Now we are 5!

25 February: Update. The rains have come … the dread of any outdoor festival. The first postponement for the season has hit. Tonight’s dress-rehearsal and tomorrow’s education workshop day are on hold. We watch the skies and hope …

Actors at Work
Shakespeare in Queen’s Park Festival (now Shakespeare in the Park Festival) is about to hit Toowoomba for the 5th time. So there I was this afternoon in the park watching the acting company go through some of their paces under the eyes of director Scott Alderdice and fight director Nigel Poulton. It was hot, sunny and well …. deja-vu-ish. Here we were 5 years on from the spindly little Hamlet set under that great tree (it’s still there … the tree that is) to a big, rock concert kind of stage for Romeo and Juliet complete with canopy so the actors can work in shade, and should it rain (god forbid) the stage and the lighting rig are protected. I don’t miss watching the skies and praying for fine weather.

Couldn’t help feeling a twinge of pride to see how our baby has grown to a vigorous youngster. This wonderful little theatre festival that could has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Its future is now in the lap of the gods and the will of mere mortals. But for now, bring it on. The Park is the place to be for the next couple of weeks.

…not in single spies …

A busy month which has been very kind to me and my projects. The SiQP 2007 Festival has been a resounding success, so much so that the committee decided to put the 2008 Festival on sale immediately to build on the success of this one. Not sure that people will buy this far out; more inclined to think that sponsorship deals are ripe for the picking. A good experiment though … . I then created a project management folder and labelled it SiQP2008! Ye gods.

And an odd if pleasant (and most unusual) thing: I have been written about in a couple of magazines:in AUC:Wheels for the Mind, for my work with digital media in teaching and learning, and in Management Today as one of Australia’s most influential women! Gosh! Of course I knew about the articles; I was interviewed by both writers, but neverthless, it comes as something of a surprise to see it all in print, and I choose to believe that it justifies and validates the work. Nice!

So, in putting March to bed I’d have to say that the first couple of months of this year have personally and professionally very OK. Looking forward to a few days of play over the Easter break to work on Photoshop and some photographic assignments.

Oh and a little postscript … found an insanely simple and very attractive way to use a piece of paper as a little notebook. It’s Origami meets GTD!

Get Me Out of Here!

It’s “O Week” (Orientation Week) at university. Today was the first day. The place is full of new faces, and some more familiar, with the return today of the second-year acting class about to tackle a production of Mad Forest Caryl Churchill‘s terrific play about the 1989 Romanian revolution. It also happens to be my first directing gig for the year. The company and I spent three hours this morning talking and reading about the incidents in the work, and about the acting challenges for this production. Ah, good to be back and to flex the muscle of imagination.

And of course, I found it hard to work at the desk afterwards, and fled after rehearsals to the park, where the final day’s rehearsals for the SiQP (Shakespeare in Queens Park Festival) are taking place. There’s something wonderfully soothing about being outdoors, in the thick of all the creative fun happening there, especially on such a glorious day as it has been. Didn’t feel at all guilty. I guess right now for me my heart is where the work is. All appears on track for a fine week of festivity and good drama.

Getting People to Talk: Interviews

The blog for Shakespeare in Queens Park Festival (SiQP) which I’ve been keeping for a couple of years now has an addition: interviews with some of the key artists, creatives, and technicians. It’s been fun talking to them. What surprised me was that I didn’t have to prod them to reveal all. Once they got going, they took off, and the editing afterwards was pretty painless–a couple of repetitive “ums and ahs” here and there, a phone call that interrupted the flow (note to self, take phone off hook before pressing the record button), but nothing else. Really, to get people talking, all you need to do is ask them about their passion–in this case, what they’re doing for SiQP.

Footling Round in Websites

Time to change my current Shakespeare in Queens Park Festival site from iWeb over to a server at work. Too many hits (modest blush) and chewing up bandwidth. Can’t wait for iWeb to sort itself out in terms of making a little easier the “publishing to a folder” and creating more than one domain site. I’ve cracked the work-flow now, but if you don’t concentrate and forget to create a new domain in a separate folder, you end up wiping out page content. Yep it happened to me today again. Fortunately I only changed a little bit of the welcome page on the iWeb site into a redirection to the new site. Of course, I then had to go and undo it, after archiving the old welcome page into a folder of its own. If you can follow this, you’re doing well; told you it was complicated. Anyhow, the site is sitting on the new server waiting for lots of visitors, and the re-direct page is sitting on my iDisk and happily and I hope seamlessly redirecting my previously loyal visitors to the new playground.

UPDATE: The archive of the posts associated with the Shakespeare in Queen’s Park Festival can now be found on my own server. It was necessary to ensure I kept my own intellectual property after leaving the university. You can find this at SiQP Blog.

The site has been updated with a new interviews page with artists and creatives. My they can talk! It’s a pleasure to interview passionate, articulate people. Take a look and a listen. It’s being updated all the time.

What makes a good meeting?

Autumn Light Queen's Park Toowoomba
Image by Dramagirl via Flickr

Stocktaking at the end of the week yesterday, and I realised I had chaired or attended 12 meetings in 5 days. Now I know universities run on meetings, but this seemed a bit excessive. It’s when the stocktaking (aka weekly review) happens that you realise how sensible it is to be as productive as possible. I’m also on something of a one-woman mission to make meetings leaner and more productive; as time poor as we are, we can’t afford to sit around chewing the fat. Far too much fat gets masticated in corridor meetings anyway. OK, so much for the whinge, and it’s fair to say that some of these meetings were very good ones indeed.

IMHO the meetings that do work work around the format that characterises our theatre production meeting: a round-table, “paper production” where the heads of all departments within a production (the show) report on progress, share concerns, prioritise, and map out next actions. It’s chaired by a student Stage Manager, who is learning on the job. Good teaching and good GTD stuff this. Yesterday’s production meeting for a show in the upcoming SiQP Festival (Shakespeare in Queen’s Park Festival) was a model in this regard. Run to time, focussed, and with everyone prepared, we got lots of things through the pipeline and back into the workshop, rehearsal room, and into other meetings (inevitable, but that’s how it goes). So, left the week feeling the week had been a good one meetings-wise.

The other side of the week, and the light side, concerned work during the mornings in the rehearsal room on the show mentioned above, a compilation called Sonnets at Breakfast to be presented in Queen’s Park on March 11 in Toowoomba. Working with the creative energy of actors is a real charge to the system, and it certainly worked to dispel some of the meetings lethargy that had descended on my week.