The Stark Reality Of Rural Living

Stories of rural Devon's working lives

Dartmoor has a rich history of working life including farming, dry stone walling, mining and coal production, which has often been romanticised in the media and the arts.

In partnership with local museums, history groups and volunteers, MED Theatre carried out this project to research the lives of people from across the moor’s past and present, bringing to light the stark reality of living and working rurally.

What's the project about?

In many works of literature and media, life on the moors is portrayed romantically or as a simple way of living. Mark Beeson, MED Theatre’s late founder, was eager to explore the stark reality of living and working rurally by reading the lesser known works of writers such as John Trevena and his own mother, Jane Beeson.

This interest led MED Theatre to create this project – one that will not only look at artistic interpretations but also the real lives of people, both past and present, who have made a life on Dartmoor and across rural Devon.  We aim to explore various agricultural and industrial trades, and also how these occupations have impacted the personal lives and families of workers for generations.

Project Outputs

MED Theatre worked with a group of volunteers to collect research and carry out oral histories on the project’s themes.

This research then fed into:

  • An exhibit at The Museum of Dartmoor Life in Okehampton
  • A large-scale community play in March 2023, written and performed by community members