Mar 30, 2020
Isolation Crikey. It’s me again, composer and human Tom Elstob - self isolating since ‘97. Looking back over my first two blog entries feels eerily like I was writing about another life. My project with CoDi:Move and Hijinx Academy 2 is on hold. You know why. There’s a strong chance you’re reading this whilst in isolation during the covid-19 outbreak. Alternatively, if you are inexplicably reading this 50 years into the future; hello - how are you? What’s that shiny thing? Did we ever destroy the patriarchy? Hello from 2020. We are all at staying at home. We are doing this to prevent the spread of a potentially lethal virus reaching the vulnerable people in our society as best we can. We are all at home.* All the time. *Except for the heroes of our national health service and a few other allegedly unglamorous professions; supermarket staff, refuse collectors, postal workers. I like to think some of us are reassessing what we think about the contributions certain vocations make to society. “But what about composers?!” I hear you scream at me from a distance of no less than two metres at any time... Well...What good is a composer during a quarantine? What do we contribute to Society? What are we worth? (about 94 quid a week according to the government. I’m sure some would find that quite flattering.) Now that everyone is stuck at home for the foreseeable future; most of us are likely to be consuming more television, films, music, radio and video games than usual. I’m certain very few people will be surviving off Victorian hardbacks and water biscuits alone. Joking very slightly aside, music continues to permeate every aspect of our culture and our contribution as composers is hard to define, but evidently important. Hopefully you shiny people in the future will read about this pandemic as a time when humanity all pulled together and learned to fully appreciate the contribution of many many hitherto undervalued people and underfunded professions in our society... I don’t mean composers. But thanks anyway. I can only apologise for the strangeness of this CoDi:Move blog post. And I only hope it reflects the strange times we are living in. To finish on a joke; I’ve been borrowing a line from Stephen Fry for much of my adult life: When I’m first introduced to someone as a composer and they ask “are you a classical composer?” I respond: “Yes, I was born in 1790.” Thanks for reading, Stay safe.
Jan 31, 2020
Week 5. (The most logical place to begin.) Hello, It’s me – the composer, Tom Elstob. I’ve never been asked to write a blog before - but as I understand it - it’s principally writing down your thoughts instead of just thinking them. Sooooo here goes. I started my CoDI Move project some FIVE weeks ago. I was tasked (in collaboration with a representative from NoFit State Circus) to create music for a one-off performance by Hijinx Academy students in Cardiff later this year. I’ve been attending academy sessions for a few hours every Thursday afternoon and have many thoughts about the project so far. Firstly, I LOVE academy 2. The students are incredible. They are passionate, inspiring, talented people and I’m still enjoying getting to know them all better. This is my first experience of working with neuro-divergent actors and I am well and truly out of my comfort zone. There is a huge range of personalities, abilities, idiosyncrasies and I’m still learning to read the room – it moves at a different speed to other rehearsal rooms I’ve been in; so much is happening at all times – tiny exchanges of energies, power shifts, interactions - and yet simultaneously it feels glacial; like we’re all moving in slow motion. Secondly, I’ve been lucky enough to be pared with Francis Maxey of NoFit State – who has a wealth of experience as a performer & trainer and a great pre-existing relationship with Academy 2 – watching him has taught me a lot. I’ve plucked up the courage to lead the room – three times now, for about 40mins each. We play a lot of games; call and response games, concentration exercises, moving as a pack - that kind of thing. I was told by an expert (who happens to live in my house) that the trick is to always plan twice as much material as you think you’ll need - as a Hijinx academy will always surprise you! Some things you think will work just won’t and vice versa. I certainly found that some of the rhythm games I hoped to play with them just wouldn’t land (for various reasons) and I had to change tack quickly. As a composer out of my comfort zone; my knee-jerk reaction is to write some music. However, my instinct as a theatre maker is running counter to this. The theatre maker in me is saying “hold your nerve.” I believe the best thing I can be doing now is focusing my attention on the students – getting to know them, finding what they enjoy doing and discovering ways to play together – I want this project to be a genuine collaboration and ensure the students have agency in what we create. Soooo... I’m determined to hold my nerve and stay out of my comfort zone for a bit longer… carrying on building relationships and trust that when the time comes… so will the music...