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read the whole story Oct. 18th 2018

How Tangled Feet are tackling anxiety in children

A report from the Children’s Commissioner at the end of last year found that there is an ‘epidemic of anxiety’ in young people. The number of children seeing psychiatrists has risen by a third, with the highest increase – 31% in a year – seen in those aged 9 and under. It’s a shocking rise. (Thanks to Flossie Waite from Children’s Theatre Reviews for digging out the statistic).

 

It was this sort of news that prompted us to make Butterflies, a Co-Production with Half Moon, that used anxiety in children as a starting point for a show for 3-8 year olds. We first started making the show in 2017 and did some test performances at Half Moon. This year we have developed the show and it’s touring until Nov 24th.  Alongside the tour we have launched a Mindfulness programme to run in four schools in 2019.

The performance of Butterflies depicts a journey of three characters as they encounter various anxieties.  We developed ideas for the types of anxiety they would feel through research, development rehearsals and some workshop sessions with a group of young people who refuse to go to school due to extreme anxiety (part of our Dramatherapy programme in Croydon). We focused on anxieties that are often deep rooted in our hearts and minds (separation anxiety, the dark, loud noises, heights) alongside ones that are learnt or developed as we socialise and grow up (anxiety over failure, public perceptions of us, not knowing what might happen next).

 

For children all of these anxieties are keenly felt. Anyone attempting to get a young baby to sleep in their own room or be ok at the morning drop off knows how strong the anxiety over separation is felt (by both parties). We all have these and are often born with inbuilt triggers to make us worry in order to survive.  Even the very young have ‘butterflies’ We recently did a workshop for under 5’s who were seeing Butterflies the following week to discuss the feeling of ‘butterflies in your stomach’ or the fear over not knowing what will happen next and these are feelings that are strongly experienced at that age.

 

As we grow up and start to socialise and go to school the anxieties grow and become more complex. The worry over changing year groups or a whole new school, getting things wrong in class or in life and the perception of you by your peers and elders. There is an anxiety to trip you up everywhere.

 

In Butterflies and our Mindfulness programme we highlight that a small dose of anxiety is vital to help us get through the day unscathed (not run into a road, jump off a wall, to be ready for an exam) – it’s when the anxiety starts to take control – when it slips into the driving seat of our lives- that’s when its debilitating and can make you ill.  With the show and workshop programme we want to look at how we can live with or ride with small levels of anxiety and when there is a surge then friendships, creativity, talking and practical exercises can help.

 

Our school years require so many skills, in particular how we adapt, how we cope with change. Imagine in your adult working life having to change your boss, your work setting and your aims and targets every 12 months. Now apply this to when you were 5. Transition is difficult and for some children it can feel impossible. Through our discussions with teachers across all key stages and our own experiences in schools it had become clear that there are two particular years were the transition for students was a bigger jump. Year 1; where students move from the free flow play model of reception to more structured learning, and at the other end of the spectrum year 12; where the move from GCSE to A Level requires a more independent learning model.  Teachers have reported that at these transition points symptoms of anxiety were more prevalent and mental health, particularly at year 12, started to suffer in some students. A report released today from Action for Children finds that 1 in 3 teenagers are suffering from anxiety. This is something that absolutely needs addressing nationally and it seems that this is becoming more apparent to Ofsted.

 

“Good mental health is the foundation to young people achieving their aspirations. There have been changes to the Ofsted common inspection framework, and these are centered on emotional wellbeing.”  Innovating Minds. To be outstanding schools must enable students to be able to “make informed choices about healthy eating, fitness and their emotional and mental wellbeing”

 

Tangled Feet’s mindfulness project is being funded by the Luton Arts Fund supported by Luton Borough Council & Luton Culture. It is aiming to create a safe space where students can explore their feelings physically and verbally, work with them, talk about them and also learn specialist tools that they can utilise when they feel that panic building.  We are working with a mindfulness teacher to create a programme of bespoke sessions for each of the 4 schools involved in the pilot project. The objective is to give students the ability to take more control of their emotional wellbeing, achievement and happiness in school and beyond. 

 

When Butterflies opened at Half Moon theatre earlier this year it was reviewed by Flossie Waite at Children’s Theatre Reviews. She was extremely candid in her review and noted that her anxiety had been felt since childhood, continued today and the experience of watching Butterflies when younger could have been transformative:

 

“There’s so much to be anxious about as a young person now, from social media to the general instability that we’re all currently living through, but levels of anxiety seem to be rising alongside levels of awareness. As someone who has had anxiety for as long as I can remember – certainly from the age of the young audience sat around me, captivated by the show – seeing Butterflies 20 years ago would have been a truly transformative experience, though watching it now is powerful enough. Ultimately, however, this show is for everyone – from those who only occasionally feel a flutter in their tummy to people like me whose belly is basically a butterfly tent – speaking compassionately to those who suffer, and showing ways to be supportive for those who don’t.” (Flossie Waite https://childrenstheatrereviews.com/2018/09/23/butterflies/)

 

Although it was sad to read about Flossie’s battle with anxiety it affirmed the shows importance to start conversations in school, in friendship groups and in families. Our mindfulness programme will follow up that conversation with creative activities, discussions and mindfulness exercises.

 

If some of those children who are statistics of the Children’s Commissioner report or Action for Children Survey find themselves within the Mindfulness Programme in 2019 we hope we leave them with tools to help them in the future. We aim to expand the programme after the pilot year.

 

Nathan Curry (Co-Director) & Emily Eversden (Participation Director)

 

Butterflies tours until Nov 24th /productions/31-butterflies

 

The Mindfulness Programme runs in four Luton schools from Jan-May 2019 and was funded by Luton Council, Luton Culture, Arts Council England, University of Bedfordshire and Capital Regional 7

 

 

 

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read the whole story Aug. 21st 2018

TF in the Press this week

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As we get ready for two productions opening next week and next month we've been featured in some press articles that unpick how we've made the work.

