NEW VIC THEATRE AWARDED £198,000 ARTS COUNCIL EXCEPTIONAL AWARD TO PRODUCE FIVE-WEEK FESTIVAL OF NEW WRITING INSPIRED BY THE STAFFORDSHIRE HOARD
NEW DOCUMENTARY PLAY ‘UNEARTHED’ BASED ON 80 HOURS OF NEW INTERVIEWS WITH THOSE INVOLVED IN THE FIND
New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme presents:
Developed with the support of the National Theatre Studio
Saturday 20 June – Saturday 25 July
Thursday 25 June – Selection of Table Plays (Bar) 6.30pm; Tranklements (Studio) 6pm; Unearthed/The Gift (Main Stage) 7.30pm; Tranklements (Studio) 10pm
Tuesday 7 July – Selection of Table Plays (Bar) 6.30pm; Ten minute taster of Gold (Potters Union Bar) 7pm; The Throne/Larksong (Main Stage) 7.30pm
Thursday 16 July – Selection of Table Plays (Bar) 6.30pm; Gold (Studio) 7.45pm
Artistic Director: Theresa Heskins
Associate Director: Gemma Fairlie
· 19 new commissions, and 22 plays in total – 14 writers, 10 theatre-makers, a very hard-working cast of 15 and one Anglo-Saxon specialist
· Two Main Stage double-bills performed in the round, and two new studio plays – including Unearthed – a new documentary play based on approximately 80 hours of new interviews with those surrounding the find, including the metal detectorist who found the hoard, the first archaeologists on the scene, experts and historians including Michael Wood
· Main Stage new plays from writers Frazer Flintham, Jemma Kennedy and Chris Bush. New studio plays written and performed by Caroline Horton and Francesca Millican-Slater
· 12 ‘Table Plays’ performed in the bar – five minute monologues by a mix of new and established writers including Stoke-born April De Angelis (Jumpy, After Electra), comedian Isy Suttie (Peep Show), Lemn Sissay MBE, novelist Alan Garner, Staffordshire Poet Laureate Gary Longden, comedian Sara Pascoe and Tom Wells
· Community project 500 Pieces with 500 local participants who become storytellers – created by artist Andy Field (Forest Fringe)
· Other free events around the building throughout the Festival including an audio journey around the building for two people at a time from collective non zero one and a new animation based on the patterns of the Hoard by Matthew Robins who created the animation on the National Theatre’s The Light Princess
· Cast including Adam Morris who played Robin Hood in ‘Maid Marian and her Merry Men’
The New Vic Theatre is delighted to announce a five-week festival of new work inspired by the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard in July 2009.
This hugely ambitious festival, featuring 19 new commissions and 22 plays in total, animation and participatory work including a community project for 500 people, follows 18 months as an Affiliate Company of the National Theatre Studio, (the first time that a regional theatre building has held the position, July 13 – Dec 14), and a successful bid to ACE’s Exceptional Award scheme for £198,000.
New Vic Artistic Director, Theresa Heskins comments:
”I had been adamant that I wanted to do something around the Staffordshire Hoard ever since its discovery. Staffordshire is a county with a real vision for economic growth but there is no doubt that alongside our city, Stoke-on-Trent, it has faced some tough challenges. Stoke is currently the 16th most deprived of 326 local authorities in the UK, according to the latest ‘Communities and Local Government Agency English Indices of Deprivation’ report.*
So when, in the summer of 2009, a man with a metal detector, a man who was down on his luck, out of work, came across the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found, anywhere in the world – it felt like winning the lottery. Suddenly Staffordshire was splashed all over the world news. Co-incidentally Stoke FC were also promoted to the Premiere League that summer. It was a good year.”
