Associate Artists HFC Youth Dance HFC Youth Theatre Live Performance Redevelopment Project Resident Companies

Supporting Artists and the Arts

Supporting Artists and the Arts

by Julien Boast, HFC CEO & Creative Director

Although the theatre is now closed to the public for our exciting and ambitious redevelopment project, our Arts Development team are still very much open for business, continuing to support professional artists and working with schools and young people to bring arts to local communities across Cornwall. Thanks to support from the Arts Council, Cornwall Council and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, our Arts Development work spans the entire county with opportunities created for individuals to perform and create in diverse theatre spaces including care homes, schools and colleges, village halls, museums, galleries and gardens.

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy. The team have attended the Royal Shakespeare Company Play Making Festival with students from Treviglas, Brannel, Redruth, Humphry Davy, Liskeard & Callington schools performing on the RSC’s main stage; delivered workshops for youngsters from Pondhu and St Breward primary schools and held “end of term” pop up and performance events for our Youth Dance and Theatre Companies at The Burrell Theatre and Perranporth Beach.

As we reflect back on the last 6 months, highlights have included work on 26 Creation Space projects, week long residencies in 17 local venues allowing professional artists to develop and test new work and the staging of Nick Darke’s ‘Hell’s Mouth’ by members of the HFC Youth Theatre, which was critically acclaimed as ‘THE BEST YOUTH THEATRE SHOW EVER SEEN’. Many of the young people taking part in this production have been members of our Youth Theatre for many years, using the opportunity and experience gained with us as a spring board for working with other professional companies or indeed pursuing a career in the arts. This year’s graduation cohort has seen 8 young people go on to either drama or dance schools or studying performance at a higher level.

Talent Development of professional artists is a key focus for us with the team offering mentoring support and encouraging artists to reflect on the work they have done in the past and talk about what they would like to accomplish going forward. Over the last six months, we have supported 160 artists through one to one sessions including our Associate Artists, such as Jethro Compton who is currently The Little Princess in Vienna and Emily Dobson who recently worked as choreographer on WildWorks’ 100: UnEarth at The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Whilst we continue to prepare our building to hand over to the building team, the Arts Development team will be working tirelessly across the community to ensure that the power of performance can continue to inspire, educate and be enjoyed. Coming to an unusual performance space near you soon……


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Wealth of dance skills developed across the South West

Wealth of dance skills developed across the South West

Hall For Cornwall, Plymouth Dance and Dance in Devon CPD Dance Card Bursary

The CPD Dance Card Bursary is a partnership support programme set up by Hall For Cornwall, Plymouth Dance and Dance in Devon which has impacted on the development of a wealth of skills in dance practitioners and artists across Cornwall, Plymouth and Devon from 2010 onwards.

The CPD Dance Card Bursary has been available from 2010 to February 2018 aiming to open up opportunities for individuals working in the dance sector to attend training and continuing professional development events that are self-determined, specific and high quality giving ownership over career development and ensuring that a diverse experience and range of skills are brought back into the South West.

The organisations within the partnership value the wealth of skills and knowledge of dance practitioners in the South West and the CPD Dance Card Bursary has enabled many practitioners to access high quality, career enhancing training in a national and international context whilst still working from a base in Cornwall, Plymouth or Devon.

Over the course of 8 years of Dance Card activity 134 people across Cornwall, Plymouth and Devon have received the CPD Dance Card Bursary which across this time has had a total spend of approximately £30,000. It allowed individuals to apply for a bursary of up to £250, making up to 75% of the overall costs of each practitioner’s professional development project which could take place anywhere in the world. A broad range of activity has been explored by dance practitioners from wired aerial training to Dance for Parkinson’s CPD to the Gaga Intensive in Tel Aviv.

The partnership organisations are working together to review the Dance Card programme moving forward so that we can best support artists from Cornwall, Plymouth & Devon so we are not taking further applications at this time. However there are many opportunities for dance practitioners across the South West, so subscribe to our newsletters and social media channels in order to keep informed about developments for the future of dance!


