Our final blog from last week, courtesy of Harry Napier

It's Friday, that'll be showday then,..AAAAARRRGH!Looking back over the weeks blog it's amazing to think where we started from and all the stuff we've covered by talking, devising, jamming, rapping, riffing,etc(but mainly it's amazing that we found hot Vietnamese food outdoors in the middle of winter. Lifesaver!).

I know that we've still got a lot to get through before we perform and as we are led by Rowan through beat boxing in 7's and 8's, juggling instruments, song and text, I'm confident of staying with the flow second by second. It's remembering what we did one minute ago that proves to be a problem.

The scenes we are working on start to take shape. The top of the show is a great burst of energy, a booze cruise set to Rowan's rap moving seamlessly to some cheesy folk(I thought it was beautiful actually, what am I like?) which is cut back to reality by some punchy verse. Awesome.

There's a few touches of genius on the way, Ben turning an upturned bin in to a Bodhran by the subtle use of some aboriginal clapping sticks, a fire-extinguisher becomes a tolling bouy, Josie and Remy act drunk getting down and dirty on the dance floor and Rachel's beautiful singing, oh yeah, and the rapper wasn't bad too.

Our audience was small but perfectly formed as some folk couldn't make it, so Jellis and Murphy elected to film our highly polished performance for immediate cinema release, thanks lads! It's like a recipe for instant memory loss, but we get through it pretty well in the end.

What a week. Over-stimulated I'm thinking, mmm, maybe it would be ok to work with this crazy bunch of creatives again, mainly because Paul and Joe got the drinks in. Nice one.

At least at the end of it all I can claim a new proficiency: rapping in futuristic Bristolian, mental.

Remy B on day 4 of development

Hiya, Remy here. So, first sesh daahhn sarff today as we all headed to Pimlico for session 4 of this crazy ole' rap/folk/hip-hop project. It's cold, and Joe's late as per so most of us head in to the rehearsal room and begin the day with a bit of stretching and generally getting those joints up and running.Rowan aka Dizraeli spent the first chunk of the morning getting pen to paper in St Gabriel's cosy cottage kitchen, as the rest of us motley crew were split into groups to do some more devising. Rachel, Harry, Josie, and Ben got stuck into a new song, which from the other side of the room sounded like a rousing folky sea shanty, super lush. That left Paul, Joe and I to get stuck into some scribing filling in some hole's that were yet to be imagined in our Selkie story. Obviously this led to a bit of a show and tell before lunch, and once again there were some really lovely, magic moments firing off in the room. Some spine tingling harmonies and cello lines, and some rousing bits of writing took us up to lunch, where Joe (ye, he finally swagged in) took us to a lovely little Italian deli. Olives and Cannelloni galore. Pigs'r'Us. After din-dins, a bit of a a hip-hop warm up session with Rowan, and shock horror, I think we're getting better, even Ben. Compared to Monday we're all looking like true rap veterans watch out Jay Z babes. Back to the grind and more devising. This time smaller groups with different bits of our Selkie text to work on. Harry and I had collaborated earlier in the day on a monologue which he beautifully underscored with some bad-ass cello, and we were then paired off again to explore this relationship a little further. We found that pairing the verse and the cello together really seemed to bring the text to life and (hopefully) we were able to create an emotionally fueled, character led exploration of the scene. The other guys offered some awesome realisations of other scene sections. With Josie and Ben getting a good bit of bin-drum action involved and Rachel and Rowan getting experimental with a coat and keeping up the fun vibes with some high-energy verse spitting. A really, super productive day, which ended with a great big chat about what we're trying to achieve with the picece. This brought up questions about form and structure of story and how do we make this into a successful piece of theatre with character and emotional journey. The day finished with us trying to put the bones together of one of the scenes that we'll be showing off tomorrow for our eager audience. Still lots to do, but some golden moments still happening at 5.30 pm, not bad for a full day of devising. Public apology goes out to Rachel after I completely annihilated her notebook with a cup of tea. SORRY LOVE! Anyways, thats enough for you to get your teeth into. Loadsa laughs and faffs we're having. Onwards to day 5, SHOW DAY!! Peace.

Josie Dunn explains where we're going on day 3

12/12/12 and the world hasn't ended! We're still here. Just a few cancelled trains this morning. With the freezing temperatures outside, we started today with a much needed warm up. Remy's 'plank' marathon should've soon warmed us up, but we discovered we were blasting our rehearsal room with air conditioning in our efforts to make it warmer. After we regained feeling in our hands and realised it was a good job that we were creatives and not heating engineers, we continued with physical and vocal rhythms (and even some basic beatboxing) lead by Rowan. I think - dare I say it - we're getting slightly better...
We all shared our inspiration from the ideas of a modern Selkie story that excited us yesterday. All contributions fueled our development of what we wanted to create. Rowan shared his Selkie creation, which brilliantly fused song and narrative, giving a great basis for us to work on different sections in two groups. Both showings saw a certain style emerging - it seems to be one of exciting, fast-paced storytelling crammed with musical, lyrical and physical possibilities. 
Our folklore goddess, Sophia, joined us for the final part of the day when we developed one of the songs. Everyone seems to be very instinctive with what's going to work and very musically talented, so we reach something that we refine quite quickly.
Two days to go. I'm super excited.

Rachel Rose Reid discusses our second day in development

Today began with an easier round of free-styling.   Practicing pulling down barriers between mind and mouth seems to be the best way forward.

