Cornish theatre company reveal powerful performances in August

A man on the seashore with his arms in the air.

I Am Kevin will be performed in the stunning setting of Carlyon Beach at the heart of St Austell Bay. - Credit: Wildworks

Cornwall’s innovative Wildworks theatre company is back with what they say is ‘a bedtime story to set the world on fire’. 

Wildworks tell stories – on beaches, clifftops, in woodlands, disused quarries, car parks and derelict department stores. They enjoy the thrill of finding the epic in the every day, inviting people to join them on physical and emotional journeys. 

The company beds down in locations to engage with communities and create imaginative work that draws in audiences and performers alike. They tease out the secrets, and stories, that go on to drive and shape each show and experience.  

Their brand new summer show, I Am Kevin, will be performed in the stunning setting of Carlyon Beach at the heart of St Austell Bay this August.  

Mydd Pharo, artistic director at Wildworks, says they start from scratch and look for a location robust enough to support the narratives and where they can engage with the local community. “When we arrive in a new place, a new location, we allow that place to tell us about itself and that becomes the work,” he says. “It really is alchemy. 

“We are often not set in the story until opening night and beyond - some people call us absolutely mad for doing it this way. But there’s a power in that work, a magic that’s hard to explain. You have allow yourself to be open to let chance in.” 

Wildworks rarely uses rehearsal space, preferring to be based in the community as the work is developed. It allows them to engage closely with local people who can be involved in the work. I Am Kevin was supposed to be performed last summer in Truro, but the pandemic put paid to that.  

A man in a cap sat down writing on a pad.

Mydd Pharo (seated) in rehearsals. - Credit: Steve Tanner

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“It has allowed us to revisit and re-think things. To ask why we were doing things in a particular way,” says Mydd. “We often work to very tight budgets and very short schedules. The work is very intensive and sometimes you just have to hope for the best. We can always go back and tweak things.” 

Carlyon Bay offers the company rich possibilities for storytelling. Mydd says Wildworks always looks for places that offer an adventure, places that have a power and offer their own energy. 

“In Cornwall, we’re not short of very beautiful spaces to create work but we looking for something that will create a spark. I’d never been to Carlyon Beach in the 20 years I’ve been in Cornwall. I saw it and I thought ‘this is where we do it’.  

“You have those wide open views and then you have these uninhabited spaces. This is where the Cornwall Coliseum stood huge, where there were sea defences on the beach. There was a real contradiction in the space. It was very beautiful, but also industrial and weirdly urban. It’s a great place to tell a story. 

“The work is created with and for the people of St Austell. Local people get to be in it and influence it. They have their stories of the Coliseum – some of them quite graphic!  

“It was certainly fun-filled and quite debauched at night times. It was a place that really forged a lot of people’s youths. They talk of sunny days spent on the beach, of the miniature railway that would take them to the nudist end of the beach and back again. It really feels like a place that is charged with so many stories. It feels like a real gift.” 

A Cornish beach on a sunny day.

Carlyon Bay, where I Am Kevin will be performed. - Credit: Wildworks

A scary process... 

I Am Kevin is set at the water’s edge, beneath the shade of an ancient tree where a mother is protecting herself and her child from an unspeakable darkness. As the years pass, the boy is taught of the dangers that lay beyond his mother’s embrace. Then one day he awakes to find her gone. 

It’s the only starting point for the company and Mydd Pharo admits it’s a scary process at the beginning. But he recalls the advice of the late Bill Mitchell, founder of Wildworks. “Bill always used to say, if in doubt, stall. The longer you wait, the richer the product will be. We hold that close to our hearts.” 

As well as engaging with the community in St Austell, Wildworks are partnering with the Sensory Trust and Intercom. The Sensory Trust creates accessible and engaging Nature experiences including the Happy Wanderers, a dementia friendly walking group that helps connect those living with dementia and their carers. Intercom Trust is a lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans+ charity that works across Cornwall.  

I Am Kevin will be at Carlyon Beach August 6-20. Book online here.