The Wedding at V&A

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We’re delighted that Gecko designer Rhys Jarman’s work on The Wedding will be part of ‘Staging Places: UK Design for Performance’.

The exhibition at the V&A shines a light on the diversity of design in British theatre, from lighting to costume to set.

The exhibition runs until 29th March 2020.

See the links below for more details.

https://stagingplaces.co.uk/exhibitions/vanda/

https://www.vam.ac.uk/event/ka4doBaB/staging-places-uk-design-for-performance-2016-2019

Work Experience Blog - Amelie

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In July 2019, Amelie from Kesgrave High School spent a week with us in the office. Here is her diary of the week…

Monday

I woke up this morning feeling incredibly anxious with a twisting feeling in my stomach. Going into a new unknown environment is always a little bit scary. However, when I rang the doorbell at Gecko this morning my stomach was put at ease, I was greeted by everyone in the office with keen energy. I started by familiarising myself with Gecko’s work by watching Taylor’s Dummies. This is an incredibly engaging piece with explosive visual effects - you really should give it a watch. After I had watched this we all went and had a cup of tea in the garden, i got the chance to ask the team some questions so I could get to know them better and the conversation was highly topical, discussing Mamma Mia and Grease as well! Later on I was given the task of sorting the tour dates on the website and making sure they were all up to date. I also had too chose some previous posters of Gecko’s work, which gave me the chance to look through the archives and further engage with the company. Looking forward to the rest of the week.

Tuesday

After having an awful night last night I was feeling down this morning. However, once I got into the Gecko office I felt immediately welcomed and looked forward to being able to take my mind off things and do some work. My first task for today was finding a picture for a new Instagram post about the Company Administrator vacancy. I chose a vibrant one from the Time of Your Life and wrote the caption. After this I co-created the Instagram story advertising the fact that the job admissions need to be in tomorrow. I enjoy working with social media so I found this task enjoyable and I am proud with how it looks. This afternoon I have been collecting data from Instagram insights and compelling them into a spreadsheet. I actually found this quite interesting as it gave me the view on how big Gecko’s work really is.

Wednesday

This morning I sat in on one of Mani and Pippa’s meetings. Here I saw one of Pippa’s many many spreadsheets which enclosed all the bookings for future workshops, which I helped her to update. After that I went to get lunch in town and had my favourite lunch yet: Greggs’ Mexican wrap (I am seriously enjoying the selection of food I have on my lunch breaks). After lunch I joined Pippa and Mani on a BSL (British Sign Language) class where I picked up a few signs including swimming, sandwich, wine, dog and bacon - the essentials! After this class I am interested in learning sign language and will look into where I can - I never thought I would have done that this week and I surprised myself with how interesting I found it!

Thursday

My second to last Gecko day! This week has gone so quickly - I’ve only just been able to wake up on time this morning. Today like my other days I was presented with tasks throughout the day, firstly doing my spreadsheet then compiling questions for a quiz. The quiz settled a bet between Steve and Pippa - but unfortunately they drew (I will have to write another one for tomorrow!).

In the afternoon I had the opportunity to interview Amit the artistic director of Gecko. This was interesting as it gave me more of an insight to Gecko’s creative development process.

Friday

Today is my last day at the Gecko office and I’m honestly going to miss it. Throughout my involvement within a working environment it has been significant to make sure all criteria are met to a high standard but this environment is not pressurised as everyone has been very easy to talk to which lead to some fun conversations.

I would highly recommend Gecko as a week for work experience! 

 

We’re planning a game-changing new building…

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We're planning a game-changing new building on Ipswich's iconic waterfront.

Our new Head of Operations and Development Steve Allman says:

"We're thrilled to be working with out partners at Ipswich Borough Council to transform an unloved warehouse into the Gecko Creation Space, a world class facility which will act as our headquarters and allow us to create new shows, work in partnership with companies and artists from around the world and will be the home for our participation projects.

It's really exciting that the Creation Space will be the catalyst for the whole of the St Peter's Dock redevelopment, transforming this neglected end of the waterfront into a creative hub for the arts and digital sector. We can't wait to share our plans with you in the near future."

Watch this 'space' for the Gecko Creation Space...

Work Placement Blog - Bethany

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In May 2019, we welcomed Bethany into the Gecko offices for a work placement. Here is her week, in her own words…

I arrived in Ipswich on Tuesday 27th of May after an hour-long journey from home (Essex). I was greeted by Hugh and Sarah, a lovely couple I was staying with during my placement, who live a fifteen-minute walk away from the Gecko Office- ideal!

I’m currently in my second year at Falmouth University studying ‘Theatre and Performance’ (BA Hons) and hope to build my own theatre company in my third year. This placement has helped me better understand the mechanics and administrative tasks that running a theatre company requires, and therefore, could not have come at a better time for me!

Before arriving at Gecko, I was filled with a mixture of nerves and excitement but was immediately put at ease by the friendly and welcoming staff at Gecko. I was given a tour of the office, a cup of tea and was introduced to everyone. I spent my week with Manwah (Mani) Siu, Administration and Digital Marketing Officer, Steve Allman- Head of Operations and Development and Pippa Fox- Projects and Participation Manager.

During my placement, I was given a variety of tasks such as reading over Gecko’s marketing pack for ‘The Wedding’, updating Gecko’s local school spreadsheet, attending a Marketing Meeting with Mani at Ipswich Town Hall, providing feedback on Gecko’s website, promotional videos and more. I felt like I was given genuine responsibility as a co-worker in the office and was able to ask any questions I liked.

This summer some of my course mates and I have formed the theatre company ‘Solo Theatre’ and are performing our show ‘Fragments’ as part of the Camden Fringe Festival (2019) and the Exeter Fringe Festival (2019). This placement was incredibly useful for gaining advice surrounding the administration tasks for taking performances touring to different venues. I had opportunities to talk to each staff member one to one to find out what their role is like and ask for specific information that will help my future career and upcoming festival projects. Pippa helped me explore Gecko’s SharePoint- this was incredibly useful to see how all their masses of documents and information is orgainsed. Mani provided me with really helpful advice on Solo Theatre’s social media accounts and marketing whilst Steve showed me spreadsheet examples on Excel and taught me how to operate a spreadsheet for my festival projects!

On my third day, (which was a sunny one), Amit Lahav dropped into the office, we sat outside, and I was able to ask questions surrounding the formation of Gecko, his artistic vision and if he had any advice for young theatre makers over a cup of tea. I felt very lucky to have had this opportunity and was left feeling inspired.

To end my Gecko experience, I took a trip with Steve and Pippa down to where Gecko’s new building is likely to be situated and was able to have a look at some of Gecko’s prop store in Ipswich- exciting! Before having some cake, and yes- more tea, to say goodbye.

