Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Half Term Crafts with "the girls"

For some reason, the Hull area have had their half term a week later than the rest of the country this time. Therefore we spent yesterday looking after our two grand-daughters, Matheea and Evie. We will also have them tomorrow, along with our niece, Charlotte - which I'm looking forward to.

Yesterday was spent with the girls playing on the computer to begin with. I never have any strict pattern as to what we do, just let things happen or not, depending on their moods, but they seem to enjoy the time spent here, so it must work for them. They are really into a site called "MovieStarPlanet" which is specifically designed to encourage children to create a virtual world with different characters. They can also network with their friends and create cartoons or films for their creations. From what I saw of it, you dressed up a cartoon girl (or boy, I guess) in whatever "Movie Star" costume you preferred, gave her/him a name and then proceeded to tell a story with that character . I was laughed at for wanting to dress Evie's character in a red dress and baseball boots, so I decided to leave them to it. They love the fact that they can each use a PC rather than having to share, since Evie uses mine and Matheea uses Keith's.  After about an hour of that (during which time I kept hearing snippets of conversation in typical American dialect from them both) they decided that they wanted to join me in my creativity. I love it when they are being creative - we all enjoy the time together!  They wanted to make one of the mini notebooks I've started creating, so I duly cut them both some card for the cover, stitched together the paper for the inside and let them decorate their covers ready for attaching to the paper. Here are their finished results - they had also planned what they were going to use them for (Evie's was going to be for a secret group at school - girls only, except Josh, apparently. Matheea said she would probably be jotting down ideas for stories she is going to write.)

No prizes for guessing whose notebook this one is!
I like the way Evie continued her design on the back cover, how cute!
Matheea likes her work to be private, obviously!
Just a simple smiley face on the back of Matheea's notebook!
Once we'd finished the books, we all had pancakes for our lunch - perfectly made by Keith, they were probably the nicest pancakes I remember eating. Matheea had three, Evie had one (which is a minor miracle considering she doesn't like golden syrup, honey and only just relented on the lemon juice with sugar idea!). They both then played with some cornflour and water mix - Matheea has been learning about thixotropic materials in school - that is, materials exhibiting a stable form at rest but becoming fluid when agitated. Evie then went on to decorate a wooden yo-yo so that she can hone her skills on the toy (not that she's really tall enough to hold the yo-yo fully let down, in my opinon, but it's cute to watch her trying) at home.

Here she is proudly demonstrating her artistic creation:

I spent the day sniffing and sneezing, so have obviously started with a cold, and left them to it for a couple of hours  on the Wii. They played on "Just Dance", which was quite hilarious to watch as Matheea was putting so much into it whilst Evie just casually made the merest hint of motion yet seemed to score higher more often than not!

Here they are strutting their stuff:

Evie looked positively bored at times, yet played for quite a long time before wanting to change the game. They moved onto the Wii Music game, which Matheea loved particularly as they could watch old videos of their previous attempts, which made her laugh immensely. Some of the saved videos were ones her parents had done - which reminded me of the time when Evie was about 3 and she was talking about her Dad using the Wii Fit. "Apparently", she told us, "Dad's not obeast any more". How cute is it when they say words incorrectly like that?

No doubt tomorrow we will be watching The Wizard of Oz and/or Heidi on DVD at some point, those being favourites for Charlotte as well as Matheea and Evie. Having never had experience of looking after boys, I wonder if they would be as interested in creative work as these 3 all seem to be? I feel very lucky to be part of their lives and I'm always happy when they are around - it must be such a blessing to be a Mother.Now, where's my hankie, my cold is getting a tad troublesome!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Zanzibar notebook in Etsy Treasury

One of my painted notebooks has made into a Treasury on Etsy over the weekend. Although I'm not entirely sure what the full title of the Treasury means, it is named "Roy G. Biv is Rainbow Bright" and has been curated by Toni Becker. It is full of brightly coloured items and well worth a view if you have time.

You can see the Treasury in detail by clicking here. (which opens the link in a new window for you). Many thanks to Toni Becker, whose Etsy shop, Whimsical Jewels,  you can see here.(again, opening in a new window)

I will be updating my Etsy shop again this week, which you can always take a peek at : Arty Aitch on Etsy

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Plays cast!

