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Turning Sherwood Forest’s historical characters into modern day films

Posted onPosted on 17th Dec

Historical figures will talk about their links to Sherwood Forest in a series of unique new films being made by Mansfield District Council’s culture team.

It has been working in partnership with Miner2Major to produce the short films to create educational experiences for people to engage with during the Covid-19 closures.

Miner2Major is a five-year Landscape Partnership scheme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It encourages local communities from towns like Mansfield to get involved in projects that celebrate the diverse wildlife, important habitats and rich heritage of Sherwood Forest.

This project’s aim is to find new ways to tell the stories of people that had an impact on Sherwood Forest by producing living history content over online platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Zoom.

Working with Mansfield Palace Theatre and Mansfield Museum, a writing team was commissioned to produce six four-minute video monologues that are to be performed by six local actors on location.

The Sherwood Speaks series is being filmed and will be edited and released on social media in the New Year.

Education @ Mansfield Palace has produced the short films in partnership with Miner2 Major and their chosen filmmaker, Scruffy Whippet Media. The local actors portraying the important historical characters are Abigail Pidgeon as Nell Gwynne, Stacey Devonport as Ada Lovelace, Elizabeth MacPherson as Helen Cresswell, Patrick McGrath as Major Hayman Rooke, Tim Murphy as Thomas Hawksley, and Andrew Proctor as Joseph Whitaker.

Coun Stuart Richardson, portfolio holder for regeneration and growth, explained: “This project brings together not only the theatre and museum but also other cultural providers such as Nottinghamshire County Council’s Miner2Major programme.

“The films allow the people of Mansfield and surrounding areas to enjoy this creative collaboration, discover more about their local area and the important historical characters that we hold dear in our rich history.”

Each monologue will explore a different piece of heritage connected to Miner2Major, although most will have links with the concept of ‘change’ – a key theme in the Miner2Major project. Whilst the playwrights, Stacey Moon-Tracy and Jack Burrows, have based their characters on historical research, artistic licence is apparent as all six appear to talk to us in 2020 – Nell Gwynne, for example, talks via Zoom and is concerned that theatres are closed down.

Stacey Devonport, who plays Ada Lovelace, said: “The whole process has been an absolute pleasure, to discover who Ada Lovelace was. A true visionary and utterly inspiring woman. Thank you for shining this light on her with this project.”

Abigail Pidgeon added: “Becoming Nellie Gywn for Mansfield Palace Theatre’s Sherwood Project has been an absolute joy. Working with playwright Stacey Moon-Tracy and director Christopher Neil to bring Nell to life was certainly a highlight of 2020!”

This pilot project aims to keep audiences and visitors of the theatre and museum engaged with a combination of funny, sad, heart-warming, and poignant monologues, which will be available to watch on the theatre and museum’s Twitter and Facebook pages, and websites, as well as the Miner2Major website from early January.