Doorway to the tower...we stop at  the first floor and make our way to the library

Doorway to the tower…we stop at the first floor and make our way to the library

Today was a rich one, listening to several recordings, improvising, dreaming on ideas, reading parts of scripts from elsewhere, all pointing in the same direction: who is Eve? Not so much the person that Eve was inspired by, that of Eve Langley, but who is the Eve within every one of us. We talked about why people do what they do: for example, the woman who wrote the spectacular book on Eve, The Importance of Being Eve Langley. Why did she dedicate so many years of her life looking into this remarkable woman. What Eve was awoken within? And my preoccupation with Eve has spanned over twenty five years…why would one person create such passion? I think it is because there is an Eve within all of us, the one who wants to do what she was born to do. In Eve’s case it was to write, to write…

I write. i write for myself. i write for myself by myself.

deep in conversation about why we are doing Eve in the first place...what does Eve mean to our audience?

deep in conversation about why we are doing Eve in the first place…what does Eve mean to our audience?

What I love about big rooms is that it gives room for big thought. The rehearsal space is crucial when it comes to creative thinking…and sometimes we just sit and chat:

… It quite frequently happens that you’re just treading water for quite a long time. Nothing really dramatic seems to be happening. … And then suddenly everything seems to lock together in a different way. It’s like a crystallization point where you can’t detect any single element having changed. There’s a proverb that says that the fruit takes a long time to ripen, but it falls suddenly … And that seems to be the process.
Brian Eno at http://99u.com/articles/7034/developing-your-creative-practice-tips-from-brian-eno”

We are dreaming Eve2…

an image of EVE...always longing to belong

an image of EVE…always longing to belong

Eve1 is a play I wrote about the tension that sits between the role of artist and the role of mother: how do you hold both of these things? As a mother of four I found this topic an extremely relevant one. I was inspired by the writer Eve Langley, an Australian writer well before her time, who wrote stream of consciousness way back when James Joyce experimented in a similar way while writing Ulysses. Eve was extraordinary and had many obstacles to overcome. I absorbed her journey and borrowed some of her words as I collaged together a script that hopefully related to our time right now and our place right here:

“I am not sure of parenting baby girl, i am unsure of romance, I do not believe in my own talent, but to write, that is something I understand. To write the lies of living…the great Australian loneliness that old disease of mine.

These words I love for they sum up Eve’s passion for her art and for Australia, despite the fact that she wrote most of her writings in New Zealand where she lived for over 20 years.

What does Eve1 sound like after two three and a half years? We read the script aloud in this beautiful room:

Piano Room

Piano Room

I read it aloud without stage directions. The words hang in the air creating new meaning…the body remembers but stays still. I read it without Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant…and so we create new meaning. Words sound different when they are not juxtaposed with other text. Yet the message is strongly there, the understanding or rather non understanding of what it means to belong. Eve’s unbelonging is potent. Her sense of not being in this world. I have spent some time researching Celtic mythology and for the first time I am thinking that Eve passes the fine line between this world and the other…she belongs in the other world perhaps, the world we don’t acknowledge aloud but one that Celtic mythology is most aware of:

The Celts believed that there was another dividing line that all people could straddle, if only they stretched themselves a bit. And that’s the divide between the world and the otherworld. Steve Rabery, In the House of Memory

Eve straddled this line. She managed to stretch herself forever in her attempt to understand her role as an artist: she flew through paper windows and out into the stars…Eve lived a life of exile as do many of us:

Exile is that undeniable sensation of being cordoned off from what is most essential to our souls…Family in the Celtic sense, is meant to feel like a warm hearth fire, a downy nest of repose, and yet all too often our families contain the fiercest blades that slash at the peace of our souls”(The Mist-Filled Path Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers and Seekers by Frank MacEowen)

Its a joy to be reading Eve again. She has always resonated with me, for she is a storyteller and so am I. She was of Irish decent and so am I:

Druids, poets and storytellers shared a major responsibility in traditional Celtic communities: they reminded the Celtic people who they were.Tom Cowan in Frank MacEowen’s book The Mist-Filled Path.

