Thomas Hardy refers to the Corn Exchange in his novel 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' explaining the purpose it was originally built for, but to see it used as it was last night, for contemporary, creative, live theatre, was a reminder of how historic venues such as these, are as much an important a part of society as they ever were, for bringing communities together.
"I won't be a slave to the past. I'll love where I choose."
— Thomas Hardy (The Mayor of Casterbridge)
The premiere of As-One theatre's Tinderbox was attended by Dorchester Town's Mayor and Mayoress, and by many other local residents and families. I was excited to see a large number of teenagers in the audience, as many theatre events I have attended recently have been largely attended by only the more senior members of the community.
Involved in the opening of the show were members of Stagecoach Dorchester and Dorset Youth Theatre, who then were able to watch the show from specially reserved seats at the front. I could see their faces whilst watching, and that for me was quite special. They were captivated and obviously truly inspired and entertained.
Using carefully planned props, the cast were able to create a visual spectacle, that carried the audience through a contemporary version of the original Hans Christian Anderson tale.
The use of clever puppetry, masks and inventive shadow theatre, the talented performers under the guidance of the show's writer and director, were able to create illusions that enabled the audience to be transported through the lifetime of the Tinderbox Princess, who was initially represented by a beautiful puppet, evolving into a living character.
Original music was written for the for the play, and was gently introduced as a re-occuring memorable theme through the production. Harmonised voice in the main, with the accompaniment of two guitars and some cleverly timed rhythmic drumming.
The show will now be on tour, the venues and dates that you can see a performance are listed on the As-One Theatre website.
Did you see the show last night? What did you enjoy most?