“The National Theatre Studio affiliation included six development weeks, during which I sat in a white room, and the idea grew from ’a play about the Staffordshire Hoard’ into ’a festival about the Staffordshire Hoard.’ It was during one of those weeks I did the first interview with Michael Wood, and from there I decided that it was only right that one of these plays should be a verbatim piece in the New Vic tradition. Two years, and hundreds of hours later, I’m confident I have a new story which works artistically and also includes a scoop or two around the discovery of the Hoard and the latest thinking on what the Hoard actually is (archaeologists still don’t officially know). We also have 21 other plays from an assortment of the most exciting voices in UK theatre – established voices, local voices, new voices.”
Laura Collier, Head of the National Theatre Studio comments:
“The National Theatre Studio is thrilled that one of the many wonderful outcomes of the New Vic Theatre’s 18 month affiliation with us, is this extraordinary festival. For the New Vic to have brought together such a talented group of artists, with such diverse approaches to creating live performance, is hugely exciting. And for those artists to be presenting work so perfectly tailored to the theatre and its local community is a special joy.”
The festival runs from 20 June – 25 July, and includes two double-bills on the Main Stage (one play of each double-bill is set in modern day Staffordshire, one is set in Anglo-Saxon Mercia), two studio shows, 12 Table Plays, and other participatory and interactive activities throughout the building.
Throughout the festival members of Staffordshire University’s archaeology team will guide volunteers through an archaeological project exploring the gardens surrounding the New Vic.
A Family Day on Saturday 11 July will invite families to enjoy a host of events, from backstage tours uncovering the secrets of Hoard Festival shows and a special storytelling event for young children to a battle wounds workshop and an indoor archaeological dig.
The ensemble cast of Hoard Festival is: Suzanne Ahmet, Romayne Andrews, Jemma Churchill, Crystal Condie, David Crellin, Elizabeth Elvin, Paula James, David Kirkbride, Gwawr Loader, Perry Moore, Adam Morris, David Nellist, Bryonie Pritchard, David Semark, Johnson Willis.
Sat 20 June – Sat 25 July, 7.30pm
Writer and director: Theresa Heskins, Designer: Lis Evans, Lighting Designer: Daniella Beattie, Sound Designer: James Earls-Davis, Projections: Illuminos, Composer: James Atherton
Based on 80 hours of original interviews conducted by New Vic Artistic Director Theresa Heskins from 2013 – 2015, the first play in this double-bill pieces together the story of the Hoard direct from the mouths of those who found it, and those who have been trying to understand it ever since.
A documentary-drama in the New Vic tradition, we hear the words of Terry Herbert
, the metal detectorist who found an astonishing hoard of gold in a Staffordshire field, of Kevin Colls
, one of the first archaeologists on the scene, the historian Michael Wood
, the conservationists and experts who try to unravel its meanings. The show features extracts of interviews with 44 different people in total.
Unearthed follows Theresa’s critically-acclaimed Around the World in Eighty Days and Dracula.
Sat 20 June – Sat 25 July, 7.30pm
Writer: Jemma Kennedy, Director: Gemma Fairlie, Designer: Lis Evans, Lighting Designer: Daniella Beattie, Sound Design: James Earls-Davis, Musical Director / Composer: Conrad Nelson, Fight Directors: Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown of RC-ANNIE Ltd
The second play in this double-bill is an epic of romance and adventure from playwright and novelist Jemma Kennedy. In the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, a kingly gift sparks a deadly struggle for the future.
When the warriors return victorious from battle, they bring with them a great gift – gold, stripped from the weapons of their defeated enemies. They plan to use the treasure to build a new way of life and to gain the favour of their king. But the women think the price is too high, and are determined to hold on to the world they know. And, when the argument turns murderous, each must choose their own fate, risking all they have for freedom and for love.
Playwright Jemma Kennedy adapted The Prince and the Pauper for the Unicorn Theatre, wrote Don’t Feed the Animals for National Theatre Connections 2013 and has two screenplays in development. Her novel Skywalking is published by Penguin / Viking.
