Intern/Associates Diary

Remembering – The Final Memory Point(s)

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Hello to all, long time no blog!

It has been just over a month now since the very last Memory Points tour took place in the south bank centre and what an absolute pleasure it was to be part of such a precious piece of art. Now of course the rooms we brightened will have been pulled apart by the men and women in fluorescent jackets as they see about the beginning of a huge renovation project for the South bank centre. It was quite touching to know that we were the last to perform in the Purcell room and around the Queen Elizabeth Hall and it was truly bizarre to see the place being de-constructed slowly day by day.

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Any object or space not claimed by Platform 4 was likely to disappear at any moment. On almost every tour, myself, Jordan and Maria would notice that something else had changed. This fascinatingly served as another metaphor for Alzheimer’s and Dementia as once known spaces deteriorated around us and often appeared completely new. Completely new too was the presence of a competing tour group! The national trust high-vis brigades were touring some of the same spaces as us which led to some very interesting and sometimes very strange encounters indeed! Most of the time though we managed to tour in harmony.

What follows really aren’t too many more words as I wonder what I can say about the show that I haven’t typed in these black spaces before. So rather I give you lots of photographs of our time in London and try to show you images and different perspectives of an old building and beautiful show that are otherwise unseen. And a poem at the end to round it all off, (what else?).

DSCF3229_optAbove: Jill and Nicky’s Grand Piano, always played sublimely

Below:  A mouse! In-house artists of the foyer. (What will happen to them in the big refurb?)

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Above: An actor prepares

Below: An actor prepares

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DSCF3367_optAbove: Memories in blue

Below: Vintage lit

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Below: Mirrorball in flux

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Above: Sacha and Sacha!

Below: An actor prepares

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Below: Blurred Stage

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Above: Resting in the green room, Left to right: Jill, Matt, Jules, Pete and Ralf.

Below: Light the way

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Above: Moved by music

Below: A Darren’s eye view

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DSCF3269_optAbove: Jules and his amazing creation/Leave a memory

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I realise there are a lot of photographs here, but I just couldn’t pick between them!

Don’t worry, there isn’t much longer to go, suggest your own captions as you go along if you like.

What about this one?

To the left is a sneaky view from behind a tour that Jordan led. Don’t worry, I wasn’t caught, the magic was in safe hands!

Think you can do better?

(Yes, of course you can).

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Above: Waiting for the tour

Below: Ms Whyte guides the way in the tunnels

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Above: Dressing up

Below: Hayley and Hayley!

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DSCF3283_optAbove: Neon at the artist’s entrance

Below: Graffiti on the commute

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Above: Pulling in to Waterloo

Below: Reflected art

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DSCF3352_optAbove: Maria Chirca!

Below: Blurred tunnels

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Above: Watching on

Below: Raising a glass

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Above: The wonderful everyone! (Well almost, no Jill Dowse Sacha Lee or Darren in this photo) Top row from left to right: Maria, Kate, Nicky, Pete, Cath, Ralf, Mr Chalmers, Bobby, Dave and Matt. Below are Jules, Hayley and Jordan.

Below: The brains behind it all, the boss, the Catherine Church. To you, thank you.

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And thank you to every single person who came to see the show, every amazing person who inspired it back in Eastleigh and all the bright beautiful people we have met along the way; working in the venues, on bars, in cafes, ensuring we were fed and watered. And a personal thank you to each of you in that photograph up there, you are, each of you fantastic. My nannny passed away during the time of the show and without your support and something good to focus on I don’t know how I would have coped. Bless you, each and every one.

All my love,

Craig

 

Remembering:

These strangest of moments
Existing five then four then three
Times daily,
The violinists face is his third,
The double bassist always stands
Playing from another town,
Pianists and partners have other masks
Than they used to,
And for a time, the man behind the chimes
Was woman.

The one who sings once grew a full head of hair
And before didn’t sing at all.
That blue dress thrice a different spinning ballerina,
And white blond once stalked each tour
Before jet blacked brown steadied us.
And Bobby was always Bobby
Until now Darren with shadow of Dave.

The clarinet has seen every space and
Every stage and every show
And so have these eyes,
That look now and then not to the present
But can only see past moments;
Can see Edd readying dead leaves,
James gently serving tea,
Heather enchanting corridors with light,
And Amy, Benny, Gerry, Su, Lynne
And names and names and names
Becomes each walk deja vu in waiting,
Triggered, then not.

I swear I see the ghosts of us
From a year past.
I am sure
As I take second charge,
Terry will escort me,
Walking back to happiness.
I will turn,
And I will see myself.

