‘The Tempest’, 1994
Starting with a ruthlessly but lovingly pared down text, Shakespeare’s last play staged very simply, with cast of 6 accompanied by a single violin.
Starting with a ruthlessly but lovingly pared down text, Shakespeare’s last play staged very simply, with cast of 6 accompanied by a single violin.
They said it could never be done, but this adaptation seemed to delight Flann O’Brien fans as well as introducing his surreal take on life to a whole new audience.
A community chorus of over 30 local people helped bring the story of Scrooge’s redemption to the Princess Pavilion and create a moving and atmospheric Christmas entertainment.
A new small-cast adaptation of Chekov’s play The Cherry Orchard about a family on the edge of ruin, in a society on the brink of cataclysmic change. We followed Chekov’s (often-ignored) instruction that it should be played as a comedy, if not a farce.
Touring a double bill was physically and financially exhausting, so this year things were scaled down drastically. With a tree and five actors this show worked well, staged in the round.
The preview performance of Miracle’s first show, took place in August at Pirran Round. The play was loosely based on Origo Mundi the first part of the Ordinalia, the Cornish language medieval miracle cycle of plays, which would have been performed at the same venue 600 years previously.
Perhaps the Heavens were not pleased with our largely comic interpretation of the Book of Genesis because they opened, real lightning struck and God’s platform collapsed, causing him to fall out of heaven. The show went on and toured to twelve open-air venues around Cornwall, including the Festival of Fools in Penzance. Only two of the cast of eleven were professional actors. No one got paid. The music was live. Admission was free.
A reworking of the 1993 production with two additional cast members, Kyla Goodey and Angus Brown. Miracle’s first appearance at the Minack.
Building on the popularity of the previous year’s Victorian-style panto, this had a strong Georgian flavour, both in design and performance. It was based on the fairy tale The Yellow Dwarf, with songs set to music by Handel and Purcell. Rumpelstiltskin grew half a meter taller before the audience’s very eyes and a dragon breathed real smoke! Work-experience student Rosie Hughes did her work experience on this show, returning as a fully-fledged actor 4 years later.
A gruesome comedy about Henry VIII working his way through his six wives: quick-change body suits, daft songs and no punches pulled.
The first product of the MiracleGrow project for new directors and writers. Debbie’s very local radio station has some far out listeners. Written by Angus Brown and directed by Tom Adams.
To celebrate the news that we were to become a Regularly Funded Organisation of the Arts Council, Miracle created an extra production for 2002: a straightforward staging of Ionesco’s absurd play, complete with enormous semicircular set including 6 doors and 30 chairs, pushing the boundaries of small-scale touring!
A re-run of the 2015 show.
When a Victorian Egyptologist discovers Cleopatra’s tomb and brings her back to life, she assumes he is her lover, Anthony. At the start of the opening night at Cothele House, the play still had no ending. This was agreed in the interval and improvised. It would be a lie to claim that the audience never noticed, but by the second week the show had found its feet and went on to enjoy considerable success!
Frank & Ernest appeared. They were stand-up comedians from a bygone age: tired jokes, no sense of timing and relentless underlying attrition. They made cakes disappear; sawed live rabbits in half, while their glamorous assistant did farmyard smell impressions. They organised and compared The Palace of Delights, a series of epic cabaret nights in Falmouth at the Princess Pavilion and Victor Drago’s.
Miracle received funding from the Foundation for Sport and the Arts which provided a van, a decent production budget and proper wages for four actors. The result was, an epic tale, bursting with songs and draped in lush costumes, inspired by the lives of local shady characters, Harry Carter, the King of Prussia Cove and Lady Jane Killigrew, spanning naval engagements, settlements in the New World, a lunatic asylum and packet ships. Simon was the new company member, beginning a 7-year partnership.
In 1943 the Willoughby Brown family decided to do their bit for the war effort by sharing their annual family entertainment with the good people of Falmouth. What started as a sophisticated soiree quickly degenerated into improvised mayhem.
Cat’s Cradle was an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s 1960’s apocalyptic novel. Experimental use of video projection brought the quick-moving tale about a curious religion and a chilling (literally) weapon of mass destruction to the small stage.
Contrary to popular myth, Miracle’s show was not about Jason Squibb, although it was his first appearance with the company. This year produced some of the nastiest weather in Miracle history, creating serious challenges, particularly keeping the vast pillar upright in gale force winds. This was the year we made the front page of the Daily Mirror when our newly acquired satnav led the van into a flooded ford in Dorset, resulting in all the emergency services being called and the headline ‘Splatnav!’
