Thursday, 25 March 2010

Nothing Like a Dame.

A busy... but really rewarding day. First up an early morning meeting at Ham House with Dame Fiona Reynolds, the National Trust's affable and interested managing director. Siobhan, Megan and Ed came with me and did a great job explaining what we're up to for the 400th anniversary and why it's important. All in all we got about twenty minutes to talk not just about the present project, but the last three years of the work that we've done together.
Fiona was really taken by our endeavours and asked about the way we might take things further. It was quickly clear that she has no time for grandeur; she likes projects where people just get stuck in.

I think the next stage is to formalise the partnership perhaps by creating a Drama and Heritage or a Re imagining Space module and I'd also like to see us take some of the outreach ideas further. For next year I'd like to create a piece for Ham, but then try and tour it to some other NT venues, asking the students to adapt, re imagine and work the play against the specific conditions of each property or landscape. No equivalent partnership between Heritage and Higher Education is being developed and it's exciting to be at the start of what could be a unique experiment, with support from the top.

Meanwhile across the river in Twickenham Jennie and Jade were appealing for funds from the Council's initiative grant committee. They had an unexpected result - because although our bid was formally rejected - the committee did find a different pot from which we can draw. They returned to campus in triumph.

This evening The Shape of Clouds, a wonderful piece of dance theatre from Drama Soc - created by Laura Watson and Sammie Clayton. It was great to see the students really use their society to explore and hone their skills. Laura and Sammie got nearly everything right and their company were clearly proud and confident in the work. This is a real leap forward and shows that we don't always need hugely ambitious or expensive productions to demonstrate our talent. Here, with tight direction, committed performance, and an intelligence about how to use a space was proof positive that exciting work can flourish at St Mary's with or without tutor involvement.

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