After all these months walking around Lake 32 – audio recorder in hand – it’s become something of a second home, a calm and refreshing place to spend some time. It’s not always quiet – until you start recording sound you don’t always appreciate how noisy our world is. The sounds of aircraft, dredging machinery and passing cars frequently override the ambient sounds of water, wind and birdsong. But the happier sounds are there too, the swimmers and kayakers chatting as they go, the people by the cafe, the triathlon runners being encouraged as they approach the finishing line. Laughter carries surprisingly well across water!
The biggest surprise is how quiet the water is. In much of my recordings, it’s not always obvious they were made at a lake at all; listening back to them they could have been made almost anywhere in the countryside. In some ways, Lake 32 is almost too peaceful for a storyteller. Conflict-free situations do not make for good drama, so over the year I had to create my own.
Something Purple was about a father and son who can’t get to the lake due to COVID lockdown restrictions. Square with the House was about a brother and sister forced to visit the lake as executors to scatter their estranged father’s ashes.
Lucy is Leaving is more ambitious, a story of the Lake’s past, present and future. Conflict between two men compelled to cooperate, finding in the lake a neutral space in which they can begin to put their differences aside. Conflict between two ancient wise women coming to terms with the scars caused by the Lake’s creation. Conflict arising from a mother’s concern for her daughter’s future, especially its connection to the Lake.
All three threads are linked by the Well Dressing, created by the mysterious Lucy whom we never meet, but to whom there is clearly more than meets the eye.
I have really enjoyed my residency and as it draws to a close, I would like to thank everybody who answered questions from an odd bloke bearing a fluffy microphone, especially Dan, Jo and Paloma. It’s a very special place, run by very special people.
Thanks also to Juliette of Dialect for inviting me to take part, for encouraging me throughout the process, for connecting me with producer Kirstie Davies who’s feedback was invaluable.
Special thanks also to Cirencester Theatre Company who performed in all 3 of my plays, and who helped make each piece as good as it could be.
I never got as much done as I had initially hoped, partly due to COVID, partly to issues at work, but I have enjoyed every moment I spent there and I will be back.