Fri 3 – Sat 25 July, 7.30pm
Writer: Frazer Flintham, Director: Theresa Heskins, Designer: Mika Handley, Lighting Design: Daniella Beattie, Sound Design: James Earls-Davis
The first of this double-bill is a warm-hearted comedy from one of the country’s brightest young writers. An eccentric group of Staffordshire characters meet in the ‘local’ in a tale of lavs, life and learning to love.
Cliff has spent the last 25 years making toilets at Armitage Shanks. Same job, same factory, same life. He’s happy enough. But, when his childhood sweetheart comes back to the village after years down South, he starts to think he should have made a bit more of himself. Then smooth-talking Gordon makes his move, and Cliff’s got to make up his mind. Is he going to put up a fight for the woman he loves? Can he finally learn to like himself? Or is he going to let his whole future get flushed down the drain?
Staffordshire-born playwright Frazer Flintham wrote Blurred and We Are Mermaid for BBC Radio; Taketh Me Away for The Pleasance and other projects with The Bush, ATC, LIVE Theatre and Soho Theatre.
Fri 3 – Sat 25 July, 7.30pm
Writer: Chris Bush, Director: Gemma Fairlie, Designer: Mika Handley, Musical Director / Composer: Conrad Nelson, Fight Directors: Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown of RC-ANNIE Ltd, Puppet Director: Matt Hutchinson
A new play from the winner of the 2014 Perfect Pitch Award, Larksong is a powerful tale of friendship and fate, a gang of youngsters risk the deadly anger of a king. Mouse and his friends live in the times after the Romans, sheltering amongst the skeletons of a fallen empire. They’re not heroes or kings or warriors, just ordinary folk. No one will ever want to sing songs of them. But when they stumble upon a band of sleeping soldiers, each carrying weapons more magnificent than anything they could have imagined, their futures suddenly look very different. Perhaps they will find themselves in a great story after all.
Playwright Chris Bush’s TONY!
The Blair Musical enjoyed sell-out runs at York Theatre Royal and the Edinburgh Fringe before transferring to London as winner of a Sunday Times Award for a successful off-West End run. For Sheffield Theatres he wrote The Sheffield Mysteries
, and won a Perfect Pitch award to write a new musical for Northampton’s Royal and Derngate Theatre.
Tues 23 June – Sat 4 July
Written and performed by Caroline Horton
Directed by Yngvild Aspeli
A funny, inspiring solo performance about underdogs and Midlands spirit from Olivier Award nominee and Edinburgh Fringe favourite. Mercia’s an under performer; average with self- confidence issues. But look closer and she’s as old as the hills, strong as an ox and a bit of a dark horse. She’s got a grin on her face cos she’s decided to tell her story and show us the treasures she’s been holding so close to her chest.
Caroline Horton is a theatre-maker, performer, writer and director based in Birmingham. She was nominated for a 2013 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre for You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy, which also won Best Solo Performer at the 2010 Stage Awards.
Caroline’s second show Mess continues to tour after opening at The Traverse in August 2012, where it won Best Ensemble at The Stage Awards. Mess also won an Argus Angel award and was nominated for an Offie for Best New Play. She’s currently touring Penelope Retold which she created for Derby Theatre.
Weds 15 – Sat 25 July
Written and performed by Francesca Millican-Slater
Gold still holds a special power over us. But what has changed in the way we view this precious metal since five kilos were buried in a Staffordshire field over 1,000 years ago?
From the Hoard to gold-plated mobile phones and pawn shops, a sideways look at the metal that cannot be destroyed. A one woman show using story-telling, PowerPoint, lyricism and possibly some classic gold tracks. This promises to be entertaining, thought-provoking, and quite shiny, gold shiny.
Francesca Millican-Slater is a Birmingham-based artist working in theatre, performance and live art. Last year she premiered The Forensics of a Flat (and other stories) at Birmingham Repertory Theatre along with a national preview tour. She created two brand new work’s My Dearest Girls: The Letters Book and My Dearest Girls: Helen’s Story based on the letters sent between a group of Shropshire women during WW1. Made in collaboration with Arts Alive and Shropshire Archives, this duo of performances has been touring across Shropshire and will continue to tour nationally until 2018.
