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A Mouthful of Earth: From St Mary Mede to Azincourt

April - October 2015

A touring play exploring the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 through the stories of three ordinary folk caught up in the action. This play toured schools and historical venues, culminating in a centenary performance at The Great Hall , Winchester on 25th October 2015.

A Mouthful of Earth: From St Mary Mede to Azincourt

"It was a really lovely show - beautifully put together and wonderfully sensitive to the space that it was in. Really inspiring."  
- Lizzie Crarer, Director, The Heroine Project Presents (re: Performance on 23 October 2015, Bishop's Waltham)

"Just wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU and WELL DONE for the wonderful and very stimulating performance today from your company.  Your own tag line ‘unlocking stories’ was never more true – wow what a tale!  I was transfixed.  The poetic script and the quality of the characters' performances was memorable and has certainly had an impact on the pupils here."
- Ms D Hinks, Deputy Head, Toynbee School (re: performance and workshop at Toynbee School on 21 October 2015)

We were delighted to receive funding from Hampshire County Council and Agincourt600 to develop a touring show exploring the Agincourt story from the perspectives of the ordinary folk whose lives were caught up in the drama on this side of the channel and the other.

School pupils, history specialists, museum goers and the wider Hampshire community participated as researchers, performers, learners and audience members, creating a 21st century response to an event of key historical significance for Hampshire.

The new play was performed as a part of  Hampshire's spectacular programme of commemorative events, culminating in a performance at The Great Hall, Winchester on the eve of the 600th anniversary of the battle itself.

Playwright Deborah Gearing delved into the archives to explore scant material available which helped her creatively imagine the lives of the ordinary folk caught up in the action.

The resulting play, A Mouthful of Earth - from Hampshire Field to Azincourt, was magnificent in its simplicity, using a cast of only three actors to tell the story of a handful of people - from both sides of the Channel - whose lives were inextricably caught up in the war between England and France.

The play toured historically significant locations; St Peter’s Church in Bishop’s Waltham, where King Henry camped the night before he set sail for France; Fort Nelson at Portchester which overlooks the bay where King Henry set sail to France; and then to Winchester Great Hall, one of the finest surviving medieval halls in the country.

The final performance took place at Lockswood Day Care Centre, a very different venue to the others, but just as relevant for Now Heritage, as we are committed to bringing heritage into the heart of communities, and had agreed to put on the performance to raise funds for Age Concern.

The play also toured three Hampshire secondary schools, involving pupils in the epic creation of the Battle of Agincourt as the show's finale.

Synopsis:

Young Tom, a simple farming boy, eagerly leaves his life of toil to go off and look after the horses for the men that are to fight.  Anne, his mother is furious with Tom and hopelessly tries to make him come home.  Tom’s sister is also angry that she faces having to do his chores on top of her own and is jealous that, as a boy, Tom gets the chance to escape their mundane life.  “I’d like to be able to go France!” she declares resentfully.  

Marguerite of Harrefleur beseeches the audience to understand her torment over the potential fate of her husband, and whilst the audience may struggle to understand the detail of her lines – beautifully delivered in French - everyone is able to understand the context.

Jack, a longbow man, is an empathetic character brutalised by war.  He demonstrates compassion for Marguerite by allowing her to take her baby and flee her home.  Later, with a few brutal, yet in the context of the battle, necessary strokes, Jack follows the Kings orders and slaughters the defeated French soldiers lest they rise to fight again.  

As the play draws to a horrendous battle climax, the characters come together to sing a beautiful requiem for lives lost on both sides of the battle lines.

With thanks to:

Hampshire Cultural Trust for the original commission and for giving us the opportunity to perform in the wonderful Great Hall of Winchester.

Hampshire County Council and Agincourt600 for their financial support for this production.

The Rector of St Peter’s Church who allowed us to rehearse and perform in the beautiful church building.

St Peter’s Church choir for their wonderful rendition of medieval music prior to the performance.

Nigel Hosier, Operations Manager of Fort Nelson, for his support in enabling the performances to take place at this amazing venue.

Stroud School in Romsey, Toynbee School in Chandlers Ford and Kings School in Winchester for allowing us to work with their wonderful pupils.

Lockswood Day Care Centre for providing a welcome warm and intimate venue and an appreciative audience.

Fuzzy Vison for their imaginative choreography of the young dancers.

Helen McCardle, who designed and made the costumes based on authentic patterns of clothes of the period.

Laurie Gresty for her beautiful pen and ink drawing of an archer

Dermot of A C Delco for his time and patience teaching the actors how to hold and use a longbow

 

The Now Heritage team were:

Emma Golby-Kirk, director
Barbara Reed, producer
Deborah Gearing, writer
Annie Sanger-Davies, actor
Jack Shaw-Downie, actor
Hannah Timms, actor
Jade Dredge, stage manager

 

 





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A touring play exploring the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 through the stories of three ordinary folk caught up in the action. This play toured schools and historical venues, culminating in a centenary performance at The Great Hall , Winchester on 25th October 2015.