Friday, 30 January 2015

A piece of infinite jest

Yorick is a show for under sevens that places an original spin on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Performed in a bell tent, our young audience are placed at the heart of  the story of this warm hearted, easily distractible and playful court jester.

Created and Devised by Dot and Ethel

Mark Curtis as Yorick 

When Yorick is asked to perform a song and a dance for Hamlet’s 6th Birthday he is truly thrilled.
But what happens when he realises he has lost the most important part of his costume? 
What is he going to do without his red nose? Yorick can’t perform without his nose. 
Will he, amongst all the distractions, find it in time to make Hamlet’s party? 

For the 40 minute duration, Yorick exposes the language, themes and characters of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Indirectly, in a calm and subtle manner, he touches upon a mystical, magical, natural world. Yorick reveals the power and consequence of actions however small or seemingly insignificant. 

At the heart of this show is the quest to overcome fears, form positive memories, break down the actor audience divide, and realise through our imaginations people can live forever.  

Using analogue and home-made objects in our ‘treasure hunt’ style journey we watch shadow puppetry on the walls of the tent, search through leaves of books and trees, smell flowers from his palace garden.  The richness of these experiences will closely marry with the language, themes and layers of Shakespeare’s original text. 

In the text of Hamlet, Yorick comes from the earth. The garden setting presents us with a tactile, messy material full of fun and possibility for play, but also links back to this original context of Yorick and the life cycle of every plant, human and animal.

Revelations will happen in a multi-sensory way. We want our audience to really thrive and engage and in order to do this we will work close up and individually with these children rather than treating them on mass. 

We are experienced in working with this age group and recognize that under sevens are experiencing vast development.  It is a formative and accelerated time in a child’s speech and language development both in terms of receptive and expressive language. It is also a time of play and activity - Yorick is a fellow of ‘infinite jest’ Hamlet Act 5 Scene1; a fellow of play. 

This play filled approach is a stark contrast to the fact that Shakespeare has been placed at the heart of the national curriculum – from September 2014. During Yorick!, children are not expected to passively sit back and receive this performance as students. We want our audience to be at the heart of the story, embracing direct address and encouraging their involvement in Yorick’s own journey. 

Yorick is the spirit of imaginative play. He embodies that incredible unbridled creativity that is so present and instantly accessible in young children and Shakespeare alike. 

Please take a look at our trailer made as part of the first phase of our research and development period please view

Yorick’s World: The Bell Tent

 Our ‘Bell Tent Space’ at the Egg, Theatre Royal Bath for the Leverhulme Scholarship sharing

The Bell tent is an intimate space which can be assembled outside and inside; in conventional and non-conventional performance spaces. It provides an intimate and secluded environment for our participants but in terms of the longevity of this piece we are keen to create a piece with a great deal of diversity and appeal to possible co-producers/ promoters/  and audience demographics. Yorick’s tent can pop up in any number of spaces: theatres, halls, gardens, school playgrounds, shopping centres, festivals.

The audience of children (and their parents/teachers) are invited to explore the tent’s surrounding environment - immediately instilling their sense of participation and adventure, building up the excitement and intrigue of what must lie inside -  before entering into Yorick’s world.  

The tent, although small, presents a Narnia-esque transformation as you step over the threshold and into a world where Yorick and the children are in charge.

Market Principles  

Heidi Vaughan introducing the first sharing of Yorick at The egg, Theatre Royal Bath

The original take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Yorick will have a broad marketing remit primarily to educational institutions, regular family theatre goers as well as established performance settings. In addition to this we would like to explore taking Yorick to Theatre Festivals, Music Festivals, in relationship with rural touring partnerships and Children’s/ Family Centres.  Staging the piece in this adaptable bell tent will allow us to perform at this variety of venues and events.

Yorick has never been more needed as an innovative antidote to the new curricular proposals as well as rapidly decreasing creative freedom in the classroom. It aims to enhance the traditional experience of Shakespeare for young people by providing a thrilling experience and pleasure in his work providing a place for him outside the world of the classroom.

Where Yorick has come from.
Yorick was developed as part of our Leverhulme Arts Scholarship attached to the egg, Bath. The programme selected artists and theatre companies from across the British Isles in order to  provide optimal conditions for them to experiment in and create new plays for young audiences.
We were exposed to some of the best children’s theatre in the world, and attended international festivals to share and discuss best practice. We were also supported and mentored to develop Yorick.
As part of this process we spent 3 weeks testing and sharing the first 20 minutes of the piece with peers, practitioners and young audiences. This was an invaluable period for us and has enabled us to be incredibly focused on what we need for our next stage of development.
Our next stage
We are contacting you now as we are looking for co-producer(s) and partners to aid Yorick into production, moving this piece into a complete, fully formed show. 
In terms of timelines as it currently stands we are looking for 3 weeks R&D during 2015 
In this time we hope to;
  • Trial the second half of the show in June.
  • Inserting live music and thoroughly explore the design for the piece in July
  • And finally, work the whole piece with various test audiences in November.
After completing this process we will be ready for 3 weeks rehearsal and tour - this could be as early as Spring 2016.

I would really value your thoughts on if you would be interested in developing or programming the show at this early stage.

Looking forward to hearing from you.
With much warmth,
Heidi & Harriet

Heidi Vaughan & Harriet de Winton
Directors of Dot and Ethel
Evolve Artists Oxford Playhouse and Leverhulme Arts Scholars
The Company: Dot and Ethel

Dot and Ethel is in its second year, run by designer Harriet de Winton and theatre director Heidi Vaughan. Harriet and Heidi pride themselves on making work that celebrates the creative and tell stories in an unpretentious and generous way; rich in theatrical techniques and dollops of fun. Their aim is to bring fresh and imaginative experiences to audiences – we ask big questions, we break rules, we reveal accidents and add dramatic delight to everyday life.

Dot and Ethel works from primarily identifying an audience (rather than a text) which excites us and then fitting material to them. 

twitter: @DotandEthel

Creative Team

Director                               Heidi Vaughan
Designer                                                              Harriet de Winton
Performer                                                                       Mark Curtis
Dramaturg                                                                      Mike Akers
Mentors                                                                  Purni Morrell and Jo Belloli

Please contact for more information. 

No comments:

Post a Comment