Joy – PEN’s Educator of the month

1 November, 2013 § Leave a comment

We are very proud to announce that this month Joy is PEN‘s Primate Educator of the Month, the first non-habitat educator to be selected.  Thanks to Aoife for nominating her!

Where is the positivity?

29 May, 2013 § Leave a comment

I know that there are lots of places in the world where conservationists are fighting a losing battle, I know that in many places we have already done more damage than can be repaired in hundreds if not thousands of years. I know that species are in trouble and much of that is simply because there are too many humans in the world.

BUT, I also know that those many humans are all just trying to live their lives. The few who have power to change, those in the affluent Western consumer countries, have been made to feel powerless. Every time conservationists tell other people it is too late, they give up a bit more. We already are trying to persuade people to change, which they are not in the main overly keen on, why would we add to the barriers we have to break down to reach people? It is our responsibility to make people feel empowered, that they can make a difference. Every time a victory is won it should be celebrated no matter how small.

I invite conservationists to submit small victories they have had, whether they be people in their field sites who protect the wildlife that was once over-hunted or a successful petition to a company or government, if you have had a child tell you what you are doing is great or a friend pass on the message. Anything, we have to keep our chins up!

Here is my positive thing for the day, these two kids are followers of MASC who inspire me with their passion for conservation!


Monkey hugs

How MASC got its cast, Oh Best Beloved

20 May, 2013 § Leave a comment

I was absolutely blown away by the cast we used in Martil. Before we arrived we had arranged to work with one group and then when we arrived and arranged a meeting with them they didn’t show up because they were tired from rehearsing for a show that weekend as part of the Tetouan Theatre Festival. That was fair enough but we thought, since we might not be able to get them for another week that we would try to find another group.

DSC05211This we did, in Martil (the town outside Tetouan where we were staying) just round the corner from us was a little theatre group. We managed to arrange a meeting with their director and he said that once they had done their show (part of a theatre festival too) they would be more than happy to come along. We cast it on the beach on the Saturday and Aoife and I saw their show in the festival on Sunday. They then turned up for rehearsals every day for the following week including Friday (which is the Sabbath in Islam) after school for a couple of hours and persevered with my direction in broken French.

I cannot imagine if I had wandered into any small student theatre group on a Friday when they had a show on Sunday that I would have got the same response in the UK,DSC00565 even though I speak the same language! Their director, Norddine and Ahmed from BMCRif spoke French, some of the cast did, but not all so I would explain to Norddine and he would explain in Arabic to the cast. The patience they had was astounding.

We double-cast the show and those who weren’t on stage that day would happily sit in the audience and watch, correcting when those on stage went awry. It was an amazing experience from start to finish and I hope that Marso, Nabil, Arafa, Fatima, Bouchra, Rida, Wigdane and Morad are all very proud of themselves.


How the tortoise got his shell, oh Best Beloved

11 May, 2013 § 2 Comments

You may have seen that we had a shell made for us in the UK, it was made of wicker-work by a local artist. It was environmentally responsible and beautiful. Once we got here, however we saw that it would not be able to take the kind of beating it would be expected to in the monkey bus from place to place. So we decided to see if we could get one made in Morocco that could take more abuse. We went to a few different stalls that sold weaving but all their products were either made elsewhere or they were selling to the trade rather than making. Ahmed had the idea of seeing if we could make it out of leather, over a wooden frame.

DSC04868We went down to the Artisan Centre and spoke to the leather-workers there and after some long conversations which made us giggle with Ahmed wearing a shell having a completely serious chat with the worker as though there was nothing amiss! Ahmed then set about making the frame by bending a pole to a shape and then attaching strips that curved to this. When we left it wasn’t finished but I am looking forward to seeing photos once it is done. I think in total it cost around 20 to 50 Euro.