Another Adams/Scott collaboration. A musical pastiche of B-movie westerns, with plenty of songs – but not a horse in sight! New company member Ben Kernow sang Country and Western, while riding a dozy old stepladder.
A raucous homage to early Victorian pantomime based on a 19th century script and popular songs of the time. The show was staged on a portable proscenium ‘theatre’ with hand-painted backdrops and a ‘pit orchestra’ of piano, violin and clarinet. Warmly received as an alternative panto experience that could be enjoyed by all ages.
A comic take on courtly love gone madrigal, featuring knights in armour, a dim shepherdess and a flock of sheep. The story was constructed round 13th century love songs, sung unaccompanied in French. This subtle aesthetic was challenged at the Winchester Hat Fair when the cast had to compete with a chain-saw juggler on one side of the stage and a bagpiper on the other.
A brand new fairy tale about a family struggling to keep music alive after it is outlawed by a tone-deaf king. Fantastical musical instruments and a large revolving cube lit up with state-of-the-art digital moving imagery. Actor Sally Crooks’ first show since work-experience with Miracle, 9 years earlier.
Miracle’s popular 1994 panto, reimagined by the Ffitch Repertory Players. This production recreated the world of Georgian theatre with 18th century stage technology including a fire-breathing dragon and a demonstration of early lip-synching.
In this first Tom Adams/Bill Scott musical, Frankenstein built a creature out of body parts stolen from a cryogenic laboratory. The story was peppered with songs that would do any 1950’s musical proud but followed the same relentless path to disaster as Mary Shelly’s original. First Miracle show for Ciaran Clarke and Holly Cassidy, who played the creature’s bride, at the same time as providing a live score from a mobile piano.
A revisit of Beckett’s masterpiece, twenty-eight years after Miracle’s first production. People are always surprised to discover how funny and uplifting this supposedly ‘bleak’ play really is. Hannah Stevens’ first Miracle role, as the Boy.
Bare-breasted soothsayers and poisoned chalices abounded in this ridiculous dark ages comedy about skullduggery in a royal Celtic household. The set consisted of a massive throne, made by Alan Munden who went on to work with Miracle for the next 21 years.
A romantic comedy involving time travel and posing the question, ‘given the chance, would you journey to the past or the future?’
Steve Clarke and Bill Scott wrote a musical adaptation of St. Exupéry’s novel. It was called Shooting Star and was Miracle’s first indoor winter tour. Music by Jim and Steve Lawrence with Matthew Pullum.
Tartuffe was a new translation of Moliere’s scathing satire. Trap doors and a hydraulic stunt ladder helped bring this wickedly funny farce alive.
Keri’s Drama club
A princess with a passion for Mills and Boon novels falls in love with a manicurist and marries him, but not before everyone, including Prince Malodour (played by Dominic Knutton), has woken from video projected nightmares.
This adaptation wrung every drop of romance, tragedy and humour out of Shakespeare’s unsurpassed love story. This was one of the rare occasions when a Miracle actor was unable to go on. Steve became so ill that Bill had to step in and read the part. He ended up job-sharing the role with Dominic Power until the end of the season. Auditions for Juliet discovered a new regular company member, Cat Lake.
With the help of the Arts Council, a new pink van was purchased, with space for the set, lights, costumes, props and up to seven people and set off to tour, a fast-moving thriller, propelled by a streamlined text and strong physical performances. Costumes, music and dance all had a non-specific far eastern flavour, the whole thing played out in a hall of mirrors. These distorted the reflections of characters – but unfortunately also concentrated the rays of the sun. The cast returned after a break on a very hot day to find the stage in flames. ‘To laugh or not to laugh.’
An entirely new adventure for the famous detective, investigating his own death at the hands of his creator, Conan Doyle, who wanted to concentrate writing about more serious subjects, including clairvoyance and fairies.
Revival of the 1989 production, with an extra actor, lavish scenery and Mr. George Shutter live on the pianoforte. The beginnings of Miracle’s ‘play within a play’ format, featuring Julius Ffitch and his repertory players.
A complete reworking of the 1995 show, with the Bobby and his band playing live, using real-time back-projections of 1/12th scale scenery and special effects, operated by the actors off stage – but in view of the audience.
With a purpose-built yellow pyramid, an old coach and a company of 8½ Miracle set off across the country with a double bill:
McBeth Miracle’s first encounter with Shakespeare. This was an extremely free adaptation and included an early attempt at incorporating video – to show the prophecy of the three witches – via an 18” TV screen!
The Joke Machine was a matinee kids’ show about a pair of evil game show hosts;
The paltry box office receipts for this tour were supplemented by a bit of busking along the way.