Boots on the Ground opens on August 26th/27th and was featured in Salisbury Journal 

http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/16416250.boots-on-the-ground-join-lift-off-weekend-celebrations

 

In Septmber Butterflies and Need A Little Help go on UK tours and we've been chatting to Children's Theatre Review about how and why we make work for young people

https://childrenstheatrereviews.com/2018/08/20/interview-tangled-feets-nathan-curry-on-butterflies/

 

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read the whole story Jul. 19th 2018

6 Thoughts on Community Theatre/Working in schools

Tangled Feet have just returned from 9 days in Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria where we co-created a new piece of site-specific theatre with 5 local schools (150 young people) and the local community. It was a gruelling, fairly stressful and completely uplifting experience.

Since returning home I’ve been thinking about what it means to make work in and alongside a community and how powerful the effect can be when that community has less opportunity to access artistic experiences than others. I’ve also been thinking of where love fits into community theatre.

We set out to make a show that was created by the young performers (and one of their teachers) and whilst responding to and inspired by local realities, we hoped it would stretch everyone in terms of style and content.

 

The story was developed using the local Loki Stone (a carving of the Norse God of Chaos found nearby) as a starting point. The show started with the discovery of a large box, dug up from underneath the school playing field (local farmer Monty provided the large hole.) By opening the box the spirit of Loki was released and mayhem ensued. We imagined a world where Loki was messing with the elements; water, earth, wind and heat and turning the weather on its head (not hard to imagine recently). What followed was a site responsive, indoors and outdoors promenade performance with live music as we attempted to tame the weather and get Loki back under control.

Reflecting on the experience I wanted to share some thoughts:

 

1) “Heroes don’t always wear capes”

The arts are held up, celebrated and shared by key individuals in local communities and they are the ones that are sustaining creativity in young people. Tangled Feet were merely visitors to this community and the ambition, free labour and tenacity of Kate Lynch and Vicki Betram who run Kirkby Stephen Community Arts was the reason it happened. They were and are completely professional but did most of this gig unpaid – I wonder if funders, the local community and artists know their extraordinary value.

 

2) Co-create

It seems completely simple to a devising ensemble and probably to many theatre makers reading this but the simple act of giving up creative power and putting the authorship of the art into the hands local young people leads to some astounding results. Yes the dramaturgy may be patchy, the work under rehearsed and design only filtered through a few days of creative thinking but the outcomes on this project were of a different value (that word again). The students and community feel creatively powerful. One student will now start their own drama club in a local school with no drama provision, the school ‘jam’ band is keen to revive, the local amateur dramatic group has new younger performers, the drama teacher had intense CPD, the school witnessed problematic Year 7 boys become men, students from 5 schools bonded through creative thinking. But most importantly the students saw themselves as the artists - they made the creative decisions- they made the art, they were not pawns in the art.  Einstein said something like “If you teach a child merely knowledge they will create what they know. If you teach them creativity, they will create things no one has ever thought of.” I feel like this is something we all need reminding of.  

 

3) Work rurally

I loved being in Cumbria. The community and landscape are things of beauty but the rural communities have huge challenges accessing cultural experiences. Tangled Feet have recently worked in the most rural parts of Somerset and Cumbria. I have been struck during those experiences of how isolated young people can be from the arts unless they have a parent ‘to take them’. There is very basic (if any) public transport, a handful of venues if you can get to them and a circuit of under resourced rural touring shows or theatre in education shows that schools can hardly afford. What are we all doing about this or are we just going to continue to have larger playhouses and events and expect people to pitch up to us? I have often suggested that all regular funded arts organisations should make one piece of free to access outdoor art every year, I’ll now add to that list they should all work rurally (at their own expense) or in areas with little public transport infrastructure.

 

4) Work site specifically/outdoors in schools

Whilst the weather it not always going to be as kind as it has been this summer, going outside (especially with young people) to make art changes the rules with incredible results. Everything becomes more democratic, limitless and the dynamic between collaborators is re-imagined. The walls of a building where art may be hung, the rows of chairs facing a stage and narratives set in rooms are all blown out of the water and replaced by a canvas that has no rules. It also changes how the audience move and talk with each other – the space becomes less formal and less intimidating.

5) The Silo

The experience also highlights the power of gatekeepers and the dangerous attitude of putting creative thinking into a silo of ‘the arty fartys’. We faced some suspicion about why we had come, some key people needed more convincing than others and because the event didn’t include winning anything the value we offered (confidence, team work, creative thinking, friendship, leadership, artistic skill, catering, marketing, lighting, health & safety, negotiation, development ideas.. I could go on…) wasn’t immediately obvious. There was lots of ‘we don’t do that’, ‘it’s not for me’ and I am sure there were some people who tried their best to ignore our presence. I have to ask myself why is that? Their fear? Our attitudes? Our work? Perhaps it’s all tied up in the poisonous thought that theatre is only for a few and you either can or can’t do it. Everyone can be creative and everyone is welcome but its up to both sides to break down barriers.

 

6) Love

Love was very present in Kirkby Stephen and the surrounding communities. You could tell the young people really cared for each other and the way the families engaged with the project and their neighbours was a thing of beauty. When I was on one of my site visits in the snow (remember that?) back in March local people took in stranded motorists and gave them a bed and food. On this summer visit I noticed the Police Station is only open two afternoons a week. In this part of the world the community is the emergency service. Never have I worked on a project where every request was met with a cheery ‘I’ve know someone who can do that” and the next day they appeared ready to offer their services. They took responsibility for each other, for the success of the project and for their visitor’s happiness. How often do you take responsibility for your community (however you define it)?

We feel like we started a beautiful new relationship with Kirkby Stephen and the surrounding area and we can’t wait to go back. I’ll leave you with the thoughts of a parent below. Nathan

 

“What an amazing experience for the audience but more importantly for the students. Such immersive experiences are vital for a small rural school where geography and funds limit access to mainstream art and culture. It may sound unlikely that eight days can make such a difference to children’s lives but such a unique experience which takes them out of their comfort zone and plunges them into a different world alongside other students they may not have socialised with or thought they had anything in common with can be truly transformative.“

 

Photos by Ben Holmes

 

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read the whole story Jun. 27th 2018

Reviewing outdoor theatre: the missing piece of the puzzle?

