Haunting Ashton Court

A photo of a grand wood-panelled room in a stately home. People gather in small groups, chatting. There is leafy greenery draped around the room, ivy dangling from the top of two grand stone fireplaces. In one of the fireplaces, an analogue 90s TV displays a screen of static. There is stage lighting pitched around the place, giving the room a dramatic feel. Photo by Maria Meco Sanchez

The project //

Haunting Ashton Court is a participatory theatre experiment. It investigates the archives around British Country Houses and plants seeds in the gaps.

Facilitated by Jack Young and Elinor Lower, throughout several months of workshops, the project invites participants to tell the stories that have been erased by centuries of ‘history-making’. 

Art forms used might include:

  • devised theatre

  • poetry

  • dance & movement

  • games

  • collage

  • drawing

  • music

  • writing

The first round ran from Sept 22 - Jan 23, culminating in an evening performance at Ashton Court Mansion itself. 

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The evening //

Directors Elinor Lower & Jack Young
Lighting Designer Imogen Senter
AV Designer Elinor Lower

Thursday 26th January

Ashton Court 2022

An evening of performance reclaiming history and archives at/towards/against Ashton Court Mansion by young Bristolians

A poster for thr performance of Haunting Ashton Court. A collaged image shows some victorian era botanical prints of ferns and mushrooms, overlaying a 17th century painting of a wealthy young white woman and a young black page. At bottom of the poster, a black-and-white photo shows the staff of a stately home posing with a horse and carriage. Next to it, in contrast, a cutout of a modern-day photo of a sign reading 'David Walker Homes South West Staff Meeting This Way'. A found-text poem assembled from lots of different magazines/sources above it reads, 'History with a capital H, I didn't think humans could break you'. The background of the image is a photograph of a letter written by a member of the Smyth family in the 1600s.

The evening, continued

What are the stories we tell about history? Who has permission to write them? What does it mean to recover those we have forgotten?

Haunting Ashton Court
is an evening of performance interrogating the gaps in our archives, and the richness of a collective history not written down through a reclamation of plants, people and stories in the grand music room at Ashton Court Estate. Devised by a company of young Bristolians, invoking mediums from poetry to film to theatre, Haunting Ashton Court finds the threads of working-class stories, queer stories, Black stories and pulls on them...

The second half of the evening features a screening of Dan Guthrie's film 'black strangers', part of the Independent Cinema Office and LUX’s Right of Way programme, followed by a panel discussion between Dan and the young creatives of Haunting Ashton Court.

© elinor lower