Each morning as I awake before going to work I find the Danish sky soft grey, the light soft, no sharp edges so early in the morning. And I am reminded of how the mist is seen as that liminal space within Celtic spirituality: the thin veil between this world and the other…and that is where we are whenever we rehearse. We sit in a space of neither here nor there. It is a time of magic.

Bente's painting, Sostrup Gallery

Bente’s painting, Sostrup Gallery

Easter Sunday. A day of celebration. It is the first Sunday following a full moon after the March equinox…symbolic of rebirth and renewal…a celebration of the goddess of Spring…Easter to me is a day of reflection…of embracing what is to come even though in this minute I have no idea what that is.

In Sostrup garden there stands a crucifix...

In Sostrup garden there stands a crucifix…

Sitting in the old beautiful library on the first floor of Sostrup Castle I have been researching, preparing for an intense new creative development of EVE2, a play that had a brief season called EVE in 2012 in the delicious Sue Benner Theatre Metro Arts downtown Brisbane. EVE had a beautiful creative team with Leah Mercer in her usual role of director/devisor, Anna Molnar as Producer, Gabby Castle as Stage Manager (with Johnny Castle as ASM), Amy Ingram as Executive Producer and Stace Callaghan playing the role of Oscar, the storyteller, matched by Moshlo Shaw who played the musician/husband. Aaron Barton created a magical set and his partner Gen Trace designed the lighting while Travis Ash was sound designer. Daniel Evans was co-devisor as well as co-ordinator of the Independent Program at Metro Arts. Because of force of circumstance, the untimely death of Moshlo, we decided to return to Eve and do it differently, wedding some of the character of the Man in the third show of The Belonging Trilogy, “He Dreamed a Train” with Eve’s voice. This idea was an offer from Travis and when he suggested this I knew it was the right direction. Travis will now devise and play Musician/Storyteller/Man and Benjamin Knapton will direct/co-devise this new version with Freddy Komp and Nathan Sibthorpe creating visual magic. We have a decent task ahead of us these next ten days.

The library at Sostrup where I am working

The library at Sostrup where I am working

Being here, half way round the world in a town where I know one person apart from my partner Bill, provides an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be in relationship with the world. What it means to connect to others. What it means to live deeply. I see this residency as a pilgrimage of sorts.

So today my research focuses on what pilgrimages are for…I believe every artist is required to take a pilgrimage, not to achieve anything overtly, but simply to find the time to discover what they already know. A time to step out of my ordinary life in Brisbane, full of people and artists and homes and studios and rehearsals and plays and meetings and walks and galleries and…and…and…and to STOP. What is it that I long for? And if I understand this, then I will understand what it is that EVE2 longs for: in the original script she writes that she longs to be loved. But it is far more than that. She longs to belong though she does not express it in those terms. Yet.

My Muse accompanies...

My Muse accompanies…

David Whyte, the poet who writes about the soul’s journey talks about our ” longing to belong” and I think that this pilgrimage is the perfect occasion to discover what my longing is…I know I have a longing for story in order to belong. But is it more than that?

an image of EVE...always longing to belong

an image of EVE…always longing to belong

In my search, I came across this poem that sat well with me as I read it:

The Spirit of Longing
Tell me, men of learning, what is longing made from?
What cloth was put in it that it does not wear out with me?
Gold wears out, silver wears out, velvet wears out, silk wears out
Every ample garment wears out–yet longing does not wear out.
Great longing. Cruel longing is breaking my heart everyday
When I sleep most sound at night longing comes and wakes me

Excerpt from old Cymric (Welsh) poem
Cited in The Mist Filled Path by Frank MacEowen

If we see longing as a good thing, as a way of guiding us towards what is real, what is true, what is our calling, then I can hold it closer. And if I take on board what Phil Cousineau (http://www.philcousineau.net/_i_the_art_of_pilgrimage__the_seeker_s_guide_to_making_travel_sacred__i__18018.htm) suggests:

“The call to the sacred journey your secret heart longs for won’t come by expectation, will not arrive in a logical way. If you imagine that something is trying to call to you, try to practice stillness for a few minutes each day. Be still and quiet and you may be surprised what you start to hear”.

