Tomorrow we set sail…

Today was our final full day to rehearse and because of the outlook for weather it was important to have a wet weather plan. So we decided that we had to block the whole performance inside and we are lucky enough that the theatre is free Friday and Saturday.

So today we spent time polishing off scenes that needed extra work. For example we needed a clearer boat for the female pirate scenes so today we devised an extra piece of choreography with sticks to create this. We then also added some time for Satnam to use sticks for a piece of choreography during the female pirate song.

We then also worked on the use of some material that travels over the audience at the beginning of the under the sea song. We had many challenges with this to begin with as it is unpredictable how the material will act. However we managed to formulate a way of controlling the material in a more effective way.

During this afternoon we then took the performance into the indoor theatre and with the help of a brilliant technician we added lights to the show which gave it loads of depth and atmosphere. We quickly realised just how different the performance can be when the performance space used is changed. It had left a few of us torn as to whether we prefer to perform outside or in so we are leaving it to the weather! We have two great versions of the piece and cannot wait to share it with an audience for the first show tomorrow!

So tomorrow is the first show day and night. A long day but it will all be with it in the end! I will post tomorrow to let you know how it goes! Lets hope the weather doesn’t let us down! Fingers crossed!

Here’s some more photos…









Almost there…

The show is complete! All scenes and songs have been devised and completed for the end of the show. Last week we went back through the whole performance to make sure they are all up to scratch before taking it into the space this week for blocking.

We worked with Hannah Phillips our director to make sure all our energy, projection and volume was up during scenes that we went and revisited from the beginning of the performance.

We now have two new songs, ‘Sisters in Arms’ for the female pirates and ‘Lessons Learnt’ for the finale. We were very lucky again to have this wrote and composed for us by the amazing Nik Haley. We have worked on both of the songs using harmonies and making sure we remember that diction is really important not only because some of the songs are fast but because in the outside space a lot of volume will be lost. Continue reading

Why of course, you’re under the sea…

So today we are at mac continuing with rehearsal and devising more scenes.
Our main focus this morning has been working on our transition between under the sea to how the children go about finding Mama Glow. We have included two motifs from one pair Mica and Gemma and another from Justyn and Richard. Me and George then come through and perform a duet to the children to say goodbye to them. The purpose of the duet and motifs is to not only show the strength of women but to not ignore the fact of a male strength. So even if George is a mermaid he can still be strong. This reiterates our message of individuality being encouraged and further supports our idea of overcoming gender stereotypes.

The English Studio at mac.

The English Studio at mac.

More to come later…


Aye Aye, Captain!

Rehearsals are in full swing now, and we are getting closer and closer to show time.

At the end of last week we began polishing off our scenes ready for them all to be linked together to enable us to run a larger section of the show in rehearsals.

In our movement project sessions we began to explore how the children could be placed into the storm surge and as you seen in the last post lifts were created along side other movement that symbolises them being washed around by the sea. Washed Away

Washed Away

Washed Away

Along side this we have been working on the male pirate scene which has a real comical element to it setting out the stereotypes that are to be broken during the rest of the performance. Hense the main part of this scene is them finding a girl aboard ship.

Male Pirates

Aye Aye, Captain

Yoooo Hooo

Yoooo Hooo


We have been constantly working on the storm which was probably the most challenging part of the performance. This is because we had to make sure it was an appropriate length, and ensure that all our movement and sound was relevant. We then wanted to add to the climax of the scene by working on the lifts we already have and integrating some more into the piece, all of these lift having to convey the ocean and the way it moves.

Deciding where to start...

And lift

Me upside down

First views of Mama Glow

With our performance being in an outdoor theatre the elements are going to be against us. We could have any kind of weather but come rain or shine, the show must go on. The voice can be easily lost to the wind outside. So on a Friday morning we have a voice class with Francoise Walot in order to learn how to use the voice effectively outside. It is vital to use projection and diction in order for the audience to hear all the dialogue. One vital thing we take from these classes is how to effectively warm up for open air work. This not only includes thinking of the voice internally but thinking of your personal space and how to extend this to the realms of the while theatre and audience. During our last session it was time to take some work outside, to see just how difficult open air theatre can be. It was a really good exercise that showed us just how challenging it will be, but that it is possible for the voice to be carried when you realise that the voice has to work in partnership with your movement in order to work against the elements and convey a message to the audience.

