Re:voice is a new participatory theatre performance created as a part of the international academic research Re-voicing cultural landscapes: narratives, perspectives, and performances of marginalised intangible cultural heritage (Re:voice). The piece aims to provide new perspectives on a key research question of the project: How can a better understanding of the interplay between majority and minority in relation to intangible cultural heritage enable us to make European indigenous cultures more visible and resilient? Although the larger Re:voice project focuses on marginalised cultures across several countries, this performance is part of the project’s research in Cornwall, in particular drawing on the project’s data from Penwith.
The work draws on the research interviews from Cornwall and also explores new knowledge through a collaboration with a community choir from Penzance, The Tuesday Night Fun Club, who have co-created and will perform as part of the piece.
Collected stories and conversations addressing issues of belonging, identity, heritage and the interplay between majority and minority will build a narrative delivered through performance, movement, sound and video in a gallery space, dialoguing between intangible (performance) and tangible (art). The performace was devised, created and rehersed through a series of workshops involving invited artists, designed to exchange experiences through conversations, movement, singing and actions. As the landscape plays a huge part in constructing our identities, the work will centre around the main space of the gallery but also will take the audience for a processional walk connecting various gallery rooms and the space outside – allowing the audience to experience the performance not only intellectually and emotionally, but also physically through the journey across the space.
Re:voice is created by director Agnieszka Blonska, with imPOSSIBLE Producing, choir leader Victoria Abbott, choreographer Jennifer Fletcher, videographer Joshua Pharo, tech Louis King and The Tuesday Night Fun Club Choir. In collaboration with Falmouth University and the Tate Gallery.
The show will take place Tate St Ives on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 April at 14:00 and 16:00. Visit the Tate St Ives website for more information or to book tickets.
The ambiguous place of minoritized European indigenous cultures – as both majority and minority, as resembling mainstream culture yet distinct from it – means that knowing how to talk or write about it appropriately can be difficult.
In this paper, presented at the 2022 Association of Critical Heritage Studies conference, Project Leader Laura Hodsdon reflected on how Cornish intangible heritage appears in a sample of public discourse.
This presentation will be written up fully in one of our forthcoming peer-reviewed publications – more info soon. In the meantime, this is the abstract for the presentation, delivered as part of the Heritage, Power, and Contestation strand:
The European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages recognises over 200 national minorities within just 25 countries, yet European nations are often perceived as culturally homogenous. Cornwall, in the United Kingdom’s far south-west, is one region in which autochthonous heritage sits uneasily in relation to the dominant, national narrative. Stereotyped imaginaries are mobilised by literature, television, destination-marketing, and cultural and economic policies.
Nevertheless, since the 1900s, Kernewek, the Cornish language, has been undergoing a revival, alongside Cornish cultural traditions. Its marginality renders it fragile: susceptible to dominant narratives and practices, lack of visibility and in turn lack of resource, fragmentation, and endangerment.
Nevertheless, this intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is a key enaction of minority culture, whether a continuing practice such as Padstow Mayday, or revitalised such as Golowan in Penzance.
Seeing ICH as a contemporary social practice – rather than a vestige from the past to be preserved – raises questions around the role of society as a whole in engaging with ICH, not least given pluralising shifts in the demography of traditional ICH areas. The everyday discursive landscape that mediates these encounters is constructed by various social actors: institutions (tourism and heritage organisations, local and national media, councils and cultural organisations) and individuals (tourists, permanent and temporary residents, creative practitioners).
Drawing on a dataset of web and media texts and field interviews, I focus on Cornish festivals as one manifestation of ICH, and consider how they are discursively constructed by insider and outsider social actors, to uncover power dynamics, overlapping or contradictory perspectives, and paths to identify practical means of amplifying and integrating marginalised heritage to enrich the culture as a whole.
The Future of Critical Heritage Studies Panel at the Association of Critical Heritage Studies conference in Santiago, Chile, December 2022.
