by Stef Smith (writer/director of The Silence of Bees)
‘It’s incredible. The sound. The middle C .
Bee’s wings move at the same frequency as middle C.
The life force. My life force.
I must believe it was worth it
Please, make it worth it.’
– The Silence of Bees
We have lift off…. well, sort of. After returning from working away I’ve landed right at the start of the Behaviour festival. And what an exciting festival it will be. Captain Hurley has done a wonderful ‘welcome-to’ post at the very start, if you are looking for an entire festival run-down I recommend reading it. He failed to mention his own show Beats, a piece that I simply cannot wait to see. As a writer I’m always instinctively (but not nearly exclusively) drawn to those shows with strong narratives and after seeing the reading at Arches Live I can’t wait to see how Kieran’s piece has evolved.
I start rehearsals for my own piece in a fortnight. There is something lovely about wandering through the belly of the Arches when a festival is happening. The whole basement comes alive with work being made, destroyed, edited and shown. Who needs fresh air when you have such a glorious smorgasbord of work happening. Not I.
My own show (The Silence of Bees) currently only exists tangibly in the form of a word document and brochure copy but soon it will be finding its feet with the remarkable Lesley Hart, Kirsty Stuart and Joanna Tope. It’s such a delight to be working with these wonderful performers. It’s a rehearsal room I cannot wait to step into.
Finished script and pre-rehearsal is a strange holding-time. It’s like the traffic light is struck on amber and you’re waiting for the green. The narrative points of the show have existed (in their current form) for about 18 months, I’ve known I wanted to write a show about the depletion of the honey bee for 4years. So nay pressure Stef…
It started when I should have been writing an essay for my undergrad but actually found myself investigating what is now commonly called colony collapse disaster. My interest was sparked by a high profile case in California where a beekeeper stepped out into his hives, a mere 4hours after previously checking them to find that 90% of his bees had simply disappeared. In the space of 240minutes, tens of millions of bees had disappeared without a single trace and seemingly without reason. Alarmingly this was not an isolated event. It was happening across the states and now it’s happening across the world. Einstein stated that if the bees die the human race will only be able to continue for 4years… currently 30% of our food is pollinated by bees…. Our survival is intrinsically linked to those little dudes. I won’t bore you with an entire blog about my new found respect of our bee friends but its safe to say I truly hope the show helps highlights how integral they are to life as well know it. .
The show is a site specific at Lush (Sauchiehall Street) and could not have been made without the (endless) support of the staff there. The glamour of working offsite starts to fade a little when you find yourself counting sprinklers, plug sockets, fire escapes, audience capacity and ensuring there is a plan if somebody should spontaneously combust mid-show. But the practical elements of making such shows should not and cannot be ignored. Nor can spontaneous combustion.
A difficulty I unearthed recently was – Thursday late night shopping. A RECKLESS HAZZARD… well, maybe not quite but it did cause me to have a sleepless night. Thankfully this situation has been resolved (the shop will shut early) and Louise and Marissa (Lush managerial team) continue to prove themselves as demi-Gods. It still shocks me when someone says ‘yeah, don’t worry, that’s not a problem’. Good-will makes the world go around, that and the suns gravitational pull.
I’ll be blogging later with news from rehearsal, interviews with the team and photos of our process. I’ll also be speaking/typing about the Behaviour festival as a whole. And finally I’ll be blogging a lot about bees, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I leave you with a quote that has spurred me on in my darkest writers-block moment:
The bee is domesticated but not tamed. She has not recognised man as her master; he subdues, manipulates, and beguiles her into working for him, but the bee remains what she has always been, part of nature, part of ourselves forever lost, part of the joy and sadness in the long march from an unknown beginning toward an unknown ending, like man himself, part of the great inconclusive experiment called life.
– The Queen Must Die by William Longgood.
So. Let’s continue this experiment, shall we?
P.S. If you are interested in helping to save the bee you can do so by doing any of the following (not nearly an exhaustive list) – sponsor a hive, place an urban beehive outside your flat, buy organic, buy organic honey, plant bee-friend flowers and most importantly don’t squash them, they aren’t going to hurt you out of spite, that’s purely a human quality.