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Theatre Mélange, The Echo Project 2009 – 2011

  • Date: 14 October 2009
  • Artform: Theatre
  • Area: South West
My Place 1 - ECHO workshop 2009 My Place 1 - ECHO workshop 2009, Wai Yin Kwok

Originally based at the landmark De La Warr Pavilion in East Sussex, Theatre Mélange has just moved to the south west to develop an operating base in Somerset. Located between Exmoor and the coