Brigid's Blog (2)
22 February 2018
The past fortnight has been all about community. We marked the New Year of the Dog with our annual Chinese Culture Show, curated and performed by members of our community, supported by our theatre team. Appropriately for our theatre, built 110 years ago as a music hall ‘Palace of Varieties, it was a kind of variety show, with music, dance, song, and indeed audience participation, held together by excellent MC, Alice Au. For me the highlight was the finale, when brilliant classical singer Eleanor Chu led the whole audience in an acapella singalong of the traditional ‘Gong Xi’ song (lyrics provided helpfully in the programme for those of us who did not know it). Eleanor is a stunningly good and open-hearted singer, and indeed chorus leader!
It was very moving to be among hundreds of people for whom this was a much loved and familiar song, with others of us joining in stumblingly, but increasingly confidently in the very catchy chorus! Our audience is curious to learn about each other’s cultures, and to share in them. The fortune cookie goodie bags at the end were very popular.
The next day our General Manager Samantha Ford and I were invited to speak to members of the Watford & District Synagogue about the Palace, and our forthcoming production of Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass. The play is set in Brooklyn at the time of the 1938 Nazi pogrom against German Jews, Kristallnacht. We had an interesting discussion about ideas of identity and belonging, and how the theatre brings the community together. We also shared some of the costume drawings for the show, and a vintage hat and coat of mine which had made an appearance in I CAPTURE THE CASTLE last year.
Meanwhile we are getting ready for our second annual Watford Young Filmmakers Festival event, supported by our brilliant partners Warner Bros. Studio Leavesden! We invited young people across Watford and beyond to submit films made in the past year. We’ve narrowed it down to 9 fantastic short films by filmmakers aged 11-19 that range from animation to music video, with submissions from our very own Leavesden Green Youth Theatre and from Herts County Youth Theatre Alumni.
Our team of local Young Producers have also been working incredibly hard to help us curate the festival activity, including steering on the marketing and selection process, bringing a three-tier cake display with design inspired by film, and supporting DMLK Video in planning and delivering a workshop aimed at budding local filmmakers. We’ve also invited a Hertfordshire based film consultation company called Festival Formula to give a talk on their top tips for submitting films to festivals nationally and internationally.
So coming to work feels like a wonderful antidote to all the conflict and misunderstanding we read about in the papers every day!