Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Cardboard Citizens

I have just come home from watching 'The Help' and thought it was great. Before i went in i was a but dubious of what it was going to be like as i have been a bit sceptical of Forum Theatre before. However this piece was really thought provoking and informative. One of the issues that really hit home with me was the amount that hostels cost to stay in! I felt so naieve that i didn't know so many things about this area and to be honest, however much i don't want to admit it, that it had never truely crossed my mind. However saying this, i feel that the whole wpoint of Cardboard Citizen is to help and educate and they really educated me on an area of life which i was quite uninformed about.

The joker - I thought she was excellent. She really kept the piece together and moved the piece forward without dissmissing any point or suggestions that were highlighted by the audience. I felt she instantly relaxed the audience by 'clapping and chearing the late commers'. This was something that automatically warmed up the crowd and made me want to listen to what she had to say.

The antagoinists again were really good. They made it hard for the specator but without making the volentee feel like there idea was given, then a door slammed in their face. They worked with them but encouranginly against them.

I did find it hard to completely engage and connect with some of the stories such as Rowina's or John's as i have never seen or been in those situations myself. However it was nice to feel that this was ok as the joker made me feel that even though i may have not been in these situations, i was still a human being and therefore could empathise with the protagonist through human emotion.

The Props were outstanding! the use of puppets as the children were creative and believable thorough characturisation. My personal faveroite was the younger actor being the babies head with the body being a puppet. Using his facial expression completed this particular story for me as it allowed the audience to see the perspective of the child as well as thinking about the protagonist.

The bag lady was a great way to connect the scenes but also allow the audience to keep homing back in to the original point of homelessness. The running joke of the spicy soup was especially well placed as it kept the piece upbeat whilst not detracting from the main point of the forum piece.

The fact that it was so hard to come up with suggestions really resinated with me about how hard it must be for the people in those situations and made me really think about what i would do if i were in that situation and how would i try to get out it. I didn't get many concrete answers of how you would but has definately made me think about the issue seriously.

I felt the way that the piece was put across to us was great by the company as a whole because i felt that even though the performance was over, i felt free to ask how to help with the situation or if i was a homeless person watching this that i could chat to them and maybe find help with a way to improve my situation.

We went for a drink with the actors after the production finnished and it was nice to hear about their situatuations and how they became involved with cardboard citizens. It was reassuring that they really work hard with people in hostels and don't just go in, show them a play and the leave and how much hope they give the audience watching the piece and really try them to get involved; not just with the performance itself but with the work that they do before and after. They are going on to show a piece in a prision in London but there is no way to see it unless im in prison - so petty crime is on my do to list!

The main thing i was worried about was that when we come to do our pieces, i dont want to just go into a place a come across patronising or seem like 'i know what your going through' when i dont have a clue. I spoke to the Joker about this and the main advice she gave me was be honest, don't just pretend to save face and research, research, research! It has made me really enthustiastic about our up and coming projects.

If you didn't see this show then truely you missed out. I came away feeling really possitive, motivated and inspired.

1 comment:

Mark Griffin said...

Really great that you enjoyed and took so much from the show Kat.

Do you think we were given enough time to forum Rowena's story? It's good that so much learning occurred but I had a slight frustration that we weren't able to explore further.

Terry (the Joker) is spot on about research, but really this is about sharing personal story and testimony rather than hours spent in a library. There are levels of shared experience - you can have gone through the same, empathise, have sympathy or merely recognise the issue. All seem possible places from which to create work.

Be careful of the petty crime...you might just get a £50 fine and an asbo!