Calm Down Dear Festival, Exeter Bikeshed, 2016

Calm Down Dear Festival, Bikeshed Theatre, Exeter

“It’s a sting”  says Sarah Moody, musician who we have brought in to join the company for this last burst of research and development on ‘The Orchard’.

A sting is a musical interjection.  That’s my interpretation.

At this last stage of development.

Suddenly the company has grown.

Sound and discordance are back in the room.

Sarah has joined us to work with Claire on the sound for The Orchard.  To see what happens when two accomplished musicians are in the room. Thanks to Claire for making the recommendation and embracing bringing another musician into the process.

We only have two days, but Sarah is amazing and tunes in to Claire fast.  There are wires everywhere around her as she places various instruments and pieces of tech in the space.  It is exciting to see this new development.

We have a fuller song now and it is a big ask for Saskia to take it on, but she does.

Suddenly we are in a more traditional theatre space with an audience coming and this raises all kinds of questions about the vision of the work itself, where it could go in the future and how it might be realised.

We are full to the rafters audience wise with a waiting list.  Apologies to anyone who could’t get a ticket.  

It is lovely to know folk want to see the work, make a return in some cases.

There familiar faces.  People who have been part of The Orchard Roadshow sharing’s in 2015.

The play itself has had another major re-draft and has suddenly felt more economical to us, although in the performed reading discussion afterwards, some say there are too many words.  It feels like it needs to be in rehearsals now to allow Josie to open up all the spaces that a performed reading cannot really find.  To open up its internal rhythms.

I think it can have one final slice of painstaking forensic attention.

To get rid of anything completely unnecessary and to develop The Trumpet character even further, as she/he/not sure what gender if any binary at all is, has some catching up to do with the development of the other two characters.  Close but not quite.

This is the peril of introducing a new character later on into a play.  But what is clear is that The Trumpet is here to stay.

There are over half less words than before.  I know now we are close to the play we want to tour.

I made some bold edits.  Time now to be bolder than ever.

Ruth and Michelle are ready to move into a new space with the play.

It has been amazing working them over the past two years.  They have been open and diligent and made challenging suggestions, but have always pushed to move the text on.  I am grateful to them for this commitment.  They are integral to the work.

It has been worth taking this time and care to make the discoveries we have made.

And to Josie who has been the person who has held it all together.

The Dramaturg that pushes and pushes seeking meaning in places that I couldn’t always see.  Giving the actors time and space to hold the words.  Speaking to audiences about why we are doing what we are doing.

The Director who sees the things we do not initially see, who has been carving out a vision for the world of the play as language has dominated.

Soon another kind of visual language will take centre stage thanks to her.

And to Claire who has moved with us and made responses throughout to our ideas, some have been quite challenging, and now we are moving towards a sense of sound for the play, it has been great to see Claire collaborate firstly with Saskia, and now with another musician in this final R&D phase to push the sound of the play.

And to Saskia who has joined us for this final development and who has been so open and generous in the studio, willing to try whatever we ask of her, amidst a team who know one another now quite well, have their own rhythm.  This has been a gift at this stage.

And to Sarah who brought a new energy to the sound of the work.

Finally to Charlie our Producer who has been with us for this last phase and who has brought her own thoughts to the development of the work, committed to having a voice in the room and to supporting our work.

It is clear that this will be the last performed/reading of The Orchard, and so I inevitably spend some time reflecting back upon this epic journey we have taken it on.

It’s a good feeling to finish in Exeter on our home turf.

Thanks to Arts Council South West for allowing us to experiment one last time.  To Exeter Phoenix who have continued to support us, to Fawcett Devon, the Elmgrant Trust and Exeter City Council.

Thanks to the Bikeshed for having us and to Chloe Whipple who we worked with on making this happen.

Thanks to the people in the audience and to those who stayed to be heard and share their thoughts, it was a challenging and thought provoking last audience dialogue, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

For more information about the Calm Down Dear Festival Read more »

Natalie McGrath
Writer of ‘Oxygen& ‘The Orchardfor Dreadnought South West
Tuesday 4th October 2016

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