Hi LTL blog fans #loopingtheloop
This weekend, as you'll have seen if you subscribe to our mailing list, Looping the Loop are offering two exciting FREE events at Roundabout in Margate, as part of the Margate Festival - on Saturday at 3pm you can take part in an Acting and Directing in the Round workshop - and on Sunday at 5pm it's the Scratch A Round event. Then afterwards we shall go for a drink at the lovely Morgans dance hall bar on Margate seafront - and if you'd like to join us there we'd love to see you - particularly if you are in the mood for talking about volunteering with us this autumn!
Roundabout is situated in Marine Gardens in Margate, it's a temporary round theatre which won theatre of the year 2014 and is an amazing structure you just have to experience - created by the wonderful people at Paines Plough
Printed programmes for all of the October events - with the core Festival taking place 15-25 October - will be out soon.
If you are interested in volunteering with Looping the Loop this season - come and join us for a drink and chat at Morgans in Margate at 7pm on Sunday, after Scratch-A-Round. We'd love to see you there and will be sharing details of what's coming up and how you can get involved. From helping spread the word to stewarding events, there are lots of different ways you can be part of Looping the Loop beyond enjying the performances or attending the workshops - and we will love you eternally of course!
Looking forward to seeing you if you can make it along this weekend!
Margate Theatre Club is a local group of theatre loving folk who regularly get together after shows to talk about what they liked - or didn't - and make friends. Everyone is welcome to join these chats and it's always a lively and fun addition to a night out seeing a show.
What could make the experience of watching a play even better? The chance to talk about it afterwards with interested and friendly people!
The Club have organised a meet up in the bar after Until You Hear That Bell at Tom Thumb Theatre on Friday 29th April.
Organiser, Anna, says "Come if you hated it, come if you loved it, come if you know what it meant, come if it made no sense at all, come with hundreds of opinions, come if you have no idea what you think. Whatever you think about theatre, we'd love to meet you."
Follow Margate Theatre Club on Twitter @margtheatreclub and their blog.
Jess has been a guest on the TV show, Russell Howard's Good News (see video), where she had the comedian and audience in stitches with her tics and winning personality.
On 1st May she is coming to Thanet to perform her riotously entertaining show, Backstage In Biscuit Land, along with the show's co-creator, performer and puppeteer, Jess Mabel Jones, at Pie Factory Music in Ramsgate, during Looping the Loop Festival.
Without a doubt this show will be one of the highlights of the Festival as a whole and is one not to miss. There are two performances, an afternoon matinee and evening show. The later performance will be British Sigh Language interpreted and include a post show talk.
This two-woman solo show has been described by Stephen Fry as delightful and weaves comedy, puppetry, singing, and incredible tics to explore spontaneity, creativity, disability, and things you never knew would make you laugh.
Geranium bashing, lamp posts living off the state and penguin gangbangs may or may not feature - no two shows can ever be the same. Jess is neurologically incapable of staying on script, and that's when the fun begins.
Warnings: Jess is one of the 10% of people with Tourettes Syndrome who has swearing tics, so this performance may include the involuntary use of words that some audiences may find offensive.
Backstage in Biscuit Land by Touretteshero is at
Pie Factory Music on 1st May 2016, at 2pm and 7:30pm,
as part of Looping the Loop Festival
Pie Factory Music, Concorde Youth Centre, Ramsgate, CT11 0QG
Run time:60 mins no interval
Co-Creators - Jess Thom, Jess Mabel Jones, Matthew Pountney
Produced by Jolie Booth and Matthew Pountney
The show is supported by Unlimited, Graeae & Battersea Arts Centre
You can read Jess' blog at www.touretteshero.com
We've been thinking about how we can ensure that as many people as possible get to hear about Looping the Loop Festival this spring - and that as many as would like to get to come along and enjoy themselves at one or more of the performances.....
