I am writing this from a beautiful 17th century farm house in mid wales. I can safely say I have seen more sheep than people in the last weeks I have been here. The nearest town is an hour's walk away, the wind turbine is currently generating energy for the house and this afternoon I am going to be picking a huge bucket of dandelions with which to make wine. This pioneering small holding is owned by Fran and Kevin Blockley (www.oldchapelfarm.org). They are artists, archaeologists as well as small holders and a host of other things. I am volunteering here to learn about sustainable living and building a community as well as getting some perspective on London life. Well, that's what I intended to do. What has actually happened is I have ended up planning a trial residency for performance makers and mini-festival in June.
Fran and Kevin are eager for their amazing site (encompassing the farm house, an 1820s chapel with church yard, sheep fields, ponds, 16 acres of woodland, an 18th century barn, yurts, a bus with a turf roof and a tree house) to be used as a place for artists of all sorts to make work in. This lead to discussions about my interest in creating a home for performance makers; a place that people can cook together, work together, drink together in a sustainable environment and generally call 'home' at least whilst making a piece of work.
The trial will take the form of a week long residency (based in the Chapel) for up to 7 theatre makers/artists/performers from London and elsewhere in partnership with local musicians. The first day's work will begin at dawn on the Summer Solstice (21st June) and end at sunset with a sharing of what we have created. This will inspire the rest of the week's work, like a huge brainstorm of ideas feeding and electrifying the project.
The week will culminate in a one-night festival for up to 50 local people (though this number keeps growing!). Everyone will bring food and drink for Midsummer feasting and the 'resident company' will curate a night of storytelling and music all across the farm. I have no idea what form this will take (that is for the week of workshopping to decide) but what ever happens it will probably be celebratory, unique and totally chaotic.
We will document the process throughout the week here and with video blogs so stay posted for that. Really very excited about this. The opportunity to make work with some smashing people in a beautiful, welcoming space is rare and tantalising and who knows where it may lead...