In October 2014, Michael, Fiona and Franziska from Voice Box Theatre will travel to Mexico.
The cost of the project is £5000. We are working hard to raise as much of it as we can in order to make this project a sustainable and successful one.
We will be working within a variety of cultural and educational settings for six weeks in November and December 2014 with organisations and schools who are promoting inclusion, equality and co-operation across economic, social and cultural circles in Tepoztlan and Cuernevaca, near Mexico City.
We want to help create lasting social and cultural connections, empowering young people personally, socially and culturally.We plan to do this through a programme of workshops and teacher training in social circus, circus skills, theatre, arts, crafts and storytelling towards a celebration of Mexican culture and of cultural diversity within Mexico and internationally.
For us this will be an opportunity to learn more about Mexican cultures, stories and traditions through participation and meaningful contribution. We bring our own mix of cultural backgrounds with us to create what we believe will be a very rich social and cultural exchange.
We are deeply interested in folk tales from around the world and in the power inherent in different methods of performance to tell them. Through performance, the practical realisation of the story and embodiment of the characters, we can all learn new things about the story and about ourselves. The story and characters come alive for us in a new way. This has helped us to connect with the Scottish stories that we tell and is an experience that we would like to share, empowering participants to connect in a newly enlivened way to Mexican stories.
We are looking for funding to enable us to carry out this project. Please read through our proposal for more details of the organisations we plan to work with and how we plan to carry out the project. Please do pass this on to anyone else who may be interested in the project and feel free to get in touch if you would like to hear more about it.
Thank you for your time and support
Voice Box Theatre Company
The After Image Proposal for a community performance project
We plan to visit and work within schools and orphanages in Tepoztlan and Cuerneveca, outside of Mexico City, where we will run workshops for teachers and group leaders as well as for children and young people (please see our extensive list below for details of the workshops we can offer.) We plan to base ourselves at Hue Hue Coyotl Centre and the Waldorf School at Cuerneveca , who will provide us with space. We plan to travel out to other initiatives, including two orphanages as well as Terramar Escuela Viva where we will be able to offer performances of Selkie Tales and to run more workshops. From our base we can lead workshops and facilitate the production of a performance piece involving the local community. Together we will decide on a traditional Mexican story and portray it through multi disciplinary performance skills. The students at each school or initiiative we visit will have the opportunity to take part and to showcase the skills they have learned and the artistic and craft work they have created throughout the project.
It is important for us that the work we do has a lasting impact for the communities and schools we work with so we will be mentoring group leaders and teachers, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to enable them to continue to develop these as part of their teaching practice for the future.
We will be working with an arts and craft exchange towards the construction of props and puppets, equipping adults and young people with skills to do this independently in the future. We will donate training and performance equipment such as juggling props, tools and materials.
We are not receiving any monetary support for this project, which is why we are asking for your help. Our target is to raise £5000.
Voice Box Theatre Company is a modern performance cooperative. We provide entertainment, education and training and we create ground-breaking theatre. Our performances combine dance, acrobatics and circus skills and we tell stories from traditional and modern culture. Our workshops cover a wide variety of disciplines and we deliver them to groups of any number, age and ability.
Three of our members will be travelling to Mexico: Michael Ritchie, the founder and director of Voice Box Theatre; Fiona Oliver-Larkin, the creative director of Voice Box Theatre and Franziska Eberle, a specialist in Circus skills.
Within Mexico we will be collaborating with Yamile, who is based in Mexico City. She works with dance, theatre and circus and she will also be contributing traditional Mexican stories towards the project. We plan to continue this collaboration when she visits Scotland in 2015.
Voice Box Theatre is committed to social and cultural exchange. We believe that the skills we have to offer: circus, theatre and art have a vital role to play in education, in social inclusion and the forging of positive links between people across socio-economic and cultural divides.
The Benefits of Art, Performance and Social Circus
Art can bring to life and further establish an inner experience of the characters, colours, mood and morals presented through the performance work. What would be offered would be a carefully considered reflection and additional interpretation of themes through a mix of free artistic expression, group creativity, as well as individual therapeutic artistic exercises.
