Applause and South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) are working together on Full Harvest - a series of audio stories and poems inspired by the South Downs landscape available as podcasts this summer.
17th June 2021
Seven writers have been commissioned to pen ten audio stories/poems, each one focussing on one of the seven rivers that weave across the park. As part of their work, they have been engaging with local communities in the South Downs area to find out more about how people and the landscape interact.
Theo and Alton College
Theo Toksvig- Stewart met (virtually) with A level English Language students at Alton College, Havant. He delivered a workshop on story structure and how to adapt work for different audiences to help with their creative writing coursework. He focussed on horror stories and using their work, asked groups to create their own stories each focussing on a subgenre of horror. The ideas were creepy, weird, violent, and dark, which gave Theo plenty of inspiration for his audio story.
Sarah and the village of Lindfield
Sarah Hehir focussed on the River Ouse and in particular the town of Lindfield. She spent time in Lindfield conducting a poetry writing workshop and follow up sessions with the local U3A. The workshop encouraged a combination of abstract poetry with first person monologue to reflect on the past and present, living and working by the river. Through this Sarah learnt some Sussex dialect, foraged for food, and even ended up with inspiration for her piece – Wild Garlic.
Rosanna and Arts on Prescription
Rosanna Lowe has been working with Arts on Prescription, a Hastings based organisation that links arts and wellbeing through social prescription. She ran four creative writing sessions with a group of people with physical and/or mental health challenges, exploring memories of rivers and stories about how rivers scare or soothe. She made three river trips with group members – tracing the Cuckmere from Alfriston to the sea, visiting various bridges along the Arun and a trip to the River Rother, where one of the group members had once worked on boats.
Merrie and Brighton community
Merrie Williams worked with the community in Brighton. Much of her poetry and prose was developed from the stories she gathered from her one to one interactions.
Her piece ‘Brighton Rocks’ explores two friends dealing with their own challenges to lead the lives they want. One character is based on a local man, who originally moved from up North, not just because of the vibrant gay scene, but because of a connection to the surrounding country. The female friend in the story is based on the story of a local survivor. The culverted river Wellsbourne, becomes a metaphor for the stories and issues we force underground.
Sara and the Cement Factory
Sara Clifford Lead Writer has been working around the River Ouse and the Adur. She has been inspired by how work and industry have shaped the landscape of the rivers and the surrounding Downs.
For the Ouse, she drew on research, interviews, and workshops she undertook for audio drama Cherry Soupin 2019, when she was Writer in Residence. She worked with a wide range of groups including schools, colleges, and lunch clubs, as well as an art /writing group with Art Techniques and a drop-in group at Newhaven Fort – the latter on a windswept rainy day, with the ferry leaving the town.
She was intrigued by the Cement Factory, at Beeding above Shoreham on the river, she wanted to know more about its past and what stories it had to tell. Sara interviewed people who used to work there, as well as taking several walks along the river, taking in view of the derelict factory on one side and Cissbury and Chanctonbury Rings rising above the fields on the other side.
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