Dear Mama

16,000 views. . . and upcoming adventures

How exciting to see that 16,000 people have viewed (lurked) this page. Someone other than me knows it exists, even if by accident!

I suppose some folks have taken notice, anyway, because I've had some great developments recently.

First, I was horribly busy over the winter, and didn't share the link to my very first published academic piece by Brunel University's Body, Space, Technology Journal! The piece was an artistic statement about my play Dear Mama performed at Sondheimfest in early 2013. You can navigate to the Journal's page here: http://people.brunel.ac.uk/bst/vol1201/kendrajones/home.html

Second, I have recently joined Theatre By The River (http://www.theatrebytheriver.com) as a member of the Artistic Company. My first adventure for the company was to host a panel discussion about their upcoming production of Mike Bartlett's Cock and Bull, being performed in Repertory this fall. We've got loads more in the works, so stay tuned for info about a project in the late fall and things into 2015.

Third (and final for now), I'm very pleased to be joining the review crew for CBC Manitoba's coverage of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival! I'm definitely looking forward to sparking conversations and debate about the shows in this year's fest from a more formal point of view. That does mean, however, that the majority of my reviewing will be found over at the CBC site rather than here. Keep an eye out, I'll link to them, too.

The Day After

Months of writing, then rehearsing, and finally performing...now over. The first run of my new play, Dear Mama, has come to an end.

It has been an absolutely fabulous, terrifying, exhilirating and rewarding experience. I knew going in that it would be risky to create a piece of theatre so close to myself. On top of that, opting to perform it myself placed me in a position even more vulnerable as an artist. Any failure really could be pinned to me. How thrilling!

What has been truly amazing is the response the little show has received. Each performance was followed by a talkback, each of which had its own flavour and was filled with thought provoking discussion. What can we do for little girls to help avoid them becoming hyper-sexualized? What is it that drives parents to push their children to perform? And is it possible for your child's skill to be developed and nurtured in a way that pushes them, but still lets them be a child? Just some of the amazing points of debate that arose.

What has been even beyond my wildest expectations has been the way the piece is continuing to resonate with people days after the fact. CBC reviewer Joff Schmidt offered his praise (http://www.cbc.ca/manitoba/scene/theatre/2013/01/19/sondheimfest-review ) and many other audience members have written me or blogged about the show and how it has them thinking. It is extremely humbling to know that at least some bit of what I'd hoped to achieve artistically - pushing audiences out of their comfort zone, and forcing them to think - has succeeded. 

None of this would have been possible without the support of our creative team - Megan Andres, my fabulous director and dramaturg, along with Leah Borchert and John Norman.

Below are some production photos by Leif Norman taken at the dress rehearsal for the original production. More are available here: http://www.leifnorman.net/dear-mama-impel-theatre-jan-16-2013/


Press Releases...

It is a very strange phenomenon to write a press release for a show you have written, produced, and are performing in. I've certainly written my fair share of press releases, but somehow this was different. I'm simultaneously thrilled and terrified to be putting myself out there as an artist. Our RADA tutors provided excellent advice on this subject in our final days of the MA, and I'm aiming to live by it. You aren't really an artist if you aren't regularly putting yourself out there and laying it on the line.

Well, since i've just successfully blogged about a press release....here it is. Come see my show!

ps. thanks to miss Pamela Roz for her help with the press release :)


______________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
IMPEL THEATRE’S DEAR MAMA TO PREMIERE AT
RMTC SONDHEIMFEST
 
Dear Mama, Impel Theatre's new one-act play, will premiere as part of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre's SondheimFest in Winnipeg. The show, which was created by the exciting young company for the festival, marks Impel Theatre's first production in their hometown with writer Kendra Jones playing the lead role of Ruby.
 
Dear Mama is a work which pays homage to the classic stage mother in Gypsywhile making reference to contemporary child performers. Also inspired by Sondheim's lyrics in Gypsy, this new piece delves into the mind and body of a girl obsessed with fame, beauty and attention teaching that words have the power to build you up or tear you down.
  
"Not everyone is capable of being loved, RubyThey are too selfish. They aren't willing to give themselves to the people who want to love them," reads a line from the show. "Beautiful. I'm beautiful. Look, Mama, I'm beautiful. Mama will be proud.
 
Kendra Jones has performed, devised, directed and choreographed work with Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre's Master Playwright Festival, Prairie Theatre Exchange Carol Shields Festival, Sarasvati FemFest, Theatre Incarnate, Winnipeg Fringe, and more. She has performed in the hit You Me Bum Bum Train in London's West End (2012) and directed/devised work at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art as well as for King's College, London. Dear Mama is Kendra's first play in production.
 