The benefits of a therapeutic art process for a child is to maintain, harmonise or strengthen faculties for learning, imagination and play. Through an experience of colour, and form, and different mediums its possible to help build healthy relationships, inwardly between mind body and soul, and outwardly towards others and the world.
'Social circus is an innovative social intervention approach based on the circus arts...
In this approach, the primary goal is not to learn the circus arts, but rather to assist with
participants’ personal and social development by nurturing their self-esteem and trust in
others, as well as by helping them to acquire social skills, become active citizens, express their
creativity and realize their potential.
Social circus is a powerful catalyst for creating social change because it helps marginalized
individuals assume their place as citizens within a community and enrich that community with
their talents.' La Fortune, Cirque du Soleil (2011)
Within the process of producing a performance piece, there are many varied and often specialist tasks. This means that people with diverse or unconventional skills and strengths can can find a productive and beneficial role within the group as a whole. Everyone involved can enjoy feeling productive and integral to a team and receive positive feedback from their peers.
Performance and skill development fulfil our need for creative expression and give us a sense of achievement, which builds self esteem. Working towards performance can help to motivate students to self improve. It also encourages supportive cooperation and team work. The main aim is to leave participants with a sense of achievement as well as experiencing an increase in confidence in themselves and their peers.
The workshops we can offer:
Circus Skills: juggling, poi spinning, hooping, stiltwalking, devilstick, diabolo, contact juggling, fire juggling and spinning
Acrobatics: tumbling, partner and group including banquine
Theatre: physical, forum, traditional, clown
Aerial acrobatics: trapeze, rope, silks, straps, hoop.
Movement: Bothmer Gymnastics, Butoh Dance
Singing and voice coaching
Art: Painting, drawing, sculpture, mask making, set design
Crafts: Stilt making, musical instrument making, prop and puppet construction
Traditional Scottish Ceilidh (Circle) Dancing
Malaysian Dragon Dance
Michael is a Waldorf trained movement teacher, therapist and physical performer. He works with Bothmer Gymnastics, Butoh movement, acrobatics, circus skills as well as with physical and forum theatre. He has 10 years of experience as a teacher, therapist, performer, director and workshop leader. Michael offers teacher training in movement pedagogy, with particular emphasis on how to integrate appropriate developmental exercises into the standard curriculum. He has worked with both mainstream and marginalised groups in the UK and internationally. His particular interest lies in using the performing arts as an aide to social education and rehabilitation.
Fiona is a Waldorf grade-school teacher, EFL (CELTA) teacher and physical performer. She has enjoyed designing and making the costumes for Voice Box Theatre's last three Fringe productions. Having recently completed the three year Steiner Waldorf teacher training in Edinburgh, where she has also successfully piloted a cultural exchange project with India for the children. She is excited about sharing her skills through rhythmical education, singing, stories, games and circus. She has extensive experience working with young people, children and adults in a variety of settings from classrooms to outdoor building projects and literacy projects for refugees in the UK. With a background in anthropology, she is researching teaching practices from around the world, focusing on successful, inclusive and empowering models of education in challenging social and economic environments.
Michael and Fiona recently travelled to India to perform and to run workshops and seminars for students and teachers in private international schools and educational initiatives for disadvantaged children within city slums. A diary of the project and cultural exchange can be found HERE
Franziska is a Waldorf grade-school and art teacher, fire dance performer and workshop leader. She works with circus skills, dance and movement as a teacher, performer and organiser.
She has experience working in a variety of settings with children and adults from diverse backgrounds and age groups in educational and non educational settings. She teaches in English, German and Spanish. In 2012 Franziska travelled to Nepal to work with Art refuge UK, where she introduced Circus skills to the resident children and adults. She also worked in the Tibetan reception centre where she saw the potential of art work and circus skills to initiate social change and to enrich communities.
We are excited about the possibilities and the positive impact that we can have. We want to visit, learn, share and to help where we can. We have a lot to offer and much to gain. We believe this will be a very valuable cultural exchange project, with a lasting impact for everyone involved.
Please get in touch to find out more.
With sincerest thanks,
Voice Box Theatre Company