Early Large Scale Participatory Works

Rosemary Lee

Photo by Catherine Heatherington
1992

Early large scale participatory works by Rosemary Lee including Memoirs of a Cast of Thousands and New Springs from Old Winters.

Memoirs of a Cast of Thousands

1988

Sally Sykes and Rosemary Lee devised a structure that allowed casts of any number to become involved in the performance. They worked with the cast for a week and the participants contributed their own material to the work. This work was a development of their early working method for Mirror Mirror.  Both pieces toured extensively to 30 or more venues and reached huge numbers of participants of all ages, including adults with special needs, seniors and children. Jonathan Lever created the soundscore for Memoirs, their first of many collaborations notably Banquet Dances and Beached.

Directed by Rosemary Lee in collaboration with Sally Sykes
Music composed by Jonathan Lever
Costumes found by Rosemary Lee, Sally Sykes and performers

New Springs from Old Winters

1987

New Springs from Old Winters is Rosemary’s first large scale participatory work as sole director in contrast to her collaborative partnership with Sally Sykes touring Mirror and Mirror and Memoirs of a Cast of Thousands. She spent several months researching spring rituals in many cultures, the research and this work still feeds elements of her practice now, in Common Dancefor example she returned to some of the themes and images from that work. 

The piece involved a wide array of 57 participants from Physics PHD students, to Oxford dons to children from the council estates of East Oxford. It was performed in the Oxford Town Hall for two nights and was preceded by a dancing procession through the city involving a women’s Morris team, bell ringers and the smashing of a giant paper hare filled with sweets. The dance company Jointwork invited Rosemary to be in residence in Oxford and hosted the residency featuring in the work itself.

Excerpts of the work performed by Jointwork toured to one of the last of the Dartington Festivals. A distillation of that work resulted in Egg Dances.

Music —a compilation of a variety of music related to spring rituals, assembled by Rosemary Lee
Costumes and props designed by Rosemary Lee

Photo by Catherine Heatherington