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Walking Back To Happiness

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Hello there, Craig here or (as Mr Higgins would have it) the charming Mr Chalmers! It’s been nearly two weeks since the culmination of what may have been the very last Memory Points show – and it has been sad to say goodbye, both to the show and the venue. The Southbank Centre proved I believe to be the most interesting and diverse venue of the lot. Over the next few paragraphs I’ll explain in brief about the tour and how it was altered to fit the space, interspersed with plenty of photos and maybe a poem if you’re lucky! (Or unlucky).

I must apologise now as I realise that the way I’m writing assumes a fore knowledge of the piece by the reader, if you need some background I would suggest scrolling back and reading the earlier blogs The Beauty of Remembering (about MP Winchester), Memory Points Rides South (about MP Poole) and Spring Lights, a brief prelude to Memory Points Southbank.

The biggest change to this years tour was the necessary removal of the ticket office at the beginning (where one tour guide would take your name and send you off on your journey to locate the other tour guide before the headphones are given out). It’s a lovely moment and worked perfectly in Eastleigh, Winchester and Poole and while there physically was room enough for us to achieve the same at the Southbank, time alone simply didn’t allow for this. Instead, we had both tour guides greet the public as they relaxed and waited in our ‘living room’ area, this was no bad thing as myself and Jordan Whyte were able to take on more personality in the roles, personality and character which is deliberately suppressed as the tour gets under way and slowly grows again the further it progresses. 

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Two of my favourite parts of this years tour weren’t changed from previous venues as such just altered to fit the new spaces. The lift for example, where in Winchester and Poole it was a small, claustrophobic and temperamental space, this time it was a service elevator, meaning there was much more room to fit everyone in which was all well and good but it’s best feature were the doors! They were both large black heavy old things that made wonderful noises as you pulled them open, sometimes ominous, sometimes exciting and visually they allowed for a real slice of theatre come the end of the tour; throwing the doors across to reveal Ralf Higgins in all his splendour ready to ‘gild the lily’ once more before inviting our guests to walk down the red carpet and take centre stage.

DSCF8830_opt The other part was ‘getting lost’, a  moment that had never quite found it’s place in previous venues until now.Underneath the Southbank centre area are a surprisingly large network of tunnels connecting the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room to the Hayward Gallery and Royal Festival Hall.

In these tunnels ‘getting lost’ was finally at home. They are dark, dry and hot and with the headphones on and the soundtrack playing, hint at other people who have travelled the same way. Terry through the headphones says “Is there another person here?” and it becomes one of the most pertinent lines in the whole piece (it did for me) as we continue to get lost and a friendly face appears far behind the tour (Tour Guide B) who beckons us to return then disappears.  I could say more but I think the photograph to the left will better describe what I want to say and part of me would still like to keep an air of mystery about this section of the tour. To describe the workings of it I think might detract from the impact of the tunnels section.

Finally I should mention one of the biggest changes that had to be made. The dance piece near the end of the show was always performed in the orchestra pit, with the audience peering over the stage edge and into a secret life. But the Purcell Room (where the tour concludes) does not have an orchestra pit, so Sacha Lee & Hayley Barker (our two dancers) and Cath Church (director/big boss) were forced to fit the existing dance to a whole new space. The space this time being the stalls seats and walkways of the Purcell Room. Amazingly, such a radical change to the dance didn’t mean it lost it’s impact, it was different and I think even better. (Giant mirror balls lit spectacularly are always a winner too).

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Above you can see the bizarre effect the lights have on Hayley’s frame when photographed under the mirrorball. The dance’s metaphors for memory loss were stronger than ever at the southbank centre.

What follows now is a collection of photos from the tour and from around London when I went for a wander or was just on the way home.

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Above: Walking back to happiness – the first corridor encountered on the tour.

Below: The mirror-ball in the lift, viewed from the floor, a precursor of what’s to come.

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DSCF8851_optAbove: Jill Dowse’s hideaway – the piano store complete with sofas, mood lighting and of course a copy of Victor Silvester’s Modern Ballroom Dancing

Below: Maria Chirca not seen nor heard as she follows the tour and keeps everything on task. DSCF8881_opt

DSCF8861_optAbove: A view of the stage, musicians at the ready for the arrival of the latest tour.

Below: A view from the stage, Hayley dances in the stalls, the audience on the stage.

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DSCF8610_optAbove: An empty tube carriage – it didn’t last for long.

Below: Umbrellas outside Brew Wharf/Vinopolis in Borough Market.

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Above: Shadow play on the approach to the QEH artist entrance.

