As restriction begin to ease, the shoots of creativity are starting to show with theatre performances and artistic creations returning to Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

It is with this new hope and opportunity that Potteries based Claybody Theatre is ready to release their production The Silver Arrow at Stoke Minster the end of June.

An extended version of their 2020 award-winning online choral work, GREENWOOD DREAMS – The Silver Arrow.

With support from the government’s Cultural Recovery Fund, Playwright and show librettist Deb McAndrew, Composer Ashley Thompson and Director Conrad Nelson have developed what will be their first LIVE event since autumn 2019.

The original 20-minute piece was written, rehearsed, recorded, and filmed during the first pandemic lockdown of 2020, and has been built upon to deliver what will be a 45-minute live performance performed across two nights.

The Silver Arrow’s Librettist Deb McAndrew said: “For two nights only, the magnificent Stoke Minster will host our ancient forest setting and the story of a young girl who escapes the pressures of lockdown through a vivid and inspiring dream.
“Ashley (Thompson) and I had wanted to create a new piece together for some time now, and we’d talked a lot about Robin Hood – my childhood hero. When I was a little girl, I had an old book of stories which I read dozens and dozens of times. The first chapter in my book was called Greenwood Dreams. This title always gave me a shiver of excitement and wonder as I entered the world of the
young Robin, dreaming about where life might take him. As Ashley and I started work this seemed to be the perfect title for our piece, and for our times.

“It’s been a real pleasure to revisit the piece and expand it for live performance. I hope that fans of the original will enjoy the development, and that this live event will bring new audiences to share our greenwood dream.”

The Silver Arrow is billed as an uplifting tale of English heroes and finding solace in the natural world. One which has garnered fans around the world and was recently announced the overall winner of the Staffordshire Day Film Festival.

Speaking of his desire to bring the project to life and the work involved composer, Ashley Thompson said: “This turned out to be far more ambitious than we’d ever imagined. When we wrote the first version last year, I didn’t hear of another music project on this scale created during lockdown. Now we have expanded it even further, and it has been both a mammoth and enjoyable task for me. Singing and making music together in a live performance is something we have all longed-for during lockdown, and I’m really looking forward to that experience – both as a musician and as a human being.”

The live performance will feature eight professional actor/singers and four musicians, including earl instrumentalists from PIVA Renaissance Collective, plus a community choir from The Phoenix Singers from Leek.

Claybody is also working with two local schools and the Claybody Community Company to create an opening film and audio installation, which will be made by local film makers, Junction 15.

The performance and production will observe strict Covid-19 safety guidelines, with front of house staff and audiences masked throughout, and seated in a socially distanced way.

Deb McAndrew will soon be featuring on  Baba Meets… – BabaBaboon’s Podcast series.

The Silver Arrow is showing at STOKE MINSTER, Glebe St, Stoke-on-Trent from Thursday 24 June at 7:30pm, and Friday 25 June at 6:30pm and 8:30pm.
Tickets are on sale now at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5146546

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