Saturday, 31 March 2012

More on Moths & Memory

"Out of the sprawling green bush rose a flickering, sudden cloud of delicate white moths. They were an astonishing sight, feathery, exquisite. Endlessly flowing upward, hundred upon hundred, they fluttered like a gentle snow-flurry round Stephen's head and shoulders....They were like infinitely small birds fashioned of snowflakes; silent, ghostly each tiny wing a filigree of five delicate feathers, all white.
Plume moths...There's an old saying, that they carry memories away."
Susan Cooper, Silver on the Tree

Monday, 26 March 2012

Of memory and moths

 I've been thinking a lot about memory lately; it's one of my abiding interests. It's a key part of what makes up our personal identity for a start but also I find fascinating that sense of connection with the past, and not only our own past. We are all repositories of other people's memories as well. I hold in my head some of the memories communicated to me by my grandma - and through some of her stories, memories of her grandmother... And sometimes its almost as though buildings have memories, imprints of the things that have happened in them. When I think about the emotions that have sloshed around in this theatre, thinking about the audiences, that collective participation in an emotional journey - its almost a tangible sense of the past. In places where the layers are thinner could you peel them away and access the past ? The building breathes words; palpable inhalation and exhalation. That first hush when someone steps onto the stage and the whole building holds its breath...the actor speaks.  What I've started doing is cutting those words, the first words spoken; when I draw up a piece and the composition of it feels right, its almost as if it couldn't be any other way and I'm just cutting away to reveal what is already there. And the motif of moths is becoming very important. The idea of the vulnerability of structures to decay - of physical things like fabric and paper being susceptible to being eaten away, crumbling has a parallel with memory and its qualities. The patchiness of our memories of the past, the way they fall away at the edges. Memory is partial, elusive, like the brush of feathery wings against skin, memories can be fleeting and ephemeral.

Friday, 23 March 2012

The Sea The Sea....

The Georgian Theatre posted on its facebook page the other day :
We've been having a lovely morning in the archives today!! Did you know that in 1839 a play called the 'Wreckers Daughter' was performed on our stage? What made it so groundbreaking was that it featured 'moving sea' when most people at that time had never even seen the sea!
I had to agree how much fun it is looking through archives. I also noticed when I was there how many posters made a feature of the sea and all things nautical. They make a huge feature of the scenery - it functions as a special attraction.
'Black-eyed Susan' had a particular attraction involving a view of the forecastle with 'scaffold rigged out between the cat-head and fore-rigging'.
The play and the scenery are extensively described; they contain so much more information than modern theatre posters. There are no graphics at all - but really dense text; compare a current poster from the GTR with one from 1825.

Quite apart from the colour, the main message is conveyed by the image; the amount of information is really limited. As modern posters go this one actually has quite a lot of text as it includes the director, writer, contact information for the theatre and highlights one of the actors; compare this one from the National Theatre which is minimal - the author name is tiny and no actors are mentioned as it relies on the audience's familiarity with Lenny Henry. The theatre has an immediately recognisable logo too so its name isn't even spelled out. No prices, no description of scenery but there are the logos of the production's sponsors. A modern indication of what is important in contemporary theatre !

Friday, 16 March 2012

More sampling

Trying out larger sheets of rice paper and incorporating a little bit of imagery - I wanted to include something visually referencing the theatre a bit and am now thinking of taking the scenery as my starting point. It was reading the detail that each of the trees painted in the scenery is identifiable - I'm going to take that notion and start incorporating it into the work.