Susie Donkin – Spitz & Co


If you’re an artist trying to make work, Hawkwood is basically a form of paradise.  Space, time, and nourishment to create something new.   I’ve been lucky enough to have taken part in an Artist’s Residency at Hawkwood with previous Spitz & Co shows, so I knew how special it was, but to be there working on a new show after a 2 year Covid hiatus felt quite emotional.   We were able to be there because of a short notice cancellation, so we didn’t have quite as much time as we would have liked to prepare for the residency, and sadly Abigail Collins who was supposed to be coming from London to help us turn “Elvis in Blue Hawaii” into an outdoors show wasn’t able to make it at the last minute.  However Angus Barr was able to step in with only a few days notice, and having already directed two Spitz & Co shows he knew the way we work.  Without Abi it meant re-thinking what we were going to do, but that’s the joy of Hawkwood, there’s no pressure to come up with results and nothing has to be set in stone.  It gives you an incredible sense of freedom.  It’s very liberating to be able to just have that time to experiment and play, as well as rehearse.

And we did that, just that.  Joe Reeve had never worked with Angus before, and Joe and I are still in the early stages of our working relationship so it was a joy to have a week at Hawkwood not only in the rehearsal room, but also during meals etc to get to know each other better.  The food was, as always, incredible, and once again it was wonderful to meet the other artists, two of whom were also from Stroud.  We became friends and hope to be able to meet up in the near future.  The sense of community and mutual respect is one of the things I love about Hawkwood, you feel everyone is rooting for each other.   The sharings at the end of the week are proof of this.  Cathy and others from the office came to watch and give their feedback, taking time out of their busy day to do so, and we appreciate it hugely because although it’s often just a stagger through trying stuff out for the first time, to be able to get proper feedback before putting the show in front of a paying audience is vital.

We discovered a lot about “Elvis in Blue Hawaii” during the week, and the things that weren’t working became very clear after the sharing on Friday.  We still need to clarify some of the structure of the show and work on the relationship between the two characters to bring out the comedy, but those five days at Hawkwood meant that we were able to get the show on it’s feet; something we would never have been able to do otherwise so efficiently, and we still have time to tweak and rehearse so that’s ready for it’s Slimbridge premiere on March 19th.

Huge thanks to all the staff at Hawkwood who work so hard to give us these opportunities, and to Gloucester Culture Trust for their support, we are hugely grateful.

Full credit to Susie Donkin and Spitz & Co, with thanks to the DCMS & Arts Council England for their funding.


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