Category: 4change classes

The Garden of HOME

Bill's big wooden table that has hosted thousands of meals and thousands of stories

Bill’s big wooden table that has hosted thousands of meals and thousands of stories

It’s early Saturday morning and I am sitting on my verandah. the kookaburras are chatting. There is a slight breeze. As always, a fire is burning to take the chill off the air – its not really burning…this one is an electric fire with a pretend flame…I love it. It is what i call my compromise fire. Bill does not like heat. I like heat, so when he is close, I turn on the flame and leave off the heat. An exquisite compromise! The real fire in the next room only gets lit at night.

Lou Lou our labrador/poodle/golden retriever mix is with me. This is my first day off for weeks and I am luxuriating in the lack of deadlines. The coffee is good, the company great and the thoughts flow.

In the garden

In the garden

This week was my birth week, a great week of reflection. Not only on my own life, but how my work has shifted and grown over the last few years. I should not even call it work, it is more of a vocation, a passion, what I must do rather than what I do. We are moving closer towards opening HOME in the new studio at Queensland Theatre Company –the name chosen for the studio will be announced on HOME opening: here is a cut and paste from QTC website:

Queensland Theatre Company presents a Force of Circumstance production
Home
by Margi Brown Ash

home
14 July – 25 July

margi-and-home Margi and her paper house, photo by Bev Jensen

HOME, Studio 2, The GreenHouse, QTC

“This sensitive, lively work empowers the audience as Brown Ash brings us all Home. A rare and refreshing theatrical work that connects the whole audience. Not to be missed.”
-Arts Hub

In Margi Brown Ash’s HOME, you are not an audience member, you are a guest – or even a family member – visiting a warm and welcoming place where Margi shares with you stories of her life and family. She blends these ‘ordinary’ joys and tragedies with ‘extraordinary’ stories of family and love – from Egyptian gods, Isis and Osiris, to perhaps even your own story.

This experience will leave you relishing and re-imagining what makes each of our stories remarkable. Welcome HOME.

WORKSHOPS

workshops Getting ready for a workshop

In conjunction with the HOME season at QTC, the HOME team, led by Margi Brown Ash, is offering two public workshops. These 3-hour immersive workshops will inspire and encourage you to explore what home means and to remember your forgotten stories of belonging; including ‘dreaming on’ the potential of what home could mean for your future. Games, drawing, collage-making exercises and simple story-telling activities combine in this fun, inventive and all-inclusive workshop – designed to unlock your creative impulses, to deepen your experience of the show and to awaken your glorious inner storyteller.

WORKSHOP DATES:

SAT 18 JULY: 9:30am – 12:30pm (FOLLOWED by complimentary afternoon tea)

THU 23 JULY: 2pm – 5pm (PRECEDED by a complimentary morning tea)

workshop final depiction before performative reading

Group workshop working on their final depiction before a performative reading

HOME to me has been five years of relationship. I have met many people on the way, many folk have been through this old red house. In 2011 we began to create The HOME Team. This was the year of development, where we grew the show, not only in the rehearsal room, but also in the garden. My objective was to create workshops that helped people open to their own stories of home. I invited three of my Master of Counselling students to join me each Tuesday, along with HOME designer Bev Jensen, to create the experience of home. What is home? How can we help others awaken the beauty and joy of creating home? Bev created a master plan. We decided to develop several rooms in the garden loosely based on Edna Walling:

Walling advocated simplicity in all elements of design, so that nothing detracted from the integrity of the setting. Buildings should be simple, of rock and timber, with wooden shingles.

Each of her beautifully rendered garden plans shows her use of formal axis and structure, of flights of steps, both linear and semicircular, of generous bodies of water and expert treatment of sloping land with terraces bound by walls of local stone.

In the gardens she designed in the second half of her career, Walling sought to touch the landscape with a lighter hand. “Man has a duty,” she wrote, “to leave behind him as small account of his activities as possible.”