Sat 20 June – Sat 25 July
From 6.30pm and 1.15pm Matinees
(a selection available in the bar before every Hoard Main House performance)
Five minute monologues performed for guests at their tables by members of the Hoard ensemble cast ahead of each show. There are ten new Table Plays, plus two extracts – from Beowulf and Mercian Hymns by Geoffrey Hill.
From ancient female dragons, to bored teenagers on a trip to see the Hoard, to mums in charity shop Anglo-Saxon fancy dress – characters inspired by the Hoard speak to us from across history through the voices of some of the UK’s most talent writers.
The ten new plays are: My Name is Freda by Samuel Adamson (book and lyrics The Light Princess), The Foreigner by Lydia Adetunji, Rune by Stoke-born April De Angelis (Jumpy, After Electra), Out of the Dark: The Hoard Speaks by novelist Alan Garner, The Rime of the Staffordshire Hoard by Staffordshire Poet Laureate Gary Longden, Hoarder by comedian Sara Pascoe, Magic by Darren Sharp (the winning entry in the Hoard Festival Playwriting Competition), Inscribed by Lemn Sissay MBE, Half a Horse by comedian Isy Suttie (Peep Show) and Hwaet! by Tom Wells (Jumpers for Goalposts).
Sat 20 June – Sat 25 July
Created by Andy Field
500 Pieces is the story of single moment in time told in five hundred scattered pieces. Audience members will seek out 500 local storytellers at the New Vic Theatre and in the streets and towns surrounding it. With each new storyteller they encounter, they will learn a new fragment of the story, slowly piecing together a delicate portrait of an unforgettable, unremarkable day.
These storytellers might be police officers, taxi drivers or school teachers, and perhaps even some of their students as well. Together these ordinary people will be responsible for creating not only a remarkable portrait of the world as it was at about 11.45 in the morning on the 5 July 2009, but also a completely unique image of Staffordshire as it is today.
500 Pieces was inspired by the Staffordshire Hoard itself, and in particular the experience of seeing the Hoard at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, hundreds of delicate individual pieces that together tell a story about Staffordshire’s ancient past. The idea of this performance event is that it is similarly made up of hundreds of tiny pieces, with the audience challenged to seek out as many of these pieces as possible to begin to understand the overall story.
has created unusual interactive performance projects for venues including the Natural History Museum in London, the Southbank Centre, Culturgest in Lisbon, Abrons Arts Centre in New York and the Festival of Live Art in Melbourne. He is also the co-director of the award-winning artist collective Forest Fringe and writes regularly for the Guardian, This Is Tomorrow, Exeunt Magazine and others. www.andytfield.co.uk
a thing worth keeping
Sat 20 June – Sat 25 July
by non zero one
An audio journey and walking tour around the building, by artist collective non zero one. This unique interactive theatre experience considers value, worth and ownership, asking each person who partakes in it: what’s important to you? Grab a pair of headphones from the New Vic Box Office and follow the audio story around the front of house and the gardens of the New Vic in this exciting, immersive adventure, which will make you see the car park in a whole new light!
non zero one is formed of five artists, who came together in early 2009 at Royal Holloway, University of London. They make each theatrical audio adventure unique to its environment. They have worked at the Tate, The Barbican and The National Theatre. Awards include Elle Magazine’s ‘coolest company’ in their Top 50 of Everything list in 2011
Sat 20 June – Sat 25 July
Made by Matthew Robins
Matthew Robins is an artist and musician from the West Country. Among other things, he makes animations that combine drawings, cut-out paper shapes and paint to create stop-motion collages, with an emphasis on surface patterns and an interest in the inherent 2D nature of the screen juxtaposed with a film’s ability to create an illusion of space and depth.
