Monday, June 21, 2010

1st day at Old Chapel Farm

Today we woke at 4:30am to see the sunrise. I was the official wake up call for the rest of the company who are here; Bella, Gary and Shane. It was worth the curses and the sight of Gary stumbling about in a sleeping bag. Violently pink sky over the hillside that slowly diffused through orange and gold on this the longest day of the year. We are staying in a beautiful Mongolian yurt in a sheep field next to the farmhouse. We had to chase the sheep out from under the raised platform on which it rests before settling down for the night.

We have been brainstorming since then, mostly fuelled on the inspiring places on site and tea. We have been playing with shadow puppets in the tree house, fishing a moon from the pond and comic strip bull fight (where the bulls are played by lambs in capes). We have also watched chicks hatch and tried the nettle beer (which is lovely after a few glasses).

Today has been a day of quantity; we have documented ideas all over the farm and have too much material already, but this feels like a good place to be. It’s too early to be editing , right now we want a messy mass of material which we can fish the best bits from. A story is starting to emerge from the chaos but it will take a bit of eking out.

This will be something different for the area and the audience and we are having to think carefully already about how far we push the weirdness. Can we expect people to follow a blind man by a spool of yarn reeling out from his back with their eye closed? Can we be sure they will want to have an intimate encounter with a man in a bathtub full of rose petals? Probably not. But that’s not to say we’re going to shy away from pushing a few expectations. If what we create is compelling and entertaining then we can get away with the off bath tub brief encounter. So that’s the challenge.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking, walking round the site and scrawling our ideas on a massive roll of mulching paper (used to cover the space between the 3000 onions planted in the top garden earlier in the year – as Fran says: “If you can see earth, weeds can see light.”). Somewhere we found time for picnic lunch on the lawn with salad and strawberries from the polytunnel- funny how we fitted that in! After supper, we are heading out to look at light. How it changes over the course of the evening and how this will affect the ideas we’ve had. We’ll be playing with torches, candles and lanterns and making shadow puppets. We shall also be drinking a few bottles of wine in the tree house, maybe to watch the sunset from there and end the longest day in the tree tops looking out over the vast stage we have to play in.

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