Sunday, 3 July 2016

Just Another Day At The Office

These past few weeks, I have been despairing and getting increasingly frustrated at numerous job applications and I have felt like I have been getting nowhere. If you have read my last few blog posts, you’ll know that I received an offer to do a Masters in Creative Writing. Ever since I got the offer, I have been unsure whether I wanted to take it – there were many things to consider like did I want to take out another loan to pay for the course or was I better off trying to get a job? I applied for many scholarships but I didn’t think anything would come from it. However, yesterday I got an email back from the university’s financial services offering me a scholarship that will cover my tuition fees and part of my living costs for the next year. So basically this gives me a chance to do my MA without worrying too much about how I’m going to pay for everything! I can’t put into words how happy I am about this unexpected surprise. I genuinely did not expect to receive this scholarship and am incredibly humbled that I have. And I can’t wait now to get back to Sheffield and start my Creative Writing course!

So in-between all of this frustration and eventually excitement, I went to the theatre twice and saw two plays based in and around offices. The first one last week was The Government Inspector by Gogol. This was a good old Russian farce; a corrupt town anticipates the arrival of a government inspector and mistakenly think a broke middle class writer is the said inspector. This performance is part of Ramps On The Moon, a project which brings together seven major theatre companies and incorporates sign language, audio description and subtitles into their performances. Disabled artists and audiences are given centre stage and stimulates positive change and awareness within arts and culture. The inclusion of sign language and subtitles within the performance really added to the hilarity of the farcical nature of the play. Mistaken identity and miscommunication is at the heart of this play and the addition of sign language, which the majority of the audience was not able to understand, added an extra layer which was not prevalent in the original text. 

The set was like a matchstick town, representing how easy it was to bowl over its inhabitants. Kiruna Stamell was perfect as the Mayor's wife, Anna. She brought the vain, superficial character to life through affecting a French accent for certain words to make herself seem more than just a provincial mayor's wife. David Carlyle as the Mayor himself got gradually more unstable as the play went on. He was beset by a crisis of faith and uncertainty as he tried to maintain the way of life the town had built for itself based on corruption and bribery as well as his own conscience. Gogol's satirical comedy has stood the test of time and is still relevant and humourous today and through the Ramps On The Moon project, theatre has become even more relevant and accessible to an increasingly diverse audience. That is something that I hope can continue. 

The next play I saw one week later (and a week that had changed my life) was Mike Bartlett's new play, Contractions. It took the style of 3-5 minute interviews between Emma, a sales rep, and her unnamed manager. By forming a romantic relationship with a co-worker, Emma is informed that the relationship is in breach of the company's contract. This interview style of the play made it feel very fast paced as there was a lot to fit into a short space of an hour and the stark revolving stage echoed the revolving nature of the production. The audience voiced their own frustration and disbelief at key moments of the play, which is proof that it certainly held our attention. Sara Stewart was chillingly terrifying as the manager who was impassively corporate and extremely hard to read. Rose Leslie took the audience on an emotional journey as a woman stuck in a job that she couldn't leave and it had ruined her life. It was hard not to feel her desperation and frustration as she tried to hold onto some semblance of her life. After seeing this play, I'm kind of glad I didn't get any of the jobs I applied for; if Contractions is a real representation of an office environment, then I don't think I'm suited to that! Contractions is a darkly funny play and I would highly recommend going to see it, especially since Live for 5 tickets are available on all performances!

Anyway, I am taking a well-deserved break from applications and enjoying my week away on holiday. I haven't got many theatre trips lined up over the summer but watch this space for updates about whether I fall over at graduation and a much anticipated performance of No Man's Land with Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in August.

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