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Sally Parish - The Landings - First Report!

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I am honoured to have been asked to share my thoughts, feelings and experiences after each of three performances of The Landings. I thoroughly enjoyed the Liberator series - everything they gave me, and how they made me feel, so I am very excited to see how experiencing the ‘same’ performance three times from different viewpoints will affect me. Don’t worry if you’ve not been yet – there are no ‘spoilers’ here! Oh, and everyone’s experience will be different to mine, that’s the point. Every one of my senses was tested; every feeling imaginable was experienced; and my brain, well, that is still processing the whole thing days later. This is hard – putting into words what I felt, but I’ll give it a go!

I felt excitement, trepidation and unity whilst waiting for the bus to our start points, which turned to a sense of loss of each time the audience had to make a choice about which way to go. Watching part of our group move away into the unknown was surprisingly powerful, as was reuniting with them later. I experienced a growing sense of belonging as the performers herded us and encouraged us without words on our journey.

An unexpected irrational thought when a child performer ran away from his adult – the icy shiver of fear and dread - where is my own son? WHERE IS HE? Obviously he was with his grandparents where I left him, but for that split second I felt sick, a cold sweat, and breathless. It took a while for my heart rate to return to normal.

Eyes focused on the performers; ears trained on the sounds of the drum, the plucking and playing of the violin, the haunting siren. Then the unexpected, unpredictable elements - the weather; the natural light; the call of flying geese; the chuffing of the steam train; the sound of the sea; the state of the ground underfoot; how members of the public dealt with coming across us (some waited, other walked around, and one even walked straight through!); the smell of the sea, and wet grass.  

Then there was the field of cows. They stared as we passed by accompanied by a violinist, and then raced to the gate to catch another glimpse of us. The watchers became the watched. The audience were now the performers.

I remember the desk. A symbol authority, boarders, permits, permission, orders, them and us? It also made me wonder what jobs have been left behind? What did they do before they landed? What was their ‘normal life’ story?

I promised no spoilers but at each point the audience was totally absorbed in what was happening – whether it was a solo, small group, or the whole cast. Amongst the groups I was with I noticed some audience members deliberately moving into a space seeking solitude, others shuffled closer to their companions. I heard a sign of relief; saw tears fall; and more often than not there was a brief period of stillness before we moved on as everyone absorbed as much as they could from that moment before leaving it behind. The performers were mesmerising – the dance, the sequences, the emotions, the backward glances, and the building sense of becoming part of their tribe. Amazing. And all without words.

Throughout the performance we made choices; had choices made for us; and watched others deal with the consequences of their choices. Did I choose for the best? Why did I make that choice? From choosing what night to buy tickets for and what footwear to put on, to which group to follow to and whether to interact with the performers - all choices that had an impact on our own individual experience. But what did I miss by making that choice? What did the other groups experience that I didn’t? Have they any idea what I had seen and felt? How will my choices next time change my perspective?

And at the end I felt curious – what about the performers I didn’t see? What happens to them? Where do they go? Where are they now? I felt the power of grief for the performers we ‘lost’ along the way. Finally, the comfort and warmth of hot homemade soup.

I can’t wait for next time.

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The Landings - Only 2 weeks until we open!

Here we go…

It’s now only 2 weeks until The Landings opens. For a glimpse of what’s to come, we have a trailer!

A great deal of blood, sweat, joy and tears have been wrapped into the making of this performance, which is strangely fitting. Please come and see and feel what we have made.

To buy tickets: http://www.stackedwonky.com/tickets/

A big thank you to Dan Farberoff and Will Rayner for making the trailer possible!

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The Landings - Performers Wanted

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Dancers/performers sought to make an unusual site work for September/October 2017.   The work is PAID and not dependent on funding applications.

The Landings will use a 5km by 2km hinterland on the North Somerset coastline containing railway lines, vast fields, beach chalets, small copses, farms, straightened rivers, tracks and power lines.  We are looking for performers of ALL AGES, from 18 years all the way up (!), to fill a number of gaps (some substantive, some less so) amongst a cast of 15 to 20.

We’re curious to meet:

  • Performers with a natural draw towards site work.  You’ll be engaging an audience in close proximity who’ll be exercising choice about what they stay with and what they leave behind.
  • Performers with an interest in working in parity with experienced young performers, most of whom will be under 12 years – perhaps take a look at the work of Kabinet K and Seppe Baeyens.
  • Autonomous, thoughtful makers, with a love of presence, who enjoy fresh and evolving performance scenarios.

We make slowly rather than quickly, thus you’ll need to be available for most of the following dates:

  • Saturday 1 April to Saturday 8 April/Sunday 9 April: first 5 R&D days in this gap depending on availability
  • Monday 22 May to Friday 2 June: further 10 days in this gap depending on availability
  • A further week in June/July: TBC
  • Monday 24 July to Friday 11 August
  • Saturday 2 September to Friday 15 September
  • PERFORMANCES: Saturday 16 September through to Sunday 8 October (dependent on tides)

We can offer some flexibility regarding rehearsals given we’ll make in cluster groups until early September 2017.  This is a paid opportunity.  We will provide accommodation and cover travel costs where necessary.

If you’d like become part of The Landings, please send your CV plus a note explaining your interest to sarah@stackedwonky.com and fiona@stackedwonky.com by Tuesday 21 February.  Selected performers will be invited to spend a day with us in Porlock, North Somerset on Sunday 26 February or in London on Sunday 5 March – both days will run from 11 am to 5 pm.  These will be days of exchange as well as selection!