This placement has been everything I hoped for and more- would definitely recommend!

Fly the flag for human rights every day

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Gecko and Mind the Gap were delighted to take part in Fly the Flag week (24-28 June 2019), a nationwide campaign to mark 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On every weekday of that week, the cast members of 'A Little Space' (Gecko’s co-production with Mind the Gap) talked about a particular article within the charter, as well as reflect on what is important to them.

#FlytheFlag70
Fly The Flag 70

www.geckotheatre.com/a-little-space/

Watch the playlist on our Facebook page here.

A new show is coming...

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We're excited to announce our first collaborative show with Mind the Gap, one of Europe’s leading learning disability theatre companies.

A LITTLE SPACE
Imagine a space where we can escape the world and be ourselves. Where we can say whatever we want, do whatever we feel and where no-one will ever bother us. But it can be an unpredictable space too, where voices are funnelled away, fears leak through the floorboards, songs light up the room and you never know who’s listening behind the door. A place where whispers come to life and one kind gesture could change everything.

Click here to find out more about A Little Space and see where it’s touring near you…

Work Placement Blog - Rohan

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In February 2019, we welcome Rohan into the Gecko office for a work placement. Here is his week, in his own words, plus his review of The Time of Your Life (thanks Rohan!)

I’m writing this while perched on a red yoga ball which, in the midst of the Gecko office, is an apt visual cue for what it’s like to be working with the company. As a final year student at UEA, I’ve been commuting to Ipswich all this week to shadow the team. This naturally created a couple of problems (I haven’t had to wake up this early since my A-Levels), but it’s all been well worth the journey!

My first day was spent learning the ins and outs of Gecko, chatting with the general manager Joff about his experiences with the company and their (exciting) future plans. Due to Institute being on tour in Poland, the office was a bit emptier than usual but from the moment I walked through the door I felt really welcomed and inspired to learn as much as I could throughout the week.

I mainly spent my Tuesday in the company of Mani, interrogating him (but in a fun way) about his role as the company’s administrator before helping prepare for the upcoming performances at the Bristol Old Vic through contacting local schools about Institute. I finished the day by looking through the sales reports of their recent productions which opened my eyes to the networking that happens between professional theatres in the industry.

On Wednesday I was able to further shadow Mani as he worked on some marketing materials for Missing’s upcoming performances at the Oxford Playhouse. We also walked into Ipswich to see the potential site for Gecko’s new creative space, which was pretty exciting! Mani told me all about the company’s hopes for expansion. I was also able to watch The Time of Your Life, Gecko’s first made-for-TV production. I loved the incredible choreography and surrealist physicality of the piece and was left with a real desire to think more about the themes that Gecko explores.

During my penultimate day it was just Pippa and I in the office, so I took the opportunity to quiz her on all things related to education and production. Like the rest of the team, she was really open about her approach to working at Gecko and set me some really useful tasks to get me thinking about theatre producing (such as creating budgets etc.)

My final day was a quiet conclusion to the week, which continued to teach me that every day is different at Gecko. Due to some urgent company business, I was left to my own devices throughout the morning, of which I took advantage by watching The Overcoat on YouTube. One of Gecko’s older shows, I was very taken by the visuals and dystopian design. Though I was familiar with Gecko’s work before I began my placement here, I’ve been fully converted into an avid supporter over the last week and can’t wait to see more of their shows! To finish off my time here, Joff took me over to the prop store – giving me a glimpse into how much cool stuff the company has. I’ve had a brilliant week here and it’s been really insightful to observe a professional theatre company at work. If you’re interested in working in the arts, especially behind the scenes, then I’d highly recommend applying to pursue opportunities with Gecko.

The Time of Your Life

As soon as I finished watching The Time of Your Life for the first time, I started rewatching from the beginning to try and understand it all. Listening to Pippa and Mani talk about it beforehand, I loved and understood how much effort had been put into creating a televisual piece of Gecko theatre. The subtle message endorsing human connection caught me off guard and I was not expecting the last ten minutes. I remember looking at the time after the long one-camera scene (having assumed that was going to be the conclusion of the piece) and being really surprised that the story had another ten minutes to go.

I took note of the way Amit and the ensemble used breath throughout the scenes as well as the general flow of action which took the viewer from realism to surrealism without any jarring jolts. It reminded me of films like Arrival and The Truman Show but the live, one-take element brought something fresh alongside the incredible choreography and physicality that fully realised the thought-provoking story. At the end of the special, I was left with a real desire to think more about the themes Gecko were exploring.

Work Placement Blog - Jemima

In October 2018, we invited Jemima to a work placement at the Gecko office. She kept a diary of what she got up to…

Day One: A day to reflect

Where do I start? I am currently sitting in the office, typing to you (the person that is currently reading this). Anyways I digress, waking up this morning my stomach felt gritty, there was a mixture of nerves and excitement. I hadn’t been for a weeks work experience since my GCSE’s, so this was all new. I must say the moment I stepped into Gecko’s office I was met by nothing but kindness and a real willing to get to know me (as a person). The day started with a chat with General Manager Joff, we talked about our past, the present and future ambitions. We spoke of the difficulties we have faced in the arts and our career influences. It was very eye opening.

Okay, a bit of background – I have just finished my masters and I am going to be honest, this is a transitional period. I have absolutely no idea what my next plan is. For someone who is constantly planning and looking forward this has been a bit of an internal struggle. Am I taking a step back if I move back in with my parents? I don’t have a plan but I need some time to think? Or do I? Perhaps most importantly where do I start?

In fact it wasn’t until today’s conversations with Joff, Mani and Pippa that I had the chance to start understanding the positive things that can come from taking time to stop and think. That perhaps I should see it as a chance to breathe. Just like Gecko who use breath in practice, perhaps I should use it more in day-­to-­day life.

One thing is clear and that is that everyone I have met at the office today has a genuine care and passion for this theatre company. Above everything, there is a genuine care for each other – it is refreshing, and eye opening. * large corporations take note: you can learn a lot from Gecko, just as I am learning.

I will now draw my ramblings to a close, as it is now the end of day one. Today has been a chance to reflect on myself. That is not something I do often, in fact I am sure many of you would agree that in such a fast-­paced world, it is rare to reflect. I look forward to tomorrow – this is a good feeling.

Day Two – Teatime 

It is now day two at the Gecko office. It started as always COFFEEEEEEEEE and lots of tea. I was extremely impressed by the amount of options to choose from. Naturally, I went for Lady Grey I would argue it is by far the best (pause for debate).

