TWO THIRDS SKY
Two Thirds Sky
"Artistic Director Lisa Spackman casts a spell on medieval market town Higham Ferrers…and the most refreshing part of this whole project was that it was a local Contemporary Dance sold-out performance whereby the audience was made up of people that could not be slotted into one category. As audience members, we were led by candle light down a mysterious path of intrigue to our first destination..."
- Chris Sparkle: review Derngate performance 5th October, 2017
Eventide was an exciting choreographic process that took six months of planning and over three months of creation to bring to performance. Drawing together a cast and crew of over seventy people, the project included, an international team of professional performers, and five groups of local community dancers and volunteers. The final performance took place across the ancient medieval town of Higham Ferrers; responding to the English Heritage site of Chichele College and Bede House. The final work was presented as a series of torch-lit, promenade performances in April 2015, setting contemporary pieces against the glittering backdrop of stone and leaded glass. Eventide transformed the town’s historic buildings as part of a cyclical theatrical experience and utilised both its ancient gardens and interior spaces. The performances also tied in with Higham Ferrers' 600 year, celebration of the political maverick and Archbishop, Henry Chichele, who was born in the town and became the architect of many of the medieval buildings we see there today.
Eventide is the first collaboration between Two Thirds Sky and producing partner The Castle, and was supported by Arts Council England, Northamptonshire Community Foundation, Dance4, Higham Ferrers Tourism Business and Community Partnership, English Heritage, the St. Mary’s church community, The Ferrers School and students from University of Bedfordshire.
Artistic Director’s Note
“My interest in early European painting, from the late Medieval period to the early Renaissance has been a twenty year fascination. The worlds of Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and later the works of Matthias Grünewald - with his twisted medieval style, have influenced both my understanding of art and my process as a dance maker. Movement in a sense, for me is like a painterly experience; scribing images in space and thinking about how each stroke or gesture can shift a work’s energy or meaning. So making this piece in a medieval town has allowed me to pick up on how (in this case) an ancient building functions, both historically but also symbolically - and it has fascinated me how certain images transcend time across 600 years.
When Archbishop Henry Chichele commissioned many of the spaces in Higham Ferrers in the 15th Century there was a very direct connection between church, state and people’s everyday lives. In response, this piece sometimes closely reflects certain stories or past events that have happened here, but in other places the atmosphere and resonance of the building itself becomes inspiration and backdrop to a new reality. More immediate references are in the monastic and scholarly functions of Chichele College – you will see the picking of Saffron as a recurring image as it was grown in the gardens by the monks for an income. However later the building was also used as a Tavern and a farm building.
In Bede House the work touches upon the turbulent relationships between 15th Century France and England. There is a figure of Catherine de Valois of France, who married Henry V; a marriage that was brokered by the town’s famous Archbishop, in an attempt to bring peace. But I wanted to also critique the feudal and religious dynamics of the time – we send up the 13th Century book of manners (The Book of the Civilized Man by Daniel of Beccles) which tells the reader how a ‘gentleman’ should behave. There are other more extreme ideologies though, that for me are brought starkly into relief by the historical context of the buildings, such as the treatment of women at the time. We reference the lone ‘Bedes Woman’, who was supposed to humbly look after twelve ‘men of prayer’ in Bede House, as well as the use of ducking stools in Canterbury - a macabre test to see if women were witches. Equally, heretics or those who spoke out against the religious status quo were often burnt at the stake – a chilling parallel with today’s religious or intellectual intolerance. The soundscape has come from a catalogue of pieces that I have wanted to work with for many years, from ensembles that recite work by ‘New Historicist’ composers. Eventide has allowed me to bring these pieces together. You will hear musical references to religious meditation, pilgrimage or imminent battle; sound-images that punctuate and inspire separate choreographic vignettes.”
Andrew Holmes - Performer
Effie McGuire-Ward - Performer
Kamila Domańska - Lead artist /performer
Laura Gibson - Assistant choreographer /performer
Louise Gibbs - Rehearsal assistant /performer
Marta Masiero - Performer
Gareth Risdale - Production Manager / Lighting Design
Natalie Lloyd - Costume
Amy Gale - Lead artist for The Ferrers school
Alex Leonard - The Castle, Participation and Engagement Manager
Theresa Haworth - Media and Documentation
Alex Jarrett - Technician
Jamie Russell - Pyro-Technician
Castle Youth Dance
Jasmine Lily Bayes
The Ferrers School
Dance2 (Advanced Company)
Stage Management and Front of House team
Kitty Benford, Alex Levene, Kate McBlain
Xanthia Ncube, Jack Lake, Jadene Giltrow and Baris Timur
With additional thanks to the voluntary staff of Higham Ferrers Tourism, Business and Community Partnership, Rolton Engineering, English Heritage, staff at The Castle Theatre and Mike Carter (Writer, Lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire).
Copyright © Two Thirds Sky 2018