Compagnie Animotion are here on Saturday 3 December with Silver Moon, a poetic Christmas tale for ages 4 -11. We asked Hayli Clifton (picture left), artistic director, to tell us some more about the show.
Silver Moon is inspired by one of the best storytellers I ever knew: my grandmother Ruby. At age nineteen she sailed across the Atlantic to escape the war as a nanny, spending six weeks on a ship and 5 years in California.
With little material at hand to keep her young charge amused she had to turn to stories and her imagination. On coming home her house was filled with other young children who needed refuge after the war. In true Ruby style she came home and married a German prisoner of war and her house was always full of people of different nationalities, different languages, different cultures.
Sixty years later, as a child, then a young adult, I never bored of hearing her tell me the same stories over and over again.
So the grandfather figure we meet in Silver Moon, Olge, and his relationship with Helda, his granddaughter, is inspired by my relationship with Ruby.
Secondly, as a young performer I worked for renowned mask company Horse & Bamboo, based in Rossendale, Lancashire. I had studied mask technique at drama school, but the moment I put one of their masks on I felt something I had never felt before; free to tell stories, liberated as a performer.
Nine years later, I had set up my company to make non-verbal visual theatre for Deaf and hearing audiences. Our shows are interdisciplinary spanning from aerial dance to mime to circus and puppetry. Each show has an underlying moral and social theme, as I’m passionate about using what I can do to allow audiences to consider change.
I wanted to create a piece about two different children, from two different economic worlds, two different cultures and two different languages. To show that children break down these barriers much quicker than adults, that they accept more and judge less, and that we need to foster and encourage imagination and acceptance in our children rather than the crazy commercial season than Christmas has become.
In 2004, Alison Duddle, one of the artistic directors of Horse & Bamboo, very graciously agreed to make the masks and be the outside eye for Silver Moon.
I was and still am, eternally grateful, as not only I learnt more in four days under her watchful eye than in fourteen years of being a performer, but everytime I put on Helda’s mask, I get to have this feeling of liberation, the freedom to tell a story, and I’m allowed to travel in time; I am sitting once more with my nanny, pulling photos out of boxes, surrounded by the richness of different cultures and asking for the same stories as a 6-year-old, a 16-year-old and a 32-year-old.
Silver Moon: Saturday 3 December, 1pm & 3pm. Tickets: £8.50, £7 (concs) Family ticket: £28 (4 people, min. 1 child) from www.oldfirestation.org.uk or 01865 263990.