25 Feb 2019
She Sells Sea Shells R&D
My current project is a little different from Shakespeare or Austen, although like many of their works it involves an extremely intelligent and strong-willed heroine. I got to spend four days in a studio last week workshopping a new play by the brilliant Helen Eastman, and directed by the wonderful Madeleine Skipsey, all about the remarkable nineteeth century fossil hunter, Mary Anning. She was never properly acknowledged in her lifetime, her findings were attributed to rich men, and she was barred from the Geological Society, all for being a working-class woman. This new play brings her back into the spotlight, and shows her as the ferociously hard-working, intelligent, no-nonsense woman she was.
We’ve spent the four days exploring movement and sound, ways to present the sea and dinosaur onstage, how to play multiple roles of all ages and backgrounds, and how to get across both the harsh realities and incredible achievements of her life - it’s been challenging, but a huge amount of fun!
The next step is a performance at the Geological Society in London - finally Mary is allowed in! - to present some of our work and try and secure funding. Ideally, the play will end up at the Edinburgh Fringe, telling her story to lots more people of all generations, and hopefully inspiring lots of girls to get interested in dirt and dinosaurs! But for now, the next step is for me to work on my Dorset accent…