Monday, 2 October 2017


Autumn Hawk R&D

Over the summer things have been bubbling away and I have had two creative meetings with my mentor SJ.
I have also been in touch with a writer whom I have worked with before to suggest the possibility of some collaboration. As this series of images begins to sort and take shape and as the central themes start to emerge, I am needing to move this R&D into its next phase.

For inspiration I have had the chance to observe some birds of prey over the summer and on a practical level I have now been in touch with actors who have worked with me on this to date and am pencilling in the first weekend of November as the next research period for this piece in development.

Some thoughts and directions for the story/s:
The work in the animal is paramount.
The integrity in the wild creature that the human creature is seeking.
Controlling the uncontrollable.
Parallel stories of nurture and abuse.
The bird as image of the soul (her soul)
People are drawn to this wild thing- this strange thing
It is a story of a certain kind of human failure.
It is a story of salvation. 


Thursday, 29 June 2017

Week six

Some good meetings to move me along this week with my CDD pitch!

A further R&D session housed in Italia Conti's South London premises with an actor who had trained under Catherine Clouzot! as well as former students of mine, produced some small scenes which left us all feeling very inspired.

The improvisations moved into text and with five generous actors in the room there was the possibility to do so much. I am really thrilled that each of them continues to be able to put aside their time and that they want to commit to this exploration which really feels as though it is beginning to gather momentum.

The nature of the work which is constantly about incorporating the observation of the animal or bird into the actor's body through detailed and specific activities is hugely physical work. The Imaginative Improvisation that goes hand in hand with Transformation was absolutely allowing the actors to work fully in mind and body so as to live truthfully and freely in the detailed imaginary worlds we explored yesterday evening.

"Woman Catching a Flea",  Georges de la Tour

Friday, 23 June 2017

Week five

It has been a stimulating week. Travels across the country have included going up to Norwich. My eyes were peeled through the coach window for birds of prey in the skies over the Fens. I am remembering I was born in Cambridge...
The Helen Macdonald book begins with her travelling northeast of Cambridge to the Breklands, which she translates for the reader as the Broken lands. She goes there to see goshawks.

I am fired by the panel discussion held at LAMDA this Wednesday. The panel was part of a seminar presenting the results of an exciting CDD research project conducted by Penny Cherns. with David Johnston of Queen's University Belfast and LAMDA's MA Classical Acting fir the Professional Theatre students.
Johnston, translator of  the play in focus, El Cuerdo Loco- A State of Madness by Lope de Vega, chaired a round table discussion on theatre translation.
By involving MA actors in the process I was struck by the parallels of our disciplines. A deep understanding of the role, of the world and of the specific circumstances is at the heart of what matters to both the translator and the actor.  
It was evident that the benefits are enormous for both actors and translators if a translation is to be created which will in the end be played.

On a practical note I have more or less completed my pitch for CDD Research funding and it is being looked at by academics whose knowledge and acuity I value.

Returning to Hawk, this article
has substantiated the development of the direction of my piece.

And for a bit of footage, because where are we without recourse to the source material?
-a goshawk nest cam, ,enabling us to see a goshawk feeding a chick.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Week four

With the summer break around the corner I have managed to get three more dates lined up this month and next to further the Hawk R&D, which will no doubt form part of the research I would undertake if the grant were successful.

I am compiling a list of former students who were good a the work. Some of them are already involved in the Hawk work with me and some I will contact once the ducks are lined up and I can begin organising the series of workshops necessary for the research next year.

In the meantime Fay Simpson is back in town and it will be great to see her and discuss our current projects. Last year we did some exploratory work together. I have been watching the footage of our "Bear Girls" piece and remembering the themes I was focusing on this time last year. They have most definitely developed.

In practical terms I am sending my application off to be looked at by the CDD mentor, Prof. Paul Allain. He has been encouraging in terms of my desire to do this practical research as he has known about my work for some years.

Back to the process of Transformation and Imaginative Improvisation and a quote from Helen Macdonald's H is for Hawk

"To train a hawk you must watch it like a hawk, and so you come to understand its moods......You are exercising what the poet Keats called your chameleon quality, the ability to 'tolerate a loss of self and a loss of rationality by trusting in the capacity to recreate oneself in another character or another environment'. Such a feat of imaginative recreation has always come easily to me. Too easily. It's part of being a watcher, forgetting who you are and putting yourself in the thing you are watching. That is why the girl who was me when I was small loved watching birds. She made herself disappear, and then in the birds she watched, took flight. It was happening now. I had put myself in the hawk's wild mind to tame her, and as the days passed in the darkened room my humanity was burning away."