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Alive and breathing in new dimension

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: May 29, 2009

  • Elaine Humphries takes the lead role in Gonamena at Sterts Theatre (inset)

  • A WildWorks production uses the landscape as a backdrop; inset, Bill Mitchell

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DRAMA that begins and ends in the heart of a community has been building a strong tradition in the Westcountry in recent years. Next week sees the launch of two brand new and exciting productions, one in Plymouth and one across the Tamar in South East Cornwall, which explore very human stories in the context of the landscape.

Internationally renowned Cornish company WildWorks open the gates to previously closed areas of Devonport Dockyard to present The Beautiful Journey, a large-scale outdoor promenade performance featuring film, food, flowers, flirting and hope, in a story reflecting on climate change.

Led by director Bill Mitchell and community director and writer Mercedes Kemp, the WildWorks team of artists and makers have been working with local residents for months with the aim of celebrating the area's heritage. The story is set in the near future following an unnamed global catastrophe. Sea levels have risen to such an extent that the entire community is squeezed on to a small area – perhaps the only dry land left. They survive by devising new ways of propagation, by working in harmony, by entertaining each other and by telling stories of their history.

Mercedes says: "The Beautiful Journey is a story of hope. Not idle hope, but hope effected by action. It isn't about buying a lottery ticket and sitting there hoping it's going to win, it's about going out there and doing something."

Gonamena, a new play by Cornish writer Simon Parker, will be performed at Sterts, a covered amphitheatre in the village of Upton Cross slap bang in the middle of the mining landscape that underpins its timeless story of a Cornish family and community living through an extreme time of rapid transformation during the mining boom and bust of the late 1800s. Using local actors of all ages and theatrical experience, the tale is set in the stunning Gonamena Valley and Caradon Hill area, and is based on real events. Directed by Simon Harvey, it boasts an original musical score by award-winning Cornish composer Simon Dobson.

See tomorrow's WMN2 Weekend for an in-depth look at the Gonamena story.

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