Phil Smith on Little Blue Man


Dear Carran

I was so glad I came to see your piece in Wootton Fitzpaine

What I really enjoyed about it:

  • The range of different environments, living room, back garden, football pitch, car park, field, village hall, road. The performed content stay mostly in a (familiar) similar ‘voice’, but the shifting of sites meant that that ‘voice’ echoed and resonated differently at the time; as if there was certain trapped quality, but trapped by ever more different things. The sites were always in some kind of tension with the performed personae; at odds with each other – there was never any ease with the grass or the living room or the clothes line. Normal processes were disrupted by a personal life, but that disruption did not resolve. Incongruities forced the spectator all the time to connect the events related and portrayed to new frames of reference – to giant ‘natural’ processes, to the everyday and informal archiving of ordinary things that accumulate in private lives, to exposure of theatre process – different from the one/s they narrated.

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Enter Matilda Betham (1777-1852) the fourth lady of Beetham

Betham's place in Little Strickland
Betham’s place in Little Strickland
The cost of a yellow dress
The cost of a yellow dress

I was introduced to this woman by Audrey Steeley the Creative Projects Manager at Heron Corn Mill.  She sent me a copy of House of Letters (a collection of her correspondences)  written by Ernest Betham in 1905. Of course you will see the link here – Betham (Beetham – where the mill is – it’s the family associated with the village)  There are a few references to the colour yellow in this and so I pursued them and more about her.  Continue reading “Enter Matilda Betham (1777-1852) the fourth lady of Beetham”

The Three Ladies of Beetham and making some connections

The Saintly Ladies of Beetham with an angel
The Saintly Ladies of Beetham with an angel

I have an interesting relationship with the West Country. I would love to live there some day. But, more importantly, it’s where I escape to whenever I need a bit of space. It’s where Sandra Reeve, the movement practitioner is based and it’s where I have brought into fruition Little Blue Man as a walking performance. I have been working with Sandra this last year. Incidentally I found out about her many years ago through a dancing nun whom I used to talk to whenever I visited St Mary’s Convent in Wantage.  Sister Rhona was her name and she featured as a recurring image/idea/theme in The Dig.(1992). Rhona was an ex-PE Teacher turned nun and she was very interested in movement and the sacred space.  I heard about Suprapto Suryodarmo through her and in turn Sandra Reeve.  It took me another fifteen or so years to follow Rhona’s advice and seek out Sandra. Sandra practices in a lot of places but her work for me sits in the borderlands of Dorset and Devon – that bit of that gorgeous coast that is Lyme Regis and Charmouth.  So we come to my point.

Continue reading “The Three Ladies of Beetham and making some connections”