Monday, 6 October 2008

Chiswick House and Dreams of Summer.

Had a good meeting this afternoon with Sarah Finch-Crisp of English Heritage at Chiswick House about the possibility of using the grounds as a venue for next summer's Community production. She was very positive and I think this could be a very fruitful partnership.

After the success of the work with Richmond Council and the National Trust at Ham House last year we're looking to move our expand our schools' programme into Hounslow. The plan would be to run drama, design and storytelling workshops across the borough's primary schools using the sessions to help create the quest play which we'd script, rehearse and produce in the grounds next June.

I think the key is to design a story that excites children enough to go on an adventure with the chief protagonist(s). This is the common element in so much children's fantasy literature from Alice in Wonderland through to His Dark Materials and Harry Potter and the confusing Arcadian layout of Chiswick park, even as it undergoes a £12 million refurb and is full of bulldozers, offers ample opportunity to create an epic journey. It's choca full of stuff! A wilderness, stone Sphinx, an amphitheatre, formal gardens and a lake with a sturdy classical stone bridge as a crossing.

The artist and satirist William Hogarth bought a small house next door and The Beatles filmed a promotional video for Paperback Writer here. If it's good enough for them...

Sarah's keen that we should try and encourage the schools we work with to visit the site prior to the performance and it might be a neat idea to try and work in situ with the children rather than asking them to commit their thoughts to paper or Dictaphone, as we did last year.

Clumping through the muddy leaves it's exciting to begin to project a show here for eight months time.

The house's most famous occupant was Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire, who is the subject of the recent film starring Keira Knightley. I guess I should go and see it!

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