The Landings is an innovative site-specific dance project that exists because of the death of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned trying to reach Europe in September 2015. From mid-September to early October 2017, The Landings offers a rare performance journey accessed by walking the 5 km by 2 km hinterland of fields, drainage channels, tracks, sunken lanes, railway lines, small copses and shore between Blue Anchor and Minehead towards dusk. Here you will find a cast of 20 performers aged 5 to 70.
Entering the site via different points, the audience will journey in small groups. They will discover multiple pathways offering moments of choice, as everyone decides which performance encounters to stay with, and which to leave behind. Thus, The Landings can be seen more than once, depending on how audiences navigate through the land.
Thanks to the generosity of partners, landowners and tenants, such as the Steam Coast Trail, West Somerset Railway, Minehead & West Somerset Golf Club, Dunster Beach Chalets and local farmers, The Landings opens up familiar landscapes in a new way. Whether in little-used copses, walking forgotten farm tracks or traversing isolated railways crossings, these settings will be used to touch upon themes of frustration, loss, disorientation, regret, hope and an urge to keep going, despite the unknown ahead.
At the end of each performance, everyone will be scooped up and returned to West Somerset College Farm, just outside Minehead, for a bowl of hot soup beside a glowing fire.
The Landings has been created by Bossington resident, Sarah Shorten, Artistic Director of Stacked Wonky. She has been making intriguing and high-profile site work/commissions for over ten years, including Trafalgar Square, The Museum of Childhood in collaboration with The V&A Museum and, most recently, Liberator, a “box-set” of four site-specific episodes performed in the Vale of Porlock in 2015, which sold out shortly after the first episode premiered.
She says, “It was a shocking moment when the photograph of Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body shuttled across the media two years ago. The Landings is a personal response to that. I wanted to know if it was possible to create a compelling and emotional audience journey, in proximity to a cast of performers on the move, reflecting the need in all of us to land somewhere. To do this, I am using a fascinating landscape close to home.”
The Landings combines a wide and eclectic team of local collaborators, including designers, costume makers, photographers, sound artists, farmers, historians, railway enthusiasts, harbour masters and technicians who have pulled together to create this large-scale performance. The cast comprises 12 professional dancers and 8 children, aged 5 to 11, from Timberscombe First School and Minehead Middle School, some of whom have been working with Stacked Wonky for over 3 years.
The publicity for The Landings states “Once again, be part of something extraordinary, as echoes of a recent tragedy reach our shores”, something Sarah hopes will ring true with the audience. The Landings premieres on Friday 15 September – all performances start and end at West Somerset College Farm, just off the A39. It is hoped that some of the audience return to see The Landings more than once – each time it will be different, depending on the choices made whilst walking.
For further details, visit www.stackedwonky.com.
“As summer ends, strangers will land.
Everyone must decide.
What to hold on to, what to leave behind.”
Photo by Rod Higginson