I have come away from the final performances of 'Orestes' feeling like this has been a rich and valuable experience for all involved. From chatting with the company at our after show gathering last night, I have been touched by how moved everyone has been, how much the project has stimulated personal thought and discovery, and been a chance for us all to be enriched in various ways. For me, this has been a really important leap. The opportunity to form an ensemble of such talent and diversity, has allowed me to work harder, deeper and faster than usual. As a teacher/practitioner, I think it is so vital to keep your own professional practice going, to challenge yourself, and be reminded of the different pace and depth of the professional rehearsal room. I have been through so many different phases of thought throughout this process; during rehearsals I felt passionate about the gathering and telling of truths, and felt as if I had arrived at my most satisfying form of directing: stimulating the cast, generating material through a deep immersion into the content and substance, then shaping and facilitating the subsequent units of action. The rebel chorus only claimed text if it resonated with them, and they connected to it. This felt really honest and organic in rehearsal, and audience later commented on how clear it was that this process had reached into actors' bones.
Reflecting back, the most affirming and positive feedback from audience includes:
- The clarity of the story - felt 'guided' through the piece
- Being fully engaged and captivated throughout
- Feeling stimulated, angry/passionate and responsive throughout
- Feeling the weight/burden of responsibility when asked to vote
- The commitment and investment of the cast
- The aptness of the space/site
- The unity and cohesion of the ensemble
- The pertinence of this re-telling to today
Much of these responses describe my aims for the project. More and more, I am keen to explore ways for audience to shift from passive spectator to active engagement. But this is such a finely tuned craft. In one post show 'Q&A' I was asked whether audience really reacted freely throughout, or whether we they were still well behaved and only 'acted' when asked. Mostly our audiences followed the rules, and often then felt that they were colluding when they did nothing at the end, as the rebels are led out to their certain fate.
It is indeed tough to swallow negative reviews, particularly if they are non-constructive ranting. Watching a piece of art is of course so subjective, and I had to often remind myself that every opinion and reading is valid - and that I was assured that the work we had made was honest, heartfelt and achieved exactly what we had set out to do. Interesting that reinventions of classical work such as this divides opinion so extremely.
Watching the show last night, I felt that all strands of the work came together at its best. I was struck almost afresh by the mis-en-scene; the beautiful layering of the stage pictures, the wealth of stories alive onstage, the strength of feelings, and that magic that exists amongst a truly cohesive, synthesised ensemble. The chorus knew of each others' movement, breath, impulse from moment to moment. This felt so powerful and precious to watch. I wonder why human creatures delight so in watching synchronisation; a choir singing in harmony, a flock of birds flying in perfect formation. There is something so harmonious and pleasing, perhaps it chimes with our yearning for how we secretly want the world to work.
It was wonderful to have an opportunity to appreciate all the company members in the form of a 'ceremony' in between the last two shows. Typically thoughtful, generous and totally without ego, each company member sang, read their poem, presented their gift for one other. Lullabies were sung, games were offered, honest feelings shared...and I was struck by how privileged we are as artists to be able to fuse, play and be together in this way.
Where next? The dream - to form a more permanent ensemble with whom I could continue to explore and play and create. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a space to make and create? I also have a yearning now to do something very small, very concentrated perhaps. I come away feeling tremendously nourished, inspired and excited to keen creating.
Thank you to everyone who made this possible. Amazing really when you have a vision and a plan in your mind, and then slowly a creative and production team form, and the project comes to life. The production team have been ace; totally supportive and committed to perfection. The cast have been a true delight; constantly open, playful, brave, investing, honest and so much fun to get to know.
Until the next time...Thanks for reading!