Grandad and me, starts TOMORROW @ Summerhall, Edinburgh

It's actually happening, tomorrow no less. As part of the Made In Scotland showcase we're bringing Grandad and Me to the Edinburgh Fringe, performing in The Old Lab at Summerhall (12.05pm).

We've just put the finishing touches to the revised story, with brand spanking new animations choreography, props (yes, more props) and songs no less. We've been super lucky to work with some new creative collaborators to make it happen including Kate Bonney and Tim Reid.

We're also welcoming back Ruth Janssen as 'the girl', who started out as Co-Creator, dancer and silly song writer extroadinaire on the piece, way back when.

We're going to be sharing photos, audience comments and reviews over the next two weeks, so keep yer eyes on our social media posts and here on the blog to keep on top of it all.

It's going to be a hoot, we hope to see can make it along and see the new version of Grandad and Me at Summerhall, very soon.

Tickets available here

Jon + Jude,

The Letter J

J News from way back when.... The first ever day of Grandad development at Platform!

Day one saw the collective creative minds of Jetson, Jansen and Jon (The Letter J) come together and thrash some ideas about using the medium of big paper and chunky crayons. Some inspired sounds were realised (nod to the Shipping Broadcast) by the team and taken further by flute, voice and electric guitar.

Two rather contrasting seagull characters were discovered and the world of Grandad and Mebegan to take shape.

Day 2:

With a snowy start to the day, the team began with a well deserved coffee and biscuit and a colouring in session. Fish (above) was created and might even make a sneaky appearance in a certain boating scene in the production (I can’t say anymore than that, I won’t, I can’t, you’ll just have to come and see Grandad and Me!).

Once pencil crayon shavings had been correctly disposed of, the day got under way with some inspiring lyrical writing from Jude and Jon.
Music was the name of the game on day two and a shimmery dream like moon tune was developed; as well as a haunting piece documenting a grand daughters search through the belongings of her Grandad. Electric guitars, loop pedals, vocal warbles, glockenpiels and harmoniums were used to create the soundscapes.

The hunt for a Thunder Tube (yes, that is it’s name!) began and some more cake was consumed toward the end of the day.

Day 3: Taking shape
Grandad and me began to take a bit more shape with the introduction of the first animated sequence, courtesy of Jessica Ashman, and the fine audio editing skills of Andy Mcgeoch. With some initial experiments with video mapping and projection, the feel of the space became much more real and complimented the sound experiments.
Big questions were thrown into the mix, like ‘how do we tie the seagulls on?’ And ‘could we get past gravity, using enough balloons?’ Or the toughest one coming at lunch ‘rocky road or iced yum yum?’
The day was full of challenges but none hindering the exploratory nature of the letter j team.

Day 9:

Days 4-8 were absolutely lovely, a great time was had by all and no hick ups or pre gig meltdowns happened at all, none whatsoever….
Now on the eve of the grandad and me dress rehearsal, the letter j team are tying up any loose threads remaining. Those last minute details which can make a show sink or swim, including the ongoing debate of whether we use real wurthers originals or build them out of fibre glass? With the budget now stretching thin and the pile of w.originals wrappers mounting, it is a just cause for debate.
Aside from all this the animations that Jess has been creating have been completed and Andy has worked his magic with projections and sound. The SFX has gone through the roof with the addition of both a bubble maker and a smoke machine. The story has been fine tuned after a feedback session from Mr and Mrs Williams and assistance with all the background details has been generously given by jack and Katie. We’ve been paying them all in wurthers originals, which has benefitted the letter j monetary kitty but caused great concern for our lead prop maker.
The seagulls have turned from Glaswegian to Welsh, then to cockney and back again and this child friendly production now features a face melting, uk metal, guitar thrash that would make Hendrix reach for his hanky!

And tomorrow is show time, the jitters are setting in… I need a wurthers!

Today ‘the letter j’ are taking an audience with them on a sea faring, intergalactic, grandad finding mission. All of this will be happening within the confines of T4 at Tramway in Glasgow.
Here are a few sketches drawn up by the Grey Earl (Jon to his mum), in the early days of ‘Grandad and me’.

J News from way back when.... Rocket Dancin’

Here’s a video made by our favourite tech man, Andy McGeoch, following our residency at CAOS, Community Arts, Open Space in association with Clydebank Housing Association. The video features the participants of the CAOS after school club who designed their very own rockets and created their own movement based on them and their flight to the moon!

J News from way back when.... Red Shoes

We've been tracing back over our J steps and found our first ever web postings, way back when and on another site...Here they are transferred over for our records and your viewing pleasure.... First up....

Red Shoes | Outreach Educational Workshops

Cardboard cities and animated inky forest landscapes made up the visuals for the Educational sharing event at Tramway last week, as part of it’s first Winter Show by Judith Williams of The Letter J. 

The Team on tour

We've made it through highlands and islands,  travelled by van, ferry and bicycle, slept on boats and giant beds and played in theatres, halls and and waterfalls. It's been a hoot and here's a few snaps of our time on the great open Scottish road....more to come soon!

The Team

It's a very exciting time for The Letter J as we prepare to set sail on our first adventure with Grandad and Me at Imaginate Festival and then on to tour Scotland, visiting some pretty amazing locations along the way. We've got a crack team of five who will be making Grandad and Me happen on stage, but there are more contributors who have helped to get us where we are today.....and here they are!

Back: Jon, Andy, Sally Rachel, Jude, Steve. Front: Marta

Back: Jon, Andy, Sally Rachel, Jude, Steve. Front: Marta

Behind the scenes clever people:

Rachel Sanger: The Letter J's producer of the first run of Grandad and Me! Doing all the clever bits behind the scenes to make it happen. We'd be nowhere near where we are just now without her input, a true star (and her name don't even start with a 'J', who'd have thought it!). Rachel now works for Festivals Edinburgh and we wish her all the best.

