competitiveness on the global stage.

Sadly, just as creative approaches to learning are being embraced elsewhere, the Coalition government’s education agenda is practically anti-creative. One year on, nothing has replaced Creative Partnerships; the government’s best response to the ‘creativity’ issue is a stepped-up campaign for Arts Award and Artsmark. These programmes have some merit, but they are focused very clearly on cultural provision and access, not on creative approaches to teaching and learning. Individual schools are carrying on Creative Partnerships-style work, but starved of resources and bracketed by rigid exam-led targets, it is a hard slog.

Irony seems to have little purchase on our current political leaders. Still, they shouldn’t be surprised if, in a few years’ time, education advisers from abroad start making inroads in the UK with creative learning practices that were, of course, born here in the first place.

 

Dec 302011
 

Right about now is the semi-official five-year anniversary of this thing called Nimble Fish; as in, the approximate time when corporate approval came in the post from Companies House. Still, one anniversary is as good as another, n’est ce pas? And so, with 2011 drawing to a close and the quasi-apocalyptic 2012 upon us, we list here in no particular order the big-ticket stuff we’ve done since embarking on our journey in 2006:

Creativity Quest, Einstein’s Dreams, The Container, Debate London, Culture Detectives, Billboard, Re:bourne, Fourth Plinth, Creative Partnerships (London, Essex, Kent…and most recently, Lithuania and Norway), Space To Learn, The Learning Town Project, ReAuthoring, and Sounds of the Stars.

Looking back on one’s work via project titles creates a strange reality distortion field: some of these projects spanned several years, others were one-offs, and still others are ongoing. By the numbers we won three awards, worked in half a dozen countries, presented/performed at five festivals, and connected with nearly 100 schools. We’ve provided gainful and hopefully enjoyable employment to more than 150 people while managing to not default on loans (since we’ve never had any), ask for a government bail-out, or make headlines by living large on taxpayer-fuelled bonuses.

It’d take too long to list all of the friends and colleagues we’ve made since 2006. But hopefully you know who you are. Nimble Fish would be far less nimble (and way fishier) without your talent, energy and dedication. Here’s to a bright and creative future for all of us, Mayan calendars notwithstanding…

Aug 182011
 

Ok, so this is cheating just slightly: it’s not our blog, but one written by Katherine (our ReAuthoring comrade in arms) about the fantastic devising weekend we had in advance of the new work created for the Herne Bay Festival. The link is here.

Just so that we’re contributing something (and it doesn’t appear as though we’re being summer-lazy and letting Katherine do all the blog-work…) I shall add that real estate placards, eggs, and battery amps will never again have quite the same meaning for any of us. Intrigued? Good, then come along to Herne Bay on Saturday 27 August. You won’t be disappointed.

Jul 132011
 

Ah, not often I can pun like that and have it actually mean something.

The L in question is in the photo below. The place: Lower Marsh Street, a lovely little micro ‘hood behind Waterloo Station that was recently the scene of Secret Sleuthing. Part of the BIGLOP Festival, Secret Sleuthing challenged teams of young Londoners to find and decode a series of clues planted on Lower Marsh Street that led them to a Punchdrunk-styled hidden location nearby. Once inside, more clues were on offer…which ultimately led our sleuths back onto the high street where they had to whisper the secret password to ‘hidden agents’–better known locally as shop-owners in on the game.

Although Secret Sleuthing finished two weeks ago, we checked recently and all nine of the first letter clues were still there. If you find yourself on Lower Marsh Street, have a sleuth yourself. Here’s a hint: the nine letters spell the name of a nearby street, which in turn led to the hidden location. The location itself is closed now, but we think that looking is as much (or even more) fun than finding…

Jul 042011
 

I spent this morning singing with teachers on a pier. As a trainer, I was paid for this; the teachers were also paid, in that the work they would normally have done at school was covered by other teachers. We were led by a wonderful vocalist through a series of exercises and activities in voice, rhythm, posture, presentation and performance. The vocalist was paid, too.

I’m chanting this mantra of remuneration for a slightly perverse reason. Creating a site-specific jazz riff on ‘Row Row Your Boat’ may or may not immediately help students hit their government-mandated targets in maths, literacy or other subjects. Discovering the wonders of diaphragmatic breathing may not correlate directly with better classroom behaviour. In fact, if I’m completely honest, it is possible that today’s session in all of its singing, vocalising, rapping, snapping, clapping glory–all in promenade, beneath the glorious summer sun, on a wooden platform stretching into the sea–might have no effect at all, other than to have been an awful lot of fun for those of us actually doing it.

