Poldark might be drawing to a close, but brand new for August 2019, following on from the mighty Man Engine, the creative and artistic director of Yskynna, David Greeves is launching ‘Estah’s Story’. A sky-high, major spectacle of aerial performances will tell the story of the Cornish ‘Bal maiden’* Estah and is set to take audience members on an emotionally-stirring journey through the highs and lows of the reality of mining times. With the first wave of shows taking place at Cornwall’s 19-acre mining attraction site, Heartlands this August, a preview and seminar will take place from The Town Hall in the ancient stannary town and gateway to the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, Tavistock at a later date.

Estah’s Story is quite literally a ‘moving’ experience as the audience travel physically and emotionally with the characters from scene to scene. Extensively researched and based on real historical figures, the performance creatively combines metaphor, vertical dance, stunning visuals, musical score and human voice. Estah is a Cornish Bal maiden, leading the audience into her world, her life at the tin mine and into her dreams, both realised and lost.

Previous Yskynna productions include ‘Ghost Ships’ and ‘Bligh Spirit’ at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall (NMMC), ‘If you go down to the Woods’ at Trebah Gardens, and ‘Hyreth’ at the Royal William Yard. All of which sold out very quickly so the demand for Estah’s Story’s tickets is expected to be very high.

The project takes its inspiration from music and songs that were transported by the Cornish diaspora to receiving countries and how they were developed and affected the local communities. Such songs will be performed by the community choirs that will provide the beautiful background music, led by Hilary Coleman and Claire Ingleheart.

The show will focus on a number of central themes including empowering ourselves, inclusivity, connection, re-engaging and the importance of community. Through exploring the effects of the Cornish diaspora, both here and across the world, the project will help people to understand how events that happened a century or two ago will still affect our lives today.

Heartlands as a Cornish Mining World Heritage Site has a story of its own from industrial and economic success to decline and abandonment, and now redeveloped to honour the past, this project will contribute to the development of Heartlands for the community both artistically and creatively. For example, the architecture and mining equipment will cleverly inform the practice aerial performances and rigging possibilities.

The project will be performed 20 times, over a period of two weeks, with two performances per day from August 13th to August 23rd. The first performance each day at 18:30 will be aimed at families with younger children, the second performance at general audiences from 20:30. Each piece will last approximately one hour and ten minutes in duration and audience numbers will be limited to around 130 maximum to ensure the show is as intimate, engaging and enjoyable as possible.

David Greeves, Artistic and Creative Director of Yskynna said, “We are so excited to bring the Cornish mining story reality to the skies and throughout the Heartlands site this August and to Tavistock a little later on. Estah’s Story showcases the deeply moving reality of our Cornish ancestors, including elements such as love, tragedy, loss and poverty. We are sure that audiences will thoroughly enjoy and connect with all aspects of the story as they come on this journey with us. We are really proud to have some phenomenal creatives involved from a number of different disciplines; we have fantastic vertical and aerial dancers, actors, as well as abstract artists and sculptors through to very talented costume designers.”

David continued, “Estah’s story would not be possible without all of our supporters and funders including the Arts Council South West, the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, AMATA, Falmouth University, FEAST, Vector Rigging, James Arscott of Rope Access, Rigging and Rescue Ltd, and of course, Heartlands, where the first wave of shows are taking place. The work of Yskynna aims to change people’s perception of the spaces used for site specific performances, as we focus our engagement projects on non-traditional venues for cultural and artistic endeavour, thus providing a long-term change in perception and engagement.”

David boasts a colourful and creative CV, having worked worldwide on major opera productions, Bollywood, large scale events, and local productions as well as operating as lead puppeteer behind the iconic Cornish mining behemoth, The Man Engine. Here he combines his passion for Cornwall and the past to bring this emotion-stirring piece to life.

Julian German , Chair of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site Partnership, said, “Cornwall had a crucial influence in leading the world through the industrial revolution of the 1800s. The often untold story is the stark reality that children, mothers and Bal maidens had to endure the daily drill of Cornish mining life and its hardships. Estah’s story beautifully depicts all of these realities including, love, loss, poverty and happiness – it fully encapsulates the highs and the lows, quite literally.”

Julian continued, “The way that we as the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site demonstrate our understanding of these stories is through supporting productions like this, key storytelling in poignant, historic settings, delving into bygone times, educating and entertaining locals and visitors alike.”

Phil Gibby, South West Director of the Arts Council England, said, “Mining heritage is such an important part of Cornish identity and we’re delighted to be working in partnership with Cornwall Council and others such as Historic England to invest in cultural activity that bring this history to life for both the local communities and visitors to the region. Our investment allows moving performances like Yskynna’s to happen – in turn increasing economic growth, and bringing immense social benefits – we look forward to seeing it in the summer!”

Tickets for the show start from £6 for a child and £10 for an adult and can be purchased from Heartlands. For more information about Yskynna’s Heartlands project, please visit www.yskynna.co.uk or call Heartlands on01209 721210. It is an entirely standing performance so attendees can feel free to bring their own chairs should they wish to or feel that they may need to.

Image credit: Guy Harris


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