It’s early Saturday morning and I am sitting on my verandah. the kookaburras are chatting. There is a slight breeze. As always, a fire is burning to take the chill off the air – its not really burning…this one is an electric fire with a pretend flame…I love it. It is what i call my compromise fire. Bill does not like heat. I like heat, so when he is close, I turn on the flame and leave off the heat. An exquisite compromise! The real fire in the next room only gets lit at night.
Lou Lou our labrador/poodle/golden retriever mix is with me. This is my first day off for weeks and I am luxuriating in the lack of deadlines. The coffee is good, the company great and the thoughts flow.
This week was my birth week, a great week of reflection. Not only on my own life, but how my work has shifted and grown over the last few years. I should not even call it work, it is more of a vocation, a passion, what I must do rather than what I do. We are moving closer towards opening HOME in the new studio at Queensland Theatre Company –the name chosen for the studio will be announced on HOME opening: here is a cut and paste from QTC website:
Queensland Theatre Company presents a Force of Circumstance production
by Margi Brown Ash
14 July – 25 July
HOME, Studio 2, The GreenHouse, QTC
“This sensitive, lively work empowers the audience as Brown Ash brings us all Home. A rare and refreshing theatrical work that connects the whole audience. Not to be missed.”
In Margi Brown Ash’s HOME, you are not an audience member, you are a guest – or even a family member – visiting a warm and welcoming place where Margi shares with you stories of her life and family. She blends these ‘ordinary’ joys and tragedies with ‘extraordinary’ stories of family and love – from Egyptian gods, Isis and Osiris, to perhaps even your own story.
This experience will leave you relishing and re-imagining what makes each of our stories remarkable. Welcome HOME.
In conjunction with the HOME season at QTC, the HOME team, led by Margi Brown Ash, is offering two public workshops. These 3-hour immersive workshops will inspire and encourage you to explore what home means and to remember your forgotten stories of belonging; including ‘dreaming on’ the potential of what home could mean for your future. Games, drawing, collage-making exercises and simple story-telling activities combine in this fun, inventive and all-inclusive workshop – designed to unlock your creative impulses, to deepen your experience of the show and to awaken your glorious inner storyteller.
SAT 18 JULY: 9:30am – 12:30pm (FOLLOWED by complimentary afternoon tea)
THU 23 JULY: 2pm – 5pm (PRECEDED by a complimentary morning tea)
HOME to me has been five years of relationship. I have met many people on the way, many folk have been through this old red house. In 2011 we began to create The HOME Team. This was the year of development, where we grew the show, not only in the rehearsal room, but also in the garden. My objective was to create workshops that helped people open to their own stories of home. I invited three of my Master of Counselling students to join me each Tuesday, along with HOME designer Bev Jensen, to create the experience of home. What is home? How can we help others awaken the beauty and joy of creating home? Bev created a master plan. We decided to develop several rooms in the garden loosely based on Edna Walling:
Walling advocated simplicity in all elements of design, so that nothing detracted from the integrity of the setting. Buildings should be simple, of rock and timber, with wooden shingles.
Each of her beautifully rendered garden plans shows her use of formal axis and structure, of flights of steps, both linear and semicircular, of generous bodies of water and expert treatment of sloping land with terraces bound by walls of local stone.
In the gardens she designed in the second half of her career, Walling sought to touch the landscape with a lighter hand. “Man has a duty,” she wrote, “to leave behind him as small account of his activities as possible.”
Excerpt from “Edna Walling’s life of many paths” by HOLLY KERR FORSYTH in THE AUSTRALIAN JUNE 14, 2014.
We met each Tuesday morning sharing our baked goods. My favourite were Kate’s almond biscuits. Kate used only the almond meal instead of flour and lots of butter. I don’t have her recipe but here is a good one:
Ingredients by Gabriel Gaté
250 g (9 oz) caster sugar
2 egg whites
140 g (5 oz) plain flour
180 g (6 oz) whole roasted almonds, halved
½ tsp pure vanilla essence
a little icing sugar, for dusting
In a bowl, combine the sugar and egg whites and whisk until creamy white. Mix flour, almonds, vanilla essence and refrigerate for an hour. Roll into small balls and flatten, then place the biscuits on greased tray. 200°C.
Bake 8 minutes or until done. When cold, dust them with icing sugar.
We drank exotic teas:
· Use freshly drawn water, freshly boiled. It must not be reboiled.
· Use the correct-sized teapot. To heat, pour some of the water, just before boiling, into the pot. Swirl and empty away.
· Use orthodox, good-quality leaf tea. Grades such as Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP) or BOP Fannings are popular. Indian Assam second-flush is thick, soft-liquoring and malty, and Cleon Dimbula is a good standard for a flavoury tea. Use one spoonful per person and one for the pot.
· Fill the pot and stir gently for a few moments. Infuse for five minutes. Use a timer to get this right.
· Put room-temperature whole milk into the cup first. Use about one and a half tablespoonfuls. Do not use skimmed milk.
· To ensure that the leaves do not get into the cup, pour tea through a mesh strainer. Fill the cup to 1cm from the rim.
· After the first pouring, add extra hot water to the teapot, so as to continue drawing further flavour and strength from the leaves.
· Always discard cold tea at the bottom of the cup before a second pouring.
· Even if the tea has been brewing for 10 minutes, orthodox leaf tea will not become too strong or bitter.
· Use a tea cosy.
Taste test (quote from How to drink tea by Edward Bramah, in The Guardian, 26 March 2003)
We shared stories around the garden table before we began planting and creating rooms such as The Kitchen, The Bedroom and The Library. These ‘rooms’ were to become little performance spaces where actors could create autobiographical stories of home to be performed to friends on Sunday evenings. The actors also used the house itself to create their stories: one performed in a large cardboard box in the kitchen, another on the stairs.
They were joyful years creating home at home. Some of the rooms are still here, others have been recreated. The vegetable garden has changed location to catch more sun, the passionfruit vine has died and needs to be replanted. The almond cookies helped me gain a few kilos and have been relegated to the ‘occasional’ treat. But the resonances of these experiences still lingers in my old red house. Hundreds of stories by actors and friends.