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 Post subject: Chickenshed: "as the mother of a brown boy..."
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 3:56 am 
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Chickenshed presents

"as the mother of a brown boy..."

CriticalDance is delighted to be hosting a news and feedback forum for Chickenshed's latest production, "as the mother of a brown boy..." as it moves from workshop to premiere and then on to the Edinburgh Festival.

Here is an introduction to the themes of the new work:

The birth, life and untimely death of a mixed race boy - through the eyes of his mother. How equal are equal opportunities? How mixed is race?

Chickenshed’s new production “as the mother of a brown boy…” follows the real life and the very real death of a mixed race boy in 21st century London. He dies at the same age as his mother gave him life. Nineteen is a life cut short. His voice is heard through his grieving mother as she grapples with his own role in his death and pits it against society’s involvement.

“…as the mother of a brown boy I ask myself what have I created for him? What have I put upon him, that he doesn’t see his own reflection positively - where he is constantly shifting his gaze to focus and fit other people’s perceptions of him? What have I brought this son into - that I have to work that much harder to make his footprint seen?”

“as the mother of a brown boy…” is a real and disturbing story of how we live and the search for identity in a multi-racial society.


A few rehearsal images to kick things off and whet your appetite:

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Last edited by Stuart Sweeney on Thu May 24, 2007 9:24 am, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 4:03 am 
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How To Post on CriticalDance

Now it's your turn. Everyone at CriticalDance and Chickenshed will be delighted if you want to post a comment about any aspect of the production or this remarkable theatre company.

To post a comment, you need to register, which is easy and free, click here and follow the steps to register, including agreeing to our Rules, Policies and Disclaimers. You must give a valid e-mail address.

To make a posting, you need to click on the "Post Reply" button at the top right of this topic; type or copy and paste your comments into the posting box; when you are ready, then press the "Add Reply" button. You can edit your posting by clicking on the "paper and pencil" icon at the right above your post.

For additional practical information about CriticalDance click here.

Don't worry if you've never written about dance and theatre before. Just tell us your reaction to any aspects of the evening, whether good or not. The Chickenshed team is keen to have your feedback and, if appropriate, will reply here.

A few words would be great, but if you want to write more you might like to look at our beginners' guide to reviewing.

Any problems or queries, don't hesitate to contact Stuart Sweeney at ballettlover@hotmail.com

Don't delay - have your say.


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 Post subject: Workshop Performances - our process in action
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 11:58 am 
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"as the mother of a brown boy..." starts it's run of Workshop Performances tonight at The Rayne Theatre, Chickenshed.

We hope that seeing the work at this early stage of production will be an interesting and enjoyable experience for our audience, and that it provides them with some insight into the creative processes that we use.

This series of performances is a time for our creative and technical teams to take stock of the production and assess what we have achieved so far. It is a time to experiment with ideas, knowing that before July’s performances there will be space for us to develop and refine the show. It will also be the first time that the cast fully discover their own individual journeys within the framework of the whole piece.

As a creative team we intend to use this period of performances to review and question such important aspects as:

•Is the story being effectively told?
•Does the current structure help or hinder the effectiveness of the narrative?
•What does the multi-media layer add to the underlying aims and themes of the performance?
•Is the set working effectively both for the audience and for the players?
•Is there anything we can add to (or take away from) the performance to enhance the narrative?
•Do we have the correct balance in the relationship between word, movement, music and visuals?

Showing such an early version of our work also enables us to gauge responses from an audience interested in the process of what we do. We are obtaining feedback from our audience to help guide us through the next phase of the development of the show.
If you are interested in our process and want to see a workshop performance, check out our website. http://www.chickenshed.org.uk


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 Post subject: "as the mother of a brown boy..."
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 6:39 am 
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I'm not quite sure where to start talking about "as the mother of a brown boy...". It's a stunning piece of work as it stands. Literally stunning as I was one of many people who left the theatre open mouthed and with a need to sit down and take stock of what I'd just seen.

I'm going to have to ignore for the moment that this was a supposedly unfinished piece. I've been viewing dance for many years and the production values and the performances that I saw in this show are already enviably high.

The story is certainly being effectively told. The narrative voice-overs, the rapping, the visuals and the physical movement, complement and combine to relate the story. I feared there might be a danger of this all becoming too much and cluttering the story rather than enhancing it. But I was wrong and what the audience get is a skillfully crafted story with many strands and many messages.

