A reunion of the Rutland company over at Tina's to reflect on the show and tentatively think ahead to some future projects. It was lovely to catch up with everybody and have a chance to feedback on the work. It was a very interesting discussion. For all the positive experiences and outcomes generated during our time in the Midlands there was much to sift through and learn from.
Chris felt that in someways we'd failed to understand the space. In the pre-planning we'd assumed the water itself would be the main stage with the slope of the shoreline providing a natural rake to spectate from. In the event the huge tents placed at right angles to resevoir gave too clear a suggestion to the audience that the event was to be situated there. It was an uncomfortable surprise for many to have to angle themselves round to see the show on the water.
Anami talked about the dangers of site specific work where the landscape - including the architectue imposed by the show - can end up devouring the very meaning of the space. The tents were beautiful, but their size and elegence in many ways drew attention away from the live performances and, arguably, the wonderful mechanical structures that were created to tell the story.
Kate R. suggested we were in an uncomfortable half way house somewhere between a theatre piece and a festival event. In so many ways the logisitics concerned with safely producing an event of this scale dictated artistic decisions. With more time and greater understanding could the event have shaped itself around the theatre rather than the other way round?
There was much talk about the true value of the work. There is alway a tension between the aesthetic purity of theatre art and inclusive participation. It's often crudely polarised as amateur v professional - but the truth is more complicated. Community work only really happens once we start to see the act of enabling others as an art in itself. The question on this project was did the community have enough to do? As artists, we carried every decision of significance, but does that matter? Is being part of it enough?
Nick explained that for him the process of composing a show for the community had forced him to focus on melody. In effect he was trying to create a folk experience, where the score, although completely original and specific to the piece, felt familiar and belonged to Rutland. He suggested the more his focus shifted onto a populist and accesible approach the less concerned he became about the precision of sound. Perhaps this is a clever metaphor for the tension inherent in Applied Theatre practice? Chris suggested this was all a part of the pleasure principle. For an audience to have a good time they have to recognise something familiar to grasp or relate too. The role of art is then to lead them somewhere they had know idea that they wanted to go.