By KAT JOYCE

 

This weekend saw us premiering our newest outdoor performance, That Parking Show, at the brilliant Imagine Luton festival. It was a great weekend in a number of ways: 

1.      The show, which we've been making for the last three weeks, came together and really seemed to 'land' in front of its first audiences.

2.      Our two new performers, Blayar and Melaina, both made their outdoor debut, nailed their performances, and loved the experience.

 

3.      Imagine Luton festival, which was brand new last year, has already gained impressive traction and is pulling really big, enthusiastic audiences (and attracting new, unexpected ones) with a fantastic programme of work (thanks Imagine festivals for taking a punt and commissioning us). 

4.      The sun shone all weekend.

5.      England won the football 6-1 (our final show gained an extra sound effect half way through with a city-wide live chorus of 'Three Lions' spilling out of various pubs)

6.      An actual proper, renowned dance critic travelled to Luton to review some of the work. 

 

 

To continue reading click 'Read the whole story' next to the date at the top.

For those who work in the outdoor arts, point 6 (above) probably seems even more extraordinary than point 5, so we'd like to express a massive THANK YOU to Donald Hutera for making the journey (and, of course, for saying nice things about That Parking Show on Twitter!).

 

 

To put the lack of criticism in context: when we did our 'Take To The Streets' season in 2012, we calculated at the end of it that we'd had a larger audience across the season than if we had sold out the upstairs and downstairs of the Royal Court Theatre for a month. Despite this number of audience seeing (and, we hope, mostly enjoying) our work, not one critic turned up to see any of it, despite our invitations. 

 

This is pretty much a standard frustration if you work in outdoor arts. 

 

Despite its massive popularity, despite the enormous and diverse audiences outdoor work attracts, despite the level of skill deployed and the range of extraordinary talent to be seen at British outdoor arts festivals, despite the considerable investment over the last decade by ACE; despite all this, the outdoor arts have failed in one major regard, and that is in developing a culture of criticism around the artform.

 

There are of course a couple of exceptions - Lyn Gardner has made time to see and write about outdoor work across the UK (another reason her loss at the Guardian is a travesty) and Sanjoy Roy has covered some of this year’s GDIF - but it’s still a minuscule proportion of work made that receives any kind of critical attention.

 

There are lots of reasons for this. There's no press nights in outdoor arts for a start – the sector lacks the glamour of its indoor relative and you won't get a glass of chilled white wine in a plush theatre bar (you might get a can of slightly warm beer in a slightly sweaty tent if you're really lucky). Shows don't run for weeks – they are generally on for just a couple of days in each locale, and attendance is usually free – so there's not the same economic drive to get reviews to drum up audience and drive ticket sales. And alongside this – indeed, because of it – the outdoor arts lacks a critical discourse, which is a massive shame for many reasons.

 

A critical response to outdoor arts would do many positive things. It would help us to celebrate and record some of the extraordinary but fleeting moments which captivate audiences. It would enable us to stop reinventing the wheel, and to better interrogate what we are doing well as companies and a sector. It would help us to see trends emerging and to better contextualise what we are doing against the background of the culture of work that's come before. All of this would develop intellectual muscle in the sector and strengthen British outdoor work in an international market. 

 

It’s not a simple thing to solve. I’d argue that the outdoor arts needs its own specialist critics in order to develop a sophisticated critical vocabulary around the practice. Alongside the creative and technical expertise which companies are demonstrating in the performances themselves (which might, for example, be adeptly written about by an indoor theatre or dance critic), an outdoor performance is also doing a lot of things which we don't – in mainstream criticism anyway – have an adequate vocabulary to talk about. This is stuff to do with the way we negotiate the site and the space, the unpredictabilities of weather, audience, streetscape, the means by which the performance uses, disregards or celebrates the existing cultures and hidden or explicit stories inherent in the space....I could go on (I have already if you want to read the final chapter of my doctoral thesis....) All of this stuff is absolutely part and parcel of outdoor practice and needs to be analysed as such. There's some exciting work happening in the world of academia (Artizani's James MacPherson is doing some fascinating stuff analysing the ways performances interact with crowds for example) but despite some promising signs and some attempts to get something off the ground, this stuff still doesn't seem to be evolving into even the beginning seeds of a critical discourse.

 

What do we need in order to make that happen? In my opinion, it's an issue which needs to be led by sectoral leaders (Outdoor Arts UK, Without Walls, the major outdoor festivals). But Donald Hutera getting on a train to Luton is a great place to start. 

 

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read the whole story Jun. 13th 2018

My name is Melaina Pecorini

Hey there, my name is Melaina Pecorini and I am one of the new recruits to join the company of Tanged feet. I have currently just finished my three-year training at East 15, the course of my choice was BA Acting and Stage Combat.

One of the reason I got into acting, was because I love to get into the mind of the character and understand why they act in that way, to find empathy with someone you may have nothing in common with.

My journey with Tangled Feet started in February, when Kat (one of the Tangled feet directors) attended our showcase, picked us out from the crowed and invited us to audition for ‘That Parking Show’. it was lovely to see the company making a conscious choice of seeking BAME actors for this project.

 

To continue reading click 'Read the whole story' next to the date at the top.

So far, we have had two weeks of Research and Development. Which included getting to know each other, playing games and creating improves to discover the outline of the overall show. Already it has been such a great process and I don’t think I have ever laughed so much.

 

That Parking Show will be something you will not want your eyes to miss. It’s a mixture of light-hearted comedy, acrobatic and slapstick elements to exploring the theme of road rage, that I’m sure many drivers have felt before and will be able to relate to and how the little sparks of anger can drastically escalate into a fire of pure rage. 

 

I have loved working so closely with everyone involved and I can’t wait to get this show on the road.