If I were to be able to offer some kind of constructive criticism it would probably be that sometimes the narrative or the movement might take the easy route and be almost too clear. It isn't that I felt the piece itself was on the whole like that; I just thought there were moments that jarred a little because they led the audience too much. I think the story that you are telling comes across SO well that you don't need to do that and can make the audience work a little more. The image of the dove for instance just feels TOO much.

But even criticism like that feels churlish at this stage of a production and I'm sure that the changes that you make will take this piece to incredible places.

I would really love to hear anyone else's views on the piece and am certainly keen to see how it develops before it comes back in July. I think this is such an important piece of work that it really NEEDS to be seen.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 8:13 am 
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Many thanks for your comments, Theo. I'm going tonight and will post some thoughts later this week. It will also be fascinating to see the "final" version for comparison.

Any other comments, thoughts, suggestions, anyone?

The CriticalDance box above tells you how to register and make a posting - everyone welcome, you don't have to be an "expert".


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2007 9:00 am 
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Having seen "as the mother of a brown boy..." last night, I agree with Theo's comments above. This is a powerful, theatrical production with exceptionally strong visuals, good tunes and varied, distinctive dancing, all bringing to life the true story of the "system" failing a young man.

The set and image projections ane award winning standard and I was amazed, as these were described as "workshop performances".

You still have a chance to see the remaining workshop performances (in the main Chickenshed theatre) and July sees the run of the final version, before it is off to the Edinburgh Festival.

Here are the full booking details:

Remaining Workshop Performances - Thurs 24 May – Sat 26 May

Performances - Wed 11 July – Sat 28 July, prior to Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The performance will last approx. 1 hour.

Please note, this production contains some strong language. Recommended for ages 11+.

The workshop performances in May will show the piece as a work in development, with a talk before selected performances from one of the directors. July's run will show the finished production.

Thursday 24th May 1.00pm and 8.00pm
Friday 25th May 8.00pm
Saturday 26th May 8.00pm

Stalls £11 / £7 conc. Galleries £7 / £5 conc.

Sign language, captioned, audio described and touch tours available.

Contact the box office for further information
or email AccessBookings@Chickenshed.org.uk

To book, please contact the Box Office on 020 8292 9222 / minicom 020 8350 0676.


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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 1:10 am 
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The workshop performances are now completed, but we hope to have further comments about these shows.

The production team now have 6 weeks to discuss and revise this dance theatre work before the main run performances from Wed 11 July – Sat 28 July, and then off to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.


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 Post subject: Audience Feedback from our Workshop Performances
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 9:46 am 
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We asked our audiences at the end of each Workshop Performance to feedback on what they had seen to help us develop the piece for July.

We were truly astounded by the amount of feedback we've received which was both enlightening, constructive and heartening and has given us much food for thought!

Below are some extracts of feedback:


"I really enjoyed many aspects of the piece - particularly the mixed media - the projections and music especially. The boxes used on set were very visually stimulating and the choreography was incredible. However, I feel at some points the message was a little simplified - some of the characters lacked complexity and the projection of the 'inquest' seemed to portray the police and judicial system in an overly neagtive light."

"A great piece of socially aware theatre. The story was presented effectively with continuity - it was well-structured and balanced. We will be back in July!"

"A beautiful performance and a privilege to have seen it. One note - some of the spotlights were overpowering"

"Overall amazing show: well structured, fully thought through and very creative production. Good use of movement - however some could be more polished. Raps were great and thought-provoking and visuals of child's drawing really brought you into the world of mother and son."

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"Absolutely brilliant. Everyone interacted with each other really well, moving freely and fluidly. Very moving piece."

"The most powerful performance I have seen. The rawness was so strong making the audience face and evaluate 'truths'. Thank you for sharing this with others."

"Very good performance. The emotions of the mother, father and boy came across very well. However, some of the early dance scenes depicting his happiness as a boy were slightly lacking in depth and some development of this early relationship with his mother would help in creating contrast with him as a young adult."

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"The father and son scenes were especially moving. They created just the right dynamic to make you believe in their relationship."

"This was a beautifully crafted, faultless piece of theatre - the visuals/sound effects were stunning and superb, as were the dancers. My problem is with how the judicial system is portrayed. It was very one-sided and led the audience in what to think which wasn't necessary."

