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For me, Hidden Spire 2021 began another lifetime ago, back in 2019. This was in classes run by Rowan at Crisis Skylight Oxford, on a Tuesday afternoon.

Back then we were focused on Port Meadow, and the ground beneath our feet. These were the days when corona meant crown, or maybe a nice cool beer. But the Covid tsunami swept 2020 away, and drowned that concept of Hidden Spire with it. In its wake, adapted to fit our altered landscape, the shadows of Atlantis loomed: a city of crud and corruption.

In June of this year, we had the first read-through of a play called The Drifting. The script was immense: an intricate collection of work, stitched and woven together by Rowan.

Within it, a vast variety of characters and scenes, dialogue and dynamics, exploded into art that was irreverent, relevant and riotous. The fruits of our labour, or maybe the buds or leaves or something - all shining, all glittering, on the page and on the screen. The atmosphere, even via the kind of surreal medium of Zoom, fizzled with thrill. It buzzed.

I was reading the part of Vesta, a character that I created, and elated to be doing so. It was very gratifying to see my writing and ideas woven into the tapestry of this knock-out play; I felt that I was a part of something phenomenal. It was satisfying that I helped to make it, but also startling because it was looking and cooking up to be so en pointe and so spectacular.

That first script was an absolute riot but, possibly, it was far too long. We didn’t get through the whole thing as it massively overran and everyone had to go. But it was very exciting.

Over the next couple of months, Rowan passed the script on to Abi Hood and I harassed the team several times about when the next read-through would be, when would there be castings? etc, etc. While the previous three months had sort of drifted, the next two raced. (But is that not always the way when it comes to the summer?)

In August, The Drifting became Atlantis and the script transformed once again: into this slick, stream-lined production.

Because no one could possibly be expected to watch a several-hours-long show, even with so many incredible voices and visuals… or, because it’s going to be an immersive experience, continue to walk on and on through dystopian disaster for that amount of time, Abi had to execute many of the wonderful characters who made their appearance in the first script. I suppose their souls got sucked up into the other characters, into the feel of it all.

The second read-through stayed more on schedule. We also all had a chance at the end to offer input and ideas (what did we like? What didn’t we?), and these were taken on board to create the really super script which is the current version of Atlantis. So we’ve had to say goodbye to the original show-opener, The Drifting Man. We can’t spare him any change.

Watch out for proposals in profit and gain, who’s really out to benefit? And why does Noah want to keep us all quiet? Why should we never fight, even when we’re (pi)-right?

…But it’s still open to editing. Everyone is given a say. Right up to the last moment.

The show is now less than a month from opening. Rehearsals are set to run in a week. I managed to snag the role of Vesta who has evolved in front of my eyes into -

Eh, you’ll have to wait and see.

It’s setting up to be a tremendous experience; a wet and wonderful thrill-seeking ride. Please bring waterproofs, wellies and smiles. You may be in for a bumpy ride.


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