1999 - 2019
Initial theatre performances track back a couple of years before Spiderflower took form, but I would say mark the very beginning. It all started in a duck pond. . .
Established as a dynamic dance based community theatre that worked with intent to develop the performance process alongside audience relationship. Its layers were many.
Its orientation celebrated the hundred way relationship between peoples and the natural environment. This ethos paid attention to all aspects of performance and coloured every aspect of the work from concept through to costume design, venue and set.
Style and key approach was through movement / physical theatre. The power of story, characterisation, ensemble work, the power of visuals and imagery, creative language that worked to communicate as a universal language where everything was drawn from an earth-based root.
The relationship with the audience was incredibly important. It was about inclusion and participation. We chose to work with the revival of old seasonal traditions with an edge that would raise environmental awareness and offer a bridge to the audience where they could enter the world of the play more fully through direct participation.
Both years in succession worked through the theme of faery and performed only in woodland or natural settings. Performances reached audiences of an incredibly broad range, from children to the elderly and just about every age group in-between.
" ‘Tis solstice tide and impish rouges
do scramble from their dark abodes.
In leafy halls, strange strains enchant
earthlings to their faery dance.
Our woodland revellers, wild and magical,
masquerade a tale most tragical . . .
(and hilarious) . . .BUT BEWARE!
Enchanting though as faeries be -
you’d better tread most carefully -
meet us there if you dare!”
Lusmore's Hump. 1996.
Lusmore's Hump was a physically dynamic piece with some beautiful ensemble work. It rekindled the folk tale of the Legend of Knockgrafton, and dealt very simply with the conflict between human relationship to the environment.
The tale tells of the conflict between two woodland creatures, one obsessed with gain (Jack), the other with give (Lusmore). The yarn unfolds in how Jack and Lusmore shed their respective masks and burdens through learning to respect each other and their natural world with the help of some mischievous, yet wise faery folk.
Following Celtic tradition, performance was treated as a community celebration of Summer Solstice. The content included a revival of an old english Solstice tradition - ‘the piskie chase’ as an interactive epilogue. Pitched for all ages, the production attracted an audience ranged from 18 months to 80 years, resulting in high audience return during any run - and held it's audience spellbound.
Lusmore - Carl Simpson.
Jack Maddern - Nick Whittingham.
Faery Ensemble - Tina Ling, Catherine Fenton, Deborah Hood, Rowan Jacqueline.
Writing & Direction:
London, Highgate Woods.
Cornwall: Penlee Park, Penzance.
Props, Costume & Make Up:
Laughing of the Drum
The Ashden Trust
Special Thanks to: Drum, Stephanie Kamin, Candy Bowman, Maddy Morton and Ruth Adams.
And to Dominic Knutton, in loving memory.
THE MOON POOL
The Moon Pool continued into the realm of faery to deliver a starker message in the second year of touring. This time, the Scottish legend of ‘Wee Meg Barnileg’ told of how human destruction not only has impact on the natural world and beyond, but also backfires to it’s source. The piskie chase, proving so popular played for a second year.
The work cycle saw the characterisation and performance process develop considerably. Ensemble work played a key role as a means to speak a universal language to a broad audience.
Goddesses: Laura McCormack, Jill Coombes.
Faery Ensemble: Tom Baker, Paul Coldrick, Rosie Owen.
Meg: Windrose Morris.
Writing & Direction:
Highgate, London. Greenwich Park, Royal Parks, London.
The Valley Arts Festival, Suffolk.
Earth Spirit Festival, Tonbridge Wells.
Penlee Park, Penzance, Cornwall.
The Arts Council; Arts for Everyone.
The Royal Victoria Hall Foundation.
Stephanie Kamin, Drum, Claire at Sancreed House, Candy Bowman, Ruth Adams,
Doug and Felix at the Valley,
The Bridge Between Theatre & Work to Follow
For all that we achieved in a very short space of time, funding was not sufficient in those early stages to support continuation of this level of work and development. Yet, the audience were so very taken with the experience. I made a choice to stay with that and invite the audience into the work, to become the artistry themselves - rather than spectating.
I had no idea how that choice might fair. Now, it was perhaps a very necessary step along the way of arriving at what exists now as Spiderflower today.