A contemporary tale, very loosely based on of Jules Verne’s classic, with back-projected scenery and a giant octopus. Kids from schools in Penzance and Plymouth contributed artwork and an underwater ballet.
A new adaptation of Calderon’s very modern 16th century drama about dream and reality and the uncertain nature of existence.
Another Shakespeare favourite given the Miracle treatment and well received by aficionados, bard-haters and small children alike!
The Ffitch Repertory Players spared no expense to bring the world’s best-loved fairy tale to the stage, with a live band, a Welsh rat and a flying Fairy Godmother. Miracle’s first panto at the Princess Pavilion.
A musical about Bobby Beauty, 1960s heart-throb and unwilling pawn in the struggle between the top-secret British Rocket Agency and Bestiana, an alien invader in spandex flares.
This new play toured Cornwall in a marquee, loaned by the National Trust. Appropriately for a show about eternal damnation, the tent was set on fire by Hell’s Angels during a performance at a festival in North Devon. The cast dealt with the flames between entrances and the audience never knew.
The start of regular Arts Council funding celebrated in style with a new adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Big cast, towering Trilite set and live orchestra did justice to Hugo’s epic story and really came into its own during a glorious week at the Minack.
In this third incarnation of this play, the backstage story of the Ffitch’s Repertory Players’ fragile relationships was more prominent than ever.
A new adaptation of Gogol’s satire of local government, relocated to the Italian village of Baccobiondi, featuring a working restaurant and a malfunctioning fountain.
The Case of the Frightened Lady told the story of Edgar Wallace writing one of his potboilers in a single day, with the help of his wife and staff, all likely to burst into song at any moment. The show introduced a new crop of actors to Miracle’s audiences: Jo Bowis, Tom Adams, Dominic Power and Ben Dyson all went on to become regular performers and Fay Powell Thomas as stage manager, equally at home on and off stage.
Miracle continued to develop the idea of small-scale touring ‘alternative pantos’ with this three-hander in which the sheriff on Nottingham took his revenge on Robin. This was an elastic little show, able to stretch to include a run at the newly opened Hall for Cornwall.
A re-run of the 2005 production.
A faithful (though invisibly trimmed) interpretation of Wilde’s perfectly formed and funniest play.
A lavish reworking of our 1993 script, with a set that allowed a full view of the dressing room, wings and backstage action, as the Ffitch Repertory Players struggle to keep the show on the rails.
A nifty adaptation, convincing moustaches and Jim Carey’s lush score helped make this joyous production the most successful Miracle Shakespeare to date.
A new adaptation for 6 actors. Alan’s circular set, Jude’s sea-soaked costumes and Jim’s unearthly music combined to create a dreamy production that played to all the strengths of outdoor theatre.
This was the beginning of a 12 year collaboration between Bill, Steve and Keri and a fruitful partnership with English Heritage. A Spanish perspective on the story of the Armada, toured throughout the UK and Ireland in association with English Heritage. On consecutive days this show established our two record audience figures, which have still not been broken: smallest audience (2 in Truro’s W.I Hall) and largest (1,500 at Kenilworth Castle)
A new adaptation of Gay’s 18th century ballad opera, set in the London underworld. The show included a convincing guillotine and video-projected cancan dancers.
A Grand Catastrophe gave the tongue-in-cheek treatment to the civil war in Cornwall, a cavalier stronghold. Performed in many of the places where key events took place, including the siege of Pendennis and the flight of Henrietta Maria via Trelowarren to St Michaels Mount. Keri, Steve and Bill were assisted by an army of children recruited at each performance.
A co-production with English Touring Opera featuring a large community chorus and Ben Luxon as a Cornish mine owner on the brink of financial ruin, at the mercy of fraudulent bankers and itinerant opera singers. Week-long runs at 4 venues in Mining Heritage Sites from Botallack to Tavistock and at the Hall for Cornwall. This show was subsequently adapted into a feature film also called ‘Tin’.
Taking place on a startling red set, the action revolved around a magic bed that allowed actors to return to the stage in different roles without ever apparently leaving it. This was Kyla Goodey’s first show with Miracle.
Miracle had discovered a winning formula – comic reconstructions of famous historical events. Next came the story of Stanley’s search for the famous explorer told in the style of Victorian music hall. First use of the pop-up portable proscenium stage and first show designed by Jim Elliott. Toured across UK and Ireland.
A re-run of 2001’s production with Steve Jacobs taking over the role of Malvolio from his brother Phil.
The first little tour had gone down well so the following summer the group decided to have another go. A new version the old Cornish legend was performed every Saturday night in Truro’s WI Hall before touring historic sites, including Restormel Castle and Castledore.