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read the whole story Mar. 28th 2018

It's official: Tangled Feet is Fantastic for Families!

By Kat Joyce

 

We are very honoured to have been recognised with a prize for Best Family-Friendly Workplace Initiative' by the Fantastic for Families campaign.

 

Over the years the number of people in the ensemble with kids has grown to the point that there are now more children than adults in the TF tribe. So really, we had to adapt our working lives or we would just not have been able to carry on making work. The upshot of that is that, motivated by our long-standing commitments to working together, we've found loads of creative ways to accommodate people's parenting status.

 

The theatre industry can be horribly unfriendly towards parents and parents-to-be. I know of women who work at major buildings who privately report a culture where taking time out for motherhood marks you clearly as someone with no desire to succeed. I know actors who have been dropped by their agents during maternity leave because 'it doesn't seem like you want to return to work after your baby'. Others who've had to desperately scrabble around for childcare when production schedules are changed at the last minute. In an industry where there are always more creatives than there are jobs, and people often feel very precarious and disposable, many try to behave as if they don't have children, hiding their families out of sight. This is a real shame, as it means that talent and experience haemorrhage out of our industry as people (mainly women) find family lives incompatible with continuing to work.

To read the full blog click 'Read the whole story' next to the date at the top.

But as TF have found, if you are invested in people and committed to making a relationship work then it is often remarkably easy to make some accommodations so that they can continue being a valued part of the team. We've done flexible working, part time, having meetings via skype, bringing small babies in to work and strapping toddlers on in slings and cracking on with the tech. Ensemble working lends itself job shares and shared responsibilities. It's no hardship to plan a production schedule so everyone has a good few weeks notice. It's very often possible to accommodate someone arriving late or leaving early to pick up a child from nursery. What works for one parent might not work for another, so we've been very proactive about sorting out a solution for each person. 'How can we make this work for you?' is a phenomenally easy question to ask but takes a lot of people by surprise.

 

And the benefits are manifold. Parents, of course, bring a wealth of skills to the table: patience, ability to juggle, conflict resolution, silliness, and the ability to see the world from a different perspective. When people are freed of the stress of trying to juggle competing demands, they can use that energy creatively. Children in the room often generate play (admittedly, sometimes they are a huge distraction, but swings and roundabouts). But really importantly, people with children understand the pressures of having children, and how to alleviate them. If we want our theatres to be family-friendly places, open and accessible, then we need our theatres and companies to be family-friendly workplaces. One begets the other.

 

We’ve been out on the road over the last few weeks with our show for 2-7’s Need A Little Help. The show follows the life of a young carer who has to take on the caring responsibilities for her father. The theme of care, families and juggling life’s challenges is central to the performance as well as the creation and touring period (the cast and creative team features 4 parents). To us, it feels like the work has an extra layer of authenticity and love as it focuses on the challenges of being a parent and having a child, as well as being a child and having a parent and was made by parents with children in the room!

 

What’s been hugely satisfying is the type of tour we’ve been on – its part of a Strategic Touring Scheme named Hopper and takes early years theatre to meet early years audiences in rural settings. Most of the young audience in Watchet, Middlezoy, Taunton and Tidworth had not spent much time in theatres nor had this sort of theatre visited their place of care/education. We had so many comments that the children rarely got the chance to see plays and that it was so important that it connected with their family life and their family relationships. We were so pleased to share the work in this way and continue our commitment to families – both in the company and in the audiences we meet.

 

Special thanks to all our children and long suffering partners and wider families for their love and creative inspiration.

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read the whole story Mar. 14th 2018

Tangled Feet wins Fantastic For Families Award

Tangled Feet is delighted to have won Best Family-Friendly Workplace Initiative for its contribution to arts and culture for families during 2017.

 

A message from the judging panel:

'Tangled Feet know that having caring responsibilities brings valuable skills and insights so they made space in every aspect of their working patterns and creative work to benefit from this. From job sharing to baby-friendly matinees the value of ‘care’ is at the core of the story they tell to audiences and colleagues across the industry.'

 

Voted for by a panel of expert judges from the arts sector, awards recognise the outstanding events that took place during 2017 and the exemplary family-friendly organisations and venues that participated.

Awards recognise the fantastic organisations who put on excellent events, welcomed families into their building, thought about the needs of older visitors, and considered the caring responsibilities of their staff.

Fantastic for Families is a website and promotional campaign run by the Family Arts Campaign, helping families to discover affordable and relevant quality arts and cultural activities from trusted organisers in their local area. Since its beginnings in 2013 as an annual national Festival during October, it has reached approximately 2.2 million family members and included over 750 pieces of newly commissioned work specifically for families.

 

Daren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England said: Whatever the shape of your family the arts can provide it with happiness, with pleasure, with things to do together to create together and to remember together.

 

 

Phil Cave, Director of Engagement and Audiences at Arts Council England said: The Family Arts Campaign continues to inspire artists, arts organisations and families to engage in a vast range of arts activities across the country. It provides time for families to get together and create shared memories, and to experience the power of engaging with the arts.”

 

 

 

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read the whole story Dec. 20th 2017

Merry Christmas from Tangled Feet plus WHAT'S ON TOUR IN 2018

A very Merry Christmas to you from everyone at
Tangled Feet

 

WOW what a year it's been. As always we owe so much to the artists we work with, our audiences, participants and the funders who make all the work possible and have helped us have a wonderful year. This year we have been funded by:

Arts Council England, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Odin Charitable Trust, Big Lottery Fund, Foyle Foundation, Hanley Trust and Children in Need.

And commissioned by:

Imagine Luton Festival, Half Moon Theatre, CYTO, The Bush Theatre and Croydon Council.

We were thrilled to be invited to become one of the Arts Council's core funded companies in June this year. You can read our response here. We can't wait to get started delivering our plans in 2018.

Shepherds Bush Families Project  Aug 2017

Collaboration with Bush Theatre

'If I could make one rule it would be: always be proud of yourself.'