Fiona Fraser-Smith, our producer, will let you whether or not we can invite you to one of the selection days by Wednesday 22 February.  Do get in touch if you have questions, and please ask if you need help with travel expenses.

Stacked Wonky is a led by Artistic Director, Sarah Shorten, buoyed up and inspired by a very strong group of performers, designers, musicians, mentors and makers of all sorts.  We have been quietly and independently making site work/commissions for over 10 years – Trafalgar Square, Clovelly Court Estate, Museum of Childhood etc – resurfacing with “Liberator”, a box-set of four site episodes performed in the Vale of Porlock in 2015.

Further information: www.facebook.com/stackedwonky

Photos: Rod Higginson

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Images of Liberator

With just under two weeks to the final Episode on Porlock Marsh, it's a time for reflection. I want to say a HUGE thank you to Rod Higginson for the beautiful photographs he has produced. I suspect I'm not the only one who feels this. Photographing dance is a tricky business: I want to see the person first, the movement second, only everything happens so fast in rehearsal or performance... Rod has done this instinctively.

Here are some stand-out images from Episode 4.

PS He's not the only one by the way - his partner Veronica is also very good!

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Why Bossington Hill?

It goes without saying, it's an incredible place, breathtaking at times...

It's also the point at which everything went critically wrong for the Liberator. In the crash report it says "a large hill loomed up ahead"... After making a steep climbing turn to the right, the plane struck a downdraught of air before crashing on to the Marsh.

Thus a place of limitless beauty moments before tragedy struck.

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Are all the Episodes planned or made in advance?

This is a question I've been asked a few times and the answer is NO! One of the joys of the project has been to respond to the previous Episode rather than predetermine what each one should look like. This also means we've had to work round the clock to ensure Episode 4 is ready for Sunday!

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Oh the madness of rehearsals...

Bossington Hill has turned out to be quite an unpredictable performance space. We've had lots of conversations with curious walkers and one or two unexpected visitors... as you can see!

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Introducing Danny Cox...

Liberator has a new collaborator! We'd like to welcome Danny, who'll be joining us for Episode 4: With the Downdraught on Bossington Hill on Sunday 6 September. Danny will be playing a snare drum, which was commonly used in American Air Force military bands during World War 2.

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Last barn performances tonight

With both sadness and excitement we approach the final performances at the barn...  It's been an incredible two days full of the unexpected. Did anyone see the bats emerge from the barn? The wind lift the hay and rattle the roof tiles? Hear the plane fly over as Duncan left?

A HUGE thank you to our audience: you've been sensitive. fearless and full of kindness - without you it's just not possible!

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Let's hear it for Duncan and Ernie...

Rehearsing at night isn't easy. When most of us are winding down, Duncan and Ernie have been heading out to rehearse. Before the moment is lost, I wanted to acknowledge their commitment and grit. Much of what you'll see is testament to the way the two of them have bonded, which is quite something. It's tough to bear the weight of a show on your shoulders at 8 years old... it also requires sensitivity and kindness on Duncan's part to bring out the best in Ernie.

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Who's loving the Box Office?

Like a strange TARDIS, the Box Office is starting to pop up unexpectedly.  It was last seen at Porlock Fayre on Sunday inhabited by a stranger who took a fancy to it.  Keep your eyes open... you never know where it might appear next!

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Why the chairs?

Why the chairs?

I've been asked this a few times since the first episode of Liberator. You might have seen them in miniature form, tipped up or lodged in tree branches along the way.

There are 12 chairs, one for each of the airmen on board the Liberator when it crashed. Increasingly they will appear as the episodes play out and finally reunite on the Marsh. It feels a good way to create a presence that honours our source material.

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Episode 3: Blackout

Good news!

Things are going well for Episode 3 "Blackout", which takes place at night in a secluded barn on the Holnicote Estate for a discreet audience of 6 people per performance. As a group, collect a lantern and head off together across the fields through inky darkness to find the barn...

Over half the tickets have gone, so don't delay!

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A Wingspan of 110 Feet

We had two great days at Nutcombe Bottom last weekend.  Both performances were SOLD OUT!  The weather provided huge contrast: sparkling sunshine on the Saturday, and quiet, light rain on the Sunday, which meant the atmosphere in the woods was very different...  That's the joy of working outside, each performance is unique to the time you see it.

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So why are we dancing?

In October 1942 an American bomber crashed on Porlock Marsh with the loss of 11 lives. One airman survived. So why are we dancing?

On the eve of the first performance, I want to say something about this. For dancing, think movement. Movement is a great communicator, it gets rid of the need for words. If I kick with aggression, it's likely you will experience a physical reaction. You know what it's like to kick and be kicked. If Liberator does its job properly, with movement all around, you'll be able to feel things that belong to the time of the crash.

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Behind the scenes...

Part of the rationale of Liberator is to give talented youngsters exposure to a professional creative project... like Izzy Bruce from Timberscombe First School, aged 9, who is working with us a Production Assistant. It's a role that requires focus and maturity. She's there to make sure the performers remain safe, props are where they should be, routes in the wood from one scene to another are viable etc... She doesn't get the excitement of having a costume made for her or taking a bow in front of an audience. That said, I think she's enjoying using our long range walkie talkies! Well done Izzy, you're doing great!

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