HAPPY HIGHWAYS

  In 2019 we produced Legends of the Rocks - The Heroes Journey, a culmination of six months of research, devising workshops,  rehearsals, costume and prop making. Following the performances on Toad Rock we committed  ourselves to a second Festival in 2021.Well here we are, and we are pleased to announce that Claque Theatre have been awarded an Arts Council grant for a second play.

At the end of the play last year we had a really positive 'Sounding' to find out what people wanted to do next. The thoughts and ideas everyone proposed informed the application to the Arts Council and contributed to its success. No-one needs to be told just how much the world has changed since 2019 and how things are likely to remain uncertain for some time yet. This sets us the challenge to create a flexible programme to produce a performance and associated events that can work within whatever changing restrictions that might be imposed on us. Things being as they are we feel both the importance and determination to create an event that celebrates life and our community. It's more appropriate now than ever that we have an opportunity to work collaboratively as a community to create something amazing and surprise ourselves. We cannot surprise ourselves of course if we know exactly what kind of show we will be making together, so like Improvisors let's embrace the uncertainty and discover moment by moment the performance of great stories together. Step one is for you is to join us on January 14th for a conversation about the route of our adventure along a happier highway. 


" "Go and open the door
Maybe outside there's
a tree, or a wood
a garden or a magic city"

Join us for a creative zoom conversation about your play and Happy Highways Project using our Empty Gallery Cafe format. Following an introductory presentation by Jon Oram we will break up into smaller break out rooms to share thoughts and ideas about what you would like to see this project do and achieve. We will then come together to share our thoughts, exciting themes, events, and ways of presenting a play and other arts activities across the community. 

As a reminder we shall send it to you again closer to the time. 

Topic: Empty Gallery Happy Highways Project Conversation
Time: Jan 14, 2021 07:30 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 896 2714 6235
Passcode: 878753


Into my heart an air that kills  
 From yon far country blows:  
What are those blue remembered hills,  
What spires, what farms are those? T
hat is the land of lost content;  
I see it shining plain,  
The happy highways where I went  
And cannot come again.  
                          AE Houseman 
 To make a bid to the Arts Council we had to describe the project. We kept it as flexible as possible for two reasons, first to ensure we could make this the play you wanted, and second to respond to any changing conditions relating to COVID. This is a summary.

Happy Highways will be a Community Play informed by devising workshops, and other events based on the theme of paths. We will investigate the community and our individual past and present, our dreams and fears about our future in relation to the paths we have taken, might have taken, and those we could yet take.  Individuals and small groups will have already presented some of the material through exhibitions, rituals and other forms; some of these events may have involved theatrical elements.  Now we hope as many people as possible from Rusthall and around will come together to work collaboratively on the ambitious task of creating a work of art in terms of their community. This is unlikely to be a play as you might imagine one. We may be restricted by rules that don't allow large social gatherings, where people may still have to respect social distancing. Restrictions, hard and challenging as they may be in life could be the making of interesting new art.  This will be a theatrical highway where the audience encounters travellers, overhear and witness scenes among the rocks, in the woods and along the paths. Individual stories may be told, we may then begin to see connections between the characters we meet and the stories we hear and start recognising a larger story of the community. Over the next seven months these stories will emerge from what we learn about the people in our community past and present.


From January 27th workshops will be held every alternate Wednesday.  Due to current Covid restrictions our workshops will, for the present, need to be on-line via zoom. We will send you the zoom links prior to the meetings.

Wednesday 27th January 7,30 p.m
Wednesday ,10th February 7.30 pm
Wednesday ,24th February 7.30 p.m
Wednesday 10th March, 7.30 p.m
Wednesday 24h March at 7.30 pm
Wednesday 7th, April, 7.30 p.m

We may be able to organise some additional outdoor tours of Happy Valley if restrictions allow.

On Saturday 24th April we are planning an environmental art devising workshop from 11.00 am to 4.00 pm in Happy Valley. 
This is the week end closest to Earth Day. The work we make will be left as an exhibition

We are aware that this may exclude some who do not have access to the relevant technology. If you are  aware of anyone in that position who wants to take part , with their permission, we would be grateful if  you could forward us their details. We could then discuss with them how they maybe able to contribute to the discussions.

Look forward to seeing you all


Step 1 Improvisation and Devising Workshops (Preparation) 
January - March 2020

The Conversations, research and parallel project yet to be discussed are creative preparations to stimulate devising workshops. We may want to search out more as the devising becomes more specific but we will have plenty to start.  One of the gifts of devising is the way in which it challenges us to become authentic collaborators, to work with the spirit of generosity. If a group is working together, listening to each other, not worrying about power and control, the work is usually fantastic. Everybody can contribute in a devising workshop, you don't have to perform, make or whatever other task might be suggested, your presence as an audience member, a critic, an advisor, or a contributor of spoken ideas are all invaluable. 
Step 2 - Composition Workshops 
April 2021

Devising is exploring ideas, composition is finding connections between the ideas, creating an order, developing an overall story. Creating the actual composition of the play, you might call 'a script'.  This is your opportunity to input into the composition of the play. Composition workshops can be  both open to the public or customised to a specific group involved in arts or educational activities (music, performance, painting,  crafts, dance, film, poetry, writing, literature, heritage and history, environment and conservation etc).
Step 3-  Production Period and Rehearsals (Production Period)
May- July 2021
Casting is open to everyone and no one is turned away. Scenes can be rehearsed in small groups, as can elements produced by different entities and groups  (school, drummers, choir) can be rehearsed separately and brought together with other parts of the production as rehearsals progress. The final rehearsal stage runs into the summer so we can use the performance spaces as much as possible. In the final week of rehearsal all elements are brought together for full cast calls. Limiting time is a deliberate and valued part of the creative process. How this process is actually managed will of course be dependent on rules around the pandemic at that time.
July - August 2021

The conditions we are working under next summer remain unclear but we shall present something within the safest boundaries allowed.   The performance style will reflect Claque’s wider agenda related to exploring the concept of the Social Actor, an idea born out of the Community Play and the actor’s relationship with the audience. Happy Highways as part theatrical walk will add a dimension of "implicating the audience". It will be a personal experience for each audience member because their encounters with performers will be unique to the moment they encounter each other.

The performance dates are as yet unconfirmed; they are likely to be mid to late July or in early August. We have much to do in preparation, finding funding, raising monies and support in other ways.. The performance will be no more than 1hour 30min but may well be staggered with audiences starting a walk, for instance, at different times. 

Put  Dates in your Diary for the Conversation and Devising workshops... Spread the word and get family friends and neighbours to sign up for the newsletter.       Do some research, find stories, think about themes that interest you and E Mail us any thoughts, ideas, and questionsStay Safe 
We are also looking for Volunteers See below


Following Beryl Woodall's resignation as Chair of Rusthall Community Arts Committee, we would like to thank her for her loyalty and work from the very start of the plans for the  first festival. We are looking for new committee members and volunteers to form a Devising Team to help steer the Highways project ,including activities around 'discovering' and composing the play. 

If you are interested or would like more information contact us by E Mail. Click the button above.