If I take this on board I listen, slow down. I reach for my phone less. I turn off my computer. I hear more. I change my posture: I am alert. Awake. Present. My two feet are planted on the ground. And I walk. For all creative thoughts can come from that step after step.

Sometimes its hard to step forward

Sometimes its hard to step forward

Phil Cousineau also quotes Bruce Chatwin. When I first arrived in Brisbane I worked on a piece of theatre directed by Doug Leonard and our primary texts were Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines and Eve Langley’s Pea Pickers…and here I am 26 years later still working through this material. Doug had a way of selecting the most potent texts and bringing them to life.

So Chatwin is quoted in Cousineau’s book:
“I have a vision of the Songlines stretching across the continents and the ages; that wherever men have trodden they have left a trail of song (of which we may, now and then, catch an echo); and that these trails much reach back, in time and space, to an isolated pocket in the African Savannah, where the First Man opening his mouth in defiance of the terrors that surrounded him, shouted the opening stanza of the World Song “I AM”.

I AM

I AM

“I AM LONGING TO BELONG” is the cry for millions of people displaced, lost, or superficially surfing this thing called life. It’s as though many of us are caught up in a net not of our own making. We follow others rather than lead ourselves. And we do not know what our personal mythology is…that is what a pilgrimage can awaken…there is time to reflect on the stories, poems, journeys, relationships, dreams that make up our lives.

As I walk down the stairs in my house back in Brisbane I have written above the doorway in black “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin now. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it”. We all know Goethe’s quote. We see it on people’s fridges, magnets, shop windows, gyms, bookshops. We see it, but do we take action? Do we begin what we dream? Some of us do and others of us put it off till it’s the right time, or the right place…I sit somewhere in between. I sometimes take action and other times I wait. I wait. I wait until I cannot wait anymore. I step out.

So I have stepped out. I am longing to belong in this new play, working title EVE2.

So I have stepped out. I am reminded of Joseph Campbell’s “mythological symbols touch and exhilarate centres of life beyond the reach of the vocabularies of reason and coercion” (cited in The Mythic Path” (KIndle edition). I am here to rewrite my personal myth: to ‘weave the raw materials of daily experience into a coherent story” (The Mythic Path). To create and re-create the map of belonging.

I am quoting David Feinstein and Stanley Krippner:

“A personal myth is a constellation of beliefs, feelings, images, and rules–operating largely outside of conscious awareness–that interprets sensations, constructs new explanations, and directs behaviour…your personal mythology is a lens that gives meaning to every situation you meet and determines what you will do in it. Personal myths speak to the broad concerns of identity (who am I?), (where am I going?), and purpose (why am I going there?)”.

It seems that art exhibitions are the thing at Easter here in Denmark. We spent two days looking at different galleries up north but my favourite exhibition is of course the one at Sostrup Slot. There are six artists exhibiting in three different locations. I had a favourite work from each artist, most of whom I met the day the exhibition opened. Here are my favourites: do not read this as a critical appraisal. It is a warm pedestrian response to the things that caught me eye:

Sofie Aabenhuus: www.sofieaabenhuus.dk
Sofie’s work is seductive…the more I looked at it the more I discovered hidden treasures. In one painting I saw a face (totally unintended by the artist) but a face none the less:

if you look closely enough you can see a face in the orange circle

if you look closely enough you can see a face in the orange circle…and my shadow…oops Sofie so sorry!

This work had a companion and together they created a place of contemplation:

The companion piece. These two paintings are my favourite Sofie paintings

The companion piece. These two paintings are my favourite Sofie paintings

I also had the fortune to meet Sophie’s beautiful daughter Liv, meaning life…and she was just that, full of life and joyful to watch.

Anne Floche:www.annefloche.dk
As you wandered through Sofie’s gallery you come to another one with Anne Floche’s work. Anne’s work is stunningly beautiful. Again I had two favourite pieces:

Angel wings sit in the centre of the studio. They are huge, made of clay...extremely beautiful complete with bones...contemplative...