I then shadowed Project and Participant Manager Pippa, who was kind enough to share with me the many aspects of her work (from education to invoices to finances to arranging trips for the cast and many more) – it is a very varied role, which requires a lot of organisation. I managed to complete my first invoice, which for someone who isn’t so keen on numbers made me realise that I was actually quite capable. It is these skills that I wish I had been taught at school. Real ‘adult’ skills – I hadn’t a clue about invoices before this week, so I thank Pippa and Mani for taking the time to share that skill with me. I have a feeling it is going to come in useful – it is, after all, a start.

We then went on to have a company meeting. Here we discussed exciting new developments for the website and new performance collaborations and opportunities. It is inspiring to see how expansive Gecko is, with still more ideas to reach new communities. We discussed our relationships with Mind the Gap and Suffolk MindFor me, Gecko is about developing long lasting relationships and opening a dialogue… (I placed the ellipses so you could respond – see what I did there).

Day Three – The future 

“So what will we put in room 101 today?” (Gecko Offices, 2018)

This morning I woke up a little early to explore Ipswich town centre, after making my way through the little cobbled side streets I wandered up to the Gecko offices. It is a very beautiful building positioned next to the park. It feels green and light, this is a nice change from the smoky streets of London that I have become so used to.

I began my morning referencing contacts and putting them onto a file or sort of email register. Gecko has such an extensive list of contacts it seemed like a never-­ending task, but after the first couple I found I got into the swing of it. It was eye-opening to find out just how global Gecko has become. It is exciting and gets my mind ticking about the future.

THE FUTUREEEE…

A scary concept for someone like me, who isn’t quite sure of what is going to happen next. I am still learning and trying to figure this world out. I was therefore pleased to learn in a meeting that despite Gecko being a prestigious company that they would still call themselves fairly new, founded in 2001 by Artistic Director Amit Lahav, they are still learning about the trajectory of the company – it’s all building blocks and new discoveries.

In the afternoon I sat in on a meeting, between Joff and one of the company’s board members Jeanette Siddall. Together we had a very in depth discussion about the current climate of theatre and the notion of restrictions. To round off today’s post here is a fun analogy for you (as always it is up for debate) that came up in our discussion:

Companies are often like traffic.

If all responsibility is given to the traffic light we may only be focussed on getting through before it turns red (hence we may speed up/drive more erratically). Perhaps by taking away the traffic light and implementing a zebra crossing, the responsibility of driving safely is taken from the red light and given to the driver. As a result we may have safer more efficient roads. This is similar in some companies – by being given more responsibilities, we may take more pride in our work, as a result more care is taken.

I don’t know if this is true – but it is food for thought. I leave today thinking about my life in relation to this analogy – it is conceptual, but I think it’s making sense. Anyways it’s late – Good night!

Day Four – Finding my groove 

I am back in the office (I am rather enjoying this routine) and everyone is getting on with individual tasks. I feel as though my confidence is growing, I am currently reviewing some educational resource packs for Pippa. One thing I have found this week is that everyone has asked me for my opinion on different things – I have been made to feel that I can speak up and contribute in discussions. Seeing as this is a place where students also have work experience, it was promising to know that their voice would be valued and they would be encouraged to contribute. It’s something so important for young people in the arts; to feel that their voice is being heard. I say ‘their’ but I guess I am included in that as well, I am still very new despite studying and performing prior to this week.

Before lunch, Mani and I went into town to pick up some flowers and chocolate for the launch of Spill Festival,‘an international festival of contemporary arts and activism’ in Ipswich. I feel I am starting to know my way around, and it is good to see such a wide variety of arts and culture in and around the town.

After tackling the microwave (thanks Mani for your help) I have now been given some time to work on this blog – it is another moment of reflection (I know I sound like a broken record but it really has been so useful, so please bear with me).

Next I observed Mani as he created the banner for The Wedding to be sent out at the bottom of emails. Gecko will be presenting The Wedding at the Barbican as part of the London International Mime Festival with dates running from 24th to 26th of January 19’. It was interesting to watch the amount of work that goes into making a banner and after a few of discussions about colour and sizing – we were pleased with the end result.

After finishing my working day I headed to the waterfront where I got to watch the opening ceremony for Spill Festival. Specifically, The Clarion Call where the ‘voices of women and girls call to the setting sun’ I will add a link below. I must say it was beautiful. It was so great to see such a range of arts and culture in and around Ipswich. Everyone seemed so supportive of one another with a real desire to push the arts in local communities. GO IPSWICH! What a great end to the day.

Spill Festival/Clarion Call: https://spillfestival.com/show/clarion-­‐call/

Day Five – Rounding off

Good Morning from the Gecko office and I am sad to say it is my last day with the team – tomorrow I will be heading on the train for SEVEN HOURS back to Cornwall. It’s okay, I have bought a new book and some snacks, so I think it will be rather pleasant.

Yesterday Executive Producer Roz gave me some background information on Gecko’s past, present and future plans with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and I was surprised to find that there is an awful lot of strategic planning and questioning before taking a show up there (especially when a show is already so well known). I always assumed it was the other way around – instead it is about thinking long term. Where are the performers going to be? How much will it cost? Is this the right time? etc. It was a very valuable and productive conversation and got me thinking about the shows I saw whilst I was there in 2016. *Side note to myself: Jemima go there again next year even if you’re out of pocket – it will be good for you.

This morning is a bit of a catch up session – it is just Joff, Woody (the dog) and myself in the office today. I am spending the morning doing the final edits to this blog, and this afternoon I will carry on with an ongoing task (collating and researching contacts for Gecko). It is a good day way to round of the week and feels like a moment to soak in everything I have learnt.

I am now going to do a cheesy THINGS I WILL TAKE AWAY from my week with Gecko! (Feel free to get a coffee or go to the loo at this point).

  1. Working in an office is about both individual and collaborative tasks – it is important to lean on each other for support.

  2. There are a number of interesting roles within a theatre company – you don’t just have to be on stage to be a vital cog in the mechanism.

  3. Traffic Lights are a great analogy.

  4. If you are worried about moving to a new town to start a job, have confidence in yourself – it might be scary at first, but you will find your bearings quite quickly.

  5. Gecko has some fantastic shows currently touring globally so go and see them if you

  6. Take note of Pippa’s great email system – it is the best thing ever.

  7. Speak up if you don’t know or are confused – we are all still learning and it would be madness if we all knew everything already (and very boring).

  8. The world is a better place to be when we all ‘chip in’.

  9. Don’t forget to have fun and play ‘Room 101’.

As I round off my final day at Gecko I would just like to say a massive thank you to the whole team. You have made me feel so welcome and my confidence has grown massively.

Good luck with the rest of the Gecko year and the start of 2019!

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Our first ever Patrons!

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We are delighted to have the endorsement and support of our Patrons, who are passionate about Gecko and united in the goal of bringing the company’s ground-breaking work to new audiences.

