A rather wizened, strange, yet marvellous artefact at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery has been the inspiration for a new drama to be premiered in the town this month.
The weirdness of The Buxton Mermaid exhibit caught the attention of writer Rob Young last year when he, along with a group of other artists, was commissioned by the museum to bring an exhibit to life.
He was so intrigued by the figure, which has human hair and real fish scales on her tail, that he began exploring all aspects of the mermaid myth and the result was a festival last May with workshops and performances.
The highlight of that event was the telling of a short story he had written called DEEP about a boy from Buxton who discovers something strange after falling into the water of Blake Mere pool.
Blake Mere, high on Morridge close to Longnor, is said to be bottomless and legend has it that if you gaze at the surface around midnight, a mermaid will rise from the depths, combing her hair.
Following the reading of his short story Rob was asked by The Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust and Buxton Opera House to turn it into a full length drama.
This new adaptation tells the story of Jan, a Buxton teenager rejected by his peers, who is unable to cope with his father’s illness.
Jan finds solace in a voice that speaks from the deep. The voice is kind, but is it a trap? Or psychosis? Or love? And how do you date a girl who lives underwater when you can’t swim?
Kitty Randle the artistic director of the award-winning Buxton-based REC Youth Theatre Company was invited to direct the performance and a 12-strong cast of 16-30-year-olds from across the community has been pulled together.
“I was really excited to be asked to be asked to direct the play,” said Kitty. “I loved the writing as soon as I saw it. It is very collaborative and a great piece to have had commissioned for Buxton.
“Rob is one of the most inspiring people I have met. Collaborative work is very important to me and working with him on this has been an amazing experience.”
Kitty, an actor herself, specialises in movement and she says DEEP ‘spoke’ to her in that way as well.
“Imagine for instance the movement in a shoal of fish and you will have an idea of what I mean,” she said.
“This production is going to be something special and it is really exciting that so many different arts organisations are involved.”
One of the highlights will be the inclusion of singing from Buxton-based Mad Hatters Music. We are not going to spoil the surprise here, but from what Kitty says there are going to be some magical ‘wow factor’ moments in the show thanks to the youth choir.
DEEP is being billed as a play about Buxton for Buxton but its sure to be a delight to watch wherever you are from.
It can be seen on January 26 at 7pm. For tickets go to http://www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk
It is hoped there will be another performance at the Pump Rooms in February.