Day 9Above: Festival director Pitsch Leiser. Photo: Tim Whittaker
Visceral, varied responses to this evening's world premiere of Ship of Dreams - from the enamored and thrilled to the bemused and perplexed to those who found it (politely put) 'not their cup of tea'. This was a true 'festival experience', an unknown, a punt, with work that's never been shown before, so it was very cool to see such a full turn-out.
The Hook were there, and Michael Hawksworth wrote about it:
"Davidson plays with a sense of the instrument as pure sound generator. Most impressively he knows how to play the negative space around the notes, so to speak, to stretch the whole as soundtrack which is why this experiment in film and song, for the most part, transfixed the packed Spiegeltent."
Graham Chaplow said:
"A great night. My childhood dreams synthesized through DD. 48yrs working at the Port and I never tired of seeing ships coming and going. As a child the circus train would always wake me and I'd rush to the station to help transport the animals to the South Pond. Like DD, always wanted to be a clown. The man is a national treasure."
While Adrienne comments: "What a show. Delaney is always so emotionally present and humble and transparent."
Blog post: 6.15pm
Snapshot moment at the production caravan hotdesk: "How's your day been?" "It's been a good and interesting day." "Is there anything you want to share with the group?" "Some nice biscuits?"
Set lists are being printed out, there's a touch of spray-paint artistry going on, tech, specs and sound checks... We're gearing up for Delaney's show. I've just finished interviewing Delaney, and will write this up when I get a chance, so watch out for that story.
Blog post: 1.50pm
While all is quiet down at the Spiegeltent, HBAF is busy out in schools. Birdlife Productions are already in town, bringing their beautiful children's show, Kokako's Song, to two local primary schools. They're about to begin their third performance of the day at Lucknow Primary, following shows in Flaxmere. Over the following days, 2,000 lucky kids will have this opportunity before the Spiegeltent showing on Sunday.
This morning two local high schools had the chance to experience Wild Dogs Under My Skirt in the Blyth. If you haven't yet read Nafanua's review of this powerful theatre piece, here it is.
Blog post: 11.30am
Today we have one single, sublime show on offer to the public: Delaney Davidson's Ship of Dreams, 7.30pm in the Spiegeltent. It's the Magic Lightbox show many of us have been waiting for, perhaps Pitsch Leiser most of all. The idea for this was first conceived in a conversation Delaney had with Pitsch a year or two back, and developed from there. The two met up recently in Switzerland, while Delaney was working on stitching up the rich array of material he's collated for this multi-media show.
Pitsch says "Delaney is a creative genius, and for us to be able to offer an international premiere of this work is incredible. On a personal level, I'm excited to discover what he's done with European mythologies and fairytales, in collaboration with some hugely acclaimed film-makers and directors in Europe. Delaney has worked with renowned Swiss dramaturg, Meret Matter on this. Meret's father was an iconic singer-songwriter in Switzerland, and I grew up with his music on the radio. To see and make these connections, for me personally, it's a beautiful synergy."
If you're wanting to do some preparatory reading, try the Arts Foundation's Q&A session with Delaney on his work Ship of Dreams. Here's an extract:
What creative idea is bugging you at the moment?
I have been playing around with film for a while now and since the runaway success of the Magic Lightbox I have been working to create the second version of the show. I had this idea of a German expressionist folk story with Shamanic characters from different traditional cultures. When I started to dig into the fairy tales I kept seeing these characters. Huge, dark, hairy, alien, bright contrast, dynamic. I saw this from ancient European tradition through to modern clowns and started to see that they all represented this idea of when the rules start changing and boundaries start to blur.
It really fired my imagination with connections that have fascinated me for a while: the mythological parallels between coyote/trickster and clown/jester; folk tale elements and simple stories as a means for every day reflection; how the same person can be different doorway characters that sit in two different worlds and act as a medium between them; the alien costume that makes the worlds meet. Shamanism, Witchdoctor, Tohunga.
I also got interested in the crossover between narrative and non-narrative. For storytelling this gets really interesting and you start to wonder about what people already have playing inside them when they come to your show, and how this combines with what you present.