 

Touring in 2018

Inflation 2018

We are pleased to be bringing back INFLATION in 2018 (but with a Brexit remix!)  Our political landscape has possibly never been more ridiculous or unstable- so a fine time to get the bouncy castle out with a Brexit update, joining the dots from the banking crash, through Austerity to the Referendum. The show will relaunch at the Shop Front Festival in newly crowned UK Capital of Culture 2021 Coventry in March. Touring April 2018 onwards. 

                            
 
Find out the rest of what TF are up to in 2018 below...
Click 'Read the whole story' next to the date at the top to read the whole story!

That Parking Show

New for 2018, touring from June onwards - THAT PARKING SHOW - we'll be using the metaphor of two couples battling over a parking space (withtwo real cars) to investigate division, anger and holding onto what you believe is yours. An absurd physical exploration of how conflict escalates in a highly playful, visual piece of clowning. Expect comedic, physical theatre, special effects and a pumping car radio soundtrack.  
 
 
Boots On The Ground

BOOTS ON THE GROUND (a collaboration with Salisbury Playhouse) is inspired by the 100-year anniversary of the Armistice in 2018 and notions of conscription, demobbing and peace. The show will involve audience members putting on a pair of military boots, wearing headphones and walking together through public space as they listen to a narrative inspired by interviews with serving and ex-military personnel. Touring September 2018 onwards.

 
Butterflies

'Totally wonderful. Expressed exactly what my daughter has been feeling. Thank you'

In September 2017 we were thrilled to collaborate again with Half Moon Theatre and create a Co-Production Butterflies for 3-9 year olds and are very pleased to announce the show will be tour in Autumn 2018!

Click on the picture to watch our new Butterflies film.
 
 
Need A Little Help
We are delighted to be re-touring Need A Little Help in collaboration with Half Moon Theatre and Hopper Scheme to rural and community settings in London, Somerset and Surrey in March and October 2018.

         

 
Contact us at contact@tangledfeet.com to discuss any of these shows.
 
Have a wonderful New Year
 
 
 
 

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read the whole story Oct. 10th 2017

World Mental Health Day: Butterflies Diaries #5 by Sara

New Beginnings

Whilst rehearsing the show ‘Butterflies’, I discovered that Butterflies can symbolically mean ‘New beginnings’ which I thought was a lovely affirmation of our title. It was another layer, as butterflies initially came to us in a brainstorm about describing how anxiety feels. I also learnt so much more about Anxiety through our research and discussions that surpassed my personal experiences with it and treating it with therapy and yoga practise.

The show sees three characters going on a big adventurous journey filled with danger and excitement in new scenarios and how they overcome their anxieties in these moments. Every scene is a new beginning, a new thing to overcome, which each character successfully does. Especially at the end standing atop a mountain looking into the horizon , looking ahead to the future. 

 

This moment had a real personal connection for me. The first time we did it in rehearsals I cried!

 

Earlier this year I learnt to ski in the French Alps and had really moving moments looking out at 1850 metres above sea level over these beautiful landscapes. It gave me an enormous feeling of hope and new beginnings after a painful few years in my personal life and the fact at 34 I had learnt a new skill I never thought I would do. Skiing is SCARY and when I started to learn I was so anxious and by the end of 2 weeks practise I was loving it! So I really felt a personal connection to the show ending in this way.

 

As I mentioned I have suffered with anxiety notably since a road accident 6 years ago so I had some knowledge before we started making the show. I have had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help deal with it. It helps you to simplify the sensation of anxiety and explore the anatomy of it to some extent as well. It asks you to question why you feel this way, are you actually in danger, reprogramming the way you behave or react to things both through your thoughts and behaviour. In doing that, you calm down as you rationalise the sensation and learn techniques to cope with them. When we were devising we looked at similar ideas and also found that offering new opportunities and overcoming them might be a good way to let our audience know that having anxiety is OK, and there are ways to overcome it. We looked at the anatomy as well, to deepen our understanding of the physical sensations of anxiety and used this in our devising process. The process deepened my own understanding of anxiety, even having already had therapy for it!

 

Discussing anxiety out loud with my fellow collaborators made me realise that everyone has anxieties, some heavier than others, but actually that it is OK. It’s a part of life. During a scene in the play where the characters encounter a huge cavernous hole and they all get butterlfies, one of the characters says:

 

You have it too’

to which my character nods and responds with

It means we won’t jump in’

 

Anxiety actually protects us from doing things that might harm us. So it is essential to keep us safe. Even though I think I knew this (we all know the feeling of flight fright or freeze in stressful situations) I think now when I suffer with my ‘flutter’ in everyday life I will know its just my body telling me to look after myself, keep myself safe and sound and it will pass. That’s comforting and a new method to incorporate into coping with my own anxieties day to day.

 

This was a very therapeutic experience for me to explore an issue I actually deal with and also in finding a way to explain and understand it to convey a story to our audience deepened my understanding of it. I have learnt so much from sharing this process with such a great team. Thanks so much to the Butterflies cast & crew.

 

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read the whole story Oct. 4th 2017

Butterflies Diaries #4 - Post show reflections

By Nathan Curry

 

The rehearsals have rushed by like a runaway train charging towards the station of ‘Performances ‘and it feels like I was hurtling along with it and now have emerged blinking outside the station going ‘Oh! This is where I am!?’

 

Reflecting back a week after we presented the show it feels slightly like we have unfinished business. The making process of devised theatre means that the narrative of the show is often completed in the imaginations of the audience. You learn so much about how the show is structured and its dynamics by watching an audience experience it – particularly an audience of children. This is why in other styles of theatre you have previews to test the work in front of a live audience. We shared the show four times last weekend and developed it each time but by the final performance it felt like things were really starting to emerge (for me and the actors) that were showing up the real potential and the gaps in the story. I wanted to get straight back at it the following Monday morning.

For the full blog click 'read the whole story' by the title.

