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  • Acts of Gods

    The first venue The Retold Ramayana tour visited (the Budleigh Salterton literature festival, back in the Autumn) was struck by lightning just before the show was about to start.

    On Sunday, Daljit performed the last show of the tour: a pocket version of the tale in a yurt in Cornwall (pictured in advance of the audience arriving), as part of the Truro festival. The wind was so gusty that the site fences blew down, and during the performance, the security team had to keep sandbagging the yurt to stop it from flapping away. Daljit boomed over the rattling roof so the audience could hear 'The rabble of arsoora and raksassy / were running about in the sky / like feet tapping on the floorboards upstairs.'

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  • Training Report

    Tamar the Trainee has come to the end of the in-depth engagement with Jaybird Live Lit, although we hope to see her again when we take the Ramayana on its final few outings in March next year. Working with people at the beginning of their producing / directing / arts admin careers is something we're very keen on, we like to spread the skills around. (Also, all our traineeships are paid: we disfavour unpaid internships very strongly indeed). We asked Tamar how she got on ...

    What was your experience / understanding of live literature before you took on this traineeship?

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  • Pocket Version!

    Through September and October, we've sped up and down the country, monkey army in tow, telling Daljit's take on Rama's tale to hundreds of people.

    We're about to have a breather until next year now - but there's one last performance to go. A pocket version of the show, adapted specially for a younger audience. Daljit will be performing the high points of the Ramayana at the Storystock festival at the Bush Theatre on 30 October. Although we won't be projecting Jim Connolly's wonderful images as part of this performance, we did want to find a way to share them with the Storystock crowd, so we've had some collectible cards made. These are Sita, Raavana, Hanuman and our hero Rama.

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  • Exeter and Durham

    Down to Exeter and up to Durham in the space of a week - there's a fair few miles on the Jaybird van speedometer now. This is Daljit at the Exeter Poetry Festival, where the welcome was warm and the tickets sold out. 'Awesome indeed!!' said the audience. Then on to Durham, where the students of Durham Johnston school made up our whoopiest monkey army so far.

    Photo by Ian Beech

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  • Our New Trainee

    This is Tamar Saphra, the latest Jaybird Live Literature trainee. For each of our touring projects, we offer a trainee scheme, passing on as much information about the direction and production of live literature shows as we can to a new generation of live lit makers. Tamar is doubly involved with the Ramayana tour, as she has top flight van driving skills too - she's transporting us and our kit around the country. She writes ...

    'I direct, make, watch and write about theatre. I am a recent graduate in English Literature and Theatre from The University of Sheffield, where I was Chair of my University Theatre Company. I have varied experience in technical theatre, project management and arts administration and am passionate about collaborating with playwrights on new work, verbatim theatre and performance that challenges our perceptions of place. I’m excited to delve into new territory as a trainee for Jaybird and to see two things I hold dear, poetry and theatre, imaginatively collide.'

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  • Budleigh Begins!

    Meet Jordan and Devin, part of the tech team at St Peter's CofE High School in Exeter. The Ramayana tour kicked off here on Friday, as guests of the Budleigh Salterton literature festival. Filthy thunder and lightning storms had knocked out the school's electrical systems and set off the fire alarms just before we arrived for the performance in the morning. Daljit warmed up in the car park while we waited for the fire service to let us back in to the school, it was all highly exciting.

    The show? Brilliant! The audience? Drummed their feet in monkey army appreciation! The hosts? Warmly welcoming! Jordan and Devin? Impressive techies!

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  • Rehearsal Diary Day 3

    There are lots of references to peach light and saffron light and gold light in Daljit's Ramayana - here he is at an early point today, bathed in a lot of it ...

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  • Rehearsal Diary Day 1

    This is John Castle, our lighting designer, inspecting his flight cases full of kit on the first day of our Ramayana technical rehearsals. This is the week where it will all start coming together: Daljit's words, Phoebe's direction and Jim's illustrations. Jaybird Live Lit is an organisation that is fuelled by poetry, so there's much pleasure to be had in the mysterious technical vocabulary that floats around during these occasions ...