The process of researching this piece has been very rewarding" says Jones. "I look forward to sharing the piece with audiences, and also the talkback sessions following each performance. I'm excited to see what sorts of discussions are sparked by the play."
 
Tickets can be reserved now by emailing kendra[at]impelartists.com or by phone at 204.475.8747. Note that capacity for each performance is limited to 35. The production is suitable for ages 15 years +.
 
The production is directed by Megan Andres, design and dramaturgy by Megan Andres, movement by Kendra Jones, stage management by Leah Borchert and sound by John Norman.  
 
Public information
Dates: January 17th  – January 20th 
Address: Studio 320, 70 Albert Street
Ticket prices: $10 or SondheimPass
Twitter: impeltheatre

Dear Mama - 17-20 January

Can I just say how strange it is to move from the academic world back to a world where you need to promote your show?

Anyway, please see below for details. Come to the show!

Impel Theatre proudly present Dear Mama, a new one-act play in response to Sondheim, Gypsy, lost childhood, and stage mothers around the world.

"Not everyone is capable of being loved, Ruby. They are too selfish. They aren't willing to give themselves to the people who want to love them."

Inspired by Sondheim's lyrics in Gypsy, this new piece delves into the mind and body of a girl obsessed with fame, beauty and attention. Words have the power to build you up or tear you down. "Beautiful. I'm beautiful. Look, Mama, I'm beautiful." Mama will be proud.

No wheelchair access | Capacity 35 | 40 mins
Warning: Language, mature themes

Each performance will be followed by a 30-minute Q & A session with the creative team.

Written and Performed by Kendra Jones
Direction and Dramaturgy by Megan Andres
Stage Managed by Leah Borchert

Thursday 17 January - 8:00pm
Friday 18 January - 8:00pm
Saturday 19 January - 8:00pm
Sunday 20 January - 2:00pm

This production is part of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre's SondheimFest - 2013 Master Playwright Festival

**To Reserve Tickets**
email: kendra@impelartists.com

>or<

call: 204.475.8747

Note that seating is limited to 35 per performance.

Crossroads

Earlier this week results from the MA were released. I am pleased to share that I have officially graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Birkbeck, University of London, with a grade of Distinction! For anyone who follows the blog, the past year has been a rollercoaster ride of massive proportions. Loads of work, so much creation and exploration, and unbelievable experiences, all of which have culminated in this final grade. Reflecting now, I always knew this year would be huge, however even my enormous expectations were surpassed. 

And as the title suggests, I'm at a crossroads - exiting student life (again) and emerging into the creative world unsheltered by school and supportive tutors. My first true foray will be Dear Mama, which opens on 17 January at Studio 320. Nothing like diving in head first! Writing is nearly complete, anything more will be explorations in the studio, and rehearsals begin in earnest tomorrow. 

Will do my best to blog on the rehearsal process. This will be the first time my creation will be directed by someone else, and I am extremely excited at the prospect of having someone else's creative input on my work. If I've learned anything in the past year, it is that collaboration is at the heart of all truly interesting work - our inspiration comes from the people and world around us, so deny nothing. 

More soon!

Writing My Blues Away....

Or something like that, anyway. I'm in madd R&D and writing mode for my upcoming production Dear Mama, part of SondheimFest. This will be my first self-produced production and is more than a little terrifying.

I've been asked a few times, and must admit it - my actions are chock-full of hubris. Entering my own piece of original writing into a festival dedicated to a Master Playwright - Steven Sondheim - seems a bit absurd. So I shall elaborate.

Dear Mama and its lead character, Ruby, have been a seed of an idea in my mind for years now. It all originates with a conversation my sister (who is also an arts professional) and I had about how strange it is that the pair of us used to watch Gypsy religiously from a rather young age. Now, for anyone who has seen it, stepping back you can understand our train of thought - Gypsy Rose Lee, famous burlesque dancer and early stripper, is the centre piece of the musical (for which Sondheim was lyricist). The show includes dance numbers by strippers, and ultimately a daughter whose mother encourages her to choose burlesque performance over not being on stage at all....to great success.

It is easy to see the parallels between this young starlet, who began performing likely before 5 years old, and the plethora of child stars we see today. From the kids on Dance Moms who have been described as 'prosti-tots' to the frighteningly sexualized performing dolls on Toddlers and Tiaras, and the latest Disney starlet, little girls are more and more a commodity, rather than children.

Dear Mama looks at a fictional young girl who had this sort of childhood....but sees her as an adult, still starved for attention and willing to take major risks to secure the adoration of her audience.

I've been lucky enough to secure the talented and brilliant Megan Andres to dramaturg and direct the piece - we will begin working together soon! Watch for further blogs as the process continues....