Yesterday's Looping the Loop day began at 6am and finished at 12.30am. Today, starting at 6.45am was already late but with focus, really efficient working, I can just about make it work out and not get into that horrid feeling of stress and scrabbling to keep up.
Before opening the theatre for the show's crew at 9am there's time to sort out floats, some finance on the previous festival, pay invoices that have come in, do some social media marketing, print out schedules and pack up all the stock for the bar we're running alongside the show. Once we've got the theatre open and the crew in, it's time to set up for the day in there. The show in the evening is Wot? No Fish!! with Danny Braverman and there's also a workshop at 11am with 12 actors. Arriving at the theatre I find that the owners are running their usual Friday lunch club for isolated people - ah, I'd thought we had the hire for the day and this wouldn't be on. They are open until after midday so it means we've got Danny arriving and the actors and a whole crowd of people having lunch. No time to do more than unload and then set up tea and coffee (keep everyone happy...) around the nice ladies in the very small cafe kitchen. The crew are putting in a lighting rig in the auditorium (our 'theatre' space is the King's, built as a cinema in 1910, now run as a community church) and setting up sound and projection kit.
The actors start arriving by 10.30am and Danny appears after finding a good local cafe for late breakfast, a boost after the long journey. Get them set up in the auditorium with all they need (after a bit of moving around of chairs, always fun) then it's time to dash out and collect all the rest of the kit needed for the day. I've organised to borrow 20 old-fashioned cups and saucers from a vintage cafe up the High Street (The Cake Smith) but first have to go to a couple of local charity shops to drop off boxes of things filling the van up - we did a fundraising event on Saturday for my organisation Ramsgate Arts and the remains are still with me, so need to be passed on before anything more can be fitted in. Four sets of boxes later I can get the kit in for today. Now it's back to my house where I find every bit of vintage-y china and decoration I can find. Because Wot? No Fish!! is about a family, through the ages from 1920s onwards, we'd though a roughly post-war approach would make our slightly forlorn venue look appealing and relate to the show. There's also more wine to load and five trays of glasses as well as four chollah breads in the freezer, which the lovely Hazel made for us since this is a Jewish family and all our nibbles are kosher. Janice is with me helping so we drive round the corner back to the theatre and unload it all to start the set up proper. The lunch club has finished. Now we can get on and make what we want of the space!
Moving a lot of furniture around we create sitting areas for the audience. We have helium for our branded balloons (we love a balloon!) and put them around the entrance area and up the staircase. Posters on the doors, lots of branded bright bunting and it's starting to look more appealing as you come in. Ellie arrives and we start putting tablecloths and pretty china out with old-fashioned vases of flowers and our homage to the show - old string with lots of small brown envelopes pegged on with drawings by loads of different people, which we've been persuading them to do for the last couple of weeks (local artists, children, friends, anyone willing!). The story of Wot? No Fish!! revolves around a shoebox that Danny's family found with thousands of wage packets dating from 1926, each drawn on by his great uncle for his wife, each week until the 1980s. They depict the story of their lives.
The workshop finishes at 1pm and there's a really great atmosphere. They've clearly had a great time working with Danny and he's generous with himself, spending ages with everyone afterwards in the cafe area, talking, joking. We're blowing up balloons, running around them with kit for the bar and it's a real sense of all enjoying what we're doing. Janice goes home so it's me and Ellie for a while, and the actors and Danny drift off. We're trying to get everything set up so we can see what we're missing. The idea is that the evening performance isn't just about turning up, watching and going - no, our audience will be offered kosher nibbles before the show, there's a full bar and we'll carry on afterwards, so there's a coming together of artist and audience - Looping the Loop is all about getting close to the action.
By 4pm I've put an A-frame outside, which is right in the town centre, with a little write up about the show and 'TODAY' in big letters. We talk about whether to put a banner on the tree in the town but the rain is pouring and both Ellie and I feel a bit down....it's been a very hard few weeks (we both have other work and jobs as well as this festival)....and we don't know if we will have as many people as we'd like for the show. Getting people in to theatre in Thanet is hard and we've all worked our socks off the last few weeks trying to promote the shows to as many different people as we can. But there's still only 25 people booked for this one and we do feel a bit as though we're not succeeding.