ARLENE PHILLIPS CBE

Honoured as a CBE for her services to dance and charity, Arlene Phillips has become a household name, known for creating the provocative and revolutionary dance group Hot Gossip in the 70s and working with stars from film, TV and theatre. Her work includes choreographing hit West End and Broadway musicals, Hollywood films, and iconic music videos, through to her television work as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing and presenter.

“I’m thrilled and excited to be a patron of Gecko. It’s exciting theatre than combines dance with extraordinary music and soundscapes and a unique and strange storytelling style that draws you in. I’ve loved Gecko from the first moment I saw the company perform, and have the utmost admiration for Amit and the company.”

DOMINIC WEST

Dominic West is a Sheffield-born actor, director and musician. He is perhaps best known for his role in hit TV series The Wire and The Affair but has worked extensively across screen and stage in both UK and US. Dominic is starring in the upcoming BBC adaptation of Les Misérables by Andrew Davies, and in October 2018 was awarded the Canneseries Excellence Award at the international TV showcase Mipcom for his outstanding contribution in TV series.

“A Gecko show is always a thrillingly inventive concert of lyrical movement, breathtaking imagery and a wry humanity. 

I have loved watching them for nearly two decades, since I first met Amit through the Argentinian group ‘De La Guarda’ and, to be honest, I’m still waiting for them to cast me in one of their shows! 

I was one of the many people booked to see Missing at Battersea Arts Centre in the week of the 2015 fire. It was remarkable to see the way they rolled up their sleeves and produced a brilliant stripped-down version of the show, just a week after losing everything. 

In 2019 we’ll see a long overdue broadening of their reach and their audience and I am delighted to be associated with that.”

Artistic Director Amit Lahav said:
“I am delighted that Arlene Philips and Dominic West have become our first Gecko patrons.  They have both shown real enthusiasm and encouragement for the company’s work over the years and are keen to support Gecko’s future plans. Both Arlene and Dom have enormous experience and expertise in their respective fields in choreography, directing, performance and film and I look forward to continuing our conversations, reflecting on the industry and dreaming of future possibilities. I have always declared relationships as the central ethos of Gecko and I feel a warmth and connection with our patrons, energised by a drive to keep seeing Gecko grow and pursue its dreams. It is important to us that we have patrons who have a love for Gecko, a willingness to support our future development and who bring to the company diverse expertise – Dominic and Arlene are perfect ambassadors and great friends too”.

Work Experience Blog - Leah

Over the course of the past week running from Monday 9th July 2018 – Friday 13th July 2018, I have been in an overwhelmingly privileged position to have worked with the office team at Gecko. Particularly because I knew the industry I was about to become a part of was one I aspire to become successful within, an immense wave of anxiety yet excitement was present.  

My first day with Mani and Pippa (Company Administrator and Project/Participation Manager) was very much about settling into a new environment.  Before approaching tasks, I

had a fairly relaxed morning, which consisted of exploring their online platforms, being given a quick tour of their quirky office (that has a number of props from previous shows – awesome!) and the three of us watching The Time of Your Life(also awesome!) which I then reviewed. I was then tasked with forming an updated Gecko contact list to learn about the various roles within the company. This gave me the opportunity to incorporate and develop other skills such as research that was achieved through searching: mails, invoices and the website itself, which took some time but was crucial to ensure all information was reliable.   

When meeting Joff (the General Manager), in similar fashion as to with Mani and Pippa, we discussed the arts by asking each other a series of questions. From this discussion and my ‘interview’ with Rosalind (Executive Producer), I can honestly say this group at the office – and Gecko as a collective – have had such a strong impact but have also been extremely welcoming that even when listening to meetings they encouraged me to ask questions, share opinions and to feel – to some extent – a part of their work. I’ve even expressed my creativity when decorating posters in the corridor, postcards in the office, taking photographs (thanks Mani for your patience when teaching me!), and investigating various web designs/information in preparation for flyers to be used in upcoming performances later in September.  

Throughout the week, it’s been important to make sure all criteria are met to a high standard, but it’s also been an incredible experience to have sensed the light-hearted joys too. For instance, we attended a festival launch event of another company, and had general fun conversations in the office.

The advice given throughout the week has definitely left me feeling much more confident in approaching what seems like a very closed-off industry. And although I have only spent 5 days at the office (…which quite frankly hopefully can say is one day my job!), it’s been an unforgettable learning curve which I’m blessed to have been given, and encourage anyone looking into the business to apply for a space, go to a performance or book a workshop! Thank you.

Work Experience Blog - Lydia

For my work experience I knew I wanted to do something performing arts based. I was recommended Gecko by quite a few people so I decided to apply to do my work experience for a week here after having a look at some of the previous breathtaking work. I am really glad I chose to spend my week at Gecko as I have really enjoyed it and I have learnt so much being here.

Prior to my work experience, I had a short interview with the General Manager Joff which allowed me to introduce myself and gain an understanding of what I would be doing over the course of the week. The interview was informal and quite relaxed which ensured me that my week would be stress-free and enjoyable. As soon as I entered the building on Monday morning, I felt instantly welcomed by Pippa and Mani who gave me a tour around the workplace and helped me settle in. The office is well decorated with many posters of Gecko productions and a number of props in the building that were used in previous shows which I thought was nice addition to the space.

I spent my first morning in the office watching some videos on the Gecko Youtube channel and making myself familiar with the social media pages and the website. I watched a performance of The Overcoat which is an excellent production that toured from 2009-2011. I wrote a review on this piece and analysed it to show my personal interpretation of it. I really enjoyed watching this performance as much like the rest of Gecko’s work, it is very unique and brilliantly crafted to grasp the audience’s attention throughout.

During my work experience, I got the privilege to sit and listen to some meetings. It was interesting to see how everyone worked as a team to discuss and plan how they were going to overcome any dilemmas. I also looked at some of the spreadsheets Pippa created to do with education bookings and used the information to list down the total number of bookings in each category for each year. Doing this made it clear how much the company has grown over time and how the number of workshops has increased a lot. I also got the privilege to handle Gecko’s Twitter page and I created a photo album on Facebook which I found fun being able to discover many different theatre companies and see all the varied performances that will be put on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We discussed how social media has changed over time and during this I made some social media suggestions to the company.

I had the opportunity to meet the other staff members at Gecko and interviewed the executive producer Rosalind and asked her various questions about her job to gain an understanding of what her role is and how she got to this position. I personally found it interesting listening to her explaining the aspects of her job as this is something I could refer back to if I decide in the future that this is the route I wish to go down. Everyone at Gecko was always willing to answer my questions and always made the effort to help me if was unsure on anything whilst completing tasks which made me feel very comfortable and created a very relaxed environment. Moreover, in group discussions I felt very involved as I was encouraged to share my opinion and also ask relevant questions to the topic to further my understanding. I also spent some time reading reviews of the outstanding show ’Missing’ and gathered some international press quotes to be used for a flyer, and I got an insight on the graphic design and looked at a flyer for the show as well. I suggested possible improvements to be made and got to see how long it takes to actually create a flyer and how it mostly consists of slight tweaking to make sure things look lined up correctly.

