THE HARDY TREE

The HARDY TREE is alive and well in Old St. Pancras Churchyard in London.  There is a reference to this tree in Peter Ackroyd's recent biography of London.  This ash tree is surrounded by monuments that were, as legend has it, moved by Hardy during his days as an architect clerk during the regeneration of Kings Cross in the 1860's.  Some of Hardy's poetry is reputed to be inspired by his time working on this unpleasant job - particularly 'In the Cemetery'.

The rather ugly and disfiguring stone cross in the foreground is not part of the historic Hardy Tree shrine with ancient tombstones  in the background.

NOTICE FROM Off The Cuff Theatre Company Ltd.
2nd floor, 91a Rivington St.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7739 2857
Fax: +44 (0)20 7613 0769

Registered in England & Wales: 4531010
Registered Charity: 110374
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Off the Cuff Theatre Company will be exploring the myth of The Hardy Tree which currently stands in the newly refurbished St Pancras (London) churchyard. As part of our funding and development process, OtC is consulting widely for this project.  We would love to hear your feedback and will be sending you an invite to attend our first public presentation happening in early 2005. 

Project Dates: The overall project is scheduled to last for 4 weeks in total (3 weeks research, 1 week admin.).  OtC is aiming to produce and complete this project by the end of May 2005 
 
  • The following is information taken from our forthcoming funding application to the Arts Council of England.  Please feel free to comment as this information will be sent for final consideration to ACE by Oct. 15 2004. 


THE PROJECT
 Off the Cuff Theatre Company Ltd. (OtC) is aiming to producing a three week research and development workshop involving artists and the members of the St. Pancras & Kings Cross community.  The workshop will culminate in 4 free Scratch performances open to the public to gain further feedback and development of the piece.
 
The aims of this project are as follows:

  • To explore the myth of THE HARDY TREE located in St Pancras Old Churchyard, NW1.
  • Develop and research a theatre based project which will capture local history with juxtapositions with the larger legends of Sir John Soane, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Thomas Hardy.
  • Capture some of the local history of the Kings Cross area during the  redevelopment (in advance of the Eurostar Tunnel completion)
  • Discover the impact for the Eurostar International extension to the local communities.
  • Produce 4 evening scratch presentations incorporating live performance with interwoven oral history inserts from members of the local diverse communities.
  • Gain and capture feedback from a research project from various sectors of the diverse groups including: members of local community groups; active and new audience participants; historians; high profile members of the community; local residents; emerging media and established business professionals; as well as leading theatre and other artistic practitioners .
  • Develop a new piece of interactive theatre which can then be produced (approx. late 2005/early 2006) for full theatrical public presentation .

Over a three week period, the actors, director and writer will have formal discussions with local community groups.  These discussions will lead to structured workshop sessions with key members of each local group working with various artists.

The stories that are generated from the groups will be built into the main synopsis of THE HARDY TREE.  These story threads will then be presented in a live performance in and around the churchyard to the public for their feedback and input.  OtC will capture this information (i.e. using DV filming, recordings, remembrance boards, open notebooks, feedback forms, and discussion) to further develop the piece for a full performance later in the year.

This scratch project will be very important to  the local community of St. Pancras, Camden and Kings Cross.  OtC is aiming to produce a full production of this play in 2005/06, which will lead to greater community cohesion and audience access and participation in a unique artistic event. 

This research and development will dovetail into other proposed community events that OtC is running with the St. Pancras Community Association which are also capturing local stories and community history.

KEY ARTISTIC PERSONNEL

 PAUL DUBOIS (Artistic Director) Paul is the founding Artistic Director of Off the Cuff Theatre Company (OtC).  His recent experience in devising and developing new work includes: INTERFERENCE (with Wishbone Theatre) which received a Fringe First Nomination during the Edinburgh Festival 2003 and is currently touring nationally; SCAPEGOAT (Wishbone Theatre) which won the Total Theatre Award (Edinburgh 2002) and is touring internationally and throughout the UK.  As Artistic Director of OtC, Paul has produced 3 productions of SWOLLEN TONGUES (including the National Tour) and directed over 10 productions of new theatre writing including the LIBRARY PLAY at Soho Theatre & Writers Centre in 2004.  Paul's next original Edinburgh piece, EDDIE BABY, will be Scratched at BAC this Hallowe'en.

KAREN GLOSSOP (Writer) is a founding member of Wishbone Theatre Company.  As a contributing writing and artistic director for Wishbone, Karen has successfully conceived and written SCAPEGOAT (Total Theatre Awards Winner 2003), INTERFERENCE (Fringe First Nominee Edinburgh 2003).  Wishbone has been touring internationally with their productions since 2000 and has visited cities around the UK as well as Amsterdam and Prague. Recent performances of Wishbone's productions have been at BAC and the Drill Hall.  Karen has performed multimedia her one-woman show, ROCK WIDOW, at various comedy venues and theatres across London.  She is currently working on Wishbone's forthcoming BAC commission of SLEEPER as part of the OCTOBERFEST 2004.

LAWRENCE POTTER (Production Design/Manager) is the full-time producer/production manager/safety officer for SAME SKY. He has many years experience as initially set design and build, but now predominately the leader of production teams for numerous innovative shows, with various companies including amongst others SAME SKY, THE WORLD FAMOUS, OH!ART, CARNIVAL COLLECTIVE, KINETIKA, and THE BRIGHTON FESTIVAL. Projects have ranged from small-scale community based projects, the touring of various medium scale shows, to large-scale site-specific theatrical productions.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

OtC has had experience running many small and medium scale productions and workshops over the past 5 years.  Recently OtC produced a medium scale tour of the UK for our Critics’ Choice production of SWOLLEN TONGUES.  This project was originally estimated to cost £65,000.  After a successful bid to the National Touring Programme, OtC was able to bring the project in under £10,000 of the estimated expenditure.  This was to due to OtC’s rigorous financial controls and proven project management systems

PARTNERS
At present, the following partners have committed to working with OtC on this project:  The Heritage Lottery Fund (Lorraine Huggart, LHI Advisor, Countryside Agency); Soane Museum (Will Palin Assistant Curator); London Borough of Camden (Val Wilson (Events) & Robert Wilkinson (Lottery Officer, King’s Cross Stories)), The Parish of St. Paul, St, Michael & St. Pancras (Rev. Bruce Batstone); Camden Community Umbrella; St. Pancras Living History Group; Irene Fawkes Management (Irene Fawkes, Theatrical Agent) and the Canadian High Commission (Katherine Bond, Performing Arts Officer).


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