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...

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Director Lizzy McBain on creating Before The Tempest

'Hidden Spire is one of the most exciting projects I have worked on. With its very many facets it is challenging – working with artists and Crisis members on every aspect – from performing, to writing, building and technical work backstage. 

However, it is the excitement of rehearsals as we all come together and create a company in September, that I am really looking forward to. When titles and individual backgrounds disappear and we all embark on a mission to create a performance together.'

Click here to read more in the Oxford Times.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Creating the set for Before The Tempest

Regular Crisis Skylight classes may be on hold for the summer, but if you step into the art room you'll find it a hive of activity: artists Rachel Barbaresi and Emma Reynard are hard at work with Crisis clients to create the set for Before The Tempest.

'Transforming the ordinary' has been the theme since the beginning of the project, and the creative team have been re-purposing objects to create Miranda and Prospero's home on the desert island. In the play, Miranda constantly wanders the beach on the look out for new and interesting items which have washed up. If she doesn't fully understand what the junk she finds is for, what uses would she put it to?

You'll have to see the play to get the full impact of the set, but here are some teaser snippets from the set-building workshops (images by Josh Tomalin):

Friday, 17 July 2015

Before The Tempest: trailer

Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly unveil the trailer for Before The Tempest!

Many thanks to Liam Martin, who filmed the promo, and to our director and actors for taking starring roles.

Friday, 3 July 2015

We present...the poster!

The summer is now in full swing and that means it’s not long until Before the Tempest gets a cast and begins rehearsals - about time for a poster, don't you think?

We spoke to the professional artists and Crisis clients involved, to see what they were looking for. The show is fun and playful, but also has a darker side, and the print needs to reflect that. We went to the talented folks at Oxford-based design company One Ltd, gave them the script, rehearsal photos and design shots, and asked them what they could come up with....

The first drafts from One Ltd's designers

The two main themes coming through are birds, and the sea - and both are important because of their relevance to the play. Throughout the show, a chorus of birds will be onstage: commenting, helping and providing comic relief. The sea itself is almost a character in the play, keeping Miranda on the island and preventing her from exploring the world as she wants to.

So, which poster did we choose? The two favourites were no. 1 and no. 5, and choosing between them was difficult. There's something epic about no. 1, and we thought it might give an unrealistic impression of the show - it implies a grand spectacle, where our play will be more fun and quirky. No. 5, with talking birds watching a ship sail in, emerged as the final choice.

One Ltd worked further magic - here's their first draft:

Nice! We especially like how the 'printed' feel echoes the stencilled look of the Hidden Spire logo. But now that we looked at it again, we realised we'd picked the most child-like design, and we were in danger of making the play look too much like a kids' show.

So we asked them to make the birds look a bit more lifelike, to have a few more creepy birds in there, and to make the whole thing look a bit darker - with a few stormclouds and shadows on the horizon. Sadly, we also felt we had to part with the speech bubbles, in order to make the whole thing look a little more grown-up. 

And here we are - the final version.

Drum-roll, please...

We think it's gorgeous - many thanks to One Ltd for some excellent design.

What do you think? Keep your eyes peeled, and let us know when you see our flock of birds around Oxford...

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The script is in.

Something very exciting landed on the doorstep of the Old Fire Station recently: the script for Before The Tempest, written by Oxford-based playwright Renata Allen.

Yep, that’s right: 2015’s Hidden Spire show is a prequel to Shakespeare’s famous tale of love, magic and bad weather. The story came together in creative writing workshops with Renata and Crisis clients, as well as devising sessions with director Lizzy McBain.

The ensemble experiment with becoming a flock of birds during a devising session.

Miranda has been on the island with her father Prospero for as long as she can remember, and is desperate to see more of the world. While Prospero struggles to master the secrets of magic, Miranda dreams of a life far away…but will her father ever be willing to let her go?

Design sessions start in the next couple of weeks, so we’ll have some photos for you very soon. In the meantime, keep checking back for the latest developments – and book now.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Writing is underway!

‘Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises…’
A Hidden Spire devising session. Photograph: Josh Tomalin.

After several writing and devising workshops with writer Renata Allen, director Lizzy McBain and a team of Crisis members and actors, Hidden Spire 2015 is taking shape. The team have been hard at work in January and February, and we have a show title: Before The Tempest.

We’re borrowing Shakespeare’s characters to explore what happened before The Tempest began. How did Miranda and Prospero adjust to life on the island? How does Miranda learn about the world when the only friends she has are a monster, a spirit, and her father? The characters will create their own worlds through stories, and a chorus of birds will join in to add colour and comedy.

Over the next few weeks we’ll continue working on the script, and music will come into play. ‘Transforming the ordinary’ has been our theme so far, and our designers will have the task of creating magic and mayhem from everyday objects.

Make sure to save the date – Before The Tempest will be performed 17 – 19 September 2015!