Production putting young actors centre stage
In The Heart of the Wood - which will be staged at Dearne Playhouse from December 8-10 - a brother and sister take a magical journey millions of years back in time to the land where the coal their grandad used to mine was formed.
Following an open casting call, performing arts company The Big Reveal cast four young actors from the local area – Joe Easton and Quinn Plews are sharing the role of Jake, while Maisie Boyd and Kira Powell will both play Joe’s sister Megan.
The young actors are being supported by The Big Reveal team: professional theatre director Matthew Sharp, musical director David Burridge, writer Martin Riley and filmmaker and designer John Coombes.
They will perform alongside Barnsley Metropolitan Band, the Kim Frost School of Dance, Thurnscoe Harmonic Male Voice Choir, the Barnburgh Village Singers and choirs from local schools.
Barnsley Metropolitan Band have already showcased the music with singer Holly Wray at Brassed On, Barnsley’s biggest annual celebration of brass band music, and other events.
Thurnscoe Harmonic Male Voice Choir and the Barnburgh Village Singers are holding joint rehearsals, while the primary school choirs of Goldthorpe, Heather Garth, The Hill and Lacewood will team up later this month to rehearse with David and Matthew.
The story centres on the relationship between a former miner and his grandchildren and David said: “The Heart of the Wood is going to showcase the fabulous talent of the Dearne Valley community.”
Martin adds: “Megan and Jake were expecting one of grandad’s epic stories of his life underground as a miner. They didn’t expect that this time the adventure would be their own, and that their grandad's life would depend on them battling mutant rats, duelling with dinosaurs, fighting the dark spirit of the pit and travelling back to the dawn of time to search for the Heart of the Wood.”
The production is supported by Barnsley Council, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, and by the UK government’s Towns Fund through the Goldthorpe Town Deal Board.
Cllr Robin Franklin, Cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, said: “How wonderful to be bringing together our talented actors, dancers and musicians to work with experienced theatre professionals and stage a magical and inspiring show in the heart of the Dearne Valley.”
Andy Lock, head of operations for England and deputy chief executive of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, said: “We sit on the Goldthorpe Towns Board and are committed to ensure the former coalfields in the Dearne Valley enjoy these kinds of cultural activities, which can often only be found in larger towns and cities.”
The production is funded through the wider £23.1 million Towns Fund investment, which involves the council and partners working together to create a thriving community.
Renovation of the Dearne Playhouse and improvements to the welfare park to create a new cultural hub is one of the five main Towns Fund projects.
Tickets are now available for public performances on the evening of Friday 8 and the afternoons of Saturday and Sunday December 9-10.
Priced at just £2, they can be purchased through the Dearne Playhouse website.