Then we warmed up over music, words and whatever came out, which, it seemed, involved the sea, P&O Cruises, channel swimmers and pebbly beaches. This reminded us of selkie stories.  What do you mean you don't know selkie stories? Selkies are the seal people.  In the Scottish islands and coastways it was the story people told each other. Can you imagine, if you depend on the sea for your living, if you are forced to sail out in it, and fish in it, in the worst of weather? Imagine how many lives were lost. Imagine how many children would have to have absent brothers and fathers explained to them.  The seals give a way out, a story to tell, to explain that things are not as bad as they seem. Often in the stories there is a breach of trust. A fisherman will meet a selkie woman and steal her skin or hide it. He will promise to take care of her, but sometimes he will break his promise. Or she finds the skin. Or their child does, and it's not long before she's back in the water and never seen again.  So that is the kind of story we found ourselves most taken with. But not to be told straight. We started picking up modern pieces and places, references to the way other-worldiness is sometimes just cast aside as madness. But who's to say. How do we know? 

Our first daily blog from inside the Dizraeli development week

I arrive in the morning at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith with my guitar and trumpet, not having a clue what I’m about to be taking part in but it’s something like…a workshop for a week for nabokov who want to do something about storytelling and folklore and music. To someone who doesn’t know any of the people they’re about to meet and comes armed only with the above information this could potentially be a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons and as I journey in I begin to have excruciating thoughts about the day as it could unfold.; “OK everyone thanks for coming, now what we like to do on the first day is pretend we’re tree elves who make fruity yoghurts so if we could all take our clothes off….”

This however was not the case. (In fact, as I write, I remember that I was the only person on the first day, who offered to go naked but having seen the utter lack of interest on the faces of the others I surmised this was not a winning suggestion and relented.)

Instead I found myself sitting around a table with a group of lovely people, interested and interesting, who have all been brought in to offer something different to whatever “thing” we might have to offer by the end of the week. There’s Joe and Paul, the director and producer from nabokov. There’s Rachel who is a storyteller/poet and - though she doesn’t say - a pretty fine singer. There’s Rowan, aka Dizraeli, a rap artist whose words and rhythms are influenced a great deal by folk. There’s Sophia who has written and researched a number of books relating to folklore and a couple are on the table - impressive for their size and the reviews on the back! And then there’s me (Ben), Harry, Remy and Josie, all of us describing ourselves as actor/musicians or something similar and who’s gonna argue given the small arsenal of instruments we’ve each brought with us? 
I won’t detail the days events but the sessions went something like this:-
1) A little jamming led by Harry and his beautiful cello (plus FX box!)
2) Once everyone had convened - late arrivals due to US Embassy visits, family shenanigans and bad Bristol busses - we chatted around the subject of fairytales, folklore, meanings and memories, films and theatre, modern versus old, pitfalls and pratfalls and…..LOADS
3) Lunch (lovely noodle soup from the Vietnamese market stall outside the theatre.) then another jamming session with all of us putting in a bit so we’ve got glockenspiel, guitar, cello, accordion, a chorus of voices and a bin as a drum. 
4) In a circle, now, to do a sort of “Rap Class” led by the mighty Rowan where we all set up a beat then a line of ‘stream of conscious‘ verse would be thrown out by one of us and then the next person in line would have to follow - on the beat - with their own attempt at a rhyme. It might sound simple and it should be but….!(“Cipher” is the word used in the world of Rap for such a group, Rowan tells me. Why? Because a cipher is a zero in it’s original meaning ie a circle. Everyday’s a school day) 
5) By the end of the day I’m exhausted, my head is full as an egg, I’ve laughed and been laughed at (chiefly the latter) , riffed and rapped about everything - yes, EVERYTHING - from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Bruce Lee’s 1-inch punch. I’ve been taken outside my comfort zone and then I’ve taken the scenic route back and it’s good to be reminded that’s often the best way to travel.
Can’t wait to see where we get to by Friday.

Dizraeli Development Week

Internationally acclaimed new writingcompany nabokov are working with award winning MC and folk artist Dizraeli to develop a brand new production for 2013. Over the course of this development week we will be exploring how to make a piece of theatre which experiments with traditional folk stories, how to tell them in a contemporary and relevant way, and how to incorporate music and spoken word in a way which not only enhances the performance but also the narrative.

What we want:

We’re looking for performers of every type who are able to add something unique to the mix. We want to work with people who are passionate about what they do, have interesting ideas and different ways of working. You might be an actor, musician, dancer or spoken word artist, a mix of several of these or something else entirely. You’ll probably be required to do at least some acting, and musical skills are a big advantage.

You’ll need to be available for a workshop audition on the afternoon of Thursday 6th December (location TBC, but in London).

What we can offer you:

This is a paid development week at a rate of £400. We’re looking for a total of 5 performers. We hope that the piece will be developed into a full production in 2013, with major co-producers and multiple performance opportunities, however acceptance onto the development week is not a guarantee of involvement in the final production.

The auditions:

There will be two audition groups, 2pm-3.30pm and 4pm-5.30pm, on the afternoon of Thursday 6th December. To apply, please email a CV and any supporting material (reviews, video, photos etc) to  paul@nabokov-online.com  before Wednedsay 5th December. We’ll try to get back to everyone who applies but this may not be possible if the volume of applicants is high. If you’re successful we’ll send you details of what to prepare and your audition slot.


Good luck!