Calvert, Dave (2008) Oh We Do Like To Redefine The Seaside. In: Performing Heritage, 3rd - 5th April 2008, University of Manchester. (Unpublished)
Abstract

In 2005, Promenade Promotions undertook a Heritage Lottery Funded project that investigated the tradition of Pierrot troupes on the North Yorkshire coast. The project worked with four groups of young people in the county. Each group had an introductory workshop about this tradition, as well as training in research strategies and digital recording. They then carried out independent research focusing on particular coastal towns. They also accompanied The Pierrotters, Britain’s last remaining Pierrot troupe, on a day of performance in the same town, recording interviews with audience members.

Having collected their material, each group created a small exhibition. The four separate exhibitions were then combined with archive material from Tony Lidington (founder member of The Pierrotters), to create a touring exhibition, currently on display at Ryedale Folk Museum.

The process therefore took performance as its focus and starting point, and worked from that towards a more conventional notion of museum presentation. The Pierrotters acted as a crucial factor in the interaction between participants and heritage, being the final practitioners of a tradition that has nearly vanished, and simultaneously a contemporary performance act.

For the participants, this (along with the regional focus of the project), enabled them to make connections between the present and the past. I would like to focus, in particular, on a class of learning disabled students from Goole College – usually the most disconnected of learners – and argue that through their research into performers and audiences, they were enabled to construct an identity that connected them historically, geographically and culturally with the present.

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