“Everyone can hold hands and take part in the Serpent Dance, an old Penzance dance that links community and two contrasting ancient, revived & re-imagined Penzance traditions – Golowan (in midsummer) and Montol (the winter solstice).
The light and the dark…”
“A Serpent’s Dance started with collecting sound from the town of Penzance (Pen Sans which means Holy Headland in Kernewek/ Cornish). I recorded different sounds at all times of the day and night, in different seasons and during the festivals of Montol and Golowan. Night recording helped me, for example, capture the sound of flapping Golowan festival flags that were always ruined by cars and voices in the day. I asked residents and those that work in Penzance what sound they feel is closely connected with the town. The jangles and ting-ting-tings of the boat masts as the wind whistles through them (which feature prominently – they are one of my favourite sounds), the birds that live in the tree by the train station that signal that you are finally home, the kids playing in the water by the slipway, the sound of swimmers in the open sea and Jubilee Pool. Then there are the sounds of crowds of people enjoying themselves at two of the traditional festivals where the community – whether pagan or Christian, old or young and all those in-between – find a way to celebrate their home and community. There are lots of sounds you might not recognise – but someone will.”
“The sound piece meanders like Penzance’s Serpent Dance to evoke some of the atmosphere of the town and its traditions. Traces of interviews from the Re:Voice research project and interviews recorded specifically for this piece are used to emphasise what the sound effects are implying or to express aspects they cannot. Photographs and film footage were shared, kindly, by amateur & professional photographers, archivists and filmmakers contacted after seeing their work online or through targeted research. Marcus Cook edited this jumble of material together to the sound piece. My hope is that people listen to the soundscape first (with headphones) as an embodied experience and imagine what they are hearing. Watching the film afterwards (with headphones), adds another layer of understanding to these far southwest ancient Cornish community traditions.”
Dr Lucy Frears
Soundscape & Design – Lucy Frears
Picture Editor – Marcus Cook
Original Music (at end): MUHLA
Duration: 4.39 mins (designed to be played in a loop).
The sound & film were made possible by contributions by many people – thank you.
Interviews by Lucy Frears in order of first appearance:
Leader of the Golowan Band – Rosie
Leader of the Golowan procession & Penglaze Teazer – Elise Sampson
Master of the Glorious Company of the Egyptian House (the ‘gyptians guise guild at Montol) – Carol Tanner
Poet, writer & part of the Golowan founding group – Pauline Shepherd
The Egyptian God Horus (Montol) & various Golowan & Montol roles – Andy Tanner
Montol researcher, initiator & director – Simon Reed
Producer & filmmaker Denzil Monk
Poet – Katrina Naomi
Montol Artistic Director (2022 -) – Joe Gray (who was interviewed by Lucie Akerman)
Thank you for sharing photos:
The Terry Sampson Golowan Archive – including photos by Steve Tanner,
Bill Mitchell Archive (courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, Falmouth University and University of Exeter Penryn Campus),
© Sue Hill (a founder of Golowan who designed the logo),
Simon Cook, Mike Newman, John Stedman, Joe Beer & © Peter Waverly collection held at Kresen Kernow [AD2764]
Thank you for sharing film footage:
The Terry Sampson Golowan Archive,
© Peter Waverly collection held at Kresen Kernow [AD2764]
Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange – Blair Todd; Olga Reed AMPS – YXO Studios Ltd; Re:voice colleagues: Laura Hodsdon, Flis Tattersall, Denzil Monk & Paul Sewry, Golowan Associate Director – Martin Venning, maker of the Glorious Company of the Egyptian House osses displayed at The Exchange – Martin Cleaver, editor Marcus Cook, all those who helped secure permissions for photos – Debby Wright & Sharron Parsons, Cultivator Cornwall (for funding sound equipment), Maggi Simpson, Maria McEwen, Lucie Akerman, Harriet Poznansky, David Prior, Chris Ryan & Louis Frears.
Funded by Research England in partnership with Falmouth University.