ANGUS MCPHEE - Weaver of Grass

ANGUS MCPHEE or MACPHEE was a crofter from Uist who spent almost 50 years in a Highland psychiatric hospital. During this time he chose not to speak - instead he wove a series of incredible costumes out of grass. These he hung on trees in the hospital grounds.

This blog follows the progress of HORSE + BAMBOO THEATRE as they develop and tour a show about Angus....

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The first week

The first week of rehearsal is over. Already my dreams and middle-of-the-night worries are dominated by Angus. In fact it was a short 4-day week (courtesy of the Bank Holiday) plus Mairi, as agreed, had to arrive a day after everyone else, and she also needed to be in Glasgow on Friday, to sing for the Olympic torch. So hardly a full week by any count. 

Loz Kaye, our Musical Director, spent his time with Mairi when she arrived, working together sharing material and discussing how the combination of live and recorded music would work. As a result the rest of us spent most of our time looking at puppetry. This of course has its own disciplines and concerns, and we used the time working out stage positions and sequencing. It also, as usual, threw up a lot of new jobs - many of which are tweaks to existing puppets, but some of which require extensive work on making new objects. 

Also to be expected was discovering problems - as well as some quick successes. I looked at part of the scene set in Craig Dunain garden, where the painted stage garden begins to fill with Angus's woven pieces (made by Joanne B Kaar). The formal and flat surface of the staging screens are very different from the organic weavings, and it was always going to be difficult bringing these two worlds together in a satisfactory way.  This we struggled with without any real conclusion, and so it leaves us with at least one scene that needs new ideas bringing to it next week. 

On the plus side, we started working from the top of the show on Friday and got through the first (of seven) scenes and into the opening of the second. This all went very well indeed and we have a strong and very atmospheric opening. So, just the middle and the end to go....

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