Well, it's hard to believe after all the planning and site visits, that the project is due to start very soon. We had a great Press Launch on April 14th, where we arrived on a fishing boat to be met by local councillors, residents and the press. We engaged them with a short absurdist ceremony where we set out our plans for the project and then walked the proposed route of the final performance, for a buffet lunch at the Tudor Rose pub on the High Street. Residents seemed genuinely interested in what we are doing, as we stopped and talked to people en route; it was also very gratifying to see our local artist partners engage with the excitement of the project in the same way that we all did when this project first kicked off.
So... what is it we are actually planning to do? The short answer is that we intend to facilitate the making of a parish map - documenting the past, present and possibly even the future of the village of Upnor. What is it that residents like / dislike and wish to change about the community that they live in? One of the big issues for us has been that the village has no obvious meeting places outside of the 4 pubs. No shops, no schools and no community centre. If the community want to meet they have to get in a car and travel to Frindsbury Extra, where the Parish Council meets. Hopefully, these and many other issues will arise and be discussed during the workshop process, but this will be for the community to decide. We, as the collective, have our own agenda of things that we want to investigate and portray through performative actions on the streets. Tthe other half of the partnership, the community of residents, will have their own ideas about what and how they would like to celebrate about their village - both on the map and in the final performance.
The only givens, so far, are that we will arrive on the day of the performance at the Arethusa Jetty, we will make our way via some preselected sites in Lower Upnor to Upper Upnor (or Upnor, as the residents of Upper Upnor know it...) and declaim a new Upnor manifesto in the grounds of the castle. I am personally taking responsibility for the manifesto, but again what is finally included will be down to the residents. There will then be a post-performance reception in the castle, where all the work and documentation of the project will be on view to the public.
So, watch this space for furtther updates - myself and the rest of the artists will blog during the workshop process, as A Call to Arms takes to the streets.