It is perhaps reckless to say such things at a time when school budgets are being slashed, teacher pensions are being pared back, and indeed the entire public infrastructure is under siege. Better to keep quiet, perhaps, about such blatantly joyfully, possibly not terribly ‘practical’ work, right? Wrong. Now is precisely the time to talk about sessions like today’s. The adage says to sing when you’re winning. That’s easy. But to sing, loudly and without fear (and in public), when everything you feel is valuable in society is under threat? That is something else entirely.That is a statement of rebellion. A statement of value.

And that value is this: teachers, and everyone else who toils in the public sector, deserve their opportunities to leave the classroom behind for a morning and revisit joy, laughter, enjoyment, and emotional wonderment. Strangely, we do not begrudge these things to the private sector so worshipped by our political masters. I know plenty of folks in business who, despite being under the media microscope more than ever, still have their ‘away’ days playing paintball or their lavish end-of-quarter bashes on the continent. Such things aren’t considered perqs or frivolities. The private sector knows that loosening up, playing and celebrating are essential components to unlocking camaraderie and creativity. 

We don’t apply the same standards to public sector employees. Teachers, in particular, feel a tremendous burden to make every second of their working lives visibly and measurably ‘count’ in the service of boxes ticked and targets attained. For lower pay and longer hours, we work them harder and harder. And if they’re let out of teaching duties for professional development, well…it had better produce results.

I’m confident that today’s session will, in fact, produce results. The teachers left our session humming and smiling. They were talking about how to bring music and rhythm into their classrooms as ways of engaging children. They were talking about planning more trips to the seaside and the pier in the still-warm months of the early autumn. They felt good. They were energised, excited about life and work, and feeling creative and full of ideas. And that, of course, is pretty much the general ‘person description’ coveted by any private company worth its stock shares.

If the government really wants the public sector to be more like the private one, they need to put their money where their rhetoric is. It’s not about tests, targets, cuts, threats and half-baked restructuring. Instead, we need to loosen up and let teachers, and perhaps everyone in the public sector, sing a bit.

Posted via email from gregklerkx’s posterous

Jun 032011
 

first posted at http://reauthoringproject.wordpress.com

Hello out there in ReAuthoring land. Yes, it’s been awhile since there’s been a post here (nearly a year, to be precise) but silence doesn’t mean inaction. We’ve been busy tinkering away in the ReAuthoring shop…new ideas, new partners, new projects. Stay tuned.

In the mean time, enjoy the following gentle piss-take on the whole ‘medium is the message’ craze in the literary world, courtesy of Horrible Histories, which is possibly the best sketch programme on the telly at present. Great!

Mar 312011
 

Just back from a few days in Lithuania, a country I’ll admit that I never anticipated visiting. In fact, one might argue that the only way to develop an appreciation for a country so far off the Western cultural radar is to be thrown into it headlong, which was my experience: Nimble Fish was asked to deliver a pilot programme seeking to link cultural entrepreneurs with schools, in a Creative Partnerships style arrangement. This sort of thing is new in Lithuania, so much so that the language doesn’t even have a word for ‘entrepreneur’.

The intention, of course, was to convey British knowledge about creativity-in-education for the benefit of Lithuania’s next generation of artists, teachers and young people. I’d like to think that some of that happened, but what struck me most was how much creativity, drive and energy are already in play there. There are artists collectives linked with government ministries, university students launching visionary cultural NGOs, and all manner of activity aimed at transformation, improvement, and enlightenment. In short, Lithuania is a country very much buzzing with creative energy and action (perhaps less surprising knowing that the capital, Vilnius, was the 2009 European Capital of Culture.) And all of it, happening on a comparative shoestring.

The Arts Council cuts announced yesterday were painful to many, and I’d be the first to say that Government is foolhardy to do so much damage for so little return: drop a Eurofighter or two, and that’s the arts sorted. And yet, despite the cuts we remain rich in ideas, experience and talent…and relatively speaking, rich also in money and infrastructure. Artists and cultural entrepreneurs are making amazing things happen in Lithuania, with far fewer resources. We can and must continue to make amazing things happen here, whatever idiocy is handed down by Government.

By the way, if you’re in the market for a great rural getaway I can highly recommend this little place outside of Trakai…

Posted via email from gregklerkx’s posterous