Moor Voices was an 18 month project funded by Arts Council England which sought to engage communities and school children in performance based workshops, exploring female rule, life in the Bronze Age and marine mammals.
Workshops in voice, physical theatre, dance and puppetry contributed to a long R&D process that culminated in 4 outdoor performances on Dartmoor and Exmoor.
The play ‘Daughters of Sunset’ involved 6 emerging artists and 11 community cast members. Outdoor rehearsals took place during the summer of the Coronavirus pandemic in August 2020. In just two weeks MED Theatre wove together, dance, drama, music and large scale puppetry into a full length play.
A total of 509 people saw the production via socially distenced performances and a live stream provided by Waggle Events.
Across January and February, MED Theatre delivered school workshops to 9 schools across Dartmoor and Exmoor, working with 589 school pupils in Primary and Secondary schools. The aim of these workshops was to introduce pupils to some Bronze Age history linked to their local landscape: specifically Bronze Age formations, the discovery of the Whitehorse Hill burial cist and the possibility of matriarchal rule. Using a combination of physical games, dance and music we guided participants through either 1 hour or 2 hour workshops where they could explore these ideas and instigate conversations about equality, religion and society.
“The workshop took a very lively and creative approach to exploring the material which, if approached differently, might have been a little inaccessible. However, the use of creative Drama approaches was the perfect way to explore bronze age culture, and I particularly enjoyed that the more cerebral, philosophical aspects of the content were not brushed over, but embraced.” Drama Teacher Ivybridge College
“It was very fun and pushed me out of my comfort zone.”
“This workshop is different and fun but you learn a lot about the past too.”
On Saturday 29th February all 6 of our Emerging Artists for the Moor Voices project worked creatively together for the first time.
This group are very special and we were very proud to be working with them on this project. Scroll down to find out more about them!
Workshops in voice, physical theatre, dance puppetry and open air chorus work were integral to the R&D process and development of the final performances that took place. We were fortunate to receive professional training from Dr Kontantinos Thomaidis, Clive Mendus, Rosalyn Maynard, Cariad Astles and Evelyn O’Malley. Each workshop facilitated was specifically linked to the themes of the Moor Voices project and enabled us to really explore and experiment with how we might begin to tell the story of Dart and Eske.
Something that was hugely beneficial to participants was having the space to play and be curious both individually and with each other. These workshops encouraged a sense of abandon and to be open to offers from everyone in the room or outdoor space. Collective storytelling and ensemble was at the centre of all the workshops that took place and how stories can be told in relation to space, audience and each other.
The Coronavirus pandemic forced us to be creative in some of the delivery of these workshops. For example for one of her workshops Evelyn O’Malley facilitated a light touch open air exploration via Zoom, empowering participants to take control of their own creativity and document their discoveries or creation throughout the day, sharing them with the group and then discussing the sensations experienced.The concept of ‘the weather’ and ‘taking the weather in’ became a key point of exploration for us when we were then able to meet outside and experiment how we might begin to allow the natural surroundings to filter through into the performance.
These workshops were available free of charge to participants 12+ and provided essential training for what proved to be a vibrant and energetic production.
Our emerging artists selected for this project come from a variety of creative backgrounds ranging from dance, theatre and music. Across the year they will be artistic collaborators, taking a role in the development and delivery of the final outdoor productions in August. We are very excited to work with them and to continue to help them develop their own practices beyond the end of the project
Daniella is delighted to be part of the Moor Voices project with MED Theatre and is looking forward to embarking on this new adventure with other artists, theatre makers and communities here in the South West. Having graduated last year from Rose Bruford College she is keen to continue developing her craft as a performer and theatre maker. Daniella has also recently trained within The Lab Company at Theatre Royal Plymouth where RunRagged was formed. She is also a theatre practitioner working with children and young people. Daniella loves to laugh and tell stories, aspiring to create playful, relevant and exciting work and believes Moor Voices will be a wonderful opportunity to collaborate on a really special project. Future aspirations are to keep learning new things and keep making theatre!
Eleanor is a third-year drama student at the University of Exeter. She has also completed a year of study at the University of Texas Austin in the USA, where she widened her artistic practice to include playwriting and applied theatre. Artistically she is interested in both mainstream and alternative forms of theatre and performance. Her artistic practice is collaborative, working with existing texts and devising performances. She’s also an avid writer and enjoys writing and performing poetry. She is originally from Cardiff so has grown up next to the sea, surrounded by traditional folklore and mythology. These two passions have brought her to work on this project, as well as the commitment to creating highly artistic work within the local community. She hopes to develop a greater understanding of how to create work with and for a community. After this project, she would like to continue acting and writing with an aim to create her own work and potentially start a theatre company.
