To Recreate a modern performance of Loves Welcome at Bolsover Castle.
To juxtapose two performances of Loves Welcome – one ‘historical’ and one ‘modern’. Place an original practices performance next to one with a modern resonance·
Building on the first experimental performance in 2013, I propose to split the performance and make two. Two of the major problems we faced were a) the actual written length would past around 30 mins to perform – not long enough for an evenings paid entertainment and b) Many audience (and curatorial staff) did not understand exactly what a Masque is. Many imagined something akin to ‘Shakespeare in the Garden’.
I feel it is important to honour the history, to start with the roots. we must try to re-stage the piece as faithfully as we can to give the audience an vision of what the original piece would have looked like. What was the costume like? What did the music should like? What was the choreography like? As with an original practices production at The Globe, this will give the audience a look at a piece of theatre that has all but disappeared.
However, while the original practice may look fantastical with Cyclops and Cupids and use intricate Ben Jonson verse, the references and subtleties will probably be lost on many of the audience. Not necessarily through lack of knowledge or education but because we live as ordinary people in the 21st century and society has changed.
Therefore, for the second part of the performance, I propose a ‘Modern Masque’. Place the whole event in a modern context.
Take the performance space away from a well manicured garden allowing all and sundry to spread their picnic blankets out whilst sipping Moet and Chandon and thrust them into the petrifying realm of an absolute monarch or Government as the course of Charles I would have experience.
There are many options of which era and which dictator could be used to create the best resonance with a modern audience – Hitler and Nazi Germany, Current North Korea and Kim Jong Un or even Putin and current Russia. The effect should not be a comfortable one for the audience. Their power will have shifted, they will be forced to stand and the movements will be restricted but this should shift their focus that this is no longer a performance for their enjoyment, it has been staged for only one and all others are peripheral.
The show itself will be re-written and re-choreographed with modern language and modern choreography relative to the period of the dictator. Cavendish wanted to use this piece to gain favour from King Charles. Jonson wanted to make jibes towards Inigo Jones. Replacing the personalities but keeping the intentions should open the access for the audience about the real comedy and sinister meanings behind the original text.
To expand the evenings entertainment beyond a re-written contemporary version of the original piece, it will be framed by a serious of scenes / vignettes and coaching. Building on the opening promenade section from the 2103 performance, the ensemble will highlight the situation of the ‘Ordinary folk’. In 1634 the local miners marched to partition the King as they were being put out of work. They were put in gaol by Cavendish’s men to prevent them from causing a disturbance during the day. Again drawing on the overall context and the period used to demonstrate the modern parallels, there are many examples of the oppression of the working classes to be drawn on.
Finally, the original revels would not have been a fun social gathering with no consequence. It was again a place when on had to ‘perform’ for the monarch. Potential great reward if you do it well but woe betide if you get it wrong. And you must perform alone.
Throughout the evening, some of the audience will be schooled in their own dance they must perform after the main show. While not everyone will either want to or be able to, there will be enough to allow the audience to once again appreciate the uncomfortableness of watching various people almost dance for their lives.
While this may not be the most comfortable and relaxed evening of entertainment, the partially immersive experience will allow the audience to wipe away the rose-tinted spectacles of our heritage and view it with a more truthful lens.
There is much scope for this project to use the local community. It is a particularly deprived area with very little local engagement with it’s heritage. The Castle is seen as something outside of the local communities lives and they have no ownership of it. By highlighting the involvement of the working classes of the past and showing how their struggles are the same struggles of today, this should help the local populations to understand that they too had a role in the past. It wasn’t jest all about the aristocracy. I would aim to use as many local performers as possible and outreach sessions into local schools for involvement and education.
The usual English Heritage audience would be white, middle, class and middle aged. The first project found the demographic of the audience matched this assumption. The aim would be to engage a wider part of the local population – mainly white but working class and younger.
Accessibility and Inclusiveness
A major aim of this project would be to make the heritage not jus accessible but relevant to the community today. By encouraging involvement and placing a modern context it ceases to be something that they are scared of and feel isn’t for them and gives the local community something to ‘own’
Quality of experience
The experience ma be more challenging for the audience than perhaps what they have seen in the past. However with a wider community involvement, the aim would also be to get an audience from a traditionally non theatre attending group. Expectations will then be different and quality may be measured in a different way.
I would hope that the project will live in through a greater community involvement with the ‘big house on the hill’, that they will cease to feel like it is something that is nothing to do with them but becomes something that very much belongs to them.
Artistic development and Innovation
There is very little training and understand of historical prance practice. WHile modern choreography will also be used, this has the scope to include study of the original practice and development from it.