Associate Artists

Hall For Cornwall Associate Artist: Rebecca Mordan


Tell us a little about the history of your company Scary Little Girls…

We are a radical feminist theatre company and production hub, working with around 100 artists a year through collaboration, partnerships, casting and mentoring. We aim to create high quality productions with progressive messages that leave audiences feeling positive, engaged, and like constructive change is both welcome and possible!

I founded Scary Little Girls after becoming very disillusioned with the opportunities offered to women by the mainstream performing arts industries. I felt like the limited roles actresses like myself were going up for – girlfriends, wives, mothers or prostitutes – were always satellites, orbiting the male ‘everyman’ characters, rarely leading as protagonists or driving stories together that didn’t involve men. The impact on this on my life and the lives of actor friends was obvious (frustrating, demeaning, boring) but I also felt society as a whole was being robbed of heroines, information, excitement and creativity.

Alongside telling richer, wilder stories, we also wanted to provide working environments that were supportive and nurturing, to look at less hierarchy and stronger structure so that everyone involved can give their best in a production. Since starting back in the day (2002, which I can’t believe and makes me feel very old!) we’ve turned our hand to lots of different styles from comedy to the gothic, site specific to mid-scale touring.  What unifies the work is feminism and joie de vivre – in our revolution there will be dancing!

What are your aspirations for Scary Little Girls?

I most want to be able to keep taking the company to the next level so that we can make bigger shows, employ more people and reach wider audiences.  Every year we get busier and have more and more wonderful opportunities, I think what’s key for us now is capacity so we can make the most of these relationships. As Artistic Director I’m the only full time member of staff and we are looking change this to allow the company to expand and keep up with demand, to meet our potential and exceed it if possible – oh and we want to end patriarchy, obviously!

What have been some of the key challenges of your career so far?

Running a company when I was pretty young meant I learnt some things the hard way, one of the reasons that I try and make myself available to mentor others is that learning to write funding applications or company structures on your own takes forever; if the right person shows you you can level up so quickly.  I’ve been very fortunate by running into a variety of industry fairy godmothers who have changed things for us at key times, and I want to hand that good stuff on.

For my first years as a professional actor, the low grade industry sexism that applies to all women definitely curtailed casting opportunities for me – I wasn’t big enough to play the comedy friend but I wasn’t small enough to play the romantic lead, so I was constantly being advised to put on weight or take it off whilst playing literally every kind of prostitute – happy hooker, mistress, tart with a heart, courtesan, lusty barmaid…I really hoped that with Scary Little Girls we could present female characters and stories that were a bit more interesting and adventurous than those I was being offered!

For the first few years of the company being feminist was still very out of vogue, the perception in the arts that women weren’t on an uneven playing field any more despite all evidence to the contrary slowed our progress in the early years in terms of support from funders and establishment. Now it’s on point to say you are a feminist, but to us that is always going to be more than just a slogan, more than a buzzword. Commitment to improving the quality of life for women and girls, and looking at the way class, physicality, race and sexuality intersect with sex based oppression, is always going to drive our work methods, production choices and partnerships.  Whether that creates opportunities or challenges we’ll see, probably a bit of both, it makes life very interesting though!

Tell us about a project you have worked on in the past that was a key turning point in your career…

I, and therefore the company, keep coming back to Dracula… It was our first London production in 2002 and we rewrote and revived it in 2014 as our first mid-scale regional tour.  It might seem an odd choice as it’s deeply homophobic and misogynistic, but it’s such a ripping yarn that I just love messing with it!

Our first production had a female Count, and then our second one was all female and proved a really fun way to look at how we adopt gender roles, even in same sex relationships, and what kinds or power or oppression those roles bring with them. I’d like to have another pop at the production, with a little look this time at themes of motherhood, procreation and contamination and take this abroad, I think it would be a great way for us to do our first international tour.

