Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Writing the 2017 script

2017's Hidden Spire show is underway: Sawdust, a story set in the seedy underbelly of a vintage circus. The script has been written by Crisis clients working alongside playwright Rowan Padmore. We asked Rowan to tell us a bit more about the process.


In April 2016 I was invited to become the writer for Hidden Spire 2017. To say I was pleased would be an understatement. I was absolutely delighted, excited and maybe - just maybe - a tiny bit scared. The previous Hidden Spire shows have been very successful, and I knew they were a hard act to follow.

We came up with a starting point to begin to explore ideas: the concept of A Beautiful Mess. We began at the end of the summer, with physical theatre workshops bringing together artists from theatre company Complicite, Crisis clients and members of the public. We then worked with Crisis clients for a fortnight offering physical workshops with Emma Webb the movement director, and writing workshops with me.

From September to March I taught a weekly play-writing class for Crisis clients where we read extracts from scripts, discussed ideas and wrote stuff. At some point in late Autumn I settled on the play being set in a circus. We looked at photos of circus acts and old posters, and began to create our own characters. We imagined the characters both onstage and off, and gave them a history and a future. We wrote dialogue and developed the relationships between them. We talked.

I then had to take the vast amount of work we had produced in class, put it together and give it shape. Some ideas receded and others jumped to the fore. I wanted to create a piece of theatre that would be entertaining and exciting and a bit weird, just like the process had been. I worried. A lot.

Eventually I came up with a script that I hope contains much of the beautiful mess of the last months. It’s set backstage in a circus big top. It’s called Sawdust. Come and see it in October.

- Rowan Padmore

Monday, 12 September 2016

Hidden Spire 2017 is happening...

A new year, a new look! The website has gone blue to celebrate the start of a new Hidden Spire project. Meetings are happening, workshops have begun...stay tuned to see more of Hidden Spire as it develops.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Hidden Spire 2015 - short recap

Don't have time to watch the full recording of Before The Tempest? Watch our short recap video here to see what you missed:

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Watch Hidden Spire 2015: 'Before The Tempest'

Many thanks to all those who saw Before The Tempest, which played to sold-out houses for four fantastic performances, 17 - 19 September.

Couldn't make it to the show? Never fear - the fantastic Akanbe Films recorded it, and you can watch it here:

Artist Nicola Armitage created a short film for the Hidden Spire exhibition about the process of creating the show. Watch it here:

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Rehearsals in progress...

Rehearsals are underway for Before The Tempest. With opening night next Thursday, cast and crew are working hard to make sure everything is at the ready.

To give you a taster of what's in store, here's what we've been getting up to in rehearsals (Pictures by James Sutton):

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Looking for a place to perch?

Artist Rachel Barberesi has been looking for set materials in some interesting places...

Sourcing the materials and objects we need for the set of ‘Before the Tempest’ has involved some lateral thinking and brought us into contact with lots of different organizations and businesses in Oxford.  From Oxfam who donated surplus books to ‘Oxford wood recycling’ from whom we bought wood, and of course Orinoco – Oxford’s scrap store – the source of many bizarre and wonderful things, many of the objects and materials we have found have histories of their own.

This is particularly true of the sections of oak we sourced from Oxford Parks Department which will bring the texture and rawness of unprocessed wood into our stage set.

I met Jo Huntley at the Parks depot to look at their collection of wood from trees in public spaces around Oxford that have been felled or pruned. They have built up a huge stack of wood, most of which is not of quality or quantity to be sold or used elsewhere, and much of which will become bark chippings to be used as mulch. I noticed some recently felled branches of an oak tree which were still covered in green ivy. These come from a huge old tree in Magdalen Wood that was damaged in a recent storm. Huge boughs fell from the tree, but thankfully the tree itself could be preserved after unsafe branches were removed. The pieces of wood I chose have lots of character and the grain of the wood is easy to see as they were sawn up so recently. These will be used as 'perches' for the birds during the performance.

I wanted to find a wide but shallow section of tree trunk and this proved harder to locate. Jo wasn’t optimistic, but she climbed to the top of the wood stack and uncovered a wonderful piece of wood that is quite rotten and habitat to many mini-beasts. The jury is out on whether this will be included.  It might be too rich a habitat to put into a theatre!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Hidden Spire 2015: exhibition

For the last year, multimedia artist Nicola Armitage has been following the development of Before The Tempest. She's seen script-writing, devising and designing, and was present at the very earliest experimental workshops.

Filmed footage and images come together in her exhibition, Hidden Spire, which opens tonight and runs until 26 September.

An image from the exhibition, taken from the design sessions.

‘From documenting the workshops, I have been inspired by the range of creative processes involved; from the initial sketches and discussions through to movement, expression, light and sound workshops, costume and set design. I have witnessed the ideas generated throughout this time change, develop and gather momentum towards final production.’ - Nicola Armitage

Some images from the design process.

If you're seeing Before The Tempest on Saturday 19 September, join can join Nicola for a 'live drawing' workshop, 12-2pm, as part of the Big Draw 2015 Festival launch in Oxford. Click here to find out more.

A more interactive way to get a glimpse into rehearsals.
Intrigued? The exhibition runs until 26 September, open Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm (11am - 6pm from 1 September). It's free to visit - pop in and find out more...