Opera: “The Tendering Hundred of Essex” (working title)

A small newspaper clipping about a young man’s unexpected ‘kite flight’ in the village of St. Osyth, in The Tendering Hundred of Essex inspired this project.

Paul Whitty, composer and I collaborated for 2.5 years of research at the British Library to create a unique archeological inquiry into texts and songs directly related to the place and its pyscho-physical spaces.

As we experimented with our source materials, we discovered, in our taking apart and reconstructing of these artefacts, a rich landscape of sound that was both horizontal geographically with its fragments of characters places stories songs and vertical in its rootedness in the English history and sources upon which imagination built out of the sound of people that lived their lives, layer upon layer, over time, up to the surface of today.

The material we gathered was given an experimental residency at the Royal National Theatre Studio with a cast of singers, actors, musicians and recording artists.  Paul then carried the research into what he termed ‘sonic archeology’ at Oxford Brooks University, where he teaches.

We are launching a new phase of R&D in 2013 to open the richness of the material to audiences through a progression of smaller projects and interfaces. Our consultant producer Sarah Hickson commented “the technology to put out what you were making didn’t exist when you started this project: the world has caught up now!”

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