Theatre review – MINE

MINE grotto skylightBeneath the serene elegance of Goldney Hall’s gardens, a savage catacomb awaits – a mine filled with gods, lions and bleeding crystals, where seeping damp reminds imprisoned shells of what they’ve lost.

This is the place Holly Corfield Carr leads her audience into, with a powerful piece of immersive theatre riddled through with poetry.

MINE Lions

Written to fit and reflect its setting, the piece begins in warm September sunlight as Holly talks of time and hands each of us a pebble that represents it. We’ve given small glowing lanterns to carry, and follow her across the emerald lawns into the shadowy shell grotto.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to glimpse a place seldom seen, with Holly’s visually evocative poetry adding resonance to the enchantments of the crystal-crowded caves, a thundering unexpected waterfall – a “strange heavenly halfway.”

With only six audience-members, or rather, guests, at each performance, the feel is distinctly intimate, and Holly addresses us each in turn as she tells tales that bring in myth, history, botany, and the wonderings of the human heart. She invites us to choose cards and read fragments of verse aloud, entrenching us deep in the language of the grotto.

MINE poetry cards“molars,
of when we
were young,
his smell
the moss,”

There are so many words, pouring from Holly’s mouth, and from our own, whilst surrounded by the glimmering roars of coral, water and sculpture, that it’s impossible to take in every scrap. Thankfully Holly has produced a beautiful pamphlet, published by Spike Island, to take away from the performance, and savour in your own time.

Fortunate, really, as Holly makes us relinquish the pebbles she’s given us:

“Because, even now, time is up.
The stone you hold is moving, is sand at your hand.”

This is a performance about the past, both human and geological, and how it hides, hushed, in the ground beneath our feet.

MINE is part of Bristol Biennial, a festival of art.

Holly Corfield Carr

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Word art at Spike Island

I recently attended an outdoor writing workshop led by Spike Island’s writer-in-residence Holly Corfield Carr.

Judy Darley cr Holly Corfield Carr

The workshop was one in a series taking place each Sunday from 2pm until December 6th, exploring the area around the Spike Island art gallery. They’re part of a collaborative literature project called Spike Archipelago.

On the day I went along, the air was bright and uncommonly warm. We strolled down past to Lockside to an area where we could see both the Floating Harbour and the Avon Gorge with Clifton Suspension Bridge hanging across it. We gazed up at the colourful stacked houses of Clifton and down at the river sucking at its mud. Holly had brought extracts from works including Dart by Alice Oswald, and other pieces on rivers and that day’s theme, circles.

Wheel and river mud cr Judy Darley

As we walked and paused and looked about, and talked about our lives, hot air balloons rose into the blue sky. Not quite circles, but close enough.

Hot air balloon cr Judy Darley

Our wanderings resulted in a collaborative piece of writing called Concentric, which Holly describes as “a lyric narrative for two voices”, adding: “We wrote around each other, leaping from one circular frame to the next, producing this pleated poem of first loves, last loves, a guilty city and coffee-rings.”

A wonderful experience. You can see the outcome here, and find out about future workshops (which are free to attend) here.