    'I need a hard edge on that gobo'

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  • 'So who was this warrior-looking walker?'

    'Rama, of course! Rama! The mighty boy / already with lithe but supernaturally powered limbs!'

    That's how Rama first appears in Daljit's text, on his way to the desert for trial-by-demon. And here's visual version Rama's first appearance: an illustration dreamed up for Jaybird by Jim Connolly. Over the next couple of months, Jim will be creating about six dozen separate images of Rama and his world that we'll be projecting throughout the show. The slightly fizzy, grainy look of the colours is a reference to 1970s comic books, the 70s being the time when Daljit was originally told the tale of the Ramayana. Look out for a couple more illustration previews over the coming months ...

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  • Want to be the Jaybird trainee?

    We're looking for a trainee for our Ramayana tour - is it you? Previous trainees we've worked with have gone on to work for the RSC and the Almeida Theatre. We can't guarantee the same again, but this is our new advert - drop us a line if you'd like to be considered.

    Jaybird Live Literature is a small independent live literature production organisation, with a developing reputation for entertaining, beautifully designed touring poetry shows with high production values. JLL’s latest show is a version of Daljit Nagra’s Ramayana, A Retelling which will be on tour during Autumn 2014.

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  • Illustrations Shone Through Space

    To the British Library for their Comics Unmasked exhibition. This is Lawless Nelly, Jamie Hewlett's poster girl for the show which we loved. We were looking for inspiration for the illustrations of the Ramayana characters which we'll be projecting throughout our performances. Somewhere between the Beryl the Peril exhibits, the fifteenth century devotional cartoons of St George and the dragon and flyers from the suffragette movement, we think we might have found it ...

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  • More Ramayana Rehearsal

    A page of our rehearsal text: working out who stands where, says what and how. Soorpanaka is the sister of Rama's foe. She loves Rama, but he will not be swayed from his adoration of his wife, Sita. We have a sneaky sympathy for Soorpanaka ...

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  • Ramayana Rehearsal: Day 1

    Here are Phoebe the director and Daljit on their first read through of Jaybird's version of Daljit's version of The Ramayana. Discussions progress along the lines of 'this bit's like The Sword in the Stone', 'this bit's like Romeo and Juliet', 'exactly how many monkey soldier cartoons do we need' and 'this bit is like when Eastenders Phil Mitchell rushed to the aid of his disrespected sister, Sam'.

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  • Adapting Daljit's Book for the Live Lit Stage

    Stopwatch in one hand, calculator in the other, we estimate it takes four hours and 20 minutes to read aloud every word in Daljit Nagra's Ramayana. There are not Strepsils enough in the universe to support one man's voice through a live lit show this length, and an audience might need to get home at some point too - so as the show's first rehearsal approaches, we're cutting and folding the text to get it down to size.

    Adapting a text for the live literature stage is a different process from converting a novel into a play. We need to keep hold of enough key plot points to for the audience to be able to follow the action, but we also want to privilege the rhythms and scope of Daljit's writing. Our copies of The Ramayana are covered in biro scribbles and post-it notes, but we think we're now nearly there with the text that we'll use for rehearsal. The high drama love scenes, kidnaps and ogre battles from Rama and Sita's tale will stay in place, but there will also be a chance for stillness and peace as Daljit's language transports you. This is Jaybird producer Julia's favourite extract - it's the part of the tale where Rama is grieving the loss of Sita who has just been abducted ...

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  • Two New Tours

    Early stages yet, but we're working on two new live literature tours for 2014 & 2015 - one with Daljit Nagra (pictured) and an adaptation of his version of the epic Ramayana and one with Clare Pollard and her translation of Ovid's Heroines. Daljit here is in front of his show planning mood-board - we're going to bring a little bit of Beano anarchy to the live literature stage.

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