It's week two, and yet it feels like a month ago I wrote my first blog post! We have fully immersed ourselves in the text, history, beauty and pain that comes with the production. We have a uniquely talented mix of performers, creatives and technical team collaborating to make the most of this opportunity. An opportunity, that in my opinion, has the ability to portray the battle of Mametz wood in a raw and passionate manner.
So what have we been up to... we have spent a lot of time analysing text and the historical events that took place in that first week of July, 1916. Analysing text is an interesting process, with many aspects being considered at the same time -
Where are we narratively?
Where are we in the individual character journeys?
Where are we in the collective character journeys?
Where are the audience - geographically and emotionally?
What is the moment being created?
What is the atmosphere in this moment?
....... etc. etc. etc.
It's a piece of art once all these aspects blend. In my opinion, when these intertwine and balance correctly, that is when an audience is on our side and their emotions available for us to manipulate. Getting this balance is huge. A skill that is not to be underestimated - and a challenge that the cast and Matthew are tackling head on.
The text is factual, we see the historical events playing through narration and individual characters addressing an audience. Although these events and characters are in such dramatic situations, I couldn't help but feel the absence of dialogue between characters. I almost felt I needed it to help ease the intensity of factual information being fed to an audience. I then witnessed physical work being developed and I soon saw what Matthew was aiming for. The text will exist with beautifully touching movement and imagery using the bodies and surroundings available on site in Usk.
Watching Chris (the movement director), Matthew and the actors create was inspiring - beautifully lyrical and powerful movement coinciding with dramatic context. Teamed with Owen's work I get excited at the prospect of this multi textured style. I can not wait to see how this develops!!! It's a style that I find effects me greatly.
The project also has around 20 community actors performing, tonight I had the pleasure of meeting them. I wasn't sure what to expect ... but they were so inspiring! Oozing enthusiasm and interest, we did some singing and a real sense of unity and joy came to surface. Tomorrow we do some movement work, I can't wait to see what they bring. It's amazing that they are seizing this opportunity and I feel really lucky to be working with them! I have no doubt they will have an invaluable effect of the production.
Before I get some sleep, I can't finish without mentioning our trip. On Friday around 20 of us (cast and crew) took a trip to the battlefield of Mametz Wood in France. It was amazing, it felt like a real school outing!!! The group bond and knowledge grew... but most importantly it suddenly became very real. The battle is so horrific that it is hard to digest as anything but fiction, a horror story that seems so unrelated to our privileged lives. However, visiting the wood, we were faced with the harsh reality. Discovering shells in the ground that had been used to kill 100 years ago. Hearing the wind in the trees, the trees that once had human limbs hanging from them. This 'story' is true. The feeling of responsibility to tell it honestly was overwhelming. This is where the productions integrity lies and I am so grateful that we had to opportunity to witness the site.
Now here we are, nearly half way through week two... I can't believe how much we have discovered... so let's see what is to come this week....