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New York Diaries - part 2

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Two weeks has flown by and 16 shows of Pondlife have come and gone. After the slightly flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants nature of Kappa, where you never knew quite how the classroom would be set up, it was nice to be in the controlled conditions of the New Victory Theatre. Indeed, the show took place right on stage, something that I think the audience for Pondlife found really exciting and, once the air conditioning had been cranked up a few notches, was also quite fun for Andy and Craig. The audiences have been great. I suppose it’s unusual to have a show quite as bare as Pondlife is when the intended audience is families and young people. Just a few rolls of carpet, 4 boxes and minimal sound and lights is all the theatre provides, the rest is done by Andy and his storytelling skills. It’s always a pleasure to see an audience slowly settle down, stop waiting for the other actors to come on and get lost in the world of the story. It was particularly nice to see New Yorkers enjoy this tale set in a distant Scottish primary school and only one girl asked Andy afterwards why he was speaking British.

This week I also led a workshop for New York artists interested in making work for young people. It was a blast. Workshop leading is often a case of making people feel comfortable enough to try out new ideas and not worry if they fail. They have to fail for it to be any good, but often participants understandably find it hard to dive in. Not these guys. They weren’t afraid to fail and fail and fail some more and as a result they were completely and wholeheartedly successful. All the participants had to make installations based around Little Red Riding Hood and as we were about to share the work I realised I couldn’t wait to see them all. They were thrilling. It was like our own tiny little show. I hope everyone involved goes on to make more work. I felt they had the skill and imagination to make some beautiful things.

So, now we fly back to the UK with copies of the New York Times under our arms, “acutely perceptive and quietly devastating”. Not a bad note to be leaving on. We’ve been to schools in the Bronx and Harlem, seen Penny Arcade screaming at her audience, walked the High-Line and performed on 42nd St, but most of all we finally had the 4 cheese gnocchi that Andy wouldn’t stop going on about. And it was DELICIOUS! MMMMMMMMMMM!

Rob Evans, June 2014

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