Will Pound’s Through the Seasons

Louisa Davies, the show’s creative producer, reflects how it came about……

The idea for Through the Seasons came from Will and his wife Clare Watters, both members of Chinewrde and Earlsdon Morris. Will has wanted to do a morris show for some time – but the time hasn’t been right. So the album came first, researching the tunes, pulling together a core band featuring Benji Kirkpatrick and Ross Grant, also both morris dancers, and inviting the guest musicians to join.

The first thing I heard was – “we want to tell the story of the morris year, through the music” – putting that centre stage rather than the dancing. And my instant thought was that to tell a story, you need a storyteller. There was also interest in using projected archive imagery and film, following Will’s research for the CD booklet. So, we conceived a live show that would have the music from the album at its heart and be formed through a collaboration with a visual artist and a storyteller. We approached Debs Newbold to be the storyteller and writer, and recruited David Parker, our animator and projections designer, through an open call out. We were also successful in our application to Arts Council England for funding, making the whole project feasible and helping fund the artistic collaboration.

It struck me, coming in as a kind of outside eye/ creative producer, that there was a risk of creating something a bit dry or worthy. A sort of month by month description of our annual traditions with some archive imagery to pictorially back it up could have quite limited appeal. It also didn’t feel like a story – we needed to take the audience on a journey, with highs and lows, for people to connect. Initial conversations quickly cast those fears from my mind; we had found a great team that wanted to create something authentic, with traditions at its heart – but for it be joyful, original and innovative, like the music.

With Debs and David living at opposite ends of the country, and the rest of us scattered around the West Midlands and Worcestershire, we chose Sheffield as the best location to meet up, and spent a day talking in the café of the Showroom Cinema. We talked about why people dance, about the physicality of dance and what happens in our brain, about the different dance traditions and what they’re like and what sets them apart. Will identified the music he wanted to include in the live show and we talked about new material they might need to work on. Between that January meeting and our first rehearsal at the wonderful Fleece Inn in Bretforton, lots of research, skype conversations, band practice, writing and animating happened! David worked on animating archive imagery of dancers using a technique called rotoscoping, an animation technique that involves tracing over film footage, frame by frame, to produce realistic action. Debs discovered the character of Florrie Warren, a young woman whose life was changed when she learnt Cotswold Morris, and also researched the actor Will Kemp, of Shakespeare’s Lord Chamberlain’s Men, who famously morris danced from London to Norwich in February 1600. Both appear in the show. The eventual show came together over the course of 3 rehearsals and now we are out on the road and getting great feedback from audiences.

We are thrilled to be coming to Whitby Folk Week and are looking forward to sharing the show!