“But I was in search of love in those days, and I went full of curiosity and the faint, unrecognized apprehension that here, at last, I should find that low door in the wall, which others, I knew, had found before me, which opened on an enclosed and enchanted garden, which was somewhere, not overlooked by any window, in the heart of that grey city.”

From Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

In the beginning then, there was a door. Perhaps a very small door. A low door. Perhaps at first glance, you might miss it. Ivy grows around it. It has a slight feeling of abandonment that clings to it. You would know, even before turning the handle, that it would be stiff, requiring a tug to open. A creaking. 

The profound mystery of a locked door. We instinctively seek what lingers out of reach, beyond the line of sight. It is a delicious temptation, to find a way inside. What lies ahead of us? Will it ever match up to the burning curiosity that preceded it? 

It was this image that formed the creation of lowdoor productions. I have spent my life feeling as if this door has been in my peripheral vision, evasive, but always present. There have been times where I have felt my hand on the cold metal, but unable to turn. Others where I was only aware of how close I had come, when I felt the soft breeze of it shutting in my face. But the older I have become, the more I have realised that its power is precisely in this elusiveness. Can the reality of a rose garden ever measure up to the idea of it? 

I read Brideshead as a relatively young teen, after spending my childhood watching and rewatching the 1981 TV adaptation, and it has formed in many ways the bedrock of my life. It’s funny to imagine how different your life could be if you hadn’t come across that book, that film, that piece of music. I can say with certainty I would not have the same life I have today if I had not encountered Waugh’s aching portrait of love and grief in the early part of the 20th century. And in a way, it is the knowledge of this fact which spurs my own desire to make art. I know the difference it can make. I am living proof of that. To touch the lives of others in such a profound way, has always appeared to me the most noble of pursuits.

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

Footfalls echo in the memory

Down the passage which we did not take

Towards the door we never opened

Into the rose-garden.

From The Four Quartets: Burnt Norton by T.S. Eliot

For Eliot, it is also a door unopened. The roses are brighter in the light of our closed eyes, than they ever could be if we opened them. We find the fragments of our past tied together with our visions of the future. These shared images seem to emphasise the universality of these feelings, and our need to use art to try and make sense of the shape of our own lives. Art enables escape, yes, but also often accesses a truth that isn’t always present in our everyday existences. Through it, we allow ourselves to be freed from comprehension, to sit in the sensation of the unknown. 

So lowdoor productions began in homage to these ideals. It is a pursuit of something out of sight, whilst echoing with the footfalls of that which has come before. I believe passionately in seeing our literary past as a playground for the present moment. We construct canonical thinking often to distance ourselves from the past, to track changes through time and convince ourselves of how far we have come. But the past is often cyclical. We are caught in this middle ground, asserting a space for ourselves whilst understanding the importance of that which surrounds us. 

I wanted to foster a company which held these ideals close to its heart, alongside individuals who understand why this work is important. It has grown into a collective which seeks to override this divide between past and present, searching in the potential of performance to open the door just a crack, to allow the light from the rose garden to spill out, even for just a moment, into the world. 

It has become my rose garden, in many ways. Flashes of performances, production meetings, ideas and writing sessions dance before my eyes, kaleidoscope memories of a wholeness I am always seeking. In a climate which seems to be turning away from supporting the position of the arts, we must establish a collective which finds this magic on our own terms, even if it is behind a locked door. The roses are in the attempt. 

Welcome to the garden. I hope you stay awhile. 

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