Climate change and plastic pollution tackled in new family musical by Portsmouth company People and Stories
Florence’s mum has a new assignment, to a remote island in the Pacific Ocean that none of her friends have heard of.
Little does she know that she’s about to encounter a revelation that will shape her future, and those of her friends back home in Portsmouth.
This new musical, The Adventures of Florence and The Mermaid’s Tears, is the first production from the People and Stories company, started by former New Theatre Royal chief executive Scott Ramsay.
This Portsmouth-based creative company celebrates people, places, and stories, taking a creative approach to discussing environmental sustainability.
Scott says: ‘I had decided in 2019 to move away from running venues to setting up my own company to deal with some of the gaps in provision that I was getting more and more passionate about.
‘And then Covid hit just as I was leaving the New Theatre Royal, so it was straight into home-schooling my boy and all the rest of it.
‘It wasn't until late 2020 that things started to get moving.
‘People and Stories is based in Portsmouth, but it works across the UK with a large number of venues on projects trying to do something different – trying to broaden what's available and reach more people.’
One strand of its work is Creative Harbour – an initiative to generate more arts activity in the areas surrounding Portsmouth and Langstone Harbours, where only 50 per cent of people are currently engaged in cultural activity.
Scott says: ‘Creative Harbour is trying to create new pieces of work which have a local relevance, so the stories are coming out of things happening locally – but it's also to try and reach different communities, communities that don't perhaps engage in culture regularly.
‘We're having great fun having conversations with people who aren't normally around the table when it comes to the arts and creating work.
‘I think that's really important – we talk about what a creative city this is – we're all proud of Portsmouth, but we really need to see more work made here, not just brought in from elsewhere, and that's what this is about.
‘There's not much work being taken into the hearts of the communities, so we're thinking about what sort of buildings we can use, what sort of partnerships we can work with, so I'm doing a lot with academies and churches and community hubs.
‘This musical has come out of some of those conversations – there's a huge passion to try and do something more about climate change.
‘Every week that goes by it becomes more and more of a mainstream headline issue – people want to talk about it, and we need to find new ways of having those conversations.
So that's how this family-friendly mini-musical came about.
‘We're going to go into these places and play to audiences who largely wouldn't buy a ticket to the theatre.
‘It's a very playful, accessible show. It's about being honest about what's going on, but it's also uplifiting, and we're showing the audience tools they can use as soon as they leave.
‘We give them three things they can do which are Portsmouth focused, which they can do at home, or when they're out and about to contribute to the plastic pollution issue, which is part of the wider climate emergency.
‘The story is about a girl, 13 year old Florence, from Portsmouth, who's mother works at the university, and recently lost her dad.
‘The mother managed to get this secondment to the Midway Islands – which is quite a well-known place for people to go and study wildlife – in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
‘And she learns first-hand what's going on out there. She comes back to Portsmouth with a determination to do something about it.
‘It takes the audience on a journey.
‘It's a 40 minute show - and it's followed by a half hour Q&A and these three ideas, so there's also a bit of a social element to it, and we're going to 13 places around the area.’
Scott is the show’s writer and director with music and lyrics by Naomi Lane from Waterlooville.
‘Naomi is an award-winning composer, who people might not have come across yet in Portsmouth, but she's fantastic. It's got a kind of celtic, folk-rock feel running through it.’
Saturday, October 23, St Luke’s Church, Charles Dickens Ward. 4.30pm
Monday, October 25, Portsmouth Cathedral, St Thomas Ward. 12.30pm
Monday, October 25, St Margaret’s Church. Central Southsea Ward. 6.30pm
Tuesday, October 26, St Mary’s, Brighstone, Isle of Wight. 2pm
Wednesday, October 27, St Peter & St Paul Church, Hambledon. Midday
Wednesday, October 27, Kings Church, St Thomas Ward. 6pm
Thursday, October 28, St Mary’s Portsmouth. 12.30pm
Saturday, October 30, Church of the Good Shepherd, Waterlooville. 3.30pm
Saturday, November 6, Cosham Baptist Church. 12.30pm
Saturday, November 6, St Jude’s Church, St Jude Ward. 6.30pm
Sunday, November 7, St Nicholas Church, Bedhampton. 6.30pm
Saturday, November 13, St Faith’s Church, Lee-on-the-Solent. 12.30pm
Tickets are free, but booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.
For tickets and more information go to peopleandstories.co.uk.
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