By: Rusthall Community Arts | August 19, 2020

Written February 23rd 2019

Roddy Maude Roxby led a full day devising workshop with masks. I decided to begin the workshop programme with masks because I knew they would have a strong influence on finding the world of the play. The faces that we find in the Rocks around Rusthall are the natural starting point as they are the characters who will people our play. We had fifteen people at the start of the day, and with others coming and going throughout the day we estimate 25 people got the experience of seeing the masks. Roddy introduced not on;y full face and half masks but hat masks that stand above the wearers head who look through the neck. There were others that you wear flat on the top of your head, you lean forward to show the faces to the audience. In the context of the rocks you get these strange and mysterious idea of the rocks coming to life. After a morning of exploring how the masks move, and the half masks speak we began choreographing full masks into scenes and asking the half masks to tell us stories, some inspired by Angela Carter fairy tales. By the end of the day we had started to build up some idea about the 'world of the play".We have unlocked one story about the Stone People told us collectively by a group of half mask:Long ago women got their children by digging around in the earth, they would pull their children loose from the ground. They would not have dig so far down to find girls, because they were closer to the surface, but boys were harder to find, often they would have to dig very deep to find a boy. The men of the community, who never did any of the digging themselves, would say that strong women had many children, and lazy women had few or no children at all. It was also thought women who had boys had made a greater effort than those who had girls because they had to dig deeper to find them. Of course there were barren women as well. One woman who as yet has no name but who will be the protagonist in this story was one of these barren women. She spent all her time digging holes, she dug up hundreds of holes, but no child was to be found.  At last she went to the Oracle who told her to dig in a certain place, and dig only there, and she would find her child. And she dug where she was told and dug deeper and deeper, she dug till she came to the other side of the earth. On the other side everything was in reverse.  Babies were bigger than adults. Here two babies, a baby girl and a baby boy, adopted her. They carried her round in a sack, took great care of her and never let her go hungry. They all grew very fond of each other. One day her baby mother said to her “Is there anything you want, dear little one?” and she said she would like a baby of her own.  “In that case” said the baby mother you should go to a place in the mountains and there you should start digging, and they took her to the place and left her to dig. She dug deeper and deeper until she discovered a tunnel, which joined with, may other tunnels, but none appeared to have an exit anywhere, neither did she find any babies on her travels through them.  But she walked on and on until she grew so weary she just had to sleep. While she slept Claw Trolls found her and tore at her flesh, she managed to break away but finally grew so weak she lay down to die.  But shortly a fox found her and said. “I will save you, mother. Just follow me”. With the last of her strength she followed the fox, which led her by the hand along many tunnels and through a hole into the daylight. Our heroine slept and when she woke she could not remember a thing, not a single thing. But found she way lying in her own house and there was a little boy child asleep in her arms

Category: Legend of the Rocks 

Tags: Devising 


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