Moontime was a performance experiment, a collaboration between the artforms of dance, puppetry, music, and animation. It is an an area of work that Figure of Speech was familiar with, and in the past some of the techniques developed have been displayed in other shows such as ‘Rama’ or the multiscreen images of ‘Light’. But this was the first time that dance had been incorporated into a Figure of Speech performance piece. Jim Brown from ‘Dance4life’  developed with Jonathan Hayter ‘a piece of choreography with the unusual brief to dance with Shadow puppets!’

Our work together began in 2002 on an intergenerational project ‘Beech House`’bringing young and old together on an educational piece of drama based on the C.S.Lewis story ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe`’ in South Gloucestershire.

In Moontime rehearsals a lot work and development was invested by both Performers to create relationship between puppet and dance to make it believable. The result was that the original theme of transformation became the key element at every level of the performance, from the music of Mark Osborne, to the animation and lighting effects.

The Theme

The theme of alchemy is an interesting one, it is a theme of transformation, misunderstood by many to be mere ‘trickery’ - turning base metal into gold, it is in truth, much more. Alchemy is the search for Divine Truth - and is really a means to achieve the ‘Great Work’ - reveal the mystery behind creation - it also offers a means to develop insight; an ‘opening’ into ‘Gnosis’ - direct experience of ‘Divine knowledge’.

The theme of alchemy came upon me as all areas of spiritual interest converged on my walks in Spain. I completed the 500-mile pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in 2002, walking on foot, and its effect seemed to awaken a deep level of connection between my interest in eastern spirituality, and attach it to one present in the western esoteric tradition. ‘Moontime’ I now see is part of a process of distilling my experience and its effect on the ‘inner landscape.’

The Bath Chronicle’ previewed the performance in its previous incarnation at ‘The Bath Puppet Festival’ - April 2004, and the comment that stood out in my mind was that about Jim’s character in the piece being ‘half puppet - half human.’ The theme of transformation, therefore, is highlighted in the dancer’s character - ‘the moon dwarf,’ which provides a dramatic personification of the transformation theme echoed in other ways, and at other moments throughout the show.

Thanks to

Thanks go to James Hollingsworth and Sean Mcbride for their extra contributions to the performance in the music effects, without whom the performance would not be complete. Huw Griffiths for video and animation effects.

Figure of Speech would like to acknowledge the inspiration of Ligeti and John Tavener for some of the sound score.


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