"It was beautifully and sensitively executed by a brilliant and talented cast. The storyline and message it carried was strong and meaningful."

"Superb dancing/choreography aided by multi-media and use of set. Narrative sometimes inaudible because of volume. Balance sometimes too much towards the spoken narrative - message came across most emotionally through dance and movement, although there was wonderful acting. Loved it - especially the two male duets."

To have your say, please reply! We'd love to have as much feedback as possible.


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 Post subject: Performances begin this week!
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:52 am 
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"as the mother of a brown boy..." begins it's run of performances in The Rayne Theatre, Chickenshed, on Wednesday, running through to the 28th July before transferring to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Book tickets now through the Box Office on 020 8292 9222.

To read more about the background to the piece, read Anna Kessel's article in the Observer yesterday. Click on the link to view. http://arts.guardian.co.uk/theatre/dance/story/0,,2121171,00.html


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 Post subject: Forum Event - Wednesday 25th July
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:57 am 
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After the performance of "as a mother of a brown boy..." on the Wedensday 25th July, there will be a forum event, debating the question: Can and should art influence political debate?

The forum will be chaired by Stuart Sweeney, and the panel will include Human Rights lawyer Tony Murphy and a representative from SmartJustice, Lucie Russell. Questions will also be taken from the floor.

The forum itself is free but to book tickets for the performance that evening call our Box Office on 020 8292 9222.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 2:26 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
There was a very positive reaction to the workshop performances of "ATMOABB" and the team have taken the feedback and raised the production to even more dizzy heights. The revised version has a stronger narrative flow, more dance and the overall effect is remarkable. I doubt I will see a stronger work of dance/music theatre this year.

If you have the chance, do go and see it. At only £11 and £7 for concessions , it represents some of the best value you are likely to find.

Full details are here:

http://www.chickenshed.org.uk/whats_on/performance/257

performance dates are here:

http://www.chickenshed.org.uk/shop/shop/show/257

The 25th July performance also has a panel discussion afterwards on the arts and political issues:

http://www.chickenshed.org.uk/news/article/301


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 3:26 pm 
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The production run of ATMOABB is proving a hit with the critics. Congratulations to all those involved with the production:

"As the mother of a brown boy...", Rayne Theatre, Chickenshed, London
By Alice Jones for The Independent


....The beautiful shapes and stillness created by the cast are complemented by Paul Knowles' stunning lighting effects and some inventive multimedia stagecraft. And there's music, too – throughout, a live band provides a pumping soundtrack and accompanies soulful songs and an angry rap about the right to life.

In the final scene, a photograph flashes up of Mischa, grinning directly at the camera and carrying his baby brother on his shoulders. It's a horribly stark reminder that this abstract performance has been about a real life cut short. An urgent and heartfelt evening.

http://arts.independent.co.uk/theatre/r ... 791078.ece


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 8:56 am 
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Comment from a recent attendee, MGJ:

I'd arranged to go with friends last Friday, but was the only one to make it through the torrential rain and the knock-on effect on transport, .

However, "As the mother of a brown boy..." was very good. It made a change to attend an adult or older production, as opposed to the Chickenshed Christmas shows, which I have seen in the past. Very well danced and sung. The use of 'Visuals' worked well.

An extremely strong theme - not overplayed or over sentimental.

It was just over an hour in length, which was just right.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:27 am 
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Another strong review, albeit with a few caveats, from "Time Out", who have made it their Critics' Choice for the week:

"As the mother of a brown boy..."
By Robert Shore for Time Out


Chickenshed has mounted an ambitious, inclusive spectacle that combines music, choreography and film, and if the work ultimately lacks focus as a social critique (is it about the problems of mixed-race children in particular, or is it about the evils of social exclusion in general – or even about police failings in tackling organised crime?), it certainly captures the mother’s dizzying feeling of senseless waste at the death of her son.

It’s not flawless. The storytelling occasionally falls into evasive cliché.....But overall this is an artful, emotionally engaging success.

http://www.timeout.com/london/theatre/e ... _boy-.html


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:53 pm 
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"ATMOABB" has arrived in Edinburgh with the first full performance this afternoon, Sunday. I hope to get to see it tomorrow.


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