Cathy arrives with our special show tickets - more brown envelopes printed with the name of the show. We like to do interesting little details like this although it adds more to be done. We're probably a bit daft really, but we feel it's important, especially since we have no nice venues - we have to make the most of every little thing. So, we're pretty set up now and need to collect 4 T-shirts we've had printed for extra helpers, a bag of ice and a few more bits and pieces. I set off before 5pm to do the collections and print out evaluation forms, get the floats, while Ellie and Cathy do the final part of the set up.
I'm back just after 6pm and the place looks great, so different to when we came in that morning. We're ready for the audience! How are we going to do? It's been raining really hard on and off, which means we'll lose some walk-ups, but if we're lucky we might double the number who have booked. People start arriving and in a short space of time, we've got a very full, busy and lively cafe area! There's a real buzz going on. Cathy has organised a series of black and white films of families from the 40s onwards, which are projected onto a wall. On all the tables there are more brown envelopes with pens, inviting the audience to do drawings which we'll put onto the strings already having all around. It feels really cosy and the food is going down a treat.
I'm on 'milling around' duty, making sure people are OK and i talk to a lady who's come from Deal. She had an email from Miriam Margolyes who apparently has a house in St Margarets Bay, nearby. Miriam loves the show and heard it was on nearby and emailed all her local contacts to say 'come'. Joan le Mesurier arrives, also via Miriam. It's great to know that she's heard the show is on - maybe some of the marketing we've been doing is working!
The show starts at 7.30pm. We've ended up with 55 people, which sounds laughably small in terms of a London or big theatre audience, but is fine in the auditorium and feels like an achievement. There's a competing cultural event in Ramsgate on tonight, a once-a-year concert with a very interesting folk musician Preston Reed which I know many of the 'theatre' cultural audience are going to. So, we're feeling quite happy.
The performance is tremendous. Wot? No Fish!! lives up to its 5* reviews and all we've heard. Danny is superb and holds his audience in a spellbinding situation, weaving his tale with humour and sensitivity. At the end, there's a delicious sense of people wanting to linger, to talk. They drift out into the cafe area and I ask several if they'll fill out an evaluation form. They are eager, which is always a good sign. All around the space there are people sitting talking, having another drink and finishing any of the food that's left. It's a lovely atmosphere. And then another great thing happens. There's a group of five people who have done a form for me and are leaving. I happen to ask them how they came to be there, if they live locally. No, they're from Brighton.....!? Well, that's interesting, surely they didn't come especially. No, they're on a visit and were in the town centre today when someone came out with an A-frame which they read and liked the sound of the show...so they came to see it! Fantastic! So, it is worth doing these things, they can work, it's not just a waste of time. The group were really moved by the whole experience of the show and said they felt so lucky to have seen it, to have had such an unexpected treat. Tomorrow, we'll put up the extra banners, it's worth it....hurrah.
Eventually all the guests have gone and its time to finish the 'party' and clear up. There seems to be a lot of stuff. Five trays of glasses, lots of china, towels, bottles, all sorts of supplies as well as all the balloons to get down, bunting, decorations, cloths and so on. Then sweep the floors, leave the venue tidy so we can go back another time and maintain our good relationship with the owners. My little van is full to the top as i drive away home (which is wonderfully a few hundred yards up the road). But as I get indoors I see it's 12.30am. No wonder I feel a bit worn out. I'm too old for this and my 55 years, which I feel hard to believe I actually am, feel very real. Especially with the knowledge that tomorrow will need to begin again at around 6.30am and there's another show that night....and the next day....and then the festival is over and we work on the next one. Gosh, it's certainly never dull. Of course, I decide to write this blog and by 2am am starving so have cheese on toast....then head hits pillow and the next day dawns....