ZOOM=ORPH takes inspiration from the patterns worked on the surfaces of the Staffordshire Hoard – in particular the animals and birds – bringing together these and other natural forms with the flowing / evolving lines of the metalwork and working with negative and positive silhouette shapes.
Matthew works in an improvised way, often discarding the cut-out pieces in favour of the off-cuts left behind, animating and editing simultaneously to explore how these elements can come together to create something that is at once a narrative and a shifting kaleidoscopic sequence of patterns and tessellating flat shapes.
His animated film will be playing on Front-of-House screens throughout the Festival.
For all cast and creative biogs, as well as cast lists for each play, trailer and further information on the Festival please visit: www.newvichoardfestival.org.uk
Tickets for Hoard
,are available by calling the New Vic Box Office on 01782 717962 or online by visiting www.newvichoardfestival.org.uk
. Studio Shows £12.50 (£10.50 concessions), main house double-bills £13-£22 (concessions), the whole Hoard £47.50 and other ticket packages available.
*This report gives the Stoke-on-Trent 2010 deprivation statistics. It has been compiled from the Communities and Local Government Agency English Indices of Deprivation report released 24 March 2010.
About the Hoard
The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found, anywhere in the world. It was discovered by metal detectorist Terry Herbert in a field near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, England on 5 July 2009.
It consists of more than 3,500 items that are nearly all martial or warlike in character. The artefacts date to the time of the Kingdom of Mercia. Since the find, a research and conservation programme, headed up by leading experts in the field, has been launched. The Staffordshire Hoard is owned by Birmingham CityCouncil and Stoke-on-Trent City Council on behalf of the nation, and cared for by Birmingham Museums Trust and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. It can be viewed at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Tamworth Castle and Lichfield Cathedral.
It will be a decade before archaeologists can tell the story of this Hoard. Who put it there, when and why? At the moment, there are as many potential stories as there are items in the collection.
A parallel story is one about Englishness. This was the era when successive waves of migrants changed the country and began to form what we now think of as English culture; when Paganism gave way to Christianity, forming a belief system that was to shape the country; when the idea of the nation state was born – here, in Mercia. Even the English language in which we now write is based on the Mercian English of that time.
About the Hoard Festival
This summer 2015 the New Vic’s Hoard Festival will be a large-scale event lasting five weeks, which will tell many stories about the Hoard. It will feature 22 stories of how the Hoard might have ended up in that field; of whose lives it touched; of the objects it comprises; of the world it comes from, and what that says about the world we now inhabit. Some of the pieces will be works of imagination; some of history and fact; some will be provocations.
Funded by an Arts Council England Exceptional Award, The Hoard Festival was developed with the support of the National Theatre Studio.
The Festival is working in partnership with: Arts Council England, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Impact of Diasporas Project at the University of Leicester, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Centre of Archaeology at Stafford University, National Theatre Studio, Thegns of Mercia, Bloxwich Metal Detectors and Wulfheodenas.
About The New Vic Theatre
Founded in 1962, the New Vic is the producing theatre for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Our mission is to make excellent theatre-in-the-round, and to be a force for positive change in our region.
With around eight major productions a year, we present a varied and adventurous programme that includes contemporary drama, new commissions, innovative adaptations and accessible classics.
Recent productions have toured nationally and internationally; transferred to London and Manchester; we enjoy a three year relationship with the RSC’s Learning and Performance Network; and have been an Affiliate Company of the National Theatre Studio. We work regularly with partners including the Manchester Royal Exchange, the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Bolton Octagon, Oldham Coliseum and Northern Broadsides.
We’ve developed extensive and award-winning community involvement, working regionally, nationally and internationally through our Education Department and ground-breaking New Vic Borderlines, which works to change the lives of the most disadvantaged members of our communities. We lead Appetite, an initiative to increase engagement with the arts within Stoke-on-Trent.
We’re funded by Arts Council England, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
Full listings available on request or on the calendar at www.newvichoardfestival.org.uk
About Arts Council England:
Arts Council England
champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk