RETURN: Two days with the army. Part 1 of our Waleslab project.

Bread & Goose started our Waleslab project last week. We're making a new piece of site specific theatre called Return, which is about waiting for a loved one to return from war, and the moment of return itself. It's inspired by Homer's Odyssey, and we're interested in how the ancient tales match up to the modern experiences of warfare, journeying, and waiting.

To begin our research, we spent some time hanging out with the soldiers and wives at Beachley Barracks in Chepstow, to meet the community our story is about. The army camp can be a bit of an intimidating place, set on a peninsular below the Severn Bridge, only a couple of miles from Chepstow but feeling like the end of the earth, and I have to admit I was a bit nervous about asking the soldiers about their hopes, fears, and experiences, but we had our chat in the local pub and by the time the first pint had been sunk, conversation was flowing and I knew it would be a late night! We talked about talismans, death, religion, scars, humour, boil in the bag rations, blueys, and how it's hard to know what to do with yourself when your wife has already changed the lightbulbs and taken the bins out. The next morning I caught up with some of the army wives for coffee, and again, everyone was wonderfully generous and honest with their stories and experiences of their husbands being away at war. A key thing that came out of the research was the loneliness and isolation that the women feel, in comparison to the camaraderie that the men experience whilst they're away. It's set us thinking about what we might be able to offer this community in return for their stories, and whether they themselves might be interested in joining us to create the telling of them. 

Soon we'll be beginning a week of site-based research on our performance site, Dunraven Bay. We're planning to work with the tide and the weather to explore how we can create a site responsive work that encompasses these journeys of waiting, of going to war and coming back, and how the passage of time echoes through the landscape. We'll be working with weather sensors, musical instruments, kites, driftwood, stones, fire, and the sea to develop installations and performance moments on the beach. We're also running a workshop on Wednesday 9th March where we're inviting people who have served in the military, or who have been or currently are married to someone in the military, to join us for creative conversations and space to make - we'll chat, drink some tea, and start to create installations together that tell stories and form journeys. The workshop will run from 3-5pm and we'll be working on the beach if the weather is fine, or in the Heritage Centre if it's not. If you'd like to join us,  or know someone else who would, do get in touch. 

We'll be sharing all our work at the end of the week too, although we're not sure yet what form that will take - it might be a promenade journey through installations and performance on the beach; it might be a more sedate journey through a sketchbook. We're keeping it small as it's early days for the project and the material is quite raw, but if you're interested in coming, give us a shout and we'll see if we can fit you in.

We'll be writing updates each day that we're on the beach, and hopefully posting some photos and videos of our progress, so do keep an eye out for those.

Thanks for reading,

Bread & Goose

(Alison, Kate, Jon, Jo, Nia)



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