We had probably found the structure of the show (through improvising, research and playing) by the end of the first week – 3 friends on an adventure, each with 2 major moments of anxiety and a sense of how the show started and ended. This is like DRAFT 1.  At this stage of the ‘play’ you may share it with your colleagues and friends and receive feedback on its structure and character arcs. This journey of dramaturgy on a new play happens in offices, cafes and over months, sometimes years. In our process it happens live, in the room and over week 2 – this is the editing and testing period.  This becomes DRAFT 2 by the end of the second week. At this stage the traditional new play may start their rehearsal period where ours seems just to be ending (!)…. So into Week 3 and we make it all work in the theatre- adding lighting, the right sound, the final props. And suddenly we have reached the station – the performances.

 

There is a joy of this by-the-seat-of-our-pants making process. You genuinely offer something up that feels fresh, newly baked and get an instant feedback. The work is so close (in terms of time) to the moment it was created that the actors are still discovering new things right in front of the audiences eyes. It also allows the audience to have an authorial role – they can insert their imaginations into the gaps and for young audiences these imaginations are rich and ready.  I love listening and talking to the audience about what their imaginations conjured, what images meant to them and where the story wobbled.

 

 

So onto the next period… Reflection, re-rehearsal and touring in 2018.

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read the whole story Sep. 27th 2017

'Butterflies' in pictures - Photographer: Al Orange

 

For more pictures click 'read the whole story' by the title.

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read the whole story Sep. 23rd 2017

Butterflies Diaries #3

By Mario Christofides

 

So first show today of Butterflies and it's an exciting time. Reflecting back over the devising process and R&D, it's been so interesting to learn about anxiety in children (and in general), and about how anxiety lives in all of us. Though our coping mechanisms all differ,  I think the main realisation about it for me is the notions of what 'control' is to us all, about the feelings you get when you are not in 'control' and how your experience becomes something you focus on as a safety tool.

We explored in devising about feelings like 'missing-a-step', 'falling' and 'floating'; in each one of these feelings the surety of the physical world is missing (i.e. the actual sensation of your hands grabbing something or your foot landing on the ground). 

 

I confess I have times when my anxiety gets the better of me, but whenever I've felt like that one of my coping mechanisms is that I know it's only temporary,  the 'grounding element' is that the feeling has happened before and I'm still here - I've  experienced it already - what's the worst that can happen, right? 

 

But what if you are not built that way?  What if you feel like you will never get that grounding? You can't control yourself - your descent or ascent, how then can you be sure that you are not going to feel that way forever.  

 

Very scary, and the really sad thing is that some people no matter how hard they try cannot find that surety of 'I'll get past this'. 

 

It's really tough place. A place that needs greater awareness I think and makes me glad that we've created a children's show about it. 

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read the whole story Sep. 21st 2017

Butterflies Diaries #2 - Spread Your Wings

By Abigail Dawson 

 

With less than a week until the first performance of ‘Butterflies’ it’s a good time to reflect on the past couple of weeks and how the show has developed.

 

The whole team came together for the first few days and discussed the idea of anxiety – what our own anxieties are, what can cause anxiety and how to deal with them. It soon became clear that most of us are in fact very anxious people, and we tend to hide it. However, over the course of the two weeks of rehearsals I realised that it is okay to have anxieties, and just like our three characters in the show with the support of each other around us we can combat them together.

 

Below is a picture of Tunji, one of our actors, showing everyone that we’re nearly ready to spread our wings at Half Moon Theatre and welcome you to ‘Butterflies’!

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read the whole story Sep. 20th 2017

Butterflies Diaries #1

By Tunji Falana

Before I was told we were making this show about anxiety/worrying in children, I wasn't fully aware of how it affected people’s day to day or activities. I knew people got anxious or worried as did I from time to time, but never that it stopped people from doing what they should or wanted to do. Growing up in Nigeria, it wasn't really spoken about or echoed not in adults let alone children. The general knowledge was you are worried about it, get over it and do it.

For the full blog click 'read the whole story' by the title.

Now, with research and learning during rehearsals, I have a better knowledge on the subject. The cerebral process, the physical and mental reactions etc. Most of all I feel a little equipped on how to help someone who is anxious or perhaps having a panic attack. I am no professional don't get me wrong, but one of the things I’ve learnt over the course of the time is to acknowledge the feeling, as it allows the person to realize that it’s normal to feel this way. Everyone has either a healthy level of anxiety or that one thing you most worry about and just can’t shake the feeling.

Oh yes! the feeling is a thing and sometimes we can’t explain it, sometimes it takes over our lives. We all experience it at some point. Right now I’m a little nervous that all I have said won’t make sense. However, I am going to focus on the task rather than the outcome.

 

So come join us, come take a little journey with us as explore this sometimes inexplicable, sometimes hindering, sometimes helpful feeling that we can’t just shake.

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read the whole story Sep. 6th 2017

One common factor: Young People

 By Sara Templeman

 

Two rather different shows.

One outdoors, One indoors. 

One in Luton, One in Croydon

One common factor: Young People 

 

I've done my fair share of one off drama workshops across Schools Colleges Universities and drama groups with Tangled Feet (TF). We always treat any of our workshop participants as if they were part of the company and we form an ensemble within each group that works uniquely together. That's the basis of all our work. Creating work from the group of people in the room. No script and no idea what will happen. It's an exciting way to work.

 

 

For the full blog click 'read the whole story' by the title.

Workshops are often one or two days worth in length, sometimes just an afternoon and although you make a lot of headway and often create small pieces of theatre and magic, there's always scope to develop creative ideas further. It was exciting to embark on two long term projects earlier this Summer with two seperate groups of young people from opposite sides of London (just outside London) Luton & Croydon to be precise. 

 

'Mirror Sky' up in Luton was a large scale outdoor devised show with a cast of over 100 local young people from a bunch of schools and the wonderful Next Generation Youth Theatre (NGYT). The TF crew consisted of further actors/directors/workshop facilitators. It was to be the finale show at the first year of 'Imagine Luton.'