Overall, I have had a great experience spending the week at Gecko. As well as getting on with completing tasks I had been set over the week, everyone has been very easy to talk to which allowed me to engage in some fun conversations whilst I have been here. I would recommend Gecko to anyone who is interested as it is one of the best experiences I have had in understanding the world of work, and it is a very relaxed environment to be in, the team really helped to make my week very enjoyable.

After spending my week here, it has made me want to see a Gecko performance live on stage as I loved watching the performances available online and I think I would appreciate it even more now that I have a further understanding of the work that goes into creating a performance. I am extremely privileged to be able to have spent my work experience here at Gecko, I have enjoyed every minute!

Work Placement Blog - Natalie

After a hefty 6 hour journey from Exeter to Ipswich, I was warmly welcomed by my lovely host Maggi and the magnificent Milly (her dog), who I stayed with during my time at the Gecko Office – highly recommend her place!

I had just finished my Drama degree at the University of Exeter, and a placement at the Gecko office was the ideal way to help transfer into the professional world of theatre.

My week started off with learning about the different members of the Gecko Office: they shared their array of career paths and the work they do for Gecko. I also had the opportunity to learn about the exciting plans Gecko have for the future in their business plan. This included how they hope to improve further as a company and expand various projects in Ipswich, the UK and internationally. What stood out for me was the ethos of Gecko as a company, which filters into how they support staff, artists, collaborators and their ambitions.

I shadowed both Mani and Pippa engaging with the work they do within the company. Mani guided me through outlets Gecko are using to build their online presence. We looked through the Gecko’s website to see how it could improve and be more accessible. However, it was also about maintaining Gecko’s unique voice throughout. I understood how to incorporate this voice when Mani and I wrote a Facebook post and tweets together for Gecko’s social media pages.

Mani and I created interview questions with Joff about how he was settling into his new position as General Manager of Gecko. I edited this and designed the blog post, which we tweeted out later that day. This also helped me learn about web design, and I found an unexpected meticulous side to me!

When shadowing Pippa, I attended a meeting with her to discuss Gecko’s process and outreach work with an Executive Producer from a Bombay Drama School. Gecko do a lot of work for schools and colleges, and Pippa needed some more information about various school and college syllabuses. So I did some research on what exam boards in the UK and the International Baccalaureate have Gecko named as an exemplary company. This gave a better idea of which exam boards use Gecko and a general idea of all the structures for different exam specifications for Drama, Dance and Performing Arts. This will hopefully help with the future work Gecko do in their education projects.

On my final day, I sorted through the office’s store room, removing props to transfer to storage. I filed all the archival pieces from previous shows and gave the paperwork a re-jiggle. When dropping off the Gecko items, I got a tour of the vast New Wolsey theatre storage space which included seeing a huge elephant puppet being built from willow, which was beautiful! While driving around Ipswich, Joff shared more about the potential spaces Gecko may move into, which was so exciting to hear about the process and the possible outcomes from Gecko having a space of their own.

My final job was to decorate the office! Using loads of Gecko posters, I pinned them all up to try and make the Gecko Office a bit more personal to the company.

I’ve had a wonderful time in the Gecko Office and the placement came at a pivotal time in my career after finishing university. Having just been offered a job the week after, I shall be taking all I learnt about how to successfully run a theatre company and to navigate the professional arts sector.

‘Our work is exhilarating, but only if we’re standing on stable ground.’

We’ve caught up with our General Manager Joff to see what he’s been up to in his first five months. 

What are your day to day tasks as Gecko’s General Manager?

I still feel I am very new to this role, so I’m not quite sure I know exactly what my day-to-day tasks are for Gecko. There are always lots of things to do and quite often something to solve, so it’s hard to simply say “finance, planning, relationships and organisation.”

My job title is General Manager, but in Gecko’s unique and idiosyncratic way the role is probably slightly different from General Managers at many other similar sized arts organisations. My role is to some extent in two halves, the first being about stability, the second growth. The stability half includes company management, company organisation and sensible informed decision-making. Within this I manage our relationship with Arts Council and Ipswich Borough Council, two of our principal funders. I also monitor and maintain the office function of the organisation; ensuring we are timely with all our reporting, payments and systems. I support our Board of Directors to ensure there is a healthy, critical and productive relationship to the making and touring of Gecko work. Much of this work is cyclical, so for example with the Board we meet quarterly, and so papers need to be generated quarterly in advance of meetings. In a sense that answers the ‘day-to-day’ question, there are always tasks to be completed for forthcoming deadlines. I am currently in the middle of our annual Arts Council data return. This is a big survey required by Arts Council to monitor and record what their portfolio organisations are doing to build a big, complex national picture of the arts under their support.

The other half of my job is about growth. This can include new opportunities, new plans for Gecko, new partnerships locally and regionally and to seek out new life! It’s hard to explain this in the notion of ‘day-to-day’ as working in this was is always different, exciting and potentially challenging. I try to divide my time half and half between stability and growth, and I think this is the best approach, certainly for me personally but also for Gecko.

We are always ambitious and want our work to be as exhilarating as possible, but this is only feasible if we are standing on level and stable ground.

How have you made the role your own in your first five months here?

I always try to bring my enthusiasm, enjoyment and energy to any role I undertake, and really that’s what I hope I have left with Gecko so far.

My previous job was working for an Arts Council Bridge across the East of England and many of my relationships, understanding and awareness of the cultural landscape in this area is informed by that work. I have also worked in museums, art galleries, taught in colleges, as part of a library reading project and for a touring orchestra. I have worked with pre-schoolers to adults from all walks of life and try to ensure my work is concerned with making amazing arts and culture available to all whatever their background. This is an ideal fit for Gecko’s ambitions and approach. Sometimes this can be challenging as not everyone believes the arts have value for everybody. However, I have learnt that patience, passion and commitment are qualities that will gradually break down walls.

I can see so many amazing possibilities for us as a company and I am working at making them / some of them / all of them possible. I am really interested in what the core of our business is, in regards to making Gecko shows and touring them, but I am also really impassioned by our brilliant education and community work. I find an aspect of Gecko’s work that really chimes with me is our commitment to education, learning and community engagement. There is room for more, but that isn’t a bad thing as it means there’s opportunity.

 

“Everyone has welcomed me with
open arms, open minds and
a curiosity to see what I can bring to the table.”

 

Have there been any highlights so far during your time at Gecko?

