The Miracle Theatre, Redruth, Cornwall celebrates 30 years of humorous theatre
PUBLISHED: 17:14 06 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:09 20 February 2013
The Miracle Theatre celebrates 30 years of humorous theatre in gorgeous locations and Cornwall Life finds out what treats it has in store for audiences throughout August
The Miracle Theatre celebrates 30 years of humorous theatre in gorgeous locations and has treats in store for audiences throughout August
The Miracle Theatre began life 30 years ago with an adaptation of Origo Mundi, the first part of the medieval Cornish Miracle cycle. Appropriately, the production opened at Perran Round, near Perranporth, one of Cornwall's 'playing places', where the original Ordinalia would have been staged in the Cornish language about 700 years ago.
Miracle's version took place on a bare wooden platform with a small balcony representing heaven. Lucifer, Satan and Beelzebub emerged from Hell via a trap in the stage and, typically having all the best lines, stole the show! At 45 productions later, the Miracle Theatre is established as one of Britain's leading small-scale open-air touring companies producing a varied and regarded body of work.
It may have grown (now supported by the Arts Council and producing three shows over the next 12 months) but it has remained true to its roots, employing local actors, crew and staff and bringing top-quality theatre to small-scale rural venues across Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and the South West. Bill Scott, Miracle's Artistic Director and Founder, says: "Miracle's open-air performances are part of a Cornish tradition that stretches back at least to the 14th century. The reasons for this enduring popularity are clear to see - great plays, performed with vitality and humour, enriched by original music, and enjoyed in some of the most glorious natural venues under the stars."
These days Miracle produces work all through the year. During the winter months the company links up with rural touring networks across the UK to visit arts centres, village halls and smaller-scale venues, usually for very short runs or one-night performances. This year Miracle will have given 168 performances, visiting over 50 venues in Cornwall.
The company's mission is to explore the relationship between text-based and physical performance, using original music and modern multimedia technology to deliver a variety of work. In achieving this, a distinctive style has evolved, which is intimate, energetic and funny but always touching on a deeper meaning.
Looking back through the list of past productions, there's a striking variety of material such as: 24 original works including four Georgian-style pantomimes, a Victorian music hall show about Dr Livingstone, 1950s musical (Beauty and the Beast from Mars); a whodunnit (The Case of the Frightened Lady); a medieval farce (The Scapegoat), and a series of tongue-in-cheek examinations of British history, starting with The Great Enterprise about the Spanish Armada. The company has also performed six of Shakespeare's plays, cunningly adapted by six actors, as well as adaptations of several European classics such as Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame (Quasimodo) and Nikolai Gogol's The Government Inspector. It had three ventures into science fiction (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Time Machine and Cat's Cradle) and two plays that weren't written or adapted by Miracle, Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs.
This summer, history comes full-circle, with two of Cornwall's ancient playing places at Perran Round and St Just, hosting performances of Miracle's latest offering, a new translation of Molire's comedy Tartuffe. This classic tale of love, lust, betrayal and hypocrisy with comic consequences is suited to Miracle's high energy, physical performance style. Tartuffe is touring until 31 August and will be performed in various venues across Cornwall such as in the grand Pendennis and Bude Castles, the romantic The Island, St Ives and The Lost Gardens of Heligan, to a field at Carrruan Farm in Polzeath and in Enfield Park in Camelford.
The touring company consists of six performers who double up as stage crew, travelling together with full set, lights, sound and costumes, in their familiar bright pink truck.
Over the past 30 years Miracle has built up a loyal following in Cornwall and the region with a reputation for extraordinary, entertaining and very funny theatre in gorgeous locations. This kind of work is not for the faint-hearted, however, because whatever the weather, the show must go on!
The Miracle Theatre Company, Redruth, TR15 3AJ. 01209 216762, www.miracletheatre.co.uk