 

It was an epic task organising this many young people working in smaller groups with seperate directors and actors over many weeks, learning choreography TF actors had previously devised. The age range was broad with our youngest performer being just 7 years old! The show explored societies obsession with devices (phones) and the fact we all walk around eyes down, not interacting with each other or taking in the surroundings we might be travelling through. Living inside our own digital worlds. The message we were hoping to try to get across was to look up. Look out at the world. Be here now. Interact. Reconnect. We had four groups of young people rehearsing on different afternoons in schools and church halls across Luton learning their own individual movement pieces that would pop up around Luton town centre on the performance day. We had one day when all groups met and rehearsed the mass ensemble finale with over 100 young people dancing and moving together in St. George's Square in Luton. It was no mean feat when it all came together on the day. Amazing team work and focus and energy from all involved meant it was a big success and a really special community project to partake in for us all! Young and Old (ish) alike. 

 

On that note, 'Tracing the Past' down in Croydon was a community project involving Young and Old from Croydon Youth Theatre Project (CYTO) and the residents of an old people's care home called Whitgift House, as well as other more senior members of The Shoestring Theatre where CYTO are based. The show explored entertainment in Croydon over the last 50 years through accounts from old and young participants. We visited an old people's care home in Croydon with our young people and had the most insightful, jolly and nostalgic afternoon. Old and Young interacted and recalled their experiences of Croydon and what they had all got up to in their spare time in conversation with each other. We recorded the chats to use in the show. The piece was a subtle indoor documentary style piece which was performed in a verbatim style - actors performed with headphones, listening live to the stories we had recorded and spoke them out loud for the audience to hear. Our young people spoke the words of the old and vice versa. 

It was a very simple but effective device for showing the similarities and differences these people had of Croydon. It also transformed 14 year old performers into an 80 year old person in an instant. It was remarkable sometimes. There was a proper respect and regard from both sides in this project. Old were happy to learn that young people still got up to the same old things they had, it wasn't all mobile phones and computer games. 

The oldies (I'm sure they won't mind me calling them that) when they were younger were entertained and excited by new technologies like cinema and music on the radio, then television. We still enjoy that now and technology has rapidly advanced which we enjoy, but we had shared interests that were commonly enjoyed from all participants like dancing and singing, attending cinema, music concerts and enjoying the theatre with friends and loved ones. Also the fact they were part of youth organisations was a very common similarity. It was great to be part of learning this myself as my age sits somewhere between the oldies and the youngies and perhaps you can feel a divide or a distance between social groups like millennial’s, younger people, older generations etc. The fact is we are all still people and enjoy the same things and personal connections and we have more in common than perhaps we might think.

 

A strong connection throughout both projects was a real sense of community.  All ages coming together with a common interest in theatre and wanting to make work and share stories. What also stands out for me across the board was a dedication and commitment to the respective projects and the human connection experienced by all. We collaborated well with each other and some people didn't know anyone at all when we first started and had been brave to come and get involved. They all volunteered their spare time, brought their own fresh ideas to sessions, did research in their own time and behaved professionally. A massive compliment to the youth organisations and schools where our young people volunteered from.

 

Thanks to all who were involved across both projects, I loved working with you all!! 

 

Sara x 

 

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read the whole story Jul. 19th 2017

Mirror Sky - What the students say

Mirror Sky was a thrilling experience which allowed me to engage with the audience (Luton) in a physical way. I enjoyed this because I was able to convey this message of ‘reconnecting’ something I do believe our society struggles with as we have become hypnotised by our mobile phones rather than the world God has created for us. I wouldn’t have done anything different as I felt involved and a part of a community when we performed on the street and in school (practise sessions). The best thing about it was meeting new people from all walks of life, there were: dancers, musicians, actors and other schools involved. I would love to take part in a project like this in the future again, just sign me up!

Michelle - Year 10

When they asked me to do Mirror Sky it made me happy because it can help me do better at drama. Rehearsals for Mirror were fun and exciting because we did dancing and it got me out of my comfort zone it also helped me make new friends and makes you achieve something out of it.

On the day it made me feel so happy because I know that all the hard work would pay off and for people to enjoy it like I did.  After the production was finished it was sad because it was fun and enjoyable. I hope it will be on again soon because it made good memories.

Scott - Year 10

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read the whole story Jul. 5th 2017

Mirror Sky in Pictures

All pictures by Al Orange

 For more pictures click 'read the whole story' by the title

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read the whole story Jun. 27th 2017

NPO Announcement

Tangled Feet are thrilled and immensely proud to have been invited to become one of the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations

Thirteen years ago, as a group of creatives we made a long-term commitment to each other, and we've been on an incredible journey together since then, through thick and thin. It has often been the bond of friendship that has kept the company going when we didn't know when the next bit of funding was going to come from. It's also been this trust in each other - and the trust we've built with partners and venues - which has allowed us to take bold artistic risks, knowing we will all catch each other.

 

Being an NPO will finally give the ensemble the financial security to create even more ambitious plans. We'll be able to put much more of our time, energy and creativity into making work and building relationships. It will allow us to dream even bigger and we can't wait to get started.  

 

At a time like this it’s even more important to be making brave, bold stories that investigate and challenge the tensions in the world around us.  This investment will allow us to be more ambitious in sharing our performances with the widest possible audience, inside and outside of theatre buildings. It will allow us to grow our participation programme bringing even more young people into our artistic process and strengthen the support we give to the next generation of theatre makers through our mentoring programmes.

 

Arts Council England have been hugely supportive partners, over a number of years, through their Grants for the Arts Programme. Inclusion in the Portfolio represents a continuing belief and investment in the work we make, the participants we work with and audiences we meet. We recognise this significant investment of public money and we look forward to sharing our work and passion with our public investors.  We are hugely excited to be continuing our close relationship with venues, participants and audiences in the South East of England.

 

We want to say thank you to some of the many people who have helped us get to this place - in particular, our Chair Annabel Turpin and the team at ARC Stockton, our Board of Trustees, Watford Palace Theatre, Bradley Hemmings and all at GDIF, Tanya Peters and all at Brighton Festival, our friends at Half Moon, ISAN, EEA and 101 Creation Space.

