Monday, 20 June 2011

Canvassing Ideas.

Things have changed gear as we start to move operations away from Broccoli Bottom down to the Normanton site. Overnight Fernando, my co-director in this final run in, arrived with his family from Spain and late this morning Emma, Becks, Soph and Vicks trundled into the farm having driven most of the way up from London with a flat tyre.

First job was to get them housed and settled at a camp site a couple of miles down the road. Karen had provided a couple of tents - but no instructions - and so after an hour's, fairly weak willed, struggle the technicians were called in to try and make sense of the poles, canvass and pegs. It made building thirty foot, animate mechanical ospreys look a walk in the park. Eventually both tents were up... just and although one did collapse later in the day it was possible to start rehearsals knowing that they'd have somewhere to sleep at nightfall.

Meanwhile back on the event site the heavy stuff was brought in. Three huge oyster shaped marquees to house the 300 strong choir, the band and an orchestra were, in contrast to our feeble efforts, assembled embarrassingly quickly to form a structure that, from across the bay looks like the Sydney Opera house. Then the impressive sound system was brought in.

We stayed on the farm and began work on the Spanish section; which breaks down into three sections: the unravelling of the forty metre long blue silk, the arrival of Kasper's horse and finally the dance of the Asturian fishermen, who all have boats on their heads.

Much of our time was spent playing with the material, running it up and down the length of the drive, seeing how fast we could introduce it and remove it from the playing space. Tina oversaw our work and worried that we wouldn't find things so easy exposed on the shore on a windy day.

Fernando took a lead in operations, whilst I tried to do the maths. It's clear that with ospreys, tropical birds, horses, silk and fishing boats to cast we simply haven't got enough participants and that doubling up is fast becoming an inevitability. We'll have to be meticulous about this, particualrly as with no stage management team to speak off anything discarded by performers has to be tidied quickly out of the audiences way. It looks as though every performer will have a sequence of four or five jobs to do. The problem is each sequence will be slightly different and we don't have enough time in the space to rehearse each individually. My notebook rapidly filled with diagrams, maps, speculative timings and cue notes. There's going to have to a huge amount of trust and quite a lot of intuitive casting. Those who turn up on Wednesday looking responsible will quickly find themselves promoted to team leaders. We just don't have huge margins for error.

As evening feel we took our expanded company for a drive round to Whitwell to see the Belle and then continued round onto the site itself, where Sharon gave us a quick guided tour and issued us with security passes. It'd good to start projecting our work into the space. Went to bed still doing the sums in my head. Can we make it work or do we need to trim?


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