Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Bucolic Bliss at Broccoli Bottom.

After yesterday's baptism of fire today was really the first time we've had to talk about how we're going to approach the next fortnight and settle into some work. We've hired out Broccoli Bottom, an old farm converted into a series of B&B cottages in Manton, on the south side of Rutland water and it's here - looked after by our hosts Sally and Colin - that we'll meet, rehearse and make things.

The set up is really conducive to creative industry. Tina has set up a sewing machine filled design room. Production Manager Sharon holds meetings, makes calls and deals from a kitchen, whilst out the back, by the stables a team of international puppet makers and sculptors Anami, Kate, Casper and Sophie work industriously on ospreys, fish, horses and tropical birds. The rest of us work in and out of the melee, contributing where we can and making rounds of coffee. My major role beyond directing, is as the designated driver of the minibus, which means any breaks from planning choreography or observing the way in which the wonderful mechanical inventions are coming together is spent running errands or pick ups.

Drama St Mary's is really well represented. Apart from Tina and myself, second year Karen has the daunting task of stage managing the event, whilst third year Stu is here working as a technician and scenic designer. Next week Canterbury Tale veterans Emma, Sophie, Vicki and Becks will join Harry, who's here already as members of the performance company.

Half of the creative team, including El Glayu and the Senegalese boys are living on site; whilst the rest of us are staying in a grand Georgian house over in Oakham

For all the productivity there's a sense that none of us is really sure where we are headed. Chris has been living here for the last nine months negotiating, developing and setting up the component pieces of the show and now it's up to us to pull these pieces together into a memorable and fantastic weekend. The main job at this stage is to try and see what kind of shape the thing might have. My tactic, until I'm slightly clearer about how to effect my scenes, is to buzz between everybody picking up intelligence and passing it on as I go.

We spent the afternoon at Uppingham Community College bringing El Glayu together with a dedicated team of year 10 students to experiment with the way in which the bird wings might move around the space. In essence it's chorus and ensemble work as the component parts of each wing break away and reform in a myriad of different shapes and configurations. At times the group reminded me of Roman legionnaires wielding their shields in battle formation. Although nothing was fixed it was a positive session in terms of establishing a performance vocabulary.

In the evening a few of us headed over to the Methodist chapel back in town to watch a choir rehearsal run by the extraordinarily charismatic Peter Davis, head of music at Oakham. Peter's been working with children from every primary school in Rutland teaching them the eight songs that make up Nick Bicat's score, which has been especially commissioned for the show. Tonight was the turn adult group and for an hour he put them energetically through their places; voices soaring and swaying as he pounded the piano hard and insisted on the precision of each note. Everybody was exhausted by the end. It was a lovely way to end the day.


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