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http://www.courtyard.org.uk/blog/

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What we’re looking forward to: Teechers

Presented by Blackeyed Theatre in association with South Hill Park

“there is only one fitting description of Teechers…winner” ~ Daily Telegraph

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Fast-moving, inventive and highly entertaining, Teechers is John Godber’s brilliant take on life at a modern comprehensive. Through their hilarious end-of-term play, three Year 11s exuberantly sketch the new drama teacher’s progress through two terms of recalcitrant classes, cynical colleagues and obstructive caretakers. Disillusioned, he departs for the safe waters of a private school, and leaves behind his students, whose youthful irreverence gives way to despair.

Brought to the stage by highly acclaimed Blackeyed Theatre with high energy, break-neck comedy and breathtaking ensemble performances, Teechers is a modern classic with something vital to say about education for the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

Reviews…

The Stage

“The effusive cast of three execute Adrian McDougall’s direction with timed precision and hilarious interpretation. Donna Preston’s facial variations are wonderfully expressive from her portrayal of head teacher Mrs Parry to the sniggering student Simon Patterson, while Nicole Black injects excellent physicality into each of her characters from PE teacher Miss Prime to school bully Oggy Moxon and deputy head Mr Basford. Jacob Addley is the lynchpin of the piece as new drama teacher Jeff Nixon and all three actors switch effortlessly into Scott Jenkins’ brilliantly choreographed interludes.”

The Good Review  ★★★★

“All three actors project the kind of presence that says they’re completely comfortable on stage, with bags of energy, ingenuity and impressive physicality. Entertaining song-and-dance set pieces punctuate the evening, including a memorable Gangnam style routine and a hilarious take on Glee’s Don’t Stop Believing.Teechers Press photo 4 640

On the night I attended, most of the audience seemed to be school pupils of around the same age as those depicted on stage. From what I saw, they absolutely loved it, particularly the bit just after the interval when they, and some of their teachers, were urged by the cast to get up and dance. Amidst all the fun, and frenetic energy, this play carries serious messages about education and art, and how they can give hope and direction to otherwise listless lives.”

Bracknell Times

“A mass of energy is needed to keep this fast-paced show going and the three stars did not fail to disappoint, with stellar and flawless performances from Jacob Addley, Nicole Black and Donna Preston… I wouldn’t want to see another production because I doubt any three actors could match the performance of Addley, Black and Preston.”

Tempted? Tickets can be purchased online here or via the Box Office on 01432 340555

Film reviewers: Half-price tickets

Always have a startlingly passionate opinion on film? Could you give Mark Kermode a run for his money?

We’re enthusiastic about audience feedback, your opinions on film – what you love and what gets you riled! So send us your film reviews, short or long and we’ll get them posted up here on our blog.

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Getting your review to us and your half-price ticket couldn’t be easier. Wherever you see this logo we’re looking for your thoughts.

1. Call up Box Office on 01432 340555 and let them know you’re booking a reviewer’s half-price ticket for one of the films below.

2. Come along and enjoy your film – the first screening of the selected film is the only applicable one for this offer.

3. Write your quick-fire review and email it to us within 18 hours of the film to competitions@courtyard.org.uk subject titled with the name of the film.

Films in the offer this season:

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Robot and Frank |  Sat 4 May 6pm

Compliance | Sat 18 May 5.30pm

Caesar Must Die | Tue 21 May 6pm

Jack The Giant Slayer | Tue 28 May 2.30pm

Much Ado About Nothing | Mon 24 June 6pm

The Reluctant Fundamentalist | Sat 29 June 2.30pm

The Courtyard reserves the write to publish or not publish reviews. Any questions send us an email or tweet us @CourtyardArts

Curious about contemporary? A season of dance to suit all appetites…

Contemporary dance is always one of those tricky things… it seems to some like an impenetrable art form, devised by dancers for dancers, but even not being a dance fanatic myself, some of my best memories of going to the theatre in my youth are around some of the incredible motion I saw on stage from dance companies that seemed to do the impossible with just the same legs and arms that you and I have. It’s the awe and splendour of seeing those incredible physical shapes and the power of great choreography that give those youngsters, much like I was, such an impression.

All this and a bit of a break from dance performances myself, have led me to get quite excited about our upcoming season of dance here at The Courtyard. We’ve a pretty mixed programme and there should be something for everyone – those seeking superior symbolism, those who want to get to grips with the community experience of sharing dance and those with a bit of curiosity who just fancy trying it out. Well, if you’re one of the latter, this season is the time to break out of whatever shackles are holding you back – there’s going to be something that takes your fancy.

