The last couple of weeks have been busy with preparing for the 3000 chairs performances taking place at the Hay Festival on 28th May and 31st May. Both performances sold out within 6 days!
The collaboration between Director – Claire Coache, Writer – Nicola Davies, Set Designer and Illustrator – Andrew Graham, Costume Designer – Meg Swancott and the Performing Arts students – Annie Grainger, Tommy Ryan, Andy Sims, Molly Glover and Bethan Parry has been a journey of creativity, making something out of nothing, learning and discovery.
Problems arising along the way have been dealt with quickly…such as the technological hitches of not being used to using a Mac-book, and the white screens on which a tree kept on appearing from underneath the paint!
The collaboration has been a very organic process throughout which ideas have developed within the structure found in Nicola’s poem ‘The day war came’.
Movement material was developed using chairs and then big cardboard boxed and overlaid with script and illustrations.
This was followed by the overlay of musical accompaniment.
Andrew Graham also created an animation video, with my very own Ada-Lana voicing over:
Audience members were visibly moved by the performance today and made their way to the ‘Make and Take’ tent to create, sketch and draw pictures of a single chair. These images will be auctioned in 2018, as part of Nicola Davies book launch to raise money for the child refugee crisis – in particular the funds will be directed to educational work in refugee camps to enable children to continue their education.
This week we have been playing with the chairs. Using Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms the performers have improvised with the chairs as individuals. I then encouraged the performers to play with the rhythms and the chairs as a group. Very quickly some fantastic material has emerged:
- moving as a group
- moving the chairs in different ways, eg. rolling underneath them or next to them to move them through the space
- Pushing the tipped over chairs – the idea of a barrier came to mind when watching
- Manipulating the chairs, so that they look like humans marching
- The chairs are no longer an object but a living object that the performers have a relationship with
- floating chairs balanced on the feet of the performer
Through another playful task, Claire Coache (Artistic Director from Open Sky Productions) and I asked performers to show us what other objects the chair could turn into. Many ‘objects’ were related to things one would find at a playground. A very effective seesaw was created.
The performers soon became very playful themselves and were playing in their self-created obstacle course, which consisted of the performers stepping from chair to chair.
This stepping from chair to chair soon emerged into a way to travel from one side of the room to the other, which was then complicated by the fact that one chair was ‘roasting hot’ and as such the performers soon found ways to avoid the chair or to only stay on it for a limited amount of time.
The rehearsal continued with Claire taking the lead. We revisited the poem by Nicola Davies and identified the various sections that will need to be covered in order to tell the story. A rehearsal scheduling exercise was followed by a short improvisation task around the war ‘arriving’ at the school to generate material. We played with the use of sound that was progressively getting louder as the war neared the school.
More in the next rehearsal….
Together with Claire Coache from Open Sky Productions, Hereford College of Arts BA(hons) Performing Arts students, an Illustration student and a Textile student we will be creating and developing a new children’s theatre performance based on Nicola Davies ‘The Day the war came’.
The performance will be performed as a ticketed event at the Hay Festival at the end of May 2017.