INTO THE WOODS... IN THE WOODS

  • by Adam Boden
  • 22 Jun, 2017

So whose stupid idea was this...

I've always said that it would save me rather a lot of money if we had someone in place to keep a creative check on me. Of course we have our funders to consider, Ofsted to impress and policies all over the place to keep us on our toes and make sure everything runs smoothly; I'm not talking about that kind of 'in-check'. I mean when I have a bright idea such as 'If we're doing High School Musical 2, we should have a real swimming pool on stage' and my brilliant creative team rally round me and say "OK'! - when it might be best if they get me to reconsider and approach the show in a cheaper and more realistic way. However... that doesn't appear to be the way we do things around here, because everyone wants the same thing - to create incredible and amazing theatre, that not only provides training and experience for our students, but also offers something special and memorable for our audiences.

I suppose we didn't need a real flaming torch in Trojan Women, but it added a sense of risk and danger to the proceedings, heightening emotions and surging dopamine into our armour clad soldiers and grieving widows.

We could have all sat down and watched The Wiz in our studio theatre, then we wouldn't have needed to hire a marquee and paint a forty foot yellow brick road on the courtyard floor, or require the wind turbine machine to create the tornado in the front dance studio, but it complimented the cinema projected opening Kansas scene, and if the audience hadn't moved in to the Emerald City for the second half, who knows where we could have hidden the 12 foot wizard.

5 Money saving hints to self.

1.) When you shoot a film on a summer course, if you don't write in to the script blowing up a coach and having a zombie outbreak in  a church, you don't need to get a church, a coach or make-up artists! (Though to be fair I did blag the church from my father-in-law. Though unsure that I told him about the zombie outbreak bit.)
2.) The floor in the theatre is already grey. Possibly don't need to put two tonnes of earth on the floor for Midsummer, or a tonne of Agate Stone for our Classical Performance.
3.) You could achieve the Edexcel BTEC criteria with a performance of some monologues in a studio space, and don't necessarily need the full productions of Les Miserables, Dark of the Moon, Grimm Tales and Love and Infomration in the space of a month.
4.) When you spend time and money creating an indoor forest for your forthcoming Dance Show, Flight of the Fairy, don't take the other show you are doing at the same time which is set in the afore mentioned forest, and perform it somewhere else.
5.) You definitely do not need a real swimming pool full of water on stage to do High School Musical 2.

1 Extra hint, just for me...

6.) Just don't do High School Musical 2... or 3. Definitely not 3.

Metropolis would have worked nicely on the round, as opposed to taking the audience through eleven different locations as the company rotated and repeated complex scenarios; just as Revolting Rhymes is a lovely little show in a school hall, but something seems to make it a bit more special when you take the audience around the local woods to view the three pigs properties. But blacking out the entirety of our front studios and turning the back studios into banqueting suites can be rather expensive. And hiring a wood costs a little more than you might expect. Lesson learned? Not at all. At Bodens we take a show and think what can we do to make this amazing. We come up with a plan, a budget (sort of) and then we sit down and think, what else can we do to make this even better? I get let loose, Rodney goes off on one, and before you know it, we're up to our necks in creative trouble once again.
So we find ourselves rehearsing in the woods. It's been beautiful so far, though the weather is set to turn. But it if does, we have umbrellas, and plenty of them, and in a way, it will just add to the experience. Experience being the important word. We want our college students to be a part of something incredible, in a way they may never again. We always try to engage them throughout their drama school experience and musical theatre training in different ways, and so far this seems ot be working rather well. We want the audiences to remember this show for the talent and creativity, but also for the experience of actually seeing it where it is supposed to take place; though a small use of imagination is required to top Monken Hadley Woods up to Magic fairytale Forest, although it is very beautiful, so just a 'little' imagination required.

Once upon a time, this Stephen Sondheim musical tells interwoven fairytales right the way to their happy endings, before act two takes on a very different tone, and we realise that there can't be happy ever afters for everybody. From 6th - 9th July our talented and hard working full time college students, supported by a very capable handful of part-time performers, will bring this brilliant musical to life in the surroundings of Monken Hadley Wood. We want our audiences to bring a picnic to enjoy while the sun sets over fairytale land and our story unfolds. Tickets are currently available at www.bodens.co.uk/store and we would love you to be there, not just to enjoy the show or support these amazing students, but also to help us restore a little bit of the budget that we have gone massively over again. When someone said 'let's do into the woods... (wait for it) in the woods', they clearly didn't consider sound and lighting, the need to generate electricity, or the cost of hiring toilets.