Steve Moffat: Our recently acquired Production Manager, who has been helping to answer all the practical questions that the head honcho's of the Letter J like to fire out willy nilly. 'Can we make the sofa fly?', 'Can we make it snow inside?', 'Can we give the children rocket packs?', are just a few of the impossible asks that have come his way......thank goodness he's onboard to help realise our idea's without putting our audience in danger!

Andy McGeoch: Our meeting with Andy was a chance encounter, but his involvement has been crucial to shaping the visual and audio land/soundscapes of the production. He's a clever little egg who has been tinkering away with all sorts of digital technology and has taken on the task as lead animator on the finished production. Also a fan of the yum yum, he and Ruth have clashed in many an iced bun chomping competition.

Dance/Choreography:

Marta Masiero: Our little girl! She's been working with us since January and has been creating some pretty snazzy moves over the last couple of weeks of development of Grandad and Me. As well as being a great dancer, she's also pretty tiny, so means we can fit her in the tour van with all the props, very useful.

Ruth Janssen: Dancer, choreographer and yum yum connoisseur. She started out as our 'little girl' and got us off the mark with her snazzy moves at our first outing at Tramway through Imaginates Ideas Exchange. Her surname does begin with a 'J' which makes a lot of sense with her exceptional dance moves and ability to sniff out the finest yum yums in town. Here's a link to her fabulous work.

Sally Owen: A recent addition to the Choreography team, Sally has been putting in some delightful touches, helping to bring the many heart of the piece to the fore. She's also been keeping an eye on the rest of the teams yum yum intake and her wisdom and guidance in relation to this is helping to keep run throughs on time and less sluggish.

Costumes/Props:

Helen Gallogly: Helping us out with costumes is our Helen. Textile designer and printmaker, she's been busy making Marta's outfit and also breaking down some of our props, to give them that true nostalgic Grandad aesthetic. Click here to visit her facebook page and see her other fabulous visual work  

Fergus Dunnet: Fergus has made a variety of props for the production, a few secret ones that we don't want to give away just yet, incase you're coming to see the show! Needless to say, they're blooming fantastic! Click here to check out all his creative goings on..... 

Charmaine Gilbert: Charmaine has very recently got onboard the J train by helping us our with some fabulous props. Dual purpose objects is the name of the game with plant pots that create rocket sounds and umbrellas that recall the soundscapes of sea faring adventures!

Grandad and Me - on tour!

Hello friends, it's not long now before we cast off for Edinburgh on our tour boat, sea sickness tablets at the ready and an array of varied jam type sandwiches packed and ready to munch. Hopefully we'll get to see/meet/greet a lot of you at the Imaginate Festival, but if Edinburgh isn't handy for you, then fear not! We are embarking on a wee tour of Scotland straight after, so check the dates, times and locations below to see if something looks snazzy and closer to home.

Day One: The Road to Imaginate!

We've been East to Platform and now The Letter J are tearing up Kinning Park Complex in the Southside of Glasgow. Here's just a small sample of our recently collected prop stash, which we're incorporating into the production this week. Fear not though residents of Easterhouse, we will be returning to where it all began, with all our luggage in tow, when we perform Grandad and Me on Thursday 22nd May at Platform. To grab yourself a set of tickets, click here!

TWO WEEKS, TWO WEEKS ! ! !

It is all happening at the moment at Letter J HQ as we prepare to embark on our first outing with Grandad and Me, at the Imaginate Festival in Edinburgh and then on our Scotland tour in May.

We've got two weeks of tinkering time, starting Monday, where we'll be sharing some behind the scenes snaps, giving an insight into our making process......Expect a lot of iced buns to feature. 

But before all that, here's our official poster, with tour dates and venues featured. Get that diary out and pencil yourself, we can't wait to meet you!

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The Letter J at the Hidden Door Festival 2014

We're very proud to be a part of this years Hidden Door Festival, and for our outing this year we're trying something a little different. Part improvised, part developed audio loops and ambient swells, married with found video footage and the techy visuals of our very own Andy McGeoch. The event page on facebook is here and for a little more info on the day in particular, click here!

We'll be performing on Sunday 30th March from 12 - 2pm in the Project Space Vault.

Best of all it's free! See you there

Ideas popping up like daffodils

Tis the season n'awl that. 

Though we're currently working away like little beavers on all things related to Grandad and Me, our combined creative brains can't help but wander onto other possibilities and projects for the next phase of The Letter J.

Here's some concept art for a little project me and Judey got chatting about.....hills, trees, a tent, one big moon and a lot of storytelling....more to come! 

Beetroot Beats

It's music time with Judy & Jon ...

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Jon's got his eyes on the shruti box ...

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Gissit!!! 

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got it! 

Chicken Nuggets!

It's Andy and Jon, from The Letter J!

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Where on earth are we and what in dicken's name are we up to, I hear you ask? Well, we were working in collaboration with Glasgow based creative Katie Eyre on an immersive experience at Tramway's Family Day.

It was a right old treat playing some new musical loopy goodness, in the setting of a handmade, toadstool covered, forest floor. With paper mache' tree stumps and giant butterflies for company, we set about creating a mellow musical experience for the visiting families.

Andy put his techy hat on and worked some audio magic with some of the younger children in the space. He recorded them recounting their very own forest related stories and then weaved them into the soundscapes that we built up musically. I'm not sure how forest related one of the stories was, but it centred around one little un's love for chicken nuggets!

There were some visuals projected throughout the day which both myself and Andy had worked on. A new venture into the world of animation, but one which we are hoping to develop further in the next development period of Grandad and Me. Very much looking forward to it and we'll make sure to show some tasters on here once they're up and running...... stay tuned!