Tell us about a project you have in development that you are excited about…

I’m very excited about all of our projects, I’m a very excitable person!  But at the moment I’m extra excited about three plays we have in the pipeline:

Firstly we are in talks with venues in the Ramps on the Moon Collective about a co-production for our all female Peter Pan that we toured in Cornwall with the help of Hall For Cornwall, the Minack and Arts Council South West. This will be our first full production with integrated sign and a fully diverse cast of disabled, non disabled, hearing and deaf actors and we’ve got the fantastic Meier Williams on design and the awesome Ellie Carter directing so I’m pretty giddy about this.

Secondly we have commissioned Amy Rosenthal to write us a play about the Mitford Girls, again with the support of Hall For Cornwall and the Arts Council, and talks are now underway with several leading regional venues about co-producing this and John Terry will be directing, so that’s all exciting!

Thirdly, the Minack are currently co-producing with us a show about the gardeners from Heligan who wrote their names on the sheds there before they went to WW1, most never to return.  Called Before I Wake, the story centres around the friendship of a 17 year old gardener and his 12 year old neighbour who becomes the first girl to work in the gardens and it’s going to play at both the Minack and The Lost Gardens of Heligan this May. It’s fantastic working with the team at the Minack to make this production possible, it’s going to be our biggest show to date with a full adult cast, a cast of emerging talent and a full youth cast too. It’s an honour and a thrill to be creating a play about real Cornish communities, how they contended with the pressures of war and how they dealt with love and loss at that time, very exciting!

We are also working with The Heroine Collective on a heritage project about the Greenham Women, trying to capture and share their experiences and show how they radicalised a generation, and with Rebecca Hulbert and Sarah Rutherford on a verbatim play about Josephine Butler using accounts from the survivors movement to discuss prostitutes rights then and now which we have been developing through Hall For Cornwall’s Creation Space programme.

What advice would you give your younger self regarding your career? 

Stick to your guns, there are lots of others out there who feel like you do and you will find each other! Try to make kind, interesting work and give yourself permission for things to take a while – when I was young I was very angry with myself for not being able to action my plans at the speed I was coming up with them!  Good ideas keep coming back and influencing the next project as people are fascinating, so you’ll never run out of ideas or energy but you can definitely run out of money, so always be careful with that!

You have worked with lots of brilliant women in the theatre industry, tell us about some of them that inspire you…

The women I’ve worked with through running Scary Little Girls have been the most amazing part of a really lovely life I’m very fortunate to be living and I honestly don’t know how to list them all, they just keep finding us, sharing their skills with us, teaching us and wowing us.  I’m so grateful to every cast and crew member (including some scary little boys) we’ve worked with, everyone who has volunteered for us, to my stellar board of trustees, our super wicked patrons and to the mentors who advise us.

Shazz Andrew used to run the company with me and is now our lead Creative Consultant, her influence on the company and me personally cannot be underestimated, such a rare combination of wisdom and talent, she’s remarkable.  We’ve been blessed by writing from L.H Trevail, Christina Li, Anna Maria Murphy, Pauline Sheppard and Kate Kerrow, performances from Sally Mortemore (our first Count and much loved for her role in the Harry Potter films), Dr Naomi Paxton (a specialist on the Actresses Franchise League and awarding winning cabaret character Ada Campe), Kate Smurthwaite (feminist comedian and commentator for Question Time, The Big Questions and mucho other news and radio), the hilarious Caro Parker (soon to be seen in Ramps on the Moon‘s production of Our Country’s Good) and the mesmeric Kiruna Stamell (Life is Short, Moulin Rouge).  Other Scaries who I love and who inspire me daily include Bobbie O’Callaghan, Sarah Annakin, Mary Woodvine, Amy Tweed, Joanna Murdock, Kate Rawson, Rosie Ede, Jenny Crowe, Tanya Myers, Alice Robertson, Bec Applebee, Kudzi Hudson, Illona Linthwaite…honestly the list goes on and on and keeps growing, thank goodness for all the Scary Little Girls out there!

