A-Z of Somerset: D for director
PUBLISHED: 17:45 20 November 2016 | UPDATED: 17:45 20 November 2016
With one foot in tradition and one in innovation, how does Somerset inspire its workers? Over the coming months Vik Martin will take a stroll through the alphabet to find out
Scrap yards aren’t rare in the Somerset countryside, but there’s something odd here, as if the vehicles are mutating into weird mechanical creatures. That’s how I know I’m in the right place.
I’m here to meet freelance director Sarah Fielding. She’s an associate director with the Invisible Circus; a theatrical circus outfit, and also plays with their house band The Carnyvillains. She’s almost a celebrity to me, so I feel a bit nervous.
Luckily the real Sarah Fielding is friendly, playful and down to earth. She leads me up the steps of a large 1960s showman’s trailer; warm inside and full of rich colours. We drink tea and eat bananas while we talk.
Sarah develops and directs performances; sometimes from scratch, sometimes from someone else’s idea. I know she’s a director but what does she actually do all day?
“I spend a lot of time doing research; watching films, reading books, and then working physically with performers in rehearsal. I don’t usually write the stories, but we find and shape them, and collectively we will end up with something way beyond what I could imagine by myself at the start.”
How did she get here though? Was there ever a plan? Starting in Cornwall, she ran away with the circus from London to Sicily then Nevada and the Burning Man festival, and eventually ended up in Bristol, where the Invisible Circus finally landed.
“We arrived at a very exciting time,” she tells me. “The city council was full of forward thinking people who realised that their empty buildings were a great, unused artistic resource, which could be repurposed. We started taking on big buildings and creating big shows and it sparked this great wave of energy around that kind of DIY style performance. We lived at the circus in various parts of Bristol for seven years, and it was incredible but exhausting. All life outside the project ceased to exist, and eventually we decided to move out into the Somerset countryside in the Chew Valley area.
“This part of Somerset has loads of creative people in it, and we were excited to move into an artistic community doing interesting and exciting things. And we needed the headspace. Headspace is important in the arts.”
At this point she is talking to me through a megaphone whilst posing for photos. “Why did I really become a director?” she laughs. “Maybe I just like telling people what to do.”