It has been quite the build up to the beginning of the project - preparations started as soon as I heard the news I got the grant. The first meeting was at 9.30 Monday morning, in attendance was Belona (script writer) and David (director). I spoke for a good 3 hours and we started pulling together the shape of the script. We discussed the length of the show, what visual images and audio to include for the back projections and sound and a suggestion was made for all involved to write a paragraph for this blog.
I had the most vivid dream of my grandparents and aunties, we were in the village (Kumusha), we were all so happy. My ancestors present and happy with me, just the approval I needed!
I awoke to an email from Vicki (choreographer) today but decided to look at it after my meeting with Bel for the script writing. We worked on the first 15 minutes of the show, and when I got home I read the email from Vicki only to find she’s having trouble linking our dates as she is so busy. I must admit I hadn’t put a risk assessment down to deal with this kind of change in the project. I have learned for the future but for now I need to fight or flight.
Wednesday today, Ruth has been in to update the income and expenditure document and file invoices. This is her second week and she’s doing a great job in the office keeping the finances up to date! Today Bel and I cracked on with the script and discussed how we can develop the show as two thirty minute sets to allow audience to feedback and then create space to develop the show further into two forty-five minute sets.
I emailed Simon Bright, he’d like to help with images for the visuals with West Anglia College. We’ve mapped out the first half of the show and have started to include how and where the visuals and sounds will come in.
I can’t believe how much has been achieved this week, I feel so much power from being challenged to think out of my comfort zone. So pleased to hear from Louise who is going to be supplying the oils to add to the show. The script will be sent to Daisy (project manager) next week to look through and feedback before Friday. I am pleased Bel has offered to tweak the document if it needs it once rehearsals have started.
David Farmer (Director) weekly contribution
I’m so excited to begin working on this project. Anna attended a workshop I ran several years ago and we have kept in touch ever since, especially bumping into each other (literally) at African music gigs.
Belona Greenwood (Script writer) Weekly contribution
It’s been a privilege to begin writing Anna’s story and vision this week. Time snaps past because the crafting of word and story and the building up of the layers of the script is so compelling. We have written an entire rough first draft of the entire show – I say we, but I am a facilitator, a word-smith a bit like a medieval scribe.
Bel and I started adding concepts of visual content to the script, I added more ideas and felt the script was ready to send out to Daisy, Project Manager and David, Director. I might need to consider working with a different choreographer because my original choice may not work out. I have contacted a choreographer in Cambridge but I feel I need to fight for my choices because there were good reasons behind selecting the 19 practitioners in the original project plan. Phew this is very challenging in places.
The most amazing thing happened today, Shaun, a fellow Zimbabwean and parent at my daughters school has just returned from Zimbabwe with a Nyunga Nyunga I had asked him to bring back. He asked me about my work and he revealed much more than I had bargained for. He can track his family all the way back to where the Bantu tribe began, I was staggered with the information he was giving me. He is a direct descendent not just of the Bantu Tribe but his lineage is of Kings, he knows the shrines where my people go to honor our ancestors, and why there is a constant flame that flickers over Harare city. He has agreed to look at our script, I will take it to school for him tomorrow. This show is about to get very exciting!
This morning I woke up to Daisy’s comments about the script, shortly followed by David’s. Having spent 6 days writing with Bel, my first reaction was ouch, we have put so much work into the script but I realised they were saying the same thing - both encouraging more drama and avoiding a history lecture or geography lesson. By the afternoon I saw their perspectives and my mind went into overdrive with ideas on how to make the show much stronger. I’ll be meeting Bel tomorrow and Friday to finalise the changes taking on board this feedback.
By the time the project finishes I feel I will have earned the equivalent of a degree in the performing arts with flying colours, maybe I should have done it as a degree. Everyday is bringing a different challenge and I’m overcoming them! I’m getting stronger each day finding strength, solutions, contacts and resources that I didn’t know I had.
Today I travelled to London to meet with fellow Zimbabwean and Art Director/Producer Simon Bright. He has produced a documentary film entitled Tides of Gold. This film is about the history of Africa and trading. It’s a powerful and insightful story which celebrates trading between Africa, India and China which goes back centuries. We met at Kings Cross station for lunch and discussed my show, Zimbabwe and other ways we might work together. He was very fascinated about the ancestors theme, and will share his uncut film with wonderful images of rural Zimbabwe for us to use as projections in the show.
I was beginning to feel crushed about having to start afresh on the other visuals after news from West Anglia College that my project didn’t fit in with their module anymore. I spoke to project manager and then to Springboard TV about my dilemma and they came to the rescue - phew! For a small cost Springboard TV and I will develop the projections with their work experience media students so filming starts tomorrow and I am pleased I will still be able to work in Kings Lynn.
I arrived at Kings Lynn College at 10am to film the mask dance with Springboard TV. We worked with students from the media course who helped with general set up, sound and image documentation and lighting. I told the students about the project, and found them very respectful and polite all the way - considering this was a culturally different kind of project to their usual day-to-day time spent at the college. After discussing with Scott and Richard filming began - we spent 2 hours filming me in different masks, coming from different angles. They were pleased to be using a state of the art new camera for the first time and the results were fantastic.
Today I spent time marking the numbers of the clips which I would like to use on the film Simon has sent me. It was quite laborious to keep going back and forth but I got there. I’ll be sending them to Simon this week so he can start forwarding the extracts across to Scott in accordance to the script.
As the project develops we are finding new aspects to add maximum impact to the show. Today Gideon and I did some filming at Norwich Market. I wore clothes as if I had just arrived from Zimbabwe. We were able to capture the vibrancy and the typical Saturday morning feel at the market. The response there was fun, traders were genuinely curious about what we were doing and what it was for, they asked we drop flyers off when the show tours and offered to help promote.