Rosie Kay Dance Company

Rosie Kay Dance Company

If you like your contemporary dance uncompromising and brutally symbolic, then make your way to see ‘There Is Hope’ by the Rosie Kay Dance Company (Fri 3 May). Visceral and demanding, it’s contemporary dance at it’s most confrontational and experimental and brings a world of darkness and retribution to the stage. Powerfully choreographed, it’s the sort of show that will knock you sideways and entice you to ask some of the big questions, about life and death and survival.

Following this hell-for-leather introduction to The Courtyard dance season, we’ll be striding on with a physically-charged series of episodes from the Verve 13 (Tue 14 May). James Wilton, Sadler’s Wells Global Dance Contest winner, combines movement from modern contemporary with martial arts and capoeira; Ben Wright warms the heart with music and comedy; with further choreographers creating a fresh mix of interesting technical pieces and dynamic passion.

Verve Dance Company

Verve Dance Company

Nestled into the summer calendar, Courtyard residents 2Faced Dance Company bring forth their Youth Summer Platforms in the form of Fresh 2013 (20 + 21 June), a fabulous collaboration that creates opportunities for primary, secondary and FE college students to share their dance skills with the community. Showcasing break, street, contemporary and fusion performances, this is the perfect warm-up to 2Faced’s evening Youth Dance Company urban and contemporary performance, ‘The Calling’.

With an explosion of dance, music, live vocals, percussion and powerful, folkloric contemporary movement, Jugni will come storming in like a whirlwind of rhythm, motion and rhyme (4 July). Bring on this revolutionary, new take on Kathak dance choreographed and musically realised by Sonia and Sarvar Sabri. Striking and colourful with enchanting vocals, this promises to be a show the like of which you’ve never seen before.

Sonia Sabri Company

Sonia Sabri Company

And the icing on this dance-laden cake, comes in the form of ‘Express Yourself’ brought to us by the Hereford Academy of Dance (20 July); a fabulous showcase of passionate dance brought to you by local students and raising money for the Little Princess Trust, great dance with a feel-good factor.

So whether your interest is passing or fervently passionate, try out a dance show or two at The Courtyard. We’re even offering a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ offer on ‘There is Hope’, ‘Verve 13’ and ‘Jugni’ so it’s never been easier and cheaper to get your dose of contemporary dance and be awed by some fabulous skills.

For more information and to book tickets call the Box Office on 01432 340555.

Written by Toki Allison

Dave’s Fave: The power of storytelling with In The House

Film programmer, David Gillam, talks us through his enjoyment of Kristen Scott Thomas’ latest, In The House, where a student’s captivating stories invade a couple’s life together…

Join us here at The Courtyard from this Friday, 26 April, to catch In The House on the big screen.
And if you’re a true foreign film fan, why not take up our offer of half-price tickets for reviewers? Just submit your review on Saturday, 27, and we will post the best right here on our blog!

Call the Box Office to book tickets and find out more: 01432 340555.

Kristen Scott Thomas and Fabrice Luchini, In The House

Kristen Scott Thomas and Fabrice Luchini, In The House

Guest Blog: How to get your dreams on the stage!

Blog by local author Barbara Hockley about dreams generally and her play The Dream Makers originally performed at The Conquest Theatre in Bromyard, April 2008.
Find out more at The Offbeat Theatre Blog.

My favourite dream - flying! So beautiful to recreate on stage

My favourite dream – flying! So beautiful to recreate on stage

My favourite dream – flying! So beautiful to recreate on stage

You know when you wake up and you’ve just had the most amazing dream. You’ll never forget it! Until, of course, a few minutes later when it’s completely slipped away and no matter how hard you try you can’t get it back. So you try to keep a dream diary, but half the time you don’t write your dream down (the pen doesn’t work/isn’t there at the right time and/or a cup of tea/coffee/more sleep beckons….) When you do write your dream down you’re really not sure where to go with it next? One of those generic online/in-book interpretations maybe? Then what? Analyse it, understand the message (there’s a message?), use it as material for your next piece of creative writing (ummm, maybe). Dreams are strange and slippery things, maybe we should wake up and bask in them before they leave us, just absorb some of the dreamy fabric of the night and not try to hold on too tightly. And maybe, whilst basking, you could use this strange dreamworld to inspire a stage production? I did, it was fantastic fun – let me share a bit of the journey.

The Dream Makers is a play for large cast (24+) of 9 – 14 year old and it contains wonderful opportunities to recreate dreams. You can read the whole thing at the bottom of the post (should you wish!). I put 5 dream sequences into the play – all very reasonable considering the play is set in a dream palace (a magical place where you go when you dream – bit like a theatre). The first dream was an ANXIETY DREAM – we’ve all been there! I don’t advise the standard ‘no door on the toilet’ sort of anxiety dream, or the ‘I’m on stage in a play and I can’t remember my lines’ dream (don’t tempt fate), but anything else goes. We had a wonderful soundtrack of pneumatic drills and other ghastly noises that get on your nerves, lots of umbrellas (and why not?), a seriously odd ballet, running and getting nowhere – it’s a great opportunity to create a sequence that makes no sense, has no plot and you don’t need to worry about motivation. Best to have lines (if there are any) on a soundtrack as well – sounds much weirder.