Trustee & Producer, Ramsgate Arts
Students will perform the short pieces they create at the Winter Gardens on Sunday 11 October, before the screening of Cosi fan tutte and during the interval.
I went to see the company in action on Friday 2 October, at Priory Infants School. I wasn't sure how they'd teach opera to 6 year old children, but it was entirely magical. Their ability as facilitators was impressive, their ability to keep absolute control without any trouble, through the carefully thought-out activities and game-playing. I didn't get to see the afternoon when all the children and singer came together, but have pictures of some of the work and the film here is of the workshop the day before at Chatham & Clarendon Grammar, when students wrote their own piece.
Looping the Loop isn't only a local consortia here in Thanet; it's also a national network of towns and cities (well, theatre producers in those towns) all clustered around the hub of Battersea Arts Centre. This autumn we are all producing our 5th festival in our area. Part of the ongoing development was to do some exchanges, get out on the road and visit our cohort festivals.
I went to the Jabberwocky Market festival in Darlington this weekend, 3 & 4 October, just before our festival begins on 9 October. A slightly tense time, when all is to play for and all (could) be lost, I was worried about losing two days. But it's great getting out and reinvigorating your thoughts and obsessions. I've put a few images from the weekend at the end of this piece.
Caroline Pearce runs Jabberwocky and Looping the Loop felt her set up was closest to our own; she is an unfunded organisation, with no network of formal support from local authority, Arts Council (ACE) or others. Jabberwocky sits alone as a festival, it's not wrapped into a larger existing event.
I saw four events on Saturday and one on Sunday. Here's the programme if you're interested. They couldn't be more varied: a northern beat DJ and 2 actors; a jazz band in the library with a sea of tiny children; This Is How We Die, a loud, biting, demanding piece we had last season at the Tom Thumb; the post-show talk in the nightclub venue and on Sunday, coffee & croissants over a discussion on the nature of 'world class', with speakers including the ever-inspiring David Jubb from BAC, Arts Council and local businessman.
I came away happy, not only with Jabberwocky but also with Looping the Loop; it's easy to compare other work and feel you're failing yourself but that wasn't the case. I could see similar issues, new ideas (some of which we will steal!) and just different approaches to the mission. Here's the specifics I've taken away:
"You need to be local to be global"
Are you doing what you do for the art or for the place, regeneration, another reason?
"Oil in the wheels" - it's not just the work itself that makes it 'world class' it's what's around it.
"I wouldn't go if I knew I'd like everything....." Bill from ACE on Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival
"Scratch [a process] allows us to make mistakes together".
"There's a dark side to world-class, look at Volkswagen...."
"Who are the storytellers? We are our own storytellers...."
"...the value of art...can it really be about persuading people to go to restaurants?"
Producer & Trustee, Ramsgate Arts
We've got the shows, there's a callout for entries for this season's Scratch Your Self, the programme is being printed so it's nearly there. Last month we took advantage of the opening of the new Petticoat Lane Emporium in Ramsgate to bring the street theatre company out. The Loud Librarians turned up on Saturday 14 February, and caused a stir, with lots of fun, for the hundreds of people arriving to see this new palace of ephemera!
Henry loved books, he loved books so much - he ate them! Someone made a show about Henry's story, it was pretty incredible. And before you know it all the tickets for this amazing show at the Tom Thumb Theatre were sold out.
So now all the families in Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate who didn't manage to get tickets are very sad. And all the children who did get tickets are very excited. And all the other children are hoping that Mummy and/or Daddy, or whoever else might be responsible for them, won't forget to get tickets for at least one of the other amazing shows aimed particularly at children in this season's Looping the Loop Festival.
The Festival takes place 19th-25th September. That's very soon now and tickets are selling very fast. Have you seen our programme of shows suitable for the whole family?
Tickets are still available for Fish/Girl, StoryBlast and The Pillowmaker. Get them while you still can!