A highlight was seeing The Wedding on tour in Watford. It was great to see the audience respond with such enthusiasm and energy. I have also really enjoyed working with our Board as well, a team of critically engaged, supportive and interesting people.

The Gecko family in its broadest sense is also a true highlight for this organisation. Everyone has welcomed me with open arms, open minds and a curiosity to see what I can bring to the table. The nature of my work is cumulative and some things I’m aiming to achieve will take time to become reality, not dissimilar to a Gecko show. Good things take time to mature.

What are your future plans for Gecko?

World domination? The Moon? The colonisation of distant galaxies?

Who inspires you?

I love questions like this! I have many people who have inspired me across my life from childhood heroes to platonic crushes on minds. I admire people I’ve worked with who are excellent at their work, all the way to pretend people who are able to make amazing things in the stories I enjoy.

Currently I quite enjoy being line-managed by Jurgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool FC. For my sins I am a Liverpool fan, so I probably enjoy Klopp slightly more than non-football people or supporters of other teams. To me he is funny, enlightening and passionate. If I ever have a problem I can’t quite solve within work, I pick a Klopp interview to watch and often it helps me solve the problem.

We are in a good moment, and we are going in the right direction – it is about pushing the train, not jumping on a running train.

As an artist in your own right, is there a particular Gecko image that is striking to you, and why?

Not to be contrary, but I am going to answer this in regards to music. I love the musicality of the shows, from the wonderful scores Dave produces to the rhythmical elements within the performances. The shows are so beautifully aesthetic as well, and it’s hard to pick a single moment, but the forced perspective sequence in The Wedding is wonderful to behold. It really wowed me the first time I saw it. There is a magical, hyperreal quality to our shows that is visceral but also leads to towards surrealism. It’s beautiful, hypnotic and intoxicating. I love it.

The Artistic Director's View: Gecko in Asia

As part of our May 2018 tour of Asia, the social media account Hao Xi (Good Play) had a few questions for Amit (Artistic Director) and Rich Rusk (Associate Director). They talk about life on the road, updating Chinese classics, and the audience’s crucial role in Gecko shows…

When screening actors and actresses for a show, is dancing ability what you value the most?

Of course, their ability and talent as a performer is vital, but I also value their qualities as a human being. The journey and process of making a Gecko show is far broader and more in-depth than simply performing – it’s a living, breathing process, and so therefore the requirement of that person to be able to make offerings, to reflect, to dig deep into the stories of their life or their own subconscious, to interplay with how I see the world and how the audience might see the world, is really the most important thing. I would also say it’s very important that they are decent, kind, generous, fun human beings!

We know you receive many invitations from various arts and theatrical festivals across the globe. During these long-haul international tours, do you sometimes feel a sense of drifting?

I think, first of all, Gecko’s touring doesn’t tend to be huge periods of time away. In the UK, we just toured for eight weeks, and that’s the longest tour I can remember, but I went home on most weekends. I think I try to avoid being away from home for too long, to offset the potential for that sense of ‘drifting’ you describe. The shows are also very emotionally grounding for me. They allow me to connect with who I am, connect with my meaning and purpose in life, and so, for that reason, I don’t think drifting is the way that I personally experience touring.

Do you have any works that were inspired by your engagement in a foreign culture during your tours abroad?

I spent a number of years touring in South East Asia, where I talked with disenfranchised groups and children who live on the streets, as well as local artists, painters, sculptors, theatre-makers and dancers. I hadn’t formed Gecko quite yet, but those early experiences of touring in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos informed the early part of the journey and still informs me today.

At the heart of it is the idea that we’re all expressive, and everything we’re doing in life is an expression somehow of our emotional needs. We constantly express these needs physically, whether they’re subtle and small or broad and bold. I think it brought into focus how the physical expressiveness of a child on the streets of Cambodia, or the physical expressiveness of an adult artist, or somebody in any other environment, is doing the same thing, and it’s there to be read and to be understood. I think that inspired some very formative ideas of what Gecko is.

Last year, I went to watch your show The Dreamer – a production developed in collaboration with the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre – inspired by two masterpieces, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Peony Pavilion.  There is a part in it where you use a dividing screen to account the story of The Peony Pavilion. Some of the audience find it quite interesting, while others think it only reflects your interpretation of China that’s full of classic imagery and ideas, however it is a lot different from the China that we are living in, what do you think?

Answered by Rich Rusk, the director of The Dreamer:

In my eyes, China is incredibly modern and fast-paced. It’s high tech and exciting. Staging the Peony Pavilion moments in the show was a huge challenge, I wanted it to have a classical feel but highlight the more universally relatable, and therefore modern themes in the story. I had the same approach to the Shakespeare elements.

The story may be about the old world, but themes of choice, loneliness, love, forced marriage, parental expectations and being ‘left over’ are very true and present today. The aesthetic of the screen may seem classic, but the story that the shadows tell is very much one of an independent, strong woman living in a world run by powerful men. In our story, it’s this ‘classical’ Chinese figure who inspires our modern day protagonist to stand on her own two feet.

You once mentioned in an interview that Gecko’s productions normally do not have a very obvious storyline, but nor is it completely without order. The audience should look at it by putting themselves in it and by combining their own experience. Will there be audiences who cannot ‘find themselves’ when watching your shows, or are unable to be impressed?

The shows have a pretty simple and clear journey if you wish to see it in that way, but it’s down to you personally how deeply you involve yourself with the experience.

I think nearly everyone can involve themselves on a certain level. It could be that you’re impressed by the visual imagery, the creativity onstage and the endeavour of the performers (which is always very high). Perhaps you simply follow the storyline. On the other hand, you might begin to see yourself very clearly, and you embark on the show as a metaphorical dream-like experience in which everything is ricocheted off the experiences of your own life.

When you make something that is experiential and metaphorical, you have to give way to the potential for a range of different experiences to happen, but I try to make it in the most generous way, to try to hand people an invitation into a deep experience.

But if people have a more simple one, I think they tend to enjoy that as well!

Gecko performed Institute in Shanghai and Nanjing (China), and The Wedding at the MODAFE Festival in Seoul (South Korea).

The Producer's View: Gecko in Asia

We caught up with our Executive Producer Rosalind Wynn during our international tour with one central question in mind: what role does the producer play in international touring? Here’s how she replied…

One of the very exciting and unique elements of working for Gecko is the experience of international touring. Since joining the company in 2013 I have toured with the company to Georgia, Colombia, Russia, Poland, China, Mexico, Hong Kong, Macau, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Romania, Malaysia, Australia and Spain, some of these multiple times. We have also created an international co-production with Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre in China.

I’m writing this from Arko Arts Theatre in Seoul, South Korea, where we’re preparing to perform our international premiere of The Wedding to open the 2018 MODAFE (Modern Dance Festival). On this tour, we have already been to Shanghai and Nanjing in China with our Asian premiere of Institute.