Donna getting into her role.
Courtney in character.
Beth having a jolly good time.

Keep reading…


All photography by Courtney Wallis Richardson.

Get Washed Away…

So at the end of last week we were in project rehearsals choreographing lifts for the storm surge. Very first time we’ve done these was a little scary for the girls to begin with! Must say this, don’t try this at home! We have had much support in making sure the lifts are safe from Ruth Jacombs.

Take a look…

Joanna Lift…

Polly Lift…

Let me know what you think.



Applied Performance… What?

Hi, my name is Laura Folan, I am 19 years old and I am currently studying in first year Applied Performance (Community & Education) at Birmingham School of Acting. When we tell people what we do they ask, “What’s that?”. So here’s our own brief definition that some of my fellow students and I created.

‘The use of performance process and practice, be it acting, music, dance or other forms of art, and a use of socio-political theory to reach out to different communities and address relevant social and political issues aiming to make a change’

I really wanted to be a part of this field of work because it doesn’t just entertain like most conventional forms of performance art. However, we address relevant issues in order to help, educate and inform individuals from all backgrounds and diverse communities.

We are currently in the devising process for our first performance, The Pirates of Cannon Hill, which will be performed at mac (Midlands Arts Centre) in the outdoor arena, over three days, 14th, 15th and 16th June. To book tickets please go to,

It is a children’s theatre performance based around the themes of gender stereotypes, discrimination and conformity. It tells the story of three children, Joanna, Niko and Polly who are all bullied at school for various reasons linking to gender stereotype and not conforming to the majority.

They are told a story by Grandma and taken on an adventure under the sea where they meet various sea creatures including the powerful ‘Mama Glow’ Mother of the Water who tells them they are to go and find the female pirates and learn vital lessons along the way. One thing our performance does is that it breaks down the gender stereotypes of what males and females should do, hence the use of female pirates instead of the well-known male pirate. This is then balanced out with the use of mermen instead of the conventional mermaid.

Posters and leaflets are all printed and being distributed and everything is getting very exciting. But where did it all start? Once we had been told what we were going to be creating and what themes it was based around, it was time to get researching. To begin with we was asked to research the performance aspect, anything from the sea to pirates and mythical creatures in order to start the devising process and begin creating material. Once we had regrouped, discussed and presented our research we decided to bring it to life so in small groups we created pieces of song, poetry, spoken word and dance. All of which were inspired by the research we had formulated.

From these pieces of work our director Hannah Phillips began to envisage where the performance could go. We then as a group led by Hannah formulated a narrative through further pieces of work which may not be included in the performance, but were vital as they gave us a stronger platform and springboard from which the narrative came to life.

After workshops all centred around creating material we came to realise two songs that we created were to become very important to the production, they are; ‘Under the Sea’, our own version of the Little Mermaid song and an original song ‘Take Me to Your Pirate Ship’. So when the time came to meeting up with music genius Nik Haley we had plenty to show him and were so excited to have him creating music and lyrics for us. The song he wrote and composed for our opening scene is called ‘You Don’t Fit In’ which we are currently embedding into our performance this week.

The performance entails a vast amount of movement based work as you can imagine! We began with Hannah working on a soundscape which represents the sea and its atmosphere in which we all make sounds to create a storm surge. We then took this to our movement project lessons with Ruth Jacombs who helped us to choreograph organic movement, dance and lifts to physically show the storm and we are now working on creating the entrance of the mythical creature Mama Glow into this section.

We are so lucky to use the mac for rehearsals and performance. The outdoor arena is fantastic! It is the perfect setting for our performance and we are so grateful to be using this space. Also the mac is a very vibrant and exciting place to be able to work. What’s better than on a Monday morning rehearsal being in the English studio with a complete view of Cannon Hill park! Please visit the mac’s website for more information,

And here we are a third of the way through our performance, creating more material full steam ahead! Please subscribe and keep reading about our process and successes.



Here’s some photos from our rehearsal process.

Welcome Aboard!

Welcome, to our new Applied Performance (Community and Education) blog!

We’ll be using this freshly minted blog to give you some behind-the-scenes, student and staff insight into the process of making our current piece of children’s theatre, Pirates of Cannon Hill.

Please use the various ‘follow’ options on the right-hand side of this page to be keep up to date with future blog posts.