17 Aug 2012

The Snow Queen Opens The MetroPlus Theatre Festival

The Snow Queen’s India tour commenced with it’s first shows opening the prestigious Chennai MetroPlus Theatre Fest at Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall on the 10th August.

‘We had 875 in our first night audience…’ reports Trestle’s Artistic Director, Emily Gray ‘…so amazing, welcoming Trestle Theatre to open the festival in front of nearly 1000 people!!! I was quite overwhelmed, Trestle goes BIG internationally. An audience of families, school children and regular theatre going adults’. The show received amazing feedback from the audience* and the cast and creative team were truly welcomed by the people of Chennai:

‘Thanks for [a] Great show and Jam-Packed performance ‘ (sic)

‘What a spectacular & energetic production! Witty dialogue, powerful performances’

There was a preview show in the morning for 150 children who had participated in workshops and they loved it. They described the show being about revenge and friendship and one child said their favourite moment was when the Snow Queen was able to forgive – ‘they completely got it!’ exclaimed Emily.

A sharing of work by the children followed - with wonderful gestures and music inspired by the workshops - beautifully performing the traditional Japanese story of the The Samurai and Tea Master.

The show performs in Mumbai on Tues 14th - Thurs 16th at NCPA’s Experimental Theatre and in Bangalore on Tues 21st, Wed 22nd at Ranga Shankar Theatre on it’s final leg of the tour.

*audience feedback from Twitter @trestletheatre

For details about The Snow Queen tour in India, click here

UK show dates on 30th Aug, 1st & 2nd Sept.
For info & bookings click here

For all our latest tour news and updates, follow us on

10 Aug 2012

From Chennai to Mumbai: ‘How Theatre Can Help Train People Across Sectors’ Day 3

Workshop Chronicles: 

More from Emily Gray‘s engaging blog as she reports from Mumbai on her pioneering workshops in India.

Day 3

‘…the freedom to be playful, open and exploratory’

The BC (British Council) alumni workshops have brought together professionals from the Arts and Corporate world - across both Mumbai and Chennai I met people from the finance, HR, teaching, marketing, airways, film, visual arts and digital industries. All came with a curiosity about how theatre can help to train people across sectors; a number declared how theatrical Indians are and therefore how appropriate this training is.

The groups were new to each other but all had one element in common – they had studied at some point in the UK, from Aberdeen to Liverpool, Bristol to London. Once again, the Trestle masks gave the participants the freedom to be playful, open and exploratory. Many commented on how quickly they had played against their type in a mask and how fascinating and liberating it is to see a different perspective. Many scenes involving the undermining of hierarchy and rebellion against the norm ensued and much laughter was shared as participants surprised themselves with their ability to dance, to be aggressive, to be gentle in a mask. The feedback included discussion on the need to align body language and facial expression and whether “actions speak louder than words”.

These workshops felt like the beginning of a process as we touched upon the power of masks to develop physical awareness and liberate performance qualities. The Chennai group used masks from all three sets, rapidly grasping the different ways the masks can work and allow wonderful scenarios to develop, such as the worker who wants to set their boss alight and the safety conscious co-worker standing by with a fire extinguisher which is eventually used to hit the over confident bully of a boss; the father and his two daughter who struggle to get along until they are left a small fortune, which develops new problems in the relationships. The personal worlds collided with the corporate and we debated and enjoyed the results.

I hope to return for more of this work as the masks have loved India and vice versa!

More to follow as The Snow Queen opens to a rapturous reception at the MetroPlus Theatre Fest back in Chennai.

Trestle’s outreach programme in India
is delivered in partnership with:

For details about The Snow Queen tour in India, click here
For info about UK show dates at the end of the summer, click here
For all our latest tour news and updates, follow us on

9 Aug 2012

Storytelling Trestle Style: Chennai Day 2

Workshop Chronicles:

Emily Gray continues her adventure in India, preceding The Snow Queen tour.

Day 2

‘…experiencing the elements of the story’

We revisited our introductions and today there were relaxed smiles; Shaili [Sathyu of Gillo Theatre Repertory] inspired the group to become shapes that they chose, such as a rainbow, and animals. Each person introduced their chosen object by saying, “this is a (box of sweets) and what you don’t know about it is (that even the most unexpected of boxes may contain some sweetness)”. We all became curious about the stories the teachers had brought.

We didn’t start at the beginning of any of the stories, but rather asked the group to look for the moment when the story really takes off. Our first brave teacher began to introduce her story telling us it is Christmas and Santa receives no present for himself. Here were three elements which could be experienced by a group of children rather than told to them. We asked the group, as if they were school children, to enact preparations for a festival. Someone then entered with a “ho ho ho” and all became aware it was Christmas we were preparing for. Each person was asked to express their preparations in one word and then their feelings in one word – sparkling/ happiness, decorations/anticipation. We then closed our eyes and imagined a gift we would like and mimed it in our hands. When we opened our eyes we were asked to give that gift to Santa; many in the group gave but did not receive gifts, which gave the facilitator, in this case Shaili, the opportunity to point out that Santa got no gift and we all felt so sorry. Here was an example of experiencing the elements of the story rather than being told them.

