Archive for September, 2009

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Tuesday 22nd September

September 30, 2009

I am travelling on the train to Villach with Helga, watching the amazing scenery of snow-capped alps with fluffy white clouds drifting inbetween. Like a film, the footage is framed by the train windows. Its quite breath taking, with the fresh morning mountain air. In my imagination i have climbed a mountain but never in reality. The wooden chalets and churches, look exactly as the miniature ones from my childhood that my mother collects, and from the train thats how they look to me, surrounded by a green blanket of forest and hills, a Lilliputian landscape.

Out of the window

Out of the window

We talk of many things – the need for professional creative training within early years, the ideas and inspirations, the differences and similarities between the Uk and Austria. local folk and fairytales. Helga tells me of ‘The Wasser man’

‘In the cold water, deep, by the rocky stone lives the Wasser Man. He is dark with fur robes and will drag you down to the icy depths of the river.’

Obviously, a  folk legend, rather like a dark ‘old man of the sea ‘ or ‘old father thames’ to warn children of the dangers of the fast flowing freezing waters from the alps. This character stays in my mind, and seems to appear in the improvisations from the practioners during the workshop, sometimes rather as a Troll, as in ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’, which is completely imaginable in this landscape. Maybe a cultural meme? Yesterday towards the end of the object play, one of the scenarios created was about the Wasser man is in the river and the children having a competition of jumping in the water and the Wasser man is chasing them!

Rachel on the bridge at Villach

Rachel on the bridge at Villach

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Monday evening ……

September 29, 2009

After dinner with Susannah, i went to visit the famous Saltzberg Marionette Theatre to see ‘The Magic Flute’. It was magical and enchanting and far better than i was expecting as it seems to be mainly for tourists. But the manipulation was superb and in the picture box frame, the scenery and effects worked as in a mechanical toy theatre. The only thing that was tiresome was of course they don’t really sing, ie move their mouths to the soundtrack and a projection kept flashing up to tell us what was happening in the performance, which was unnecessary. However, a wonderfull end to the day.

marionette theatre

marionette theatre

The stage

The stage

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Transformational object workshop, Toihaus

September 29, 2009

After a brief introduction, by Helga and then myself, working with a translator, I discussed about my practice with early years and how i have developed these methodologies of interactive theatre play with objects and materials to facilitate imaginative learning. The group was about 14 women and we first began with a simple warm up to stretch out our shoulders and loosen up, as they had all come from work.

We played a game I call ‘primal animals’ where each person creates a being with their hand and explores the world. They pretty quickly need to interact usually by communicating the need to eat, fight or be loved.  Our hand then developed into a bird like creature with stick on eyes and we practised the three simple rules of puppetry – focus, movement and voice/sound. This act of creating a character from only our hands, emphasises the simplicity of this play and its effectiveness.

the soul of the puppet is in the hand

the soul of the puppet is in the hand

Toihaus wshop (9)Creatures communicating

These creatures continued their exploration in the same world as small children do and investigated the bags of objects. Finding points of play and spontaneous action, the practitioners developed their confidence.

Toihaus wshop (2)

Toihaus wshop (6)

Toihaus EY practitioners

Toihaus EY practitioners

We then played with the three uses of an object – functional, symbolic and transformational, the group then developed object play scenarios around the theme ‘the bridge’. Assembling objects with a different, unique aesthetic to them, and learning puppetry skills, they ask me questions and we discuss how this situation is possible in the EY setting. But it seems easy, as they are all open to the possibilities of this play especially when child led.

Transformational Object Play

Transformational Object Play

the bridge - two puppets communicating

the bridge - two puppets communicating

Mr Coffee Pot

Mr Coffee Pot

Helga took some of these photos and is writing a full documentation of the workshop, she will send in english and i will add to, as she was scribing and translating questions and answers as we went along.

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Monday September 21st

September 27, 2009

After a good sleep, I did a little more sightseeing and then went to meet Helga and an Austrian puppeteer named Susanna Andreini at the Cafe Bazar. We ate apple strudel and talked of the world of puppetry and then wandered amongst the graveyards. Susanna runs her own one woman company in small figure theatre, trained in clowning and physical acting and was promoting a hand puppet workshop for early years practitioners.    I think she uses objects in a naturalistic wa, rather than abstract so it will be interesting in the workshop to ss her play.       See her website at http://www.susanna-andreini.at

Susanna Andreini

Susanna Andreini

Salzach River

Salzach River

Ancient Graveyard

Ancient Graveyard

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Sunday Afternoon in Saltzburg

September 27, 2009

After a hearty lunch of beef stroganoff and dumpling, we went to the Toy Museum in a converted old hospital.

medieval hospital

medieval hospital

miniature toy shop

miniature toy shop

Old glove puppets

Old glove puppets

Strewel Peter

There was an interesting collection of magic lanterns, as well as an interactive exhibition of  ‘Strewel Peter’ or ‘Shockheaded Peter’ as we know him in English. There was countless examples of how these warning stories for children have been interpreted allover the world. Later, we went to Toihaus Theatre to see Myrto and the company rehearse for a new devised production by young people, which looked really interesting with live mixed music about contemporary issues. Made preperations for the following days workshop, and then had the best cake in town in a cafe across the road, which was a work of art in itself, before falling blissfully asleep at my hotel.

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Mirabelle Gardens

September 26, 2009
Flowers of mirabelle

Flowers of mirabelle

Love at the fountain

Love at the fountain

Goddess

Goddess

Atrium

Atrium

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Rachels Trip to Saltzberg Sun 20th September 09

September 25, 2009

Arrived at 9.30 am in Saltzberg after my early morning flight from Stanstead and Helga came to meet me at the airport. Immediately on the bus into town we began to have fabulous discussions on Early years theatre and play, as my workshop object kit was spilling out of my suitcase. Pots and pans, teapots and tea towels, it looked like id brought evrything for domestic bliss apart from the kitchen sink! Unpacked and refreshed at the very nice Hotel Pension Adlerhof, and then skipped off to pretend to be Julie Andrews exploring Saltzberg in the Sound of Music! walked throught the Mirabelle Gardens and loved the Fairy Tale theme garden with the medieval dwarf statues, unicorns and pegasus fountain.

unicorn

unicorn

Saltzberg (12)Saltzberg (13)

Mirabelle gardens

Mirabelle gardens