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The early summer has been dominated by this project in Leicestershire, working with Andy Barret, The 1620 House, a Primary School and Dragon’s Breath Theatre. I can’t believe I had never heard of this extraordinary person, Sir Kenelm Digby. Our Ken was a proto scientist, diplomat, privateer, man of letters and inventor. Such an inspiration to all of us involved.

The House and Garden are a delight. Visitors are encouraged to truly interact with the place as most ‘things’ in the house are replica’s and therefore handleable. This was the home of the sister of Sir Kenelm. She who modernised the medieval building with new windows in 1620. The garden is laid out as of the time with a maze, herbarium and roses.

In the House we told the story of Sir Kenelm  Digby and his world.  I, as Dr Jon (Phenomenologist,)  took  on the role of a scientist looking back at 17th Century through the five senses, smell, taste, sound, sight and touch. Andy in role as an Historian, told the story of Sir Kenelm, of 17th Century  world view and the rise of science out of superstition. Sir Kenelm was the son of one of the Bonfire Plot conspirators.

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Back at the school the children spent three days with us to make manifest their own story of the visit to the 1620 House and of Sir Kenelm Digby, his wife Venetia, through puppetry, scientific experiments, writing (prose and poetry), image making and performance.

A fascinating journey for us all, with history and science made alive.

Over several month I have been working on a new ‘Arlecchino mask, breaking away from traditional representations in a search for a  more mature, tricksterish and altogether joyous character. Initial drawings to find some sort of ‘Essence’.

Progression was made in the clay design with several changes of direction, which retained elements of tradition but with a greater emphasis on asymmetry and uplift.

Experimenting with a lighter paint scene in order better see the sculpture.

May 18th & 19th.  For these two day I had a table full of masks at The Poppy and Pint.

Lots of lovely conversations about masks and peoples experiences of them, some performers but mainly from the point of view of witnesses of transformative events. The Venice Carnival came up a lot. Each day at lunchtime I did a walkabout through the main streets enjoying the public reactions to The Old Lady with her Boy in her Basket.  Many people up for engaging with her and asking her questions she can answer by nodding yes or no. Some children had fun pretending to be frightened of her, but as they kept coming back for more they made their game clear.

Making ready for the forthcoming exhibition at Surface Gallery and exploring different ways of hanging drawings and sculptures, with regards to the probability that they will get splashed.  Lots of fun flinging dirty water about.  Studio floor a delightful mess now.

 

 

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When the Clown meets the Mask ????                           ‘PLAY” taking pleasure in an activity.

Saturday 23rd March 2019  at ‘Playworks’ Nottingham

Angela Hayes and Amanda Scofield, who are ‘the red herrings’   joined me, Stephen Jon Mask-Maker to play and share skills and experiences. This is continuing action research into the links between Comedy,  Clown and Mask.  We invited 11 associates from the physical theatre world to join us in this exploration.                                                               We payed specific  reference to:                                                                                                Safety and Play: our professionalism and experience makes us safe.    The mask and noses contribute by defining the ritualised space/ the play space/ the safe space /the theatrical space, where anything can happen.                                                                                                          Ensemble: The Individual and the Herd. Looking at how we establish and maintain trust and awareness of our co-conspirators. So much pleasure in playing in a gang.      Character and non-naturalistic theatre. A magnifying glass onto real /authentic expressions of relationships and emotion.

Release        Access         Pleasure         Improvisation           Visceral         Transgress

Clown           Mask            Play                 Embodiment             Naivety           Freedom

Some of the masks, we used. Noses, Quarter Masks, Half Masks and Full Face Masks

We want to do more of this ……..  What will come next ?  …….

Not to mention a smattering of Hats.

Now fully painted and photographed  in action

Following last Saturday exploring with professional chums and finding some character within these masks.                    Looking for the pleasure in our action and finding  Play.

Photographs with many thanks to Mark Curwood and for a fun morning of reflection and laughter.                                                                                                      To be continued.

Experimentation time. 2019 is already proving to be a positive opportunity.    Having met with and joined the local ‘Clowning’ community, I am experimenting  ‘The Mask’ in a different context . Making new noses and quarter masks. All shall be revealed in due course and event and works emerge.img_0903

I am looking forwards to working with Mark Curwood, Peta Lily and Red Herring over the next few weeks. Finding a place somewhere between mask and clown.  How else can we deal with the amazing changes taking place throughout the world except through dark humour?