‘Ours was the Fen Country’

Heritage Lottery FundThe Fens do not appear in the theatre very often. Not having seen this piece myself just yet, but having heard an interview with the director on the radio recently, I was intrigued: ‘Ours was the Fen Country’ is a dance-theatre piece that uses words, movement, music and lights to conjure up some of the atmospheres of the Fens, some of the heaviness and also the beauty.

For Ours Was the Fen Country, Dan Canham interviewed more than 30 Fenland people, from eel catchers and farmers, to stable owners and people who spent their whole lives there.

This is how the promotional website for this work describes the piece:

For the past two years Dan Canham has been capturing conversations with people of the fens in East Anglia. Eel-catchers, farmers, parish councilors, museum keepers, molly dancers and conservationists have all been interviewed. In this ethereal piece of dance-theatre Dan and his team fuse movement and sound with the words and memories of their native collaborators to get to the heart of this beautiful, bleak and mysterious expanse of flat land.


Ours was the Fen Country. Source: http://vimeo.com/41232998

This was recently brought to the Cambridge Junction; some news pieces about this:

An extract from the first of these articles explains how the show came about:

“For the last couple of years I’ve been going around the Fens, mostly on trains and on my bike, interviewing people, seeking out rare characters who have ways of life that are not so common anymore, talking to them about their lives, their histories, their relationships to the landscape, and about the future and their hopes and their fears around that.”

During his investigative travels, Dan stumbled across a cast of unique Fenland people with captivating tales to tell. “People that the likes of you or I might not necessarily come into contact with because they keep themselves to themselves and they’re relatively self-sufficient,” says Dan. “I met some really generous, warm-hearted, friendly people who were happy to share their stories.”

To see some short videos about the piece, see here: http://www.junction.co.uk/artist/5126

The rural tour starts next week; it will come to Wisbech on Monday, followed by Ely, Peterborough, March and Chatteris. If you go, do let me know what you think of it.

  • Mon 17th June 2013, 7.45pm Angels Theatre, Wisbech Tickets £10/8 01945 474447
  • Weds 19th June 2013, 7.45pm The Maltings, Ely Tickets £10/8 01473 295900
  • Friday 21st June 2013, 7.45pm Key Theatre Studio, Peterborough Tickets £10/8 01733 207 239
  • Weds 26th June 2013, 7.45pm March Town Hall, March Tickets £10/8 01473 295900
  • Weds 27th June 2013, 7.45pm Chatteris Midsummer Festival, Chatteris Tickets £10/8 01473 295900
This entry was posted in Communities, Events, Heritage, Stage 2-Development Phase, Theme 2-Hidden Heritage, Theme 3-Fen Folk & Legends, Traditions and tagged , , by markatousewasheslps. Bookmark the permalink.

About markatousewasheslps

I am currently coordinating a partnership-led bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (for a circa £600K Heritage Grant bid) focusing on strengthening the unique yet vulnerable natural heritage in the Cambridgeshire Fens surrounding the Old west River, the new 'New Life on the Old West' project. Until recently I was the Programme Manager for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme, leading on the 1-year development and 3-year delivery phases of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant-aided Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP) scheme (from Dec 2012 until March 2017), on behalf of and in close cooperation with a wide range of local, regional and national partner organisations. The Ouse Washes LP's portfolio of 51 projects have focused on: conservation works to historic and natural environmental assets; improving community participation & engagement with the landscape and its heritage; increasing access and learning opportunities; and providing more opportunities for training in traditional land management skills. The overall aim has been to leave a long-term legacy for this fascinating and unique landscape, in the process creating tangible improvements to social, economic and environmental aspects of this landscape, its heritage and communities.

3 thoughts on “‘Ours was the Fen Country’

  1. This is a great idea mixing art, culture, people and landscape- how about commissioning them for the launch of the Ouse Washes project and/or seeking funding of them to tour Fenland Schools ?

    • Pete, absolutely great idea. thanks for the suggestion.

      I would be keen to hear from other groups who might also be able to deliver similar visual performances. As part of our planned main events, the ‘Festival Fortnights’ in July of 2015 and 2016, we would like to work with as many organisations as possible. Do send me an email if anyone has any other suggestions. Thanks, Mark

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