Associate Artists

Associate Artist Agnieszka Blonska

HFC Associate Artist Agnieszka Blonska

Agnieszka Blonska’s work is a collaboration between director Agnieszka Blonska and producer Helen Edwards. First working together on the UK Tour of Once Upon A Time in 2015, since then Agnieszka and Helen have begun developing ideas together. Their collaboration and work have been supported by Theatre Bristol. Their work aims to create theatre that explores individual experiences and challenges society’s values.

Agnieszka has worked in Britain, Poland and across Europe for the last fifteen years both as an independent artist and in collaboration with theatre companies and venues such as Wildworks, Powszechny Theatre, Theatre Institute in Warsaw, Desperate Men, DotComedy, Mercurial Wrestler, National Theatre Studio, Soho Theatre, Circomedia, Hall For Cornwall and Theatre Bristol.

In her practice Agnieszka is particularly interested in subjects of identity, social change and personal stories in relation to society. She uses a variety of forms including participatory and performative theatre exploring the boundaries of traditional drama and play. Agnieszka uses devising methods and improvisation, often examining deconstruction and non-linear approach to performance.

2017 has been a busy year for Agnieszka, balancing her international work with theatre in the UK and her work as a lecturer at Falmouth University.

(F.E.A.R.) is a one-man show about constructed fear that asks directly if the world wants us to feel safe. Written and performed by Gareth Clark, directed and developed by Agnieszka Blonska with choreography by Merega Palser (F.E.A.R.) is a brave, revealing and at times hilarious one-man tour of early child hood memories to midlife identity crisis delivered directly to the audience in a revealing and intimate manner. The work is supported by Chapter and toured the UK before a run at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer.

Mefisto at Teatr Powszechny premiered on 30 September to 4 star reviews and it is swiftly becoming a talking point in the Warsaw theatre scene. The show continues in rep and an English subtitled performance took place on the 9 November.

In other news Gwalt. Glosy (Rape. Voices) returned to Teatr Powszechny on the 28 – 29 October. This show, first developed in 2015, uses real life testimony of women who have experienced sexual violence to explore the experience of women in Poland today.

Earlier in November My Granddad was Digging, My Dad was Digging and I will not  (which premiered at Gogol Fest in Ukraine in 2016), was performed at the Ukrainian Theatre Festival which took place at the Theatre Institute in Warsaw.

Work currently in development includes Polish Vermin, exploring our attitudes to the Brexit vote and what comes next for us all. It’s a piece being developed in Cornwall, a county that voted leave and Bristol, a city that voted remain. The exploration of the work was instigated and devised by three Polish artists who have made the UK their home, R&D sharings of Polish Vermin were presented in July 2017 at Bristol Ferment at the Arnolfini and the Newlyn Gallery & Exchange.

Photo of FEAR by Steve Tanner
Associate Artists Projects

Join the Art Revolution with Open Online Theatre

Join the Art Revolution with Open Online Theatre

The latest project from IJAD Dance Company, Open Online Theatre (OOT) is a new way of creating performance art. It’s an online space where audiences can interact with artists to create performances together, no matter where they all are in the world.

In the past, performance can be and has been exclusive – existing in one place at one time with ideas developed by a small amount of people. But IJAD want performance to be inclusive – social media is everywhere, always on, created and enjoyed by everybody. OOT utilises this, allowing artists to interact with audiences and share performances with thousands of people around the world who will engage with it in real time.

The project is also interested in how social media can influence and feed a performance, so invites audiences to interact from the comfort of their own home or even on the go. In this vein, the website will also live stream rehearsal procceses and will encourage interaction both during and and after each session, either by using #OOTMakers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or by commenting on the Open Online Theatre website itself.

Hall For Cornwall is delighted to be collaborating with IJAD Dance Company in their exciting development of this new online platform and it’s dedication to open dialogue and co-creation between artists and audiences. HFC Associate Artist, Rob Mennear, is one of the makers who is currently using the platform to rehearse for new piece, BLINK, which will be live streamed on Tuesday 21 Nov as part of a wider performance showcasing work from across the globe.

Take a look at what Rob and the other makers have been up to so far and interact with him and the other makers here.