Attending Press Night for Way Upstream did not disappoint. The stage transformation to the River Orb was magnificent. I was so impressed by the physical capabilities of the cast, working in the confined space of the boat and teetering precariously over the water for much of the play. I particularly liked the ‘speeded up’ sections of the action, demonstrating again the skill of the actors and the vision for the play. Creating illusion is the stuff of theatre and this was supremely well achieved in all aspects of the production, not least the technical achievements achieved by the Technical team.
The night before Press Night I had attended the pre-show talk with Nadia Fall and Alan Ayckbourn. Ayckbourn discussed the creation of a character who was at first attractive and then totally abhorrent by the end of the play and this was admirably met in Jason Durr’s portrayal of Vince. Ayckbourn was also asked about the final quarter of the play – was it a meant to be a dream sequence? He ducked the question and perhaps with good reason. Several of the critics of Way Upstream seemed less than convinced about this part of the play (Theatre Cat;Telegraph; Chichester Observer)
Pre-show talk with Alan Ayckbourn and Nadia fall
Here’s the image I put on the front of the card for Press Night for Nadia, the cast and the creative team:
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I’m becoming even more aware of the significance of light and dark in the theatre. Even to describe the theatre as ‘dark’ means that there are no shows on at the moment. I am completely fascinated by the way in which the audience are carried from full light in the Foyer, up the stairs and into the Twilight (thanks auto-correct – you just made this Twiglet!)…into the Twilight zone where one’s eyes can adjust to the dimming of light and the excitement of being in the auditorium can start to build. Brilliant!
In some of my drawings, I have started from a dark background, bringing the image into the light
Foyer SR stairs
This is a development of earlier drawings in the Foyer, as is this:
This work could lead to a change in palette for paintings related to the theatre.
I was invited to watch the building of the stage for Way Upstream which is going to be opening the Festival season at CFT this year. The design is a triumph and one which was equally met by the capabilities of the technical crew at CFT. Entire, fully grown trees were waiting outside the Stage Door as I arrived. The boat, originally called Avocet, had been delivered earlier in the week. Inside the auditorium the stage had been pared back to allow for the installation of the boat and the river, in which it will cruise.
For me, to arrive in the auditorium with drawing materials was quite overwhelming. The auditorium alone offers so much visual material for an artist like me, who is intrigued by spaces and light. I wasn’t going to ignore this, but the building of this stunning set was not going to be repeated. I was wondering “how on earth are they going to do that?” …but they did and it is fantastic.
A second drawing visit allowed me to make some sketches of the boat whilst it was moving – yes, the boat actually travels along the riverbank. This allowed me to do the free kind of drawing and multiple viewpoints (from a cubist perspective) that I like to get into my work, without me having to create this by, for example, turning the canvas through 90 degrees, which I quite often do.
Way Upstream and auditorium
Building the riverbank
Avocet ‘on the move’
I shall welcome some studio time now to develop some of these sketches for future use.
I have had three sessions of drawing in the Foyer at Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT) now. It’s interesting how much more you see each time and also how the same things still draw you in.
From Bar to Dark Space
Drawing in the bar
This drawing shows multiple viewpoints of the same space.
Getting to grips with the ceiling CFT
The residency has begun! I received an induction to the theatre, including a tour of the main building, but don’t ask me for directions yet – I need a bit more time to fathom it all! I have met a good number of the permanent staff at CFT, from all departments and I am looking forward to working with them. I’ve narrowed down the choice of productions that I would like to work with to Way Upstream in the main theatre and The Rehearsal in the Minerva. Way Upstream is going to open the season with a stunning production and will give me time to work on the material that I gather, ready for presenting my work for my MA at the end of August and the residency exhibition in October. The Minerva offers a more intimate space and I am interested to compare this to the main theatre. It is hard to believe that the stage in the Minerva is the same size as the main stage.
I am already excited about the space in the theatres and am looking forward to the transformation to the main stage ready for the opening of the 2015 Festival.