Last day at the Lodge. The day started with a fascinating tour of the building, led by the principal Ed Newell. It's been a royal residence since the restoration and is traditionally the home of Windsor Great Park's ranger. Shortly after the second world war King George and Queen Elizabeth handed it over to the formidable Amy Buller, who set it up as an education and research centre, focused on reconciliation.
We ended the tour in the cosy oak panelled dining room has it's own ghosts and history as it was here for three days that Stanley Baldwin met with the King's Private Secretary Charles Hardinge to try and find a resolution to the abdication crisis. When you look out of the windows into the park, you're seeing the same view as Baldwin and Hardinge saw as they collected their thoughts in-between, what would have been the most delicate of exchanges.
We broke into our seminar groups and were given the task of putting together a conceptual plan for our own production of The Winter's Tale. It kind of serves us right as this is exactly the same task as Tina and I set for the Creative Thinking module, last semester.
Inspired by the tour I decided to set my Sicillia here in 1936. With the country on the brink of a cataclysmic event. The rest of the production rolls out neatly from this point. The return of Perdita sixteen years later occurs in 1952, to a country still on rations, but about to celebrate a coronation and the optimism of a new Elizabethan age.
This precise time frame offers some other interesting ideas and images. Would the oracle be a crackling World Service broadcast or would it be a hastily arranged private cinema show a fuzzy pathe news report?
Would Time, who takes it upon himself 'To use my wings.' and asks us not to misunderstand his reason for jumping ahead with the action
'Impute it not a crime
To me or my swift passage, that I slide
O'er sixteen years and leave the growth untried'
be a shell shocked air man, unwilling to share his stories with us.
Bohemia seems to naturally translate to America in the early fifties. A land physically untouched by the war, but still bearing knowledge and scars. Was Time at Pearl Harbour?
The sheep shearing festival with all its connotations of rebirth, spring and new hope seems to work well if seen as the initial stirrings of a culture that will eventually invent the teenager, rock and roll, contraception, even civil rights and the space age.
Autolycus becomes a ballad offering, beat poet, hitting the road, looking as much for a new world as for purses to cut. In this version he is an avant-garde figure. The future, in the medium term, is his.
Camillo represents another form of poet. Like Auden he escapes the War, but pines for his homeland and driven by a 'desire to lay my bones there' begs Polixenes to allow him to return to Sicilla
There are lots of other nuances here that would have to be revealed in rehearsal. Who is Paulina? Who is Hermione? But I sense they would find themselves once we began to explore the text.
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.