It’s quite the puzzle of activity and availability. A total of 20 people have been involved across the tours, some working on both shows, some on just one, some also delivering workshops, and with additional meetings happening in Hong Kong and Taiwan for Amit and I.

International touring takes a lot of planning: we need to confirm the availability of our performing and technical team (who all work freelance), as well as agree the final deals and schedules with our international partners. We’re often programmed within a festival, so the international partner has many shows to organise across a short period of time. Sometimes, like with this tour, we have multiple weeks of touring and performing in different cities, but this is the first time that we’ve toured one show to one country followed immediately by another show to another, which came with even greater time constraints around visa applications and local performance licences.

It’s certainly not a holiday, with a busy and demanding schedule, always walking into the slight unknown and battling with language barriers. But it’s an incredibly rewarding and insightful way of working too.

The company has toured internationally since the creation of the first show Taylor’s Dummies. The work is created to have a universal appeal with the intention that each audience member will have a personal response to the shows, relating to a resonance with their own life and experience. With a reliance on movement, emotion, design and sound to tell the story, as opposed to language, the work is well suited to international performances and appeals to audiences across the world.

It’s fascinating to hear the response to the shows from different audiences. Across the years I’ve been interested by responses that seem to be very universal no matter which country we’re performing in, and some that seem very specific to a certain country and culture. Taking Institute to China, we were unsure of what the response would be in a country where mental health is still a hushed subject. We were very moved by audience responses: one audience member who had studied psychology had been moved to think about the mental health spectrum that we all find ourselves on whilst relating closely with the character of Louis, whilst another person identified with Daniel, always placing too much pressure on himself to achieve. Journalists, too, were keen to understand our project in collaboration with Suffolk Mind to explore emotional needs through physical theatre. Mental well-being is a big subject in China, and audiences were open in sharing their thoughts and experiences.

For Gecko, international touring is an integral aspect of the company’s existence. After our shows have been created and toured in the UK it’s an opportunity to share them with wide audiences for a number of years. But more than this, it’s a place of exchange where we’re able to share our working practice and also learn from our international partners and audiences, absorbing influences from different cultures into our work. This feels more true now than ever, where on arrival to Shanghai we were greeted by our remarkable performers and collaborators of The Dreamer, who shared the week with us and were on hand to help with any problems, including giving up a Saturday to take me on a mad shopping dash to replace a number of costumes missing from the suitcases!

Relationships like this are special and important, especially with the divisive politics we see today. We’ve had many brilliant conversations around the performances of the shows, not just with audiences, but also international higher education institutions and professional companies to provide training in physical and devised theatre, invitations to create site responsive work and possible future collaborations.

And tonight we perform The Wedding in South Korea, a show that looks at the relationship between the individual and the state.

Amid the possible collapse of talks with the North, tonight’s post show discussion should prove to be thought-provoking!

Work Placement Blog - Iona

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I headed down to Ipswich on a brisk February morning, not sure quite what to expect at the end of a very, very, (very, very, very) long journey from The North – only to find a lovely house to stay in – complete with ADORABLE dog, and an office full of wonderful people to meet.

My first day at Gecko was a chance to get settled in the new offices, (that were new not just to me – but to the whole team) and get to know the people working behind the scenes on the day to day running of the Gecko company too. I spent an interesting morning with Joff and Mani finding out a little of what had led them to their career in the arts, as well as spending a lot of time talking about art, theatre and writing in general, and of course about Gecko itself! I was encouraged to ask questions and to learn from the bank of experience each member of the team had and was hugely inspired and encouraged by hearing such varied and different creative stories. Later in the day, I was introduced to my true challenge of the week – organising and taking inventory of what had become a little bit of an unofficial store room within the offices, with a view to making the space more suitable for human habitation at some point in the future! The job was perfect for me, as a keen organiser and spreadsheet formatter!

As the week went on, I continued with my store room reshuffle (something I got very into), as well as spending some time learning about the importance of social media and engaging with a wider audience on various platforms – even being able to lend some insight into the world of YouTube as we considered how the company’s channel could be developed to bring in a larger online viewership. We also spent a surprisingly long time crafting a Valentines Instagram post – something I was amazed was so difficult to get right, as a person who will openly admit to “Instagramming” way too much!

I spent a day sorting through the incredible (and expansive) collection of set, costume and prop elements that Gecko holds in storage, implementing the same cataloguing system I had developed for the store room at the offices to help organise this much larger space. It proved to be a huge undertaking, and a truly unique one – never before have I had to take inventory of a varied selection of plastic dolls in the same stroke as a collection of assorted musical instruments! Nothing else could have given such an insight into the delightfully eclectic creative process behind every Gecko show.

Throughout the whole week, I was made to feel welcome and involved – even when it came down to things like contributing in meetings, working through problems in the office, even to giving an opinion on artworks brought in by a local artist (Amazing!). I was able to apply myself to the tasks I was given knowing I was genuinely contributing to the work of the office and so went home each evening feeling satisfied and accomplished, having had full day of interesting conversation and company.

I finished off a fabulous week by seeing Gecko’s newest show, The Wedding at my local theatre, the Playhouse in Liverpool. The show was sensational, and my experience getting to know a small number of the people who contributed to the creation of it made me feel even closer to the action and gave me a massive appreciation for what had gone on to bring something so complex to life.

What a satisfying way to end my Gecko experience – rounding off a week full of adventures I will definitely continue to draw upon as I continue to pursue my own career!

To find out more about how you can apply to work experience at the Gecko office, please visit our Work Experience page.


Work Experience Blog - Issy

Despite only spending three days working at Gecko, I feel as if I’ve learned a lot about working in the more admin-orientated side of theatre. I kicked things off by scrolling through Gecko’s website, and familiarising myself with Gecko’s past and present work.

I then spent the remainder of my three days in an office, with a varying cast of interesting people, learning how to use Excel spreadsheets; something I’d been blissfully naïve of before starting at Gecko... ahahah. No, I actually felt as if I was gaining relevant transferable skills, I was pulling together a whole bunch of data from various different places to create a database of information on Schools and Universities, which would be useful for Gecko in the future when arranging tours and organising workshops.

It was also actually quite satisfying to how much data I’d accumulated in such a short period of time. I rounded off my work experience by interviewing Belinda about Gecko, and tried to unravel the mystery behind why the company is called Gecko (Belinda deduced it has something to do with similarities between the physical theatre/unique movement aspect of Gecko and an actual, literal, gecko). She also talked me through their business plan, which was interesting, and gave me an insight into the inner workings of a company.

I’ve enjoyed my time at Gecko, I feel as if I’ve learnt a lot in a small amount of time, and it has definitely furthered my I.T. skills and work place confidence. I’m extremely keen to experience a Gecko show in real life; to see the final product that everyone has helped contribute towards.

