Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Discovery of Kober (Copper)

What a joy to work on with such wonderful children and Play-It-Again theatre this term to produce a fantastic evening of drama, comedy sketches, Cornish music & dance, telling the story of the discovery of copper, the tea treats, the riots and the strikes!



Claire & Nina from Play-It-Again worked with Hillfort Primary School Y5 on on the physical theatre, while I worked with St Martin's School Y5/6 & Y6 on the Cornish dancing over 3 sessions to give the young people the chance to perform in Liskeard Public Hall.

The play is set in 1836 at the time of the discovery of kober (copper) by James Clymo and Thomas Kittow, and began with the announcement by 'Miss Trewhella'  of the "discovery of copper on Caradon Hill...and to celebrate we shall have a dance...".  The children all joined in a simple serpent dance, led by the St Martin's School dancers . . . 


...and they really are made of light :)



Claire & Nina as the two old ladies retold the stories of the year that changed all our lives, as we "went from a small community where nothing ever happened to being the Copper Capital of South East Cornwall....during the "boom" there were at least 10,000, 'cos there are at least 5 mines".  


They used to "work six days a week, with only Sundays off, when they'd all dress in their Sunday best...and take the train to Looe..."

"Do you remember The Great Miners Riot of 1842...?"  Allegedly started by a James Beer in the Bullers Arms, asking for another drink.  The landlord refused him, and "all hell broke loose"...


...as the musicians began to play, the children began to 'throw' whatever they could lay their hands on...some excellent slow miming going on until they all collapsed.




Mayor Bernard Anstis "all stand..." doled out the fines to the miners, ending with sixty shillings to James Beer.



As the two old ladies recounted more tales of the copper "boom", 'Miss Trewhella' of the East Cornwall Temperance Society announces the 'Old Hand-in-Hand' dance . . . 


And the children danced very well indeed, especially as Hillfort Primary School had only learnt the dance on that day)...here's a little clip of them:



The story continued as the children from one mine discovered that they were not being paid as much as one of the other mines...and the story spread across the Caradon mines...


...and the children went on strike...





...and finally danced a defiant Mr Martin's Reel the length of the hall...



...you'll have to come see this again to find out what happened at the very end, if you can persuade your Caradon school to participate in the next Scoots Kernow-Play-It-Again-Phoenix 100 production!

Meur ras bras to...Councillor Derris Watson and all at the Caradon Heritage Partnership for the support...Claire & Nina at Play-It-Again , the staff and children at Hillfort & St Martin's CofE Primary Schools, the staff at Liskeard Public Hall, especially Dan on sound, and all the wonderful volunteers on the evening :D

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