June 28th, 2008
Midsummer night’s dream: FOUND in the Palm House while the storm raged outside.
I have written so many words elsewhere about Dialogues of Wind and Bamboo in the past six months I have never had time to express what I really feel about this extraordinary, all-consuming project. I would love to have found a few minutes every day to record what was really happening behind the scenes: health and safety madness; email gems (Kimho’s throw away comment, “I never knew Louise can play cello on stilts”). All the nitty gritty stuff, that’s what blogs are meant to be about isn’t it?
Even now I don’t really have time. I want to take some programmes down to the Palm House in time for Simon and Ziggy’s Q&A session about their wonderful invention, Three Pieces (see the video)
And I really should be packing for my holiday, as well as cutting back some of the undergrowth in the back garden or at the very least planting out the poor seedlings that have hung on to life while I ‘co-ordinated’ the cast of hundreds (tens anyway) involved in last Saturday’s peculiarly brilliant performance in the Botanics.
I had been dreading rain but I never imagined weather quite as bad as the downpour we performed under on midsummer night. And yet, oddly, getting soaked to the skin seemed to bring all the many different artists and musicians together into one smiling and co-operative team in a way that eluded us during the dress rehearsal under beautiful clear blue skies the night before.
At 6pm Jacqui, Jake, Ian and I sat in the cafe warming ourselves for the evening ahead when we saw the first drops of rain. By 6.30 the rain was a steady vertical stream from solid grey cloud but miraculously a line of brightly coloured brollies had sprouted outside the Palm House and for the next 30 minutes people just kept coming. And most of them stayed for the whole show.
Mattie, one of the down to earth horticultural staff on duty that night, had sent word to ask if we were really planning to go ahead with the performance. But there was no Plan B. Unbelievably, Kimho and I had never discussed what to do if it rained. We just went ahead and the result was one of the oddest and most uplifting experiences of my life. As Colin said in an email the other day,
I think the extreme wet (once I accepted it) lent something very special and memorable to the proceedings. The smells were incredible …and the memory of Chang Zhang dancing in costume in the lashing rain will remain with me for a long time. Very beautiful.
Rob comments on the psychology of such stoicism in Dialogues of Rain and Bamboo, “I had the sense that sheer bloody-mindedness would prevail…”
I treasure the memory of Chang (she dances beautifully but she is also a lovely person) along with a moment in the Palm House when I looked up at the rain battering on the glass while the building filled with the sound of FOUND steaming up the windows: my son’s band playing in one of my favourite buildings; surely this is not happening.
Oh yes, and Louise did play cello on stilts.
That’s it, hardly the nitty gritty (maybe I will get back to that eventually) but I have 20 minutes left to gather up programmes, snip a few overhanging branches and when I get back from the Palm House I really must pack for holiday. Two whole weeks away from email, websites, and Scottish weather. Ray says its hot in France.