Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A Night at the Theatre

The Hovering Barn Owl should be in the bath by the evening, with only the claws to complete today. It is balmy here in Herefordshire, so the doors are wide open, and the wasps are making slow circuits in and out. The Labrador is soaking up the rays. Even the cows are quiet (having spent the last three days bellowing).

Hovering Barn Owl in the Studio

Went to the Courtyard theatre last night with my two oldest boys (teenagers) to see Peter Shaffer's Equus. I am not sure they could quite believe their eyes when the actors got naked! The scene where the horses were blinded was quite jarring; I felt like I needed a little cry afterwards, but very enjoyable. The set was quite simple with six mounted horse heads in a semi-circle, looking down on the play, which took place in a sort of small golden circle. We the audience completed the feeling of "amphitheatre", as the actors themselves sat/stood watching the play unfold. There was a real sense of the horses ominous presence, bearing witness to the story. The heads were quite skeletal/mechanical, Grecian, stylized, and were in turn worn by the actors. It's always interesting to compare ideas like this with our own Horse Head Sculpture.

 I used to paint sets for a theatre company on Martha's Vineyard, the Vineyard Playhouse. This was just after graduating from art school, and I must have been holding down 3 jobs at the time (the days when sleep seemed optional). I remember Lettuce & Lovage, also by Sir Peter Shaffer. It was the first production I worked on. But my favourite was painting the background to Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa...it was a huge endeavor; an enormous painting of the  Irish countryside across the whole of the stage. Completed in a single night's work! We had a huge troop of volunteers on board, but none of us had any training in painting sets. Seems crazy now, looking back.

I think I would enjoy working in theatre again.

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