When people arrived they were given notes of what we know so far about the world of the play. The intention was to go deeper into what we know rather than progress into any narrative. This led to a discussion. The evening was billed as movement, mime though I also brought some masks I’ve recently made to look like stone, which is where we began, looking at masks emerging from the rocks. The responses to the stone masks were emotionally compelling, as they pulled themselves out of the rock. They held the attention, even though I asked them to do very little. They moved slowly, I asked them to move with the tension of clay. They became aware of each other and formed into groups or families. One became isolated. They then became aware of the audience. The experience for the audience and the masks as they confronted each other was one of curiosity, and empathy. The masks were cautious but not over concerned. We explored how children might react.
We also looked at stone children wearing masks on the knee. The audience was more charmed and felt no threat from the stone children.
We then had groups creating what I call Problem Pictures. We molded the people in the groups into a living picture. The first resembled a Mother pulling her baby from the ground. We asked them questions while they were frozen in these shapes and then had a conversation with them in role. The group was a mother, husband and sister. It was their first child. The husband had several wives. This was his first child with this wife. The wife was happy, the sister was happy for her.
The second picture was a woman digging for her child and a group pushing goading her on. One who I assumed was the husband ordered her to dig. The wife was desperate, frantic in her digging. She split the child and abandoned it. She was pushed to dig deeper, She got more distressed she couldn’t find a child. This was followed again by the group who had been in the sculpture in conversation with the workshop audience.
WHAT WE DISCOVERED
The Stone People - Birth
NB. The Stone people being born from the earth is based on an Inuit myth
This has led us to think: Stone people are born as stone and over time become flesh. Theatrically that’s full mask to half masks, to forehead and nose or chin masks. The stone people have to go to ‘birthing places’ (areas of exposed rock) to find their children. Stone people can be born in rivers and oceans when they will reawaken as water creatures. Sometimes they will be dug out trees that grow out of the rocks. Toad Rock is a sacred ‘birth place’.
Women are obliged to dig for babies, “they’re waiting for us”. Their mothers are destined to find them; they know their own baby. Families might consult ‘Finders’ who sense where the mother should dig for her child; children and parents are destined to find each other. When they Stone people die they become stone and return to the earth retaining their knowledge and memory of past lives.
When the woman digs for a baby she might accidentally split it so she then has to give it back where it reforms over several years. Babies don’t want to go back to the earth as they remember “the long wait”.
Stone People - Parents Men’s role is to collect insects, earth, and snakes to feed their families; they look after the insides of their children, while women look after their outsides. Conversely women look after the insides of homes while men look after the outsides.
Stone People’s Warning. The stones have come back to warn us about climate change/fracking. We don’t know what we take from the earth. Other cultures show gratitude and kindness towards nature/environment.
NB: Reference was made to the film Princess Mononoke from the Japanese Ghibli Studios about respecting the environment
The Causes of the Eternal Wait -Some disaster in the past has caused the Rocks to be frozen for thousands of years, some in the process of being born. We don’t as yet know what event caused it. Potential suspects are
- Climate Change
- The Fossil Hunter
The Fossil Hunter - One of the Stone people’s spiritual leaders was cracked open by a geologist or fossil hunter. Many of the leaders followers wear a mallet round their necks in memory of him. Among the recorded Victorian names of rocks is The Bloodstain, known to other sources as the Bleeding Rock. It is generally understood as a spot where dripping water left an iron stain, but no site fitting this description can be pointed out today. It needs to be found. It could mark the place where the stone people\s spiritual leader was split.
The Toad - The lost Ritual The Toad was present at the time of creation shaped by the ice man but that story has not yet been fully discovered never mind told. The Toad is an important symbol to the Stone People. We think there was a long lost ritual when they paid honour to the toad, in a manner similar to the present day well dressers of Derbyshire. The ritual would have marked their gratitude for water and the natural world.
If we were to revive the ritual it may be a way to reawaken the stone people to tell us their stories
Viv said there was a well in Eales Terrace under her house and her neighbors. Discussed significance of frogs in relation to the health of the planet, ecological issues, conservation and Acid rain eroding stone.
The Sounds of the Stones: David Brett, wooden poles knocked against rock.
Karen Gardner suggested this short film as a stimulus for future workshop. Take a look