Let Them Eat Jam
Since Spring 2011, Coney has been making regular trips up to Whitehaven in West Cumbria as part of an intriguing co-production with the exquisite Rosehill Theatre to create a brand new piece of theatre.
Situated on top of a hill between the towns of Whitehaven and Workington, Rosehill was founded by the rather magnificent Hungarian silk magnate Sir Nicholas Sekkers who employed the acclaimed stage and set designer Olivier Messel to create “a rose-red silk lined jewel box.” Coney is happy to attest that Mr Messel achieved his objective with aplomb.
This project marks an important new working model for Coney, as we went up to West Cumbria with minimal knowledge of the area, and no idea of the piece of theatre we were going to make (although the commission from West is Best, the West Cumbrian Arts Engagement Initiative, did give us some starting parameters). Rather than imposing any pre-conceived ideas onto the project, our aim was to respond to what we found, taking our lead from the location we were working in and the stories which excited the local people we met. Openly confessing our ignorance, we spent several weeks immersing ourselves in the life and history of West Cumbria, meeting more than 100 locals aged from 9 months to 90 years, and hoovering up all the information we could find. From these conversations, certain themes and intriguing stories began to emerge, including the centuries old (and largely playful) rivalry between Workington and Whitehaven folk – and see here for an explanation).
We then began to weave the stories and characters into a piece of interactive story-telling which will take place across several spaces in Rosehill. Local people continue to be involved with every aspect of the piece, with an “authenticity advisory panel” being assembled to ensure that Cumbrian slang of the script rings true, and several over 70s helping designers ensure that the 1960s feel we are going for with the piece feels just right. Local performers, both professional and non-professional, will also make up the cast of Let Them Eat Jam, which will run between March 8th and March 11th 2012.
Coney is here represented by Annette Mees, Mimi Poskitt and Tom Bowtell.