So who's idea was it to stage the already incredibly complex 'Into the Woods' outside... in the woods. At this point in time I can't even remember. If it works out, I suppose it was me. If not...
by Adam Boden 22 Jun, 2017
I've always said that it would save me rather a lot of money if we had someone in place to keep a creative check on me. Of course we have our funders to consider, Ofsted to impress and policies all over the place to keep us on our toes and make sure everything runs smoothly; I'm not talking about that kind of 'in-check'. I mean when I have a bright idea such as 'If we're doing High School Musical 2, we should have a real swimming pool on stage' and my brilliant creative team rally round me and say "OK'! - when it might be best if they get me to reconsider and approach the show in a cheaper and more realistic way. However... that doesn't appear to be the way we do things around here, because everyone wants the same thing - to create incredible and amazing theatre, that not only provides training and experience for our students, but also offers something special and memorable for our audiences.

I suppose we didn't need a real flaming torch in Trojan Women, but it added a sense of risk and danger to the proceedings, heightening emotions and surging dopamine into our armour clad soldiers and grieving widows.

We could have all sat down and watched The Wiz in our studio theatre, then we wouldn't have needed to hire a marquee and paint a forty foot yellow brick road on the courtyard floor, or require the wind turbine machine to create the tornado in the front dance studio, but it complimented the cinema projected opening Kansas scene, and if the audience hadn't moved in to the Emerald City for the second half, who knows where we could have hidden the 12 foot wizard.

5 Money saving hints to self.

1.) When you shoot a film on a summer course, if you don't write in to the script blowing up a coach and having a zombie outbreak in  a church, you don't need to get a church, a coach or make-up artists! (Though to be fair I did blag the church from my father-in-law. Though unsure that I told him about the zombie outbreak bit.)
2.) The floor in the theatre is already grey. Possibly don't need to put two tonnes of earth on the floor for Midsummer, or a tonne of Agate Stone for our Classical Performance.
3.) You could achieve the Edexcel BTEC criteria with a performance of some monologues in a studio space, and don't necessarily need the full productions of Les Miserables, Dark of the Moon, Grimm Tales and Love and Infomration in the space of a month.
4.) When you spend time and money creating an indoor forest for your forthcoming Dance Show, Flight of the Fairy, don't take the other show you are doing at the same time which is set in the afore mentioned forest, and perform it somewhere else.
5.) You definitely do not need a real swimming pool full of water on stage to do High School Musical 2.

1 Extra hint, just for me...

6.) Just don't do High School Musical 2... or 3. Definitely not 3.

Metropolis would have worked nicely on the round, as opposed to taking the audience through eleven different locations as the company rotated and repeated complex scenarios; just as Revolting Rhymes is a lovely little show in a school hall, but something seems to make it a bit more special when you take the audience around the local woods to view the three pigs properties. But blacking out the entirety of our front studios and turning the back studios into banqueting suites can be rather expensive. And hiring a wood costs a little more than you might expect. Lesson learned? Not at all. At Bodens we take a show and think what can we do to make this amazing. We come up with a plan, a budget (sort of) and then we sit down and think, what else can we do to make this even better? I get let loose, Rodney goes off on one, and before you know it, we're up to our necks in creative trouble once again.
by Adam Boden 09 Jun, 2017
I would have given my right hand for this kind of opportunity when I was sixteen years old. Instead of the Arts Depot stage and a microphone to sing out the soaring rock score of Spring Awakening, I spent most of my summer in the local park with a 40p can of Scandia Green and Bryan Adams on loop in the background. Bryan Adams. (Sigh). Following three incredible years at Bodens College of Performing Arts, we had already expanded what was on offer by introducing a brand new gap year course for 18-19 year old students with a year to spare  before their next Drama School auditions, so what else could we offer? We wanted to share our brilliant teaching team and fantastic studios with those young people not studying performing arts full time that still share the same passion and enthusiasm as our full-time students; so we planned an amazing three week summer course, worked out the nitty gritty, got the funding in place, and now now ready to offer our New Fully Funded Summer Course.