 

We owe a massive and ongoing thank you to our artists, our audience, the young people and participants who have given us their ideas and energy. That energy and investment is the thing which has always fuelled us, and is the support that means the most to us.

 

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read the whole story Jun. 9th 2017

In Limbo

By Kat Joyce
 
Well, we're all in political limbo today.
 
Those of us who have the pleasure of experiencing the imagination, drive, passion and integrity of the younger generation on a regular basis are perhaps less surprised at the swell of political engagement and energy and its transformative power at the polls. It's wonderful and exciting to imagine that the creativity and intelligence of the next generation – a resource which has all too often been squandered – is finally being focussed onto our political landscape and its challenges. If we are to solve the enormous problems that confront us this century, we as a society desperately need the resource of those young minds, that young energy, those creative ideas.
 
 
Click 'read whole story' next to the date at the top to see the full blog

Tangled Feet are also currently in another kind of limbo, as we await the decisions of this next round of the Arts Council's NPO funding later this month. Tangled Feet have never been a 'National Portfolio Organisation' (this surprises some people) and never felt the multiple benefits of a regular, reliable, long-term funding agreement. We have always been funded project-by-project, with no 'core' funding, which makes it much more challenging to develop long-term relationships and strategy and to put in place some of our more ambitious plans. Becoming an NPO would alleviate so much uncertainty, allow us to make a robust five-year plan. It would free us up to operate as artists and spend more time making work and building relationships, rather than dealing with the ever-constant problem of where the next tranche of money comes from to keep our infrastructure running.
 
 We'll be anxiously awaiting the NPO announcements on 27th June, which will define the future for us as a company almost as much as the election will define the next 5 years politically. However strong our case, unfortunately the Arts Council will have to be making tough and complex decisions about who they fund this round. At the beginning of June we really had no idea what the next five years will look like (and perhaps politically it will take a while to become clear.) But whichever way the chips fall in the wake of the election and the NPO decisions, we will still carry on doing what we do: we'll continue to try to creatively rethink the huge problems we face as local and global communities. Continue to create opportunities for people to come together in public spaces and be part of narratives that wrestle with these challenges. And continue to be inspired by the next generation and buoyed by their ideas, energy and hope. Never mind a magic money tree - that's a resource which will never run out.  

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read the whole story Jun. 7th 2017

Tangled Feet Newsletter - May 2017

Tangled Feet have always believed in the importance of creative collaboration. It makes our work richer, deeper, more accessible - and we learn so much from the people we meet. 

 

Right now we are running round all over the place working on four different projects with four sets of collaborators, old, young and everything in between -  and it is a really really exciting time for the company as a result. 

In Luton

MIRROR SKY

We are thrilled to be creating a headline show for the inaugural Imagine Luton Festival, in collaboration with the inspiring Next Generation Youth Theatre

Have you noticed everyone’s eyes are fixed on their phones?

Is it escapism, security or an uncontrollable addiction?

We all spend so much time with our eyes fixed to a screen… have we stopped noticing each other?

Is it time to change our horizons? 

 

Put it in your diary: Sunday 25th June, Luton Town Centre, 1pm onwards, finale in St Georges Square at 5pm

Click 'read whole story' next to the date at the top to see the full newsletter...

In Shepherd’s Bush

In collaboration with the Bush Theatre and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Tangled Feet are working with a group of women and children (who have experience of insecure housing or homelessness) at Shepherds Bush Families Project on a six-month creative process. We’ll be taking over spaces at the Bush Theatre in late August to share the outcome which will be influenced by these inspirational families who have come from all over the world to make their home in London. 

In Croydon

We are beginning a project working with elders and young people in Croydon to create a piece for the Croydon Heritage Festival called Tracing The Past.

A verbatim inspired production looking at the changes in entertainment across generations from Croydon Youth Theatre. Supported by the archives at the Museum of Croydon and residents from The Whitgift Foundation.

It will be performed at The Shoestring Theatre on 28th and 29th June at 8pm.

For information on tickets go here

In Tower Hamlets

We have just started work on our second commission with the inspirational Half Moon Theatre to create a show about children’s experience of anxiety - an enormous and growing mental health issue amongst young people. The work will be inspired by and informed by a group of young people we work with long-term in Croydon through our Dramatherapy service. Following the successful model that we used to make Need A Little Help with a group of young carers, the young people will be creative consultants on the project, feeding in at crucial points to help us make something which is true to young people’s experiences. 

In Somerset and Surrey

We’ve just had the exciting news that Need A Little Help has been selected for Take Art's Hopper project and will be touring rural Somerset in 2018. We are really proud of this show and thrilled that it will have another tour. 

 

And Finally

Mentoring Emerging Ensemble Companies across the UK

This month, Nathan and Kat offered a free workshop to applicants of our 2017 mentorship scheme on 'Producing Ensemble Theatre'. We had attendees from across the UK including Derby, Huddersfield and Birmingham joining us for a day of sharing advice, focusing visions and removing obstacles to success.

There was no budget for this workshop just Kat and Nathan wanting to help the many applicants we received but could not take on to the Mentoring year long programme. So a big THANK YOU to Nathan and Kat for giving their time and New Diorama Theatre for giving us a space in their new ND2 location. 

New Diorama ND2

 

"A huge thank you for the workshop on Saturday. We found it so helpful and walked away with fire in our stomachs!"

Moth Physical Theatre Company

 

We were thrilled to learn this month that one of our mentored companies, Seemia have been successful with their first Arts Council application following an in-kind advice and mentoring session from our Development Director Jonathan Ellicott. We are really excited about their success and are sure that we will be posting more exciting developments from our other three mentored companies Ivo, Broken Chair and Ditto Theatre.

This work was funded from our generous grant from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.

 

 

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Inclusive, fun and creative Working with young people
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    The most accessible and original theatre company working in the UK today”

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