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