About ‘In Eldersfield’
“We pause to imagine a place of no particular size. It feels as thought it can be tucked and folded – and spread out again – to make room for whomsoever it is that we should like to admit. It is neither a country nor a city nor a town nor a village nor a house, or else it is each of these in its turn. And we have given the place a name: ‘Eldersfield'” (From the First Introduction, Chapter 1: Elegy for Paul Dirac (2011))
‘In Eldersfield’ is a ten-chapter, decade-long, cycle of works, all for the twentieth century, of which seek to ask: what ought be remembered, reclaimed, renewed, translated, salvaged, saved? Each chapter results first in a performance, and each of these creates a pause in the present. In these moments we gather together and reconsider the past to better imagine the future. In turn, each performance leads toward the writing of a book – slight, but substantial, new volumes of history.
‘Eldersfield’ is a place where we gather to invoke all those that we cannot meet – the figures of history: elders, dead-folk, ghosts. Typically, each chapter of the cycle foregrounds a major or minor historical subject, whom we feel ought to be reappraised, critiqued, or celebrated. Each invocation attempts to bring something of the character, gestures, choices, politics, of these elders back into the present. Perhaps such a place, or such an invocation, is only possible in the theatre (or, in the case of Chapter 2, film) – and never for very long. At the theatre, in the cinema, in the studio space – there we gather for a short time and then inevitably disperse. In this coming-together, the event of performance makes the present moment seem urgently to matter: it matters that such-and-such a story is told, or that we are provoked and challenged, or that we are entertained; that it matters that we have an opinion, or that we are satisfied that we got our money’s worth.
Against this, each chapter of ‘In Eldersfield’ is given over to some past moment that – we must insist – still matters. In this insistence, we take pause to reflect on the world as it is now, has been, and perhaps shall be. In the first chapter this was the physicist Paul Dirac, – an awkward and taciturn professor of quantum physics whose most infamous silence creates a space for quietude, medititiveness. In the second chapter it is Charlie Chaplin, whose satire ‘The Great Dictator’ affords us a moment in which the cruelties and excesses of fascism and capital can be made to look ridiculous.
These early chapters, with their respective figures, standing in the foreground, lead us to a consideration of wider themes – the importance of listening, or the need for shelter.
Chapter 2: Monument to Charlie Chaplin (2013 – current chapter)
We are currently working on Chapter 2: Monument to Charlie Chaplin (2013), a 16mm film shot in the shadow of the ruins of the National Picture Theatre in Hull. The film will premiere at Hull Truck on 1st and 2nd November 2013 and will be followed by the publication of a book in 2014. There will also be a London showing of the film at the Whitechapel Gallery on 4th November to an invited audience.
Full details about the Premiere and London Screening are available here.
About Kings of England
In 2008 lead artist Simon Bowes founded the company, “Kings of England” with his 73-year-old father, Peter. In receipt of Arts Council funding, they devised a first show “Where We Live & What We Live For”, in which the son narrates the life of the father in the space where histories and fictions, because:
In 1958 he (my father, before he was my father), jumped from the rocks toward the sea. The photograph catches him partway down. In 2001, he suffered a transient-ischemic attack, fell from the bike he was riding, and could not remember his name, nor where he was, nor where he lived. In response, we reclaim this lost hour, folding the space of the jump (which was voluntary) into the space of the fall (which wasn’t), and celebrate the moment in which he knew he had survived.
Through a series of short narrations and little performances, father and son rework their family archives into a series of meditations on love, loss, happiness and the passing of time.
“WWL&WWLF” was presented twenty-two times across the UK and internationally. Peter celebrated his 75th Birthday with a brace of shows at Forest Fringe, Edinburgh. was nominated for an Arches Brick Award, and made it into Lyn Gardner’s Best of Theatre 2009.
In 2010, after a residency at Atelier Real, Lisbon, Peter went back into retirement. Simon went onto convene “I Belong to This Band!” (BAC, GreenRoom, 2010/11) and “In Eldersfield” (2011-)
Kings of England are:
In Eldersfield Chapter 2: Monument to Charlie Chaplin is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Hull City Council and Hull Truck.