Below: St. Stephens Tower, a view from St Stephens Tavern.

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Above: The water fountain in front of the foyer full flow.

Below: Final night fun: When nowhere’s open, enjoy a tipple under the escalators in Waterloo!

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Well then, that’s about all I have for you for now. Memory Points was again, an absolute joy, it has been so beautiful to be part of something that touches people and connects with them in such a special way. Alzheimers and Dementia are illnesses which will most likely effect ourselves or someone we know at some point in our life. Doing something to show sufferers and their families in a positive and happier light is a rare bird indeed.

Thank you for reading this, I hope you enjoyed it, I leave you with a poem inspired by our time at the Southbank centre.

Cheers,

Craig Chalmers

 

A Flicker:

 

Then riding home again,

Pushing past the air

From bubble to tube.

Almost finished privilege.

More tired jeans,

More evening standard,

More screaming tracks

Block all but thought.

Bond street closed.

This train will not stop,

Only shuttle rebuttal…

 

Reflections give corridors and flowers,

Perfect stench of old wood,

Concrete and fruit flies.

A flicker, slicker hair.

Is there another person here?

Torch light talks at walls,

Whispers the way,

Walking back to paradise

Or happiness.

 

A flicker, slicker hair,

Your ghost,

The trace of every signature

Steps in the corners costumes

And flowers

And flowers

And flowers,

Bunches of bobby dazzlers.

Breathing is easy,

Do I know her?

Do I know you?

It’s lovely to meet

Reflections,

Same and older,

Not me,

Not me,

Strangers live in glass,

Dirty it.

Remember

Forget

A flicker, slicker hair,

A ghost.

What Country, Friends, Is This?

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Hello! Long time no post, but ready yourself for a long one then another. The next few paragraphs will actually discuss New Tempest Club’s Twelfth Night as it was a week ago at the half way stage of the process. Everything was so busy that after hand-writing this blog there wasn’t a free moment to type it up, yet I didn’t wish to waste it. The second post will speak about how the show went and look forward to the upcoming mini-tour (beginning tonight, 16th June, 7:30pm, Proteus Creation Space in Basingstoke). So, for now, cast your mind back to Friday 6th June. Let’s find out how things are coming along…

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New Tempest Club last year tackled Hamlet, this year finds us in lighter territory with Twelfth Night. Rehearsals have been excellent so far – two weeks in and one week left (one week further to complete a small tour). It is, as is said, all coming together. All scenes have been set and lines learnt. This may be what you might expect but in comparison with the process of creating Hamlet (Part One) things are going swimmingly! Or, at least, smoothly – this year we are better prepared; the edit and casting were decided in mid-April (thanks to a well-planned four day intensive) and, frankly we are treating the text with a little less reverence. Twelfth Night is still canonical but is not the behemoth (sometimes scaremonger) that Hamlet can be (and occasionally became) in what was an often stressful but ultimately successful journey twelve months ago.

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But less of that and more of this! Though I have said rehearsals are going well, there is still much work to do. Each scene is in the midst of being closely tweaked and slowly improved. Movements are being checked, transitions smoothed and lights plotted. But, of course, one of the most important (and exciting) aspects of Twelfth Night is the music involved. More so it seems than in any other Shakespeare play, the music is often portrayed as being ever-present, ubiquitous and then, suddenly, conspicuous by it’s absence. This was perfectly exampled recently by Filter Theatre Company, who brought their version of Twelfth Night to the Theatre Royal Winchester in February. Their music was live, loud and often riotous; Illyria was alive, care-free and drunk nightly . Our version won’t be quite the bombastic concert that Filter provided us but we have drawn some inspiration from their approach. Though our final piece, I hope, will leave a different, gentler and sweeter taste in the mouth than Filter’s.

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I shan’t give away our plans so as not to ruin the surprise! But will say that if we get the music right it will elevate the whole play – there are so many versions of Twelfth Night to be seen the country over every year (as with all Shakespeare) that sometimes the best thing you can do is simply charm the audience by communicating a story effectively, beautifully and memorably.

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With one week left, will we achieve our goal? I say yes! (Of course). You’ll have to come and see us to find out.

Thanks for reading, please come and support us if you can – Craig

 

Tour dates:

Friday 13th June 7:30pm Performance Gym, University of Winchester

Monday 16th June 7:30pm Proteus Creation Space, Basingstoke

Wednesday 18th June  8pm West End Centre, Aldershot [CANCELLED]

Thursday 19th June 7:30pm Discovery Centre, Winchester

Friday 20th June 7:30pm Pound Arts, Corsham

So full of shapes is fancy…

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