In July 2021, this will be our mainstage.
Recently I have had colleagues reach out to me to talk about the theatre we create at Ross Creek for Two Planks and a Passion. Specifically the outdoors part.
For reasons that you probably don’t need explained to you (unless you have been at a Yoga retreat since February), outdoor performance is suddenly the hottest ticket in town.
I have been collaborating with an ensemble at the Ross Creek Centre since 2007, creating 23 outdoor productions before the 2020 season was postponed. It’s been the richest, most challenging and most rewarding period of my career as an artist. From the moment I first considered the landscape at Ross Creek as a context for theatrical creation, I felt free in a way I hadn’t before. I was forced to cede total control of my environment in a way that helped me cede control in other ways. I wasn’t simply reflecting the world anymore. I was working with it.
Being asked to describe my work in nature to colleagues who are, in some cases, considering the option for the first time has been an unexpected gift. While I have been sharing the many practical things I have learned from colleagues who came before me and through my own experience, I have also become energized by the opportunity to express how where I work is everything to me.
This morning I took this picture of a place we call “The Lower Field”. After wandering around the property all summer, we have chosen this as the site for our production of Leanna Brodie’s Schoolhouse. The place, the orientation of performer and audience, the trajectory of the sun and the changing time of sunset all figure into choices that will impact the work we create. It feels right.
While I make these choices with my colleagues every year, this year feels very different. This year, we are choosing a site that will make theatre possible. This field might be the difference between no theatre and bringing people together again. That makes it a place of promise and potential, just as all our theatres will be again, one day soon.
All over the property at Ross Creek, there are ghosts of past productions. The imprint of an old fire. Grasses that grow in the exact pattern of a previous stage. Voices that once travelled across the vault and seem to echo years later. One day, years from now, I hope we will look at this field and remember an evening that was full of voices and stories, for what seemed like the first time in ages. That we listened in a way we hadn’t before. That we lingered for a little longer once the play finished, because we realized that it was a special moment.
One day, when I look at this picture, I want to remember that day.