We have unlocked one story about the Stone People told us collectively by a group of half mask:
Long ago women got their children by digging around in the earth, they would pull their children loose from the ground. They would not have dig so far down to find girls, because they were closer to the surface, but boys were harder to find, often they would have to dig very deep to find a boy. The men of the community, who never did any of the digging themselves, would say that strong women had many children, and lazy women had few or no children at all. It was also thought women who had boys had made a greater effort than those who had girls because they had to dig deeper to find them. Of course there were barren women as well. One woman who as yet has no name but who will be the protagonist in this story was one of these barren women. She spent all her time digging holes, she dug up hundreds of holes, but no child was to be found. At last she went to the Oracle who told her to dig in a certain place, and dig only there, and she would find her child. And she dug where she was told and dug deeper and deeper, she dug till she came to the other side of the earth. On the other side everything was in reverse. Babies were bigger than adults. Here two babies, a baby girl and a baby boy, adopted her. They carried her round in a sack, took great care of her and never let her go hungry. They all grew very fond of each other. One day her baby mother said to her “Is there anything you want, dear little one?” and she said she would like a baby of her own. “In that case” said the baby mother you should go to a place in the mountains and there you should start digging, and they took her to the place and left her to dig. She dug deeper and deeper until she discovered a tunnel, which joined with, may other tunnels, but none appeared to have an exit anywhere, neither did she find any babies on her travels through them. But she walked on and on until she grew so weary she just had to sleep. While she slept Claw Trolls found her and tore at her flesh, she managed to break away but finally grew so weak she lay down to die. But shortly a fox found her and said. “I will save you, mother. Just follow me”. With the last of her strength she followed the fox, which led her by the hand along many tunnels and through a hole into the daylight. Our heroine slept and when she woke she could not remember a thing, not a single thing. But found she way lying in her own house and there was a little boy child asleep in her arms.
We are approaching the devising of Legends of the Rocks as if the story already exists and all we have to do is discover what it is. Thinking of the play as something to be discovered, rather than invented means we feel less precious about our own ideas, that we accommodate our ideas to what else is happening; eventually ideas merge with others and then, when they are facts, they become the property of everyone.
The first thing we are seeking to discover is what we call “The World of the Play”. What sort of culture exists in this world, what are the people or creatures like, what do they believe, how do they live and move and breath, what are their concerns?
As director it’s my role to interpret what we find and lay out what I think we know, However devising isn’t always about agreeing. When we devise we need to go through a process of discovery, followed by interpretation of what we have found. We will next need discuss or test the interpretation. We encourage ‘disagreement with respect” by asking ourselves "What does the play want" rather that "What do I want". This is not a fight for individual ideas, we try and listen to the group mind. So this diary is me putting forward a proposition based on the exercises and scenes done at a devising workshops. Everything here remains open to discussion, disagreement, and development. Disagreement is tempered by the principle of accommodating and adding rather than blocking or cancelling ideas; we call it “Yes and…” It is the most productive way of moving a story forward.
People are already sending us great material and we invite everyone to keep sending us feedback, propose ideas, do some local research, find or write stories and pictures; give us something however small, or peripheral it may seem to you it may spark fresh ideas and become a relevant key to the play. Add comments to the blog. Please also come to the devising workshop, you won't be pressured into performing, be an audience, give feedback, have an input into the discussions propose ideas. It's a rewarding process. Someone asked me what I hoped people would get out of I said I hoped they had a good time., I've reflected on that a little more since:
I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you've never felt before, experience things for the first time. I hope you meet people with a different point of view, I hope you have opportunities to both defend the things you believe in, and be challenged to change your mind. I hope that you discover that you are braver than you feel, stronger than you believe, and smarter than you think. And of course I hope you have a good time.
Our inspiration starts with the Rocks around Rusthall, from the site at Toad Rock where we will perform the play to Happy Valley, Bulls Hollow, High Rocks and those across Tunbridge Wells Common. Walk among the them and you will see creatures and stone faces. Some of the faces are complete; elsewhere you might see only an eye and a nose, or lips, a forehead, cheeks or an ear. Full and half formed bodies too can be seen in the rocks and the tree roots growing out of the rocks, a torso, a foot, a shoulder and arm, or an arched back. In some places you see marks that look like someone or something has been trying to claw out or the rock, or are they trying to save themselves from being pulled in?