Angel wings sit in the centre of the studio. They are huge, made of clay…extremely beautiful complete with bones…contemplative…

and as one enters the building you see Anne’s huge pot:

a giant pot: one would have to have a giant room to hold it and someone has! I believe it has sold on the first day.

a giant pot: one would have to have a giant room to hold it and someone has! I believe it has sold on the first day.

Anne’s work makes me think outside the box: the size for one really demands attention. Its strength of character and its ability to take me into the land of the imagination…so powerful.

Now, lets cross the courtyard, through the grass with beautiful crocuses growing and into the next studio. Here we find

Bente Lyhne’s work: www.bentelyhne.dk

i couldn't stop looking at this...i wanted to go through the door

i couldn’t stop looking at this…i wanted to go through the door

I loved many of Bente’s works and in particular the doorway shown above. It appeared epic to me and awoke in me the Celtic belief that there is another world if only we would stop and see it. One of the books I am reading right now is called The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers and Seekers by Frank MacEowen, and he quotes Steve Rabery:

The Celts believed that there was another dividing line that all people could straddle, if only they stretched themselves a bit. And that’s the divide between the world and the otherworld

Its as though Bente’s door is the door that separates, for me, this world and the other world.

Lars Kalmar Kastanje: www.studio-kastanje.dk

Next to Bente’s work is Lars Kalmar Kastanje’s paintings:
Lars is also the resident architect at Sostrop Castle and has helped create magic: in one of the rooms in the monastery he has painted directly onto the walls and it looks fabulous. Here is a more solemn piece:

its as though the person depicted is about to run across the painting

its as though the person depicted is about to run across the painting

I reluctantly leave the jazz, the warmth of Lars and Bente’s studio and head over to the castle. On the second floor, just outside the library where I write, is Ulla Lundsgart’s work.

Ulla Lundsgart: www.ullalundsgart.dk

Ulla has created huge drawings of flowers that have so much life they jump of the page:

Vibrant colours, huge depictions, powerful and happy

Vibrant colours, huge depictions, powerful and happy

This one is my favourite: apologies to you Ulla, I don’t think I managed to capture the whole image but regardless you can still see the beauty.

Tomorrow I will go to the third floor and see the final work, that of Jens Thordal-Christensen: www.jens-thordal.dk

It is March and FOCC is in residence at Sostrup Castle, a beautiful and very old castle in the north of Denmark. We arrived last week and the weather has been kind: cool but very walkable…most days have blue sky and geese or swans flying overhead. Ducks in the pond, crocuses growing in the fields, buds everywhere.

Sostrup Castle in Denmark

Sostrup Castle in Denmark

Our hostess, Kirsten Swift has made us feel very welcome, providing terrific accommodation in the apartment block: a very old building onsite converted into apartments with kitchens and everything anyone would ever need. Behind the apartment is the monastery where nuns used to live. Kirsten has added a pyramid, covering the inside courtyard and creating a cosy yet grand outdoor area that is protected and can house hundreds of people.

The Pyramid, a glorious space to contemplate and also host large gatherings

The Pyramid, a glorious space to contemplate and also host large gatherings

We are working in the old part of the castle, the library, where old books from centuries ago line the shelves. Next door is the piano room.

Piano Room

Piano Room

We are working on EVE: EVE was produced as part of the Metro Arts Independent Season in 2012, and then Blue Room in Perth. It was a hugely successful production, both sides of the continent, winning awards including Member’s Choice Best Production and Best Performance from the Blue Room and a Gold Matilda in Brisbane. Since then, our wonderful Moshlo Shaw, a musician of such calibre, has died so we are needing to rewrite and reproduce. Travis Ash is rewriting the musician’s role to incorporate the storyteller and I welcome his huge contribution to the new version of EVE, so new in fact we may even rename it. Benjamin Knapton will be directing it and we welcome our He Dreamed a Train team onboard: Freddy Komp (who also had a huge hand in our show HOME) and Nathan Sibthorpe as IT extraordinaire.

We look forward to having the beginnings of a new script by the end of this residency. Meanwhile we will enjoy the beauty of the place, wander the gardens, appreciate the beautiful sculptures, the art galleries and the natural surroundings.

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