After a bit of a struggle to find something, I'm pleased to say that I have now managed to find and successfully cast a play to direct for our next production in May. Plus, on Monday this week we also read and cast a play for the Junior Section. So, just the Youth section to sort out now!

The Juniors are to be performing a version of "The Emperor's New Clothes", which will go on in July. Fortunately they all enjoyed it and are happy to play the parts we cast them in (with perhaps just one minor gruntle, that is!)

The adults are going to be performing "Don't Misunderstand Me" which is described as a frothy comedy by Patrick Cargill. I reckon a lot of the play is more like farce than comedy, but the main thing is that the reading went very well. It was a very hard decision I had to make over the final casting of the young girl "Jaynie", however. It needed to be read with an American accent, and there were two young girls up for the part, both of which had an excellent accent, despite both saying beforehand that they didn't think they could do one! I was debating in my head as we read the play as to which one I would select, but I had to be quick in making my decision in the end as I didn't want to drag it on. I opted for the actress who "sounded" like Jaynie, in my mind. I see her as a naive girl, and Ellie's voice came across as slightly more innocent than Kay's - I hated to disappoint Kay, as I have known her since she was 8 when we first began the Junior section (she's now 23) but I'm sure she's OK and is still involved as she will be prompting.

I've got the first rehearsal tonight, which will take place on the floor rather than the stage, since we haven't yet dismantled the set from the previous production. I've been blocking the moves out in anticipation - I've used the model of our stage that Keith made, and the little fimo people, moving them into position as I plot all the moves out and write in the script.

Directing a play allows me to use another side of my creativity, and it can be very rewarding when you see the play develop exactly as you imagined it to in your mind's eye.

This is a layout of the set as I'd like it to be built.
Two of the model figures on the model set.
My notes on the moves - written in pencil ready for any changes!
I've nearly finished Act 1, must dash off to do it before we set off for the Youth session - leaving the house in half an hour!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Frost Free Finds - Etsy Treasury

I've just created another Treasury of items to have a look at on Etsy, hopefully one that will make you feel warmer in this frosty weather!

You can view it in detail on my page over at Arty Aitch on Etsy, which opens in a new window if you click on the link.

Here's a snapshot of the Treasury:

Friday, 10 February 2012

Reflecting and planning....

As most of you probably know by now, my main hobby is drama. That, for me, encompasses every aspect associated with an amateur dramatic society. I enjoy and have done in the past: acting, directing, set building, set painting/decorating, finding props, prompting, stage managing, Front-of-house duties, car park duties, secretarial duties, publicity officer duties, cleaning. As my husband and I also run the two separate Junior & Youth sections of our particular society, we are never short of something to do related to our theatre. Particularly as the theatre we use is purpose built and held in trust for us as a society, we are also responsible for the maintenance and general upkeep of the building itself. Having recently had a great run for our last production in January ("A Night On The Tiles" by Frank Vickery - the title is a link to Frank Vickery's production page) and everyone thoroughly enjoying the show (cast and audience members), it is now that I start to reflect on past plays - particularly when I am directing the May one and am now in the process of reading many plays in order to find a suitable one. In case you are wondering, "suitable" in this case means a number of factors need to be taken into account. Based on past experience, we always give new members relatively small parts. The play I choose has to be one that I love, not just like, but also one that the cast love as well. Having people perform in something they are not 100% happy with is such a hard task for a director, with little reward. A comedy would be preferred, since our audience almost demand it, and love to leave the theatre with a smile on their faces - it also helps during the rehearsal process, too, if we can laugh at the jokes in the play. Cast-wise I am limited to 2 men (ages approximately 30 and 45, though slight alteration either way can be achieved if the play is good) and 3 or 4 women. I say 3 or 4 because, although I have 4 women available and keen to act in a play, if I cast them all, then I will have no-one left to prompt. Despite the fact that not one prompt was given during the last production and we try to aim for that every time, we still like to have the "safety net" there should we require! The women are all young - late teens to early 30s, and any of them could play those ages, but nothing over the age of 35 without being heavily made up and suitably "wigged" !