The teachers now felt prepared to introduce their story moments through experiential exercises and most then took us through their sequence and we commented on the strengths and how they might improve their delivery. We moved onto using music to explore and create a moment in a story which could be expressed through music and enjoyed a beautiful choral sequence where individuals searched for their lost sister, gathered to taste magical waters and transformed into birds. We also discovered the calm to be found in doing daily chores to music to calm down from within; the feeling gained by a japanese tea master before he confronts a samurai warrior. The end of the day brought feedback from the teachers, with each one offering us the element of the workshop that had the greatest impact for them:

‘[It] Will make the class experience more rich and interesting’

‘Silence is powerful’

‘…drama can be created with collective effort and not just by the teacher’s ideas and instructions’

Follow Emily’s inspiring journey as she travels to Mumbai & welcomes The Snow Queen cast & crew back in Chennai!

Trestle’s outreach programme in India is delivered in partnership with:

For further details about The Snow Queen tour in India, click here
For info about UK show dates at the end of the summer, click here
For all our latest tour news and updates, follow us on

8 Aug 2012

Chennai Meets Trestle Masks

Workshop Chronicles: 

Emily Gray, Trestle’s Artistic Director, describes her experiences of delivering workshops to teachers in India with Shaili Sathyu of Gillo Theatre Repertory, preceding The Snow Queen tour. Look out for further blogs about her trip!

Day 1

”Is the mask becoming you or are you becoming the mask?”

I was both daunted and delighted by the sari clad circle of charming Indian teachers, who greeted the first morning of my first day back in India. I have visited Indian schools in the past, but not worked specifically with teachers. Here were 18 teachers from 9 different schools from across the city and across the range of private and state education. There was one drama teacher in the group, the rest were English teachers with some duty to fulfil a drama remit within their schools.

A simple name game brought out some beautiful mudras and gestures and we were off; of course saris allow for movement and the teachers were soon using their physicality in preparation for full mask work. They started engaging with the audience, making funny images full of character and grasping the need for a gestural language in mask.

When the full masks were put on, the group worked well, daring to become physical characters and work beyond the boundaries of their experience of educational drama. Everyone tried at least two masks and improvised, observing and learning from each other how some masks can handle minimal movement and be most effective, whilst others cry out for large gestures. We worked on counter mask and discussed playing stereotypes and working against them, in response to Meenaksi’s question, ” is the mask becoming you or are you becoming the mask?”

After lunch we reflected on the discipline that mask can bring when using this work as a tool for exploring audience contact, focus in a scene, physical clarity of characters, interpretation of images, inner monologue, non verbal drama.

It was time to look at applying these tools to a devising process and we used the Snow Queen story as inspiration; the group identified how they might approach a story through dialogue, character, setting. We asked them to consider context, archetype and storytelling through tableau. The environment of the Snow Queen play was created through an exercise which took the group from warm Kanyakumari in the south to the ice of the north, through fiery desert and peaceful back waters. The teachers made the connection with the five elements and how these might be taught through such an exercise.

The teachers responded well to the archetypes of the child, the devil, the mother, the trickster, the hero etc. They then created and brought to life images of the Snow Queen story, with some becoming the icy palace and others finding the physicality of the friendship between the children in the play.

Throughout the day very few words were spoken in performance; our workshop world was visceral and visual. We asked the teachers to prepare for Day 2; a story told through 7 phrases, an image, a piece of music and an object all connected to their chosen tale. We promised the group we would explore how to apply the techniques we worked on today to large groups of children.
More to follow….

Trestle’s outreach programme in India
is delivered in partnership with:

For further details about The Snow Queen tour in India, click here
For info about UK show dates at the end of the summer, click here
For all our latest tour news and updates, follow us on

3 Aug 2012

Trestle’s India Adventure Begins…

The Snow Queen cast and creative team fly out next week for our first tour of India.

Trestle’s Artistic Director, Emily Gray, has already spent a week visiting Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai ahead of the tour introducing Trestle’s unique mask and physical theatre story-telling styles, influenced by The Snow Queen, to Indian teachers and professionals. Through her delivery of workshops she has experienced some ‘brilliant and revolutionary work’.

‘For the [first] time ever [Trestle] masks arrive in India. Masks in saris work a treat. Wonderful day at Hari Shree Vidyalayam, Chennai’ - Emily Gray

The Snow Queen’s premiere tour performances take place at The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest in Chennai on 10th August; an established event offering ‘a sampling of great national and international theatre’ [http://www.thehindu.com/arts/theatre/]. The show then travels to Mumbai and on to Bangalore for its final tour performances.

Follow the all latest tour news on Twitter @TrestleTheatre #SnowQueenIndia & Facebook/TrestleTheatre

August Tour Dates & Venues:

Friday 10th (2 shows)
The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest
Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall

Tues 14th, Wed 15th, Thurs 16th (2 shows per day)
NCPA’s Experimental Theatre

Tues 21st, Wed 22nd (2 shows per day)
Ranga Shankar Theatre

Don’t forget … The Snow Queen returns for 3 exclusive post-tour UK performances at:

Canada Water Culture Centre, London, SE16 7AR.
Thurs 30th August, 4pm

Trestle Arts Base, St Albans, AL4 0JQ.
Sat 1st & Sun 2nd September, 2.30pm

See you there!