Dressing Teshta

10 May, 2013 § Leave a comment

We bought or acquired the human characters’ costumes in Morocco in order to make them as genuine as possible, to increase the space in our luggage for our personal stuff and things we couldn’t get in Morocco as easily and to save some money! DSC00657We had several characters that would need area-specific costume such as the Village Man and Woman, the Grandfather and the Seller. Ahmed very generously donated things for the Village Man and the Seller and BMCRif had some fezzes which we could use for the Grandfather (only one!). So we went to the Artisan Centre, where the people are working on making their products and you can watch them while they do then they sell them directly to you so you don’t get a huge mark-up and they get to put all the money in their pockets. We bought two futas which are what the village women wear, they are stripey bands of fabric which can be wrapped round the waist or over the shoulders and keep the sun off and keep you warm in the winter.

For the young children in the show we spent a few days looking round in Tetouan and Martil to see what they wore. It turns out the boys all wear sporty jackets, tops and caps and the girls mostly wear pink! The young girls have a great variety of clothes from more traditional style clothes to kaftan-style things to t-shirts and jeans or skirts. The only common denominator is that there is a lot of pink for girls, particularly under 10. Once they get older they seem to lose the obsession. There are also a lot of pigtails.

DSC00610Once again Ahmed came through for us with a sporty jacket and a pink jacket for Yasmin and Dani. Then a cap and a head scarf for the children in the villages, the girls in the villages do tend to cover their heads. So in the end we only bought two futas for under 8 Euro and the tortoise shell. But that, oh best beloved, is a story for another day.

Off to Morocco and the new website

27 April, 2013 § Leave a comment

One more day here before we fly out to Morocco, bags packed, set made, costume done and now… website finished! I will blog when we are back from Morocco but wish us luck.

I leave you with a new picture from the photo shoot with Steven Foster yesterday. Showing the work of Hellen B on the backdrop and Christine Brewster on the shell.

Thanks to them all.

Monkey hugs til we get back
Tortoise forest 1

Monkey shrugs – Check!

10 April, 2013 § Leave a comment

I spent the morning making new monkey shrugs for Teshta and I am now covered in fluff! We still have the gazebo up in the living room for Hellen to come and finish the set. We are getting closer every day and I am beginning to feel like we are going to be ready. I have the basics for Muna to make and then Muna’s fluffy coat but then the sewing is finished! Then Christine Brewster has started making the Ahmed shell and we are desperately trying to find a bag big enough to fit it all in to! I am getting ready to pack our stuff and head out there. 19 days!

Excited monkey hugs

The artist comes

8 April, 2013 § Leave a comment

The talented Hellen Berascola came round yesterday and is back tomorrow to paint our new light-weight book for Teshta the Monkey, the show we are taking to Morocco. Aoife and I made the book the previous weekend, here is Aoife showing the finished product. Tada

I have more pictures on Facebook of the painting but here is one to whet your appetite for the beautiful backdrop Hellen has given the woods.

When she is finished I will put up pictures of both pages for all to see.

Aldenham Park – The debrief

8 April, 2013 § Leave a comment

We had a great time at Aldenham Country Park last Thursday. We had a great audience for the first show, we had to put out extra seating for them! The second show had fewer people but they were all really noisy to make up for their lack of numbers. I have been reviewing some of the footage we got and I am very excited about putting it all together! Big thanks to our actors Bryony Tebbutt, James Gribble, Ben Lawson and Kyle Pocock.

Also thanks to the Hexagon, Dinrino Theatre Services, Dan Bryan, Mike Gribble, Daddy Pocock and Mr Daddy for the lending of equipment that made everything possible. I sadly managed to get no decent photos of the day but I will post some less decent ones when I get a chance to edit them.

Thanks everyone so much

Monkey hugs

Back to work

8 March, 2013 § Leave a comment

We have been making lists, planning events and generally bracing ourselves for the next few months today. I bought the last few bits and pieces we need to make the new set, we counted and bagged up all the money raised from last week, we started voting on the winner of the colouring-in competition and all seems to be going well. See my blog for some of the ethical thoughts I had today about re-using.

I will add a teaser of one of our colouring-in entrants and the first of my countdown to Morocco, in seven and a half weeks we will be flying out to Tangiers! *gulp*

Lucy 6

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