I have bought 6 plays (two of which were 2-in-one), read a further 6 and plan to read at least 2 more from a short-list I made based on the cast available. I've also held a play-reading recently just for fun, and to initially assess the ability of our newest member. Sometimes, new members turn up and simply cannot read, so we can never assume. Fortunately, we had no problems at all with the latest one. The play we read this week was "Black Comedy" by Peter Schaffer. This is the first play I directed at BADS, and I remember the time very fondly. It is a shame we can't perform it again, but we simply do not have enough people to do all the parts and take on back-stage roles as well.

I will need to make a trip to the library in Hull for 2 more from my list, then it's back to the drawing board, I'm afraid. I don't want to do a play that is just OK, it has to really grab my attention. At the same time, Keith and I are currently scouting for plays that the Junior and Youth sections can perform in July - this seems a long time off, but past experience has shown that we need plenty of time to organise this, as no doubt changes will occur along the way as children drop out/ become ill/change their minds about being in a play etc etc.  We've so far read or are about to read 5 plays for the Juniors. In some ways, they are easier to cast, since there are lots of plays for younger children with large casts that we can easily cut down. The Youth are a bit more fussy about what they like, however, or have great ideas about doing plays by "devising". Perhaps they can do this at school or college, since they obviously spend more time in their lessons than the one and a half hour we can give them each week. Devising a play takes a lot of dedication and attendance from everyone at all times, which is never going to happen with a group of teenagers who would sometimes rather just be hanging out with their mates or playing computer games! I know they're not all like that, and in the main we do have a great group of children, it's just that their priorities lie elsewhere - they can't be expected to be as committed as we are to the production of a play, yet we still try to instil that attitude in them from a young age.

Until my search ends, and we have found plays for all three sections of our society, here are some photos of the set from our last production (which got a round of applause all of its own each night as the curtains opened) and a few taken at the after-play party which Nikki and Mike hosted!

Amy as "Mary" in the game....

Andy as "Abraham".....

Josh as "Joshua".....

Mike as "Jesus" - a name he rather likes the sound of!

Nikki as "Noah"

Scott as "Samson".
The game we were playing involved remembering your "name" (it had to be a biblical one) and that of everyone else in the room. If you failed to ask the question correctly (even if you got one word wrong) you then received a black mark on your face. As I was driving and therefore not in the slightest bit drunk that evening, I went home without a mark on my face! A very funny game!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Last minute entries.....

Please tell me I'm not the only one who leaves it 'till the last minute to send in application forms/enter exhibitions or competitions etc! I'm not quite sure why I do it, as I consider myself to be fairly well organised and plan events well in advance usually. However, when it comes to getting things in on time for exhibitions, I tend to think "Oh, it doesn't need to be in until the 24th of July (or whatever)" so I wait until the few days prior to that before I even start to think about it. Why? I've no idea. There is no logical explanation for this behaviour, and I really am not good at working under pressure, so I do wonder why I act this way. Does it make me more focused, having to think hard about which items to include in a short space of time rather than deliberating for weeks on end? I like to think that's the sole reason - I am not good at making decisions and unless I make a quick one, I probably never will!

When I entered the Ferens Open Exhibition last week, it was within an hour of the closing time that I finally managed to take my paintings in. Granted, I'd only found out about it two days earlier, which was unusual, and I had been unwell and was busy performing in a play that week. However, I have just completed my application form for possible selling of my craft related items in a local gallery - Artlink, in Hull.  I received the email request for artists several weeks ago, stored the cut-off date (and time) in my head and knew I would wait until one day this week before I completed the form. Sure enough, I've emailed it just now with 3 hours to spare. I think I've written a decent artist's statement, I've made sure I've included all the relevant information in all the right places, and remembered to attach the document to the email. Now I just wait to hear from them.

Anyway, that job done, I'm going to spend the rest of the day helping to write a play for our Junior Section at Bilton Amateur Dramatic Society. Having trawled the internet, as well as looking through our own vast selection of plays, we (my husband, Keith and I) thought we'd have a go at writing our own, based on the children we currently have in the group. I will let you know how it goes, but I'm sure it will be a long process and there will no doubt be many arguments on the way!

Here's a selection of the 10 items I have included in my application for possible selling at Artlink, Hull.