Physical theatre meets mental health

Production image from  Institute

Production image from Institute

Following Gecko’s Wellcome funded project around Institute in Autumn 2016, Ezra Hewing, Head of Mental Health Education at Suffolk Mind, wrote the following article reflecting on the experience.

A project involving Gecko, a physical theatre company based in Ipswich, and charity Suffolk Mind has resulted in a new approach to addressing mental health.

Following a successful tour of their performance, Institute, which explores the themes of men’s mental health and what it means to take care of somebody, Gecko approached Suffolk Mind in February of 2016, initially seeking support with enabling their audiences to further explore the issues raised in Institute. But having attended training which introduced Suffolk Mind’s approach to mental health, they decided to take things further.

At the core of Suffolk Mind’s approach is the understanding that we all have emotional needs which have to be met for us to stay mentally healthy, and that we have the innate resources – skills and tools we are born with – to meet those needs. Gecko delivers physical theatre workshops all over the country and wondered whether their particular, visceral style of work could be a successful vehicle for people to explore their emotional needs and methods of caring for them.

Gecko was awarded a grant from Wellcome to devise and deliver a programme of ancillary activities around the autumn 2016 tour of Gecko’s production Institute to engage audiences with issues around mental wellbeing arising in the show.

The project involved four venues, Quay Place in Ipswich, HOME in Manchester, the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton and Liverpool Playhouse and was targeted at working age men with or without mental health challenges, who were non-traditional theatre attenders.

The programme included watching the performance; attending a post-show discussion with local expert mental health service providers and users on the panel able to answer mental health related questions; and participation in a specially developed physical theatre workshop combining Gecko’s physical theatre methods and Suffolk Mind’s work on Emotional Needs, created and delivered by Amit Lahav, Gecko’s Artistic Director, Helen Baggett, Gecko’s Associate Director and Ezra Hewing, Head of Mental Health Education at Suffolk Mind. Each performance was attended by representatives from the local Mind or similar mental health service providers to offer support and share information about available services.

A free programme was created and given to every audience member with information about Institute, Emotional Needs, an article commissioned from Simon Anderson and Julie Brownlie, debating a possible correlation between the decline in industry and a rise in male mental ill-health and local mental health resources.

The project aimed to increase self-awareness of mental health issues and provide the knowledge and tools to help participants learn to support their own emotional needs leading to improved mental wellbeing. It also aimed to help break down barriers to engagement with local mental health providers, have a positive impact on reducing stigma attached to seeking help, and to consider any link between a decline in industry and a rise in male mental ill health. Evaluation was carried out immediately following a performance, post-show discussion, and workshop with the option of participating in a case study and being interviewed one month and three months later to measure immediate and longer term benefits. While researchers had expected positive outcomes, given the experience of the workshop leaders, they were taken aback by the results. One participant fed back that the  workshop “should be put on prescription on the NHS,” while another commented “my friend, he’s been in psychotherapy …, and he said in that two hours he did more work than in those eighteen months.”

Another suggested a reason for the success of the workshop was the creation of “an environment of trust, and of safety and of community.”

It was clear that physical theatre workshops were highly effective interventions for increasing self-awareness and engagement with learning on how to care for their emotional wellbeing; and for supporting emotional connection in people who have difficulty making said connections:

“I put walls up and what struck me was that there were no walls while I was doing that (eye contact) piece. I stripped myself totally bare  …  And … it felt ok.  So maybe it’s ok and I’m ok and I’m safe to start doing that in everyday life.  In friendships, in relationships, just in general.”

That physical theatre intervention can be effective means of communicating, through an immersive experience, the reality of mental ill health; and specifically, communicating the struggles of male mental ill health to women.

“The portrayal of emotion through movement was beautiful and thought-provoking. It highlighted how men verbally hide their emotion.  It showed how vulnerable men can be, no matter how much they distract from that.  The inclusion of foreign languages helps portray this verbal barrier men put up between each other.”

Everybody who completed a questionnaire agreed that it had increased their awareness of their emotional needs and ways in which they could look after them. 74% identified positive changes they planned to make, and one month later 81% had experienced an improvement in their wellbeing, which they said was as a result of the workshop, and this improvement was maintained after three months. The results convinced the Gecko-Suffolk Mind partnership that it would be valuable to continue the workshop programme beyond the tour of Institute. Having run it as a standalone at Latitude Festival in July, they are now exploring making it available at sixth forms and colleges, in light of the recent attention drawn to the rising mental ill health challenges of teenagers and young people.

Ezra Hewing, Head of Mental Health Education, Suffolk Mind.

Ed Blog 3 | The Dreamer | EdFringe Top Tips

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As everyone gears up for the start of the festival this week – here are 3 top tips for enjoying the festival from our Associate Director Rich.

1. GO DIGITAL

Don’t worry about picking up flyers; social media is the new flyering! Save the trees – let’s go digital! Every time you walk down The Royal Mile you can end up politely gathering a huge pile of paper and card. You look at it once, write down what you want to see, then bin the flyers. Instead, make a note on your phone as you walk along, (or take a photo of the cast holding their flyer) take down all the companies that look interesting and the names of all the good people you meet, and check them out online. Always have a list on the go.

The Fringe has an app and Twitter has all the word-of-mouth you could possibly need… Also, why not get involved? Share feedback about the shows you see on Twitter and Facebook – help others choose what to see!

If you send us your poster with dates attached, we will happily add it to our Facebook album.

2. EAT SOMETHING GREEN

If you are planning to hit the Fringe head first, you may find yourself on the move for 12 hours a day (or more). So remember to eat proper food, ideally something to help you fend off Fringe flu! Healthy snacks in your bag will keep you going as you run between venues; and when you do finally sit down to eat don’t just tuck into the nachos in the Gilded Balloon Library Bar… or the delicious (yet insanely expensive) Assembly garden burgers… which are totally irresistible late at night… Also, beer is not food but Black Medicine coffee is in fact medicinal.

3. MOST IMPORTANT GIVEN THE YEAR WE ARE ALL HAVING – FEEL THE LOVE

Make friends with everyone: other companies, audiences, the lovely locals, anyone you can. If you are up with a show, never ever slag off a show in public – you never know who might be listening and why waste vital show watching energy. Every Fringe participant is trying; everyone is doing their best to make the most exciting work they can. Some people have no resources or time, others have everything they need apart from a great idea… The arts are up against it, but pretty much everyone at the Fringe is on a mission to make something brilliant. As artists and makers, it’s essential we stick together. Treat the Fringe like a competition and you are in for a hellish time. Treat it like a festival of art and make as many friends and positive connections as you can, and it’s an amazing place to be.

Click here to book tickets