From Tuesday 1st - Saturday 19th August, we will be offering a three week long Performing Arts Course for young people aged 16-18 years. Depending on age and experience, students will undertake a Level 2 or Level 3 Certificate in Performing Arts. This fully funded course will enable the participants to perform in both a full length play and a complete musical. This will be a very rewarding experience and does require commitment, energy and passion from any young people wanting to take part. It is an intensive training opportunity, studying all aspects of Musical Theatre throughout each day. We will produce the full musical Spring Awakening, analysing text and lyrics, exploring movement and gesture through the discovery of subtext. Students also produce a contemporary imagining of the play Woyzeck, where together we will explore text, character and relationships through workshops, concentrating on a contemporary play. An intense opportunity to unlock, rehearse and develop these productions ready for performance to an audience. These are two incredibly demanding pieces of theatre, chosen to ensure we have the material that allows us to work at an advanced standard. Two very strong, character driven productions to challenge our young company to produce incredible performances in just three weeks.

This is an opportunity for the complete drama school experience without the cost. And as it's packed in to just three weeks, it still leaves you over half your summer to hang about in the park. With the course currently just over half full, we are auditioning over the coming month on a Sunday afternoon to fill the remaining places with capable, talented and passionate young people, to help us produce some incredible theatre this August. So if that sounds like you, or someone you know, then get in touch at info@performingartscollege.co.uk or on 020 8447 0909.

Remember, it's fully funded and students taking part receive an accredited qualification in Creative and Performing Arts.

You can view a brochure here https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/3e9c4e73/files/uploaded/BODENS%20COLLEGE%20SUMMER%20COURSE%20201...


by Adam Boden 18 May, 2017
I remember when we took on High School Musical all those years ago. The only reason we did it then, is because we did it first. Producing the London Premier of the Smash Hit Disney Musical while it still held pride of place on the whole world's sky box office planner, was it's redeeming feature. We were all in it together before everybody else got their heads in the game. Thousands of production followed nationwide, and the start of something new definitely wasn't. But we got in first.

Matilda was a different story. We couldn't get in first because you weren't allowed to produce the show, and by the time an abridged thirty minute version of the show became available for schools to perform, it was too late. Matilda was naughty in almost every school hall and community theatre across England; As far as we were concerned as an innovative and forward thinking organisation, an abridged version of Matilda was as attractive a prospect as High School Musical 3.

Forward three years later, and we are in a very different place. While Matilda still maintains a rightful place on the West End Stage, schools have ironically returned to High School Musical, allowing us, to sneak along the hallway and mix up our own production of Matilda. We are blessed as a school with incredible talent across our groups, but it is in particular abundance with our 8-12 year old students. Matilda is perfect for them. An opportunity to be stretched with challenging choreography, demanding lyrics and musicality. We have studied the story, themes and characters and unlocked our performance through creative play: we use the image theatre of Augusto Boal, the naturalistic acting of Stanislavski, using our bodies as the set in a Grotowskian Poor Theatre style, exploring movement techniques of Laban, Jacques Lecoq's levels of tension and bringing it altogether through hardwork, passion and commitment; i'm talking about the students.
by Adam Boden 04 May, 2017

With an uncurbed amount of pop-up performing arts schools emerging across the local boroughs, it becomes increasingly difficult for the proven and established schools to get their message across to those parents and young people searching for excellent performing arts training. With easy access to drama clubs after school, and franchises within a half a mile radius of one another, there is a lot of information to sift through when searching for a drama school to entrust with your most precious possession, and the development of their talent, confidence and most importantly, their ability to perform as themselves.

So how do you make the right decisions. It's hard to say. At Bodens we have our purpose built performing arts studios and regularly assessed outstanding teachers. We have missions, values and aims in place, and at the heart of our school and college is a desire to transform the lives of young people through inspirational teaching, providing exceptional training in performing arts. But just because another school might be newly established, with classes held in a small village hall, run by a relatively inexperienced teacher, doesn't mean that you haven't stumbled across the beginnings of a brilliant new school, and the perfect pathway for the development of your child or young person; a three-year-old rolling around St. Cuthbert's Hall still has an opportunity to roly poly all the way to RADA.

So how do you choose?

We know that word of mouth is one of the most important factors in gaining new students, and of course search engines and social media play an ever-expanding part. I set myself a target this term, to work on search engine optimisation and improve our website to increase traffic to blah blah blah... but within two weeks I fell out with both google and bing, and my brains helpless merger of SEO, SMO, CTR, and CPC left me frustrated. TOO MUCH NOISE. How can we be heard?

