True and Not So True Tales of the South Downs
A one person show by Sara Clifford
This is not about nostalgia – this is a Cherry Soup of a show: sweet and sour and a little unexpected…
Inn Crowd and South Downs Writer in Residence Sara Clifford, a playwright and community arts practitioner based in Lewes, spent 3 months during 2019 chatting to over 500 people across the South Downs – from museum volunteers, school children and pub goers, to people at family creative workshops, walking groups and village fetes. She then weaved the stories gathered into a new one person show, Cherry Soup which was performed in nine different pub and community locations across the South Downs in September by local actor and comedian Jo Neary. The show explored the changing landscapes and populations of the park – as well as how the history of cherries is also the history of Southern England.
Performed with text, music and humour, the show asked questions about the past, present and future of the park, and audience reactions were hugely positive.
“incredibly well composed, fantastic characterisation, great songs, lovely singing and hilarious moments of storytelling sprinkled with urgency and loss”
“magical storytelling at its best” , “Amazing”, “Beautifully written with real resonances for the times we live in”
‘This has been the most wonderful project to work on – not only have I had the privilege of meeting a wide range of people of all ages right across the Park, and hear their stories and thoughts, but I also got to work with other talented artists exploring people’s responses through creative writing, visual art, music and drama – and that was just the outreach stage!
It was a challenge to crunch down nearly three hundred people’s responses into a one person show, but I was very pleased with the result, creating a montage of characters and evoking the beauty of the Downs and its history – and Jo Neary has been an amazing performer to work with, really bringing the cherry seller to life.
Audience responses have been fantastic, and we are hoping that the show will have a further life next year – watch this space!’ Sara Clifford