splintering attention

July 20, 2010 at 9:36 am | Posted in arts funding, arts promotion, creative process, creativity, Ensemble, Physical Theatre, Psychophysical Training, scenography, Theatre, theatre design | Leave a comment
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As is so often the way when running a large project, there are multiple demands on my attention. There are arrangements to be made – I need to be at the airport at certain times to meet people and deliver them places. I need to ensure that everyone knows whatever they need to know. I need to consider various possible eventualities (what if there is torrential rain for all three weeks at the farm, what if there is a drought and the water runs dry (not my problem), what if  what if what if….?)

There are longer-term questions – publicising the show, making sure people who I want to be invited are invited (before or after their summer holidays….?).

There is a sense of responsibility. I initiated this monster, I need to make sure – at least to the best of my ability – that it serves the needs and desires of al those who have trusted in it.

How easy it is to forget to be an artist among all this noise and confusion. I have scarcely glanced at the script nor thought about developmental studio work in the last week. Am I remembering to serve my needs amid all this?

I’ve been doing this a long time, so there is a sense that I have a well of experience to draw on, but I don’t want to replicate, with this ensemble, work that I have already explored elsewhere. This process must be one of growth for me as well. For genuine creativity is a process of exploration and growth, not one of simple replication.

So today, the last day before going to Whitestone, I will carve out that hardest of times for an artist – the one that often we do not allow ourselves to have and yet which is so necessary. I am going to find a forest and go for a walk in it. I am going to muse and mull. Thinking of something and nothing. I am going to let different parts of my thoughts sidle up to one another and create new ways of thinking.

Like many artists, I have internalised a sense that if I am not ‘doing’ something, then I am somehow slacking. But what I need now, what the creative process needs of me now, what those who are working with me need me to do now, is not ‘doing’ but ‘being’. I need to go and be somewhere and to allow the irrational, inchoate, urgent sub-texture of the imminent process to talk to me as it did. months ago, when I was first developing the script.

As soon as I’ve finished this press release…



July 11, 2010 at 10:11 am | Posted in Ensemble, Physical Theatre, Psychophysical Training, scenography, Theatre, theatre design | 1 Comment
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I’ve been working for a few weeks now with Mike Thresher on getting together a scenography for the piece. There’s a always a balance to be found between needing uncluttered space in which dynamic physical work can (safely) take place while still creating a coherent visual environment that is more than simply a semi-neutral backcloth to the action. It is a negotiation made particularly difficult when (as I often do) I am working to an aesthetic that is relatively timeless and often of floating geography! In “The Shattering Man” the action takes place  on the battlefield, in a forest, in the interior of Macbeth’s castle and – most importantly – inside Macbeth’s mind. All that is compounded by the ‘framing’ which sees the story being told by an old man (the porter) who is sitting on the beach waiting for the end of his life – so we need to evoke both a sea-scape and a sense that we are actually in the porter’s head as he imagines what was going on in Macbeth’s head…..

And of course – there’s very little money to spend…

I’m pleased with where we are getting – a simple set of steps that allows us to suggest the threshold between the interior and the exterior, the domestic and the public, the land and the sea. I’d really like masses of old rope and fishing nets but don’t know where to source them.

I’m wondering about lighting the whole show with paraffin lights – health and safety, health and safety… mustn’t do anything risky……

I love the collaboration that takes place with a designer. An intelligent visual imagination alters how I understand the possibilities of the script – especially this script where so much of my attention has been on the quality of the sound world that the piece must inhabit.

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