Artist Residency at Hawkwood: Bassline Circus
"I learned a lot today about how at the early seed stage of a concept, to let go of any preconceived ideas, to be free to generate new images, and ideas and not worry at all about an end product and how to sell it tour it, produce it, just to be present in the moment and free to see what comes."
We were honored to be offered a residency at Hawkwood after applying to research and develop a concept for a new outdoor show, exploring the prediction that we have 60 harvests left if we continue farming the way the majority of industrial-scale agriculture is producing our food.
We had applied to ACE for funding to support this but were not successful this time. As an artistic director/producer, I felt responsible for our team and felt like we should cancel our time at Hawkwood as it wasn’t sitting right for me to bring a group of professional artists together to work for a week unpaid. After much deliberation and conferring with the team, we decided this was too good an opportunity to miss out on, and everyone offered to come unpaid and still put our minds together to start exploring the theme that I have been advocating for years now! It’s hard as a producer when you get “no’s” from funders. I went through all kinds of emotions – that maybe we should just forget this idea as it felt like no one wants to fund it, that I must be a rubbish producer as I can’t produce the funding to make this work, sparking thoughts of how we need to look elsewhere for funds to make this…
So, I felt humbled that a group of four very talented performer/musician/choreographer/directors, whom I really respect, would want to come and start work on a show that we don’t even know has a future. It must be 15 years or more that I have been part of a group working on a show unpaid. Maybe this is something we need to do more of. Being funding-dependent is such a weight on my/the company’s shoulders, stifling creativity by trying to fill in all those boxes and answer all those questions.
So, to finally arrive here at Hawkwood, be given a beautiful space to work in, a lovely private room, three delicious meals a day in stunning countryside rural surroundings, imbued with the ethos and atmosphere of a Centre for Future Thinking, is an absolute treat. To be able to remove ourselves from everyday life (for me, three kids, looking after a family, running a company) is just what is needed right now.
After our first afternoon of discussing, chatting, walking, seeing the snowdrops and daffodils emerging, baby calves and piggies obviously very happy in the way they are being farmed, it feels like we have begun to scratch the surface of what this theme might lead us to create. A playful moment unpacking props to create a shrine, lighting incense, and Chez improvising with a ceremonial tune on the accordion. We are excited about what might emerge (like the Spring around us) over the next few days in the comfort of Hawkwood. (After a good night’s sleep to get over my recent toddler-induced broken sleep)
Queue the Sun: Part II
I woke up after a full 9 hours of sleep, unbroken by toddlers, and felt like a new woman! Full of optimism and gratitude for the day ahead to put our minds together to work on this project.
Sadly at breakfast, poor Kim tells us she is really poorly, suspected Tonsillitis; she felt really rubbish and regrettably had to go home. What a shame we lost Kim, maybe she will come back if she feels better. I was so looking forward to hearing her music and seeing what might emerge musically and theatrically for her in this show…
Rowan and I did an hour of yoga before breakfast, a wonderful way to begin the day. Chez gave us a long session in vocal warm-up and improvisation, our whole bodies alive and vibrating with sound, song, and energy. A great insight into the power of vocal therapy, dipping into what might be used in the show or in a program of community engagement to accompany the touring show.
We all felt really rejuvenated and ready to embrace a slightly different day to devise and brainstorm with now just one performer/musician rather than two as planned. It didn’t seem to matter; we could still progress with the proposed schedule and start to delve into the exploration of the chosen theme.
Rowan led us through an activity where we walked alone through nature and collected found objects that spoke to us, and then brought it all together to our shrine/display space where we each chose an item to describe to each other in detail. We then used these words to create movement. This is not something I am used to doing as a producer, but I immersed myself and tried to let go of inhibitions and join Chez and Rowan in contemporary movement!
I learned a lot today about how at the early seed stage of a concept, to let go of any preconceived ideas, to be free to generate new images, ideas and not worry at all about an end product and how to sell it, tour it, produce it, just to be present in the moment and free to see what comes. Thank you, Chez, for teaching me about the voice and vibrations and Rowan for leading these ways of looking deeply in different ways at what is around us.
Founded in 2001, and present every year since with a new production at major UK and European festivals, Bassline continues to harness Bass music’s raw energy – with circus to match – alongside a new generation of physical, sonic and visual performers. The company currently focuses on running inclusive workshops, producing outdoor community events and creating touring productions such as: KID_X, [ON AIR] and Liquid Sky. Recent collabs include Bristol Pride, Tramway Theatre, Saffron Records, Feral Arts, Pride Without Borders, Fusion Festival (Germany) and Boomtown Fair.