In the morning the students split along year lines and, in consultation with Chris and Marta, had some time to work on project design for next semester's work. Of course without the consent of the rest of their group this can only go so far, but it was a tremendous exercise in exposing some of the problems that both Level 2 and Level 3 will face as they try to construct their own community pieces in January.
Zoe, Jennie, Charlotte and Hannah began to turn their thoughts to the 400th Birthday party at Ham next May. One of the big logisitcal problems so far has been that to get the 3,000 attendees that the house are after into the space will take close to an hour. Somehow we need to create something that will make this process part of the event and help to snowball the participation. The idea of a procession emerged, perhaps gathering on Ham common and then marching down the great Avenues that lead to the house itself. It's an enticing prospect and providing we co-ordinate carefully could be spectacular.
The second years meanwhile were looking at Southsea castle, one of several they're researching into over the Christmas break. They want to tell ghost stories, but today they focused on how, if this location were chosen, they'd go about looking for find partners and groups to work with in and around Portsmouth.
In the afternoon we set to work properly cable tying white sheets around the walls of the bar and removing most of the furniture to create a theatre space, complete with backstage area and props table. Marta and me drove up the valley to pick up 100 chairs from a primary school and on return we all helped design the auditorium.
The actors were delighted when they turned up for rehearsal and the new feel to the space gave all of their work a lift. They're getting there. Slowly, now that I've fully understood the broad story, I'm beginning to understand the nuances of the language - it's highly evocative and poetic. The sensual nature of living in and by the countryside peppers the script with references to the weather, the changes of season, and the rhythms of the natural world. The metaphors are drawn from the ripening of the fruit, the lunar cycle, the arrival of the blossom and the smell of winter. There's no artifice here after all the cast are drawing wholly on the vernacular of the village and it is very, very rich. .
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.