White Light White Peak
has been a complete labour of love for me over the past 5 years or more, ever since I first thought of the idea for a live performance of my poetry, backed by projections of my black-and-white photography, with a soundtrack of the recordings I have been taking in the field. The poems themselves began to flow after the suicides of two close friends - though most of them are not about this, directly - let's just say they are about making the most of what is around you - relishing the magic of our brief existence and all that it has to offer, for free. All of the experiences explored in the work, as the name suggests, take place in the very special landscape of the White Peak - celebrating the treasures we have here is another major element in White Light White Peak.
Now I have found a wonderful and ethical publisher for the book of the same name, (in Fly on the Wall Press) I am working to make the tour of what we are calling "White Light White Peak - The Live Experience" happen this Autumn.
Getting a chunk of the funds that we needed from a crowdfunding source was an integral part of our successful Arts Council England bid, oh, and - yippee! - by the way - so we do now need to follow through with raising the funds from you, the public, before they release the funding. Fingers crossed!
What is "The Live Experience"?
In what I like to call an "immersive" experience - though my director, Alice says that sounds far too much like "arts-speak"! - I share my seasonal encounters with the weather, wildlife and people; some amusing, some thought-provoking and many involving a Springer Spaniel or two. The poems are told in a relaxed, conversational style, as the atmospheric, monochrome landscapes are projected onto a large screen and a soundtrack of wild recordings fills the air at intervals.
Part of the mission, if you like, is to show how poetry can be presented in a highly accessible, entertaining, non-scary, totally unpretentious way. I speak it as I feel it - like "a conversation he is holding with you in a quiet corner of a local pub on a winter’s evening" - this is how Jim Marriott put it, when reviewing our try-out performance in Buxton during the festival fringe, this July.
Another of its aims is to encourage the appreciation of the local environment with fresh eyes, as the poems and photographs explore hidden aspects of The White Peak; familiar places are examined through new ways of seeing and thinking. If I can inspire people to get out into the hills, to walk, to think, to feel, to write, to take meaningful pictures, (any of these) I will say, "Job done!"
In addition to the peformances, there are talks, participatory workshops and a travelling exhibition of prints, all around the same themes. None of these valuable extras will happen without funding from the Arts Council and the success of this appeal.
Where is it going?
We want to take the live experience right across the Peak District, from Ashbourne to Glossop, but also to places beyond, such as Rotherham, Derby, Manchester, Sheffield and Chesterfield. Much of the funding is to help us to visit these more urban places, with a breath of fresh, Peak District air and to offer lower ticket prices to those who might not be able to afford a conventional night out at a theatre. The majority of our venues are village halls, rooms above pubs, as well as local arts centres, such the Foxlowe in Leek. We aim to bring highly accessible live theatre into the heart of local communities.
Who else is involved?
My own company of many years, "found THEATRE", has teamed up with Rotherham Underground, (a registered charity) which is serving as our rehearsal base and also loaning their cinema equipment to take out on the road. The Artistic Director of RU, Alice Bartlett, is directing my performance on stage, alongside the carefully selected images and sounds (and doing an amazing job, if I may say so!) We are also forming partnerships with the people who run venues at places such as Chesterfield College, Foxlowe Arts Centre in Leek and The Green Man Gallery in Buxton. Judy Corble is found Theatre's Administrator and is helping to keep the whole project within budget and on course to success. Alice Bartlett is due to come on the road with us to double as technician / operator for all the technical aspects of the show - projection, sound, lighting - there truly is no end to her talents! Rowan, our "work-experience intern" pictured above, is assisting Alice, eventually taking over as operator for some later performances.
When do we need the help?
Right now! Our aim is to have at least £550 in, through crowdfunding, by the end of August, so, if you think you can pitch in with a small contribution, please do so now if you can, and claim one of four, really great value rewards, including the beautiful book itself! (Gold and Platinum Awards) tickets to a performance (Platinum) and the fabulous desk planner calendar - exclusive to all our supporters.
Simon.... and Dexter....