Then we moved onto the ROMANTIC DREAM. Never had one? Not sure I have either … But a damn good excuse for a quick tango! Some of the characters in the play are somewhat inept, so I seem to remember my romantic dreamer was slightly put out when the leading man tangoed with a mop instead (these things happen with inexperienced dream actors). She wasn’t happy. Moving on we next had a NIGHTMARE (more fun than you should ever have on stage). Not just a nightmare in fact – but a NIGHT TERROR masquerading as a dreamer to infiltrate the dream palace. My nightmare sequence involved all sort of ghouls, ghosts, creepy soundtrack and some chickens…. See page 31 to find out how the dream actors and crew (of course they exist) all escape the clutches of the Night Terror.

Into Act II of this wonderful adventure in dreamland we start off with the SWIMMING UNDERWATER AND FLYING DREAM – your chance to get really relaxed and stage something beautiful. A soundtrack of gorgeously relaxing sounds including whalesong made the sequence my favourite moment of all. Lucky dreamer. We finish our dreams with a truly HEROIC DREAM where the dreamer in my version) has to survive all sorts of ‘weather’ (cue large fan), climb mountains, struggle through storms etc .. to get to the top (of the mountain … it’s symbolic).

Personally, I LOVE dreams. I love the idea of a world beyond the waking world where all these crazy things take place. I love the idea of the dream palace (where, incidentally, if you know the way in you could get a job). If I can’t be there the next best place is to be on stage creating magical, dreamlike shows.

Secret recipe revealed: Ed’s Jungle Garlic Chicken Curry

Written by Ed Pitts, Second Chef

This is a curry I’ve adapted from a traditional Bengali recipe. Bengalis are renowned for putting extra onion in their curries, creating curries such as the Dopiaza. As the capital of British-colonialised India, Bengali cuisine has for many years been adored by us Brits and Bengalis have clung to their traditional cooking practices and recipes. Good job too, means we get to enjoy these great, timeless recipes today!

Serves 4, approx 45 mins

Ed’s Jungle Garlic Chicken Curry

Ed Pitts cooking curry4 chicken breasts, diced
4 white onions, roughly chopped
2 red chillis, deseeded
12 cloves garlic, peeled
2cm cube of fresh ginger, peeled
3 tins of tomatoes
250g butter
2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp turmeric
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
100ml water

1. Clarify butter by melting it on a low heat so the foam of the butter separates from the liquid below. Lift the foam off and discard.
2. Place your clarified butter in a pan, add the onion and cook on a medium heat until golden brown.
3. Drain the onions, retaining the butter mix.
4. Put your onions, garlic, chillis and ginger into the food processor – you may need to do this in stages if the quantities are too much! – and blend to a paste.
5. Add chopped tomatoes and blend these too.
6. Take a large pan, reheat your butter mixture and add the paste you’ve created. Cook for 3 mins on a high heat until the edges start to bubble.

Chilli by Graibeard via Flickr

Chilli by Graibeard via Flickr

7. Add all spices excluding the garam masala and cook for 2-3 mins more. If the curry starts to spit, just add a drop of water to calm it down.
8. Add the diced chicken, plenty of salt and pepper and 50ml water. Turn the heat down and simmer for 20-25mins, adding water if the curry reduces too quickly.
9. Add the garam masala and chopped coriander. Cook for a further 5 mins and then serve.

For a tasty vegetarian alternative why not substitute chicken for fresh veg? Root vegetables such as sweet potato, potato may benefit from a pre-roasting in spices.

This curry is medium to hot in spice but can be made hotter with more chilli, or made milder by stirring in some yoghurt when serving.

Serve with…..

Fragrant Rice

4 mugs rice
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
3 cloves
3 cardamom pods
125g butter
Salt and pepper

1. Wash rice.
2. Add ingredients to thick-based pan.
3. Cover with cold water to just above the surface.
4. Cook for 15 – 20 mins approx. or until rice is of a good texture.
5. Drain and serve.

A final thought from Ed….
Curry is one of my favourite dishes. Many a night of debauchery has been spent in the curry house, larking about and causing mischief with mates. It’s one of those dishes that works well, whatever the occasion.

To try a taste of Ed’s curry, come along to one of our comedy club curry nights or one of our big name comedy gigs (you can get discounts on your curry if you book in advance at the Box Office: 01432 340555). But if you can’t wait til then pop into The Courtyard Cafe Bar this weekend, as Ed puts his Jungle Curry on our specials board. Yum yum!