Willa loves to dive into the unknown as well as challenge the familiar. She grew up on Dartmoor and has been a part of different local dance, music, and drama classes. She trained at Trinity Laban for three years in Contemporary Dance. There she became a founding member of MassHysteria Collective; a group of 12 female dance artists who challenge ourselves with shared curiosities and questions, making events, performances, and workshops. She is continuing her training at an intensive contemporary Dance course at Performact in Portugal. MED Theatre has played a big part in her personal and creative development and is excited to work with MED Theatre’s Moor Voices; a chance to collaborate with other artists. She is looking forward to returning to the rich devising process of MED Theatre and the honesty of its performances. She is excited to be working alongside members of the community and thinks it is going to be a fantastic project and is keen to start!
Linnea is currently working in the creative industry in London as a Textile Designer. She dances regularly and has danced since she was young; participating in Devon Youth Dance Company, as well as previous MED projects. She is passionate about performing arts and has been a huge influence in her life and development as an artist. She is originally from Devon and excited to be part of this project as she loves Dartmoor and the mythology it is connected with.
She hopes this project will further her investigation into cross disciplinary art which she aims to explore in her own practice going forward.
For the past 4 years Silas has been in and around Exeter doing numerous silly things. Until July 2017 he was studying A-Levels at Exeter College. Now having travelled for two years, working and ‘doing his own thing’, he has started a course in Geology at Durham University. Geology and creative arts; that can’t go together? Well, Silas thinks it does. These are is two areas of interest and has always believed that all subjects are complementary. For instance, his artistic interests have revolved a lot recently around Film, Theatre, Culture and the Environment. Particularly using performance as a medium to inform and explore different socio-environmental issues. This links perfectly into geology as the knowledge is transferable. We are intrinsically linked to our surroundings and the ground below our feet. Silas would like to explore this a lot more in the future. Aside from all this, he does just love the creative process and the capturing of an audience’s imagination. The Moor Voices project is not only going to propel and help the development of his own creative practice and knowledge base, but also that of everyone else in the community who gets involved or comes to watch. Very Exciting!
Jonny is a young creative who enjoys fusing together different practices such as dance, music and theatre, to create performance. Dartmoor has been his home since birth, it’s strong influences reside quite happily over his work. The landscape, folklore, past and present-day people offer so much in the way of imagination. To delve into the murky history of Dartmoor’s bronze age, particularly in a period focusing on sharing overdue stories of the different women that championed the past is hugely exciting. Previously, he has created his own work with the BBC, Arts Council England and the Exeter Phoenix, as well as performing as part of The Young Pretenders and Theatre Royal Plymouth. He is currently in pre-vocational training with the Centre of Advanced Training Graduate Scheme, The Prism Project and Chhaya Youth Company in preparation for some intense vocational dance training in the years ahead. MED Theatre’s community play ‘Whitehorse Hill 2016’ was his first experience as an actor, a healthy relationship with MED has since remained. Subsequent involvement with the composition and playing of music for annual community plays, as well as the enriching ‘Dartmoor Rivers’ project of last winter, has played a forceful part in the widening of his creative response to Dartmoor. He is thrilled to be working with the MED team in this new and exciting capacity!
Working with Puppetry Director Cariad Astles we designed, built and learned to manipulate a large scale puppet – inspired by the Greek whale goddess Ceto.
In Greek mythology Ceto was the daughter of Pontus and his mother Gaia. Ceto went onto bear a host of children, including Ladon (who guarded the tree upon which the golden apples grew) and the Hesperides. In the Moor Voices production the people of both Dartmoor and Exmoor worship Ceto and each year perform a human sacrifice to avenge the theft of the golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides by Heracles.
The design for the puppet was inspired by an image of the Inuit Goddess Sedna by Joan Relke – combining a human face with the body of a seal. Our design brought together the body of a humpback whale, with large elegant fins and sweeping fluke, as well as an ethereal human face.
The puppet was made in August using a combination of withies, kooboo, bamboo, parachute material and additional coloured fabrics.