• Sandra Smith

The Hatchling Flight - Sunday evening- part 2

Over night The Hatchling had grown in size - she obviously had slept very well after our lullabies! The new, huge, 21ft adult Hatchling began exploring her way down towards The Hoe in Plymouth, from the city centre. And, by 7:30pm that evening, there were already crowds of people lining The Hoe to welcome her to where her transformation would take place.

The Hoe is a huge expanse of land with parks and a lighthouse directly over looking the sea. It is a beautiful position to look out across the ocean.

Photo below by Ros Johnson

When The Hatchling started to arrive - past the Plymouth Roller Derby skaters and up towards the lighthouse with her band of followers, all the fables and legends that you have read, are embedded in this procession. From Pied Piper of Hamlyn to Gullivers Travels and later, to St George and the Dragon, where instead of slaying the dragon, the people were willing her to escape. It felt like we were witnessing a modern day myth

Photo below by SS

Photo below by Ros Johnson

The puppeteers were the heros of the day. They invested the dragon with life and with emotion.

The dragon was somehow both vulnerable and powerful - both captive and free. Surrounded by crowds, slowly moving forward into the arena where her transformation would take place, aided by the burning beauty of late summer.

Photos below by Ros Johnson

Some time previously Helen, one of our high sopranos and I (alto) had collaborated with 2 of the singers from the Mayflower A Cappella chorus; namely Susie on Baritone and Sarah the MD on Bass. We sang and recorded this song by Ruth Chan (who composed all the music for The Hatchling.) Again the song was all vowels and very atmospheric and ethereal. We had recorded it up in a warehouse in Estover and as we approached the field, Helen's voice was soaring over the Hoe inviting the followers towards the transition. The Mayflowers were getting ready to sing for the Dragon's transition - where the puppeteers reformed the mammal into a mystic bird.

Photo below by Andrew Lester

And as dusk began to settle against the glorious sun, the choir sang as the dragon's metamorphosis began

The transition took an hour whilst the crowd watched and waited, with no urgency or rush.

Dusk turned into night time and the field was lit up with white search lights and the dragon became iridescent. The dragon grew wings and a new body - stronger and fixed, to lift into the air. All the time the puppeteers were like worker ants carrying back and forth creating the new body.

The puppeteers got her ready to lift, to fly; and with no wind at all that night, they had to get her to elevate. They were running, lifting her up, but she bounced back down, unable to catch any breeze. Many times she nearly got off the ground, to roars from the crowd, but she couldn't get high enough to fly and then, suddenly, there was enough breeze and she lifted, haltingly, unsteadily, but she began to rise. The crowd erupted, cheered, whooped and willed her to ascend. Slowly she hovered and then began to turn and fly up. She hung in the air above the field for a long time looking down on us, part bird, part crucifix, a symbol of hope, of freedom and of daring to dream big!

photo by Andrew Lester







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