I can preach about qualifications and visions until Fagan's boys come home, but it doesn't mean anyone is listening. And is it really worth paying £2.78 a click so someone can visit my website that says it does what everyone else’s website says they do! So, we turned to our new magazine; and instead of filling it with information about us, it's all about them - our students - the children and young people who heard all about us, despite the pandemonium of performing arts promise, and joined our happy little family. We've also got them to write it. So, it's by them, all about them, which is all about us. Seemed to make sense that if we wanted someone to shout out above the noise, it might as well be them. After all, they have a lot of brilliant things to say. They're actually as passionate as I am... and that's saying something.

So the magazine is online at www.bodens.co.uk and you can pick up a hard copy, for free, at any of our performing arts classes. It’s all about the shows, the classes and the students. If you're feeling really lazy, exhausted after all your studious studio searching, then just e-mail MAGAZINE to info@bodens.co.uk and we'll send you the link.

 

by Adam Boden 05 May, 2016
Every Summer we welcome a group of young people to Bodens on Monday mornings, and send them off at the end of the week hoping they have  enjoyed a week of their summer. They make new friends, at least for the week. They appear to grow in confidence, standing on a stage of sorts in front of some people, taking risks, achieving personally etc. etc. etc... and they grow creatively, well they must, because after all, we've been doing 'stuff' to do with the 'arts' and... things. But how do we know all this? How do we know they've grown in confidence because of the project they've undertaken? How do we know their confidence wouldn't have grown more in other areas by staying at home and freeing eleven hostages in an X Box provided situation? How do we know they've grown in creativity? I was in Pinnochio once. I remember wetting myself backstage. That's all I remember. I didn't grow creatively, and if I said I did, then perhaps my nose would be growing, but not creatively. How do we know the project will have any affect on a young person whatsoever in a rapidly changing world becoming more and more difficult to prove the impact and sustainability of anything when so many factors play a part in so much of the development of our young people.

Most of the time we can't prove the impact in the present, or the sustainability in the future.... but we do know it's there... because we can see it. As Theatre Practitioners working with children and young people, we see it present in their shiny eyes. We see it throughout the week as they begin to take more moments. We see it during the lunch break as the inhibitions vanish and relationships blossom. We see it behind the stage, and then on it.

And we know it works. Because we're not just out of work actors, singers who have sung their last aria, or dancers that have hung up our ballet shoes. Our team at Bodens is a team of teachers. Take me... I'm actually an Applied Theatre practitioner specialising in the development of young people through the provision of safe risk in a theatrical environment. Sounds good, doesn't it. It should do. I spent ages on it. I know it works because that's my craft. It's what I do. How I teach. We don't just put on a little show... Well we do... But it's how we do it. How we provide the young people with a platform to perform as themselves... to have a voice that is heard. How we give them opportunities of safe and manageable risk so they can step outside of their comfort zones and increase their sense of achievement, growing their self-belief. Drama isn't the soft subject. It's an incredibly important opportunity to grow as a person, achieve amazing things, and while you're at it, put on some really, really good theatre.

Our 2015 devised theatre course started from scratch and ended up embroiled in the world of the Cambodian street children. A group of thirty incredible young people created a story of hope, fear and understanding. They didn't just create an astonishing and powerful piece of theatre... they thought about the world, and their position in it. They made others aware through their research and performance. They gave children from half way across the world a voice here, through verbatim work. Additionally, they raised money for a Cambodian street child. That's a perfect example of Applied Theatre. It entertains, informs, opens dialogues, and where it can, it's nice if it educates us all in some way, staff and students alike... after all... we're also on the summer course. We might as well learn something too.                             

For one of this year's courses we're going a step further and in a different direction, with a film production week. We'll be writing and shooting an entire film in just one week, and after a couple of months off, returning for a premier cinema screening. Even the young people on our popstars course will be shooting a music video to accompany their Saturday night theatre performance. Even within a week of choreography paired with singing performance and technique, there's still room for personal challenges and ways to maintain a sense of fun, crucial to keeping our young people engaged from start to finish. For the youngest students, aged 4 - 6 years, they all get individual chances to shine in a safe environment as their confidence builds throughout the week as we explore some incredible stories and immerse ourselves in adventure and play.

And that's some of what we'll be doing this summer. It was great last year. You're more than welcome to come along and join us. Here's a little video that shows some of what we got up to last year.
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