This is a guest blog from Laura Drane FRSA (producer of award-winning performance company Light, Ladd & Emberton) who is currently working on a new piece, Croesi Treath - Crossing a Beach, which will be shown as part of the long-established Gwyl Gregynog Festival in Harlech, North Wales, in July.
What are the stories of your home town? Each place has its own myths and infamies, with tales of real people who’ve made their mark, and memories of odd facts which get polished and handed on. Croesi Traeth - Crossing a Beach takes the stories from past, present, and future, and dreams them alive on Harlech beach as part of a new performance.
The famous 18th century Welsh poet, Ellis Wynne (y Bardd Cwsc), wrote:
‘Daeth cwsg i gloi fy llygaid ar y traeth/ A chrwydrais wlad ryfeddol wedyn’
'Sleep came and locked my eyes/ And then I dreamed a marvellous world'
And what a world Harlech is!
Margaret Morris was a pioneer in dance and a leading suffragette. She came to Harlech in 1919 and 1921 to hold summer schools. Others join her in our beach-dream, amongst them; a band of protesting Suffragettes; the archangel Michael; spacemen and other flying objects; and plenty more besides. From the sands, you will see a new world, with the help of headphones and…a spying glass.
Croesi Traeth is currently a very developmental piece, exploring and exposing the rich but lesser-known cultural histories of Harlech and its environs and seeking to connect visitors and the local community with this fascinating heritage.
Harlech is best known for the stirring anthem Men of Harlech, as well as the formidable castle of the town, but very few people know that Roman Polanski filmed Macbeth nearby, or why St Michael’s churches dot the western coast of Wales, Cornwall, France and beyond. But we’ll also be celebrating the pioneering dancer Margaret Morris, whose work continues to inspire new dancers and performers almost 40 years after her death. Morris was a cutting-edge dancer, choreographer, and artist, and, amongst many inspiring achievements, she established the Margaret Morris Movement, which still thrives today.
She was also a strong supporter of votes for women, designing the cover for the song sheet of The March of the Women, the anthem of the women’s suffrage movement in Britain. It was composed in 1910 by Ethel Smyth with words by Cicely Hamilton. Smyth dedicated the song to the Women’s Social and Political Union. In January 1911, the WSPU’s newspaper, Votes for Women, described the song as ‘at once a hymn and a call to battle.’ We’ll be celebrating these historical links, and more, against the backdrop of current political and social challenges and questions about our futures.
We’ve had a fascinating journey so far in developing Croesi Traeth, and will be sharing our findings in free shows on the beach during Gwyl Gregynog Festival in July 2017.
Although we have done the hard work of raising more than £40,000 for this large-scale outdoor work (with five performers and a crew of fifteen), we are also crowdfunding for the extra sum of £2,000, which will mean every audience member can have their own chair, headset, and binoculars through which to view the production - your support will allow us to share the final version with even more people! Please support this remarkable project, which has a long and interesting life ahead. You can also help by spreading the word with your friends, family, and networks who might be interested too.
I leave you with this quote by Margaret Morris herself, from Creation in Dance & Life:
‘If you contribute something to others and to yourself, you are living creatively.’
Croesi Traeth/ Crossing A Beach Performances:
21.00, 1st July 2017
14.30, 2nd July 2017
Free (booking essential): https://gwylgregynogfestival.org/harlech
Supported by Arts Council of Wales National Lottery Funding, Creu Cymru, Ty Cerdd, Snowdonia Partnership Fund, Theatr Ardudwy and Gregynog Festival.