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The Gathering/Yr Helfa

Research output: Exhibits, objects and web-based outputsPerformance

Published
  • National Theatre Wales
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Publication date12/09/2014
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The Gathering/Yr Helfa was a site-specific walking performance directed by Louise Ann Wilson, choreographed by me, written by Gillian Clarke (then the National Poet of Wales) and produced by the National Theatre of Wales. It revealed the seasonal workings of Hafod y Llan, a National Trust sheep farm located on the foothills of Snowdon. Each of the three performances took an audience of 200 on a six-kilometre circular journey up and down the mountain and into the farm. As they walked, the audience experienced installations, performances, film, poetry, music and sound as well as farming activities.

I worked closely with the director on the dramaturgical structure of the whole show. The movement direction I provided for the five professional performers provided the skeletal structure for one of the scenes at the farm, and all eleven scenes that took place on the mountain, including the main scene in a quarry half way up Snowden, a realisation of Gillian Clarke’s poem about the seasonal cycles of sheep. Whether consisting of expansive choreography or subtle gesture, all movement was specific to the landscape because of my bespoke choreographic method. This depended on close examination through movement of: Clarke’s text; the sensorial properties and physical possibilities of each location; and film, drawings and other forms of visual research into the workings of the farm. Raw movement material arising from this movement research was then distilled according to specific verbs related to the symbolism of the different locations in which the scenes took place.