Excerpt from “Edna Walling’s life of many paths” by HOLLY KERR FORSYTH in THE AUSTRALIAN JUNE 14, 2014.

food and friendsh

food and friendship with Bev and Kate

We met each Tuesday morning sharing our baked goods. My favourite were Kate’s almond biscuits. Kate used only the almond meal instead of flour and lots of butter. I don’t have her recipe but here is a good one:

Ingredients by Gabriel Gaté

250 g (9 oz) caster sugar
2 egg whites
140 g (5 oz) plain flour
180 g (6 oz) whole roasted almonds, halved
½ tsp pure vanilla essence
a little icing sugar, for dusting

In a bowl, combine the sugar and egg whites and whisk until creamy white. Mix flour, almonds, vanilla essence and refrigerate for an hour. Roll into small balls and flatten, then place the biscuits on greased tray. 200°C.
Bake 8 minutes or until done. When cold, dust them with icing sugar.

Bev working in the garden

Bev working in the garden

We drank exotic teas:

· Use freshly drawn water, freshly boiled. It must not be reboiled.

· Use the correct-sized teapot. To heat, pour some of the water, just before boiling, into the pot. Swirl and empty away.

· Use orthodox, good-quality leaf tea. Grades such as Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP) or BOP Fannings are popular. Indian Assam second-flush is thick, soft-liquoring and malty, and Cleon Dimbula is a good standard for a flavoury tea. Use one spoonful per person and one for the pot.

· Fill the pot and stir gently for a few moments. Infuse for five minutes. Use a timer to get this right.

· Put room-temperature whole milk into the cup first. Use about one and a half tablespoonfuls. Do not use skimmed milk.

· To ensure that the leaves do not get into the cup, pour tea through a mesh strainer. Fill the cup to 1cm from the rim.

· After the first pouring, add extra hot water to the teapot, so as to continue drawing further flavour and strength from the leaves.

· Always discard cold tea at the bottom of the cup before a second pouring.

· Even if the tea has been brewing for 10 minutes, orthodox leaf tea will not become too strong or bitter.

· Use a tea cosy.

Taste test (quote from How to drink tea by Edward Bramah, in The Guardian, 26 March 2003)

A cup of tea? There is always a pot of tea brewing

We shared stories around the garden table before we began planting and creating rooms such as The Kitchen, The Bedroom and The Library. These ‘rooms’ were to become little performance spaces where actors could create autobiographical stories of home to be performed to friends on Sunday evenings. The actors also used the house itself to create their stories: one performed in a large cardboard box in the kitchen, another on the stairs.

kate performing in a cardboard box

Kate performing in a cardboard box

They were joyful years creating home at home. Some of the rooms are still here, others have been recreated. The vegetable garden has changed location to catch more sun, the passionfruit vine has died and needs to be replanted. The almond cookies helped me gain a few kilos and have been relegated to the ‘occasional’ treat. But the resonances of these experiences still lingers in my old red house. Hundreds of stories by actors and friends.

coming home

Margi coming home

4change coaching shared Double Bill: 'He Dreamed a Train' and 'Eve's photo. ...

Catch EVE tonight at BRISBANE POWERHOUSE at 6.30pm. Tickets online at www.brisbanepowerhouse.org or at the Box Office. “Her [Margi Brown Ash] performance as Eve is delightful as she displays infectious cheekiness, inspiring determination, understandable frustration, and confusion, in a world where everything from publishers rejecting a manuscript, squalling children, and an unsupportive husband … seem against her and her dreams. Nevertheless, she persists with a spark in her eye.“ Aussie Theatre

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We are in an era of profound change that urgently requires new ways of thinking instead of more business as dual; capitalism, in its current form, has no place in the world around us (Klaus Schwab, founder World Economic Forum)

This week marks the beginning of a new year of FOC/4change. For the first few months of the year I was enjoying beautiful Sydney and now I am back at Metro Arts 109 Edward Street Brisbane for the rest of the year.

We are setting up a space on the third floor of Metro Arts to host workshops, group and one-on-one sessions all with the objective of increasing our productivity and our health.

All together, we are changing from a society whose organising principle is the pyramid or hierarchy to one whose image is a circle. Humans are linked, not ranked. Humans and the environment are linked, not ranked (Gloria Steinem)

Using collage as a way of understanding what is happening right now…

I have been collaging for a long time now. I find that, whenever I feel ‘wobbly’ or need to process a session that I have engaged in, a collage does it faster than any conversation. It seems to work on the story underneath the story. This time of year is a good time to collage. We are moving quickly in the festive world, and it is a way of slowing our thinking down and tapping into our reflective selves. I like to work standing up, with a pile of magazines or a pile of images that I have collected throughout the year. A glue stick. No scissors necessarily, though some images demand it.
This time I had Elvis accompany me. Choose whatever music inspires you. And begin to ‘rip and stick’. I work fast, allowing my fingers to sort the images rather than my mind (to as large degree as possible). Some days the whole sheet ends up covered with images. It is always interesting to reflect on the in-between spaces, the white spaces between the images and the relationship between one image and another:

Part of a collage December 8 2013

Part of a collage December 8 2013

Once complete, I pin it to the wall so I can observe it up close and far away. I pin it with recent and not so recent collages so I can see the changes over time. I read out the text that has been stuck on the page, playing with the volume of the voice and the order of the words. I move the text and images on the floor (thats why you need space) because out of the movement can come an understanding that the intellect may not readily access. I then leave the collage up for as long as it demands. I find that things shift without long involved talking. Things shift despite ourselves.
Thank you Elvis…this activity, for me, is a moment of mindfulness. A moment of reflection in what is usually a fast-moving day for all of us.

“Writing My Way Forward”…

ANNOUNCING THREE DAY INTENSIVE OF CREATIVE PRACTICE:
“Writing My Way Forward…”

Reflection/Creation/Performance

Reflection/Creation/Performance

Everyone at some time needs to reflect on their life and how they live it in order to reinvent their process and practice. This three day intensive is an opportunity to do just that. Using creative arts practices, reflective practice and mindfulness, we will explore/record/perform stories that make up “Who I will become in 2014”.

The weekend begins with a simple meal 6.30pm Friday 7th February, 2014 followed by reflective practice and sharing. Saturday and Sunday begin at 12pm. We will incorporate mindfulness, creative writing, moving and collage. Sunday night will be an opportunity to show the work you have written with your own invited guests.

Some of us will use this workshop to begin new solo works, something every artist pursues at some time. Others may use it as a time of reflection and dreaming-on of 2014.

Some responses to 4change workshops:

“Always positive, always helping us understand in the best way possible to create ourselves in the truest forms of our being. It is life changing and I look forward to coming to class just to see what epiphany I may unearth”. (4change website)

“Has an amazing ability to reach all members of a diverse group with energy and enthusiasm. Has allowed people to grow at their own pace so that the foundations are secure. Challenging and insightful”. (4change website)

I welcome you to apply:

Cost: $195.00 early bird (by January 24th, 2014)
After that: $260.00 per person
Payment schemes available (of course)
Group size: 12 only
Friday 7th February: 6.30-9.30pm
Saturday 12-6.00pm
Sunday 12-9.00pm
Contact Margi at 4change@iinet.net.au or margibrownash@gmail.com or 0410515637






I always find I learn so much when I teach…do I learn more than my students? Probably!

I

I

I am wanting to use the journey of Dorothy in Wizard of Oz to inspire my teachings tonight. No, not the Wizard that we (as the Danger Ensemble) are creating for the Brisbane Festival 2013 (that would be wrong!) but the archetypal Wizard of Oz.

Jean Houston’s award winning book “The Wizard of Us” is my guide today. Jean Houston has been my mentor for many years and I find her books stimulating and very dramatic, great for training and creating character. So as I read her book this morning–its a dull day in Brisbane, lower than usual temperatures, though you from the colder regions would think it quite wonderfully warm for a winter’s day– I am drawn to her research that looks at the brain (well the scarecrow had no brain).

This is the quote that I posted on Facebook and I so like it I will type it out here:
Houston (2012, pg 61) quotes Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb, now known for his phrase “neurons that fire together wire together”:

“The mind takes the shape of whatever it rests upon–or more exactly, the brain takes the shape of whatever the mind rests upon. So, if you regularly rest your mind on regrets, resentments, quarrels with others, self-reproach–you know, the voice in the back of your head yammering away about what a nobody you really are and if others only knew you better, etcetcera–if you rest your mind there, it will change your brain in that direction, because neurons that fire together wire together, for better or worse”
(Hebb in Houston, 2012, 61).

Hence it seems to me that the more we can inspire our students, the more they are able to fire and wire healthy and creative ways of being on stage…