Monday, 13 June 2011

Starting as We Mean to Go On.

We're straight in at the deep end. Chris had arranged a fifteen minute slot to perform an excerpt from the show at the newly opened Cube theatre in Corby this afternoon in front of a group of influential funders. All good except of course as we've only just gathered there is no show whatsoever.

A 9am briefing to quickly see what might be possible. We've got the sleepy El Glayu company, two Senegalese drummer, Diene and Mohamed, who are here to teach workshops in local schools later in the week, a prototype mechanical structure of what promises to be an incredibly impressive osprey puppet progressing under the watchful design of technicians Anami and Kate B, a huge red bird's head constructed by Tina and Kate R and twenty year 10 students who've been putting together some tropical bird wings in workshops over the past few weeks.

Visually it's the osprey that's really impressive and once we arrive at the venue we quickly begin to devise a ritual that enables us to move it piece by piece from the wing onto the stage. Its bulk though means that it takes five of us, ten minutes to carry and set the counterweight system that have been devised to keep it stable. The drummers quickly understand the solemnity of what we are trying to achieve, however, and begin to improvise a swelling underscore, filled with anticipation, whilst El Glayu lead the students in a freer processional dance around the stage, diverting the eye and giving protection to the assembling centrepiece. It's done in a blur.

Of course none of us have any idea whether the overall effect looks any good. Kate, Anami, Caro, Alessandro and myself put on some fetching green vests and sun hats and construct the osprey, feigning military precision and pretending all the while we know what we were doing; whilst Diene dances frenetically in front of the bird and the year ten students swoop and shimmy their wings in anarchic confusion. Against worst fears it seems to come off and the funders clap appreciatively. Proof positive perhaps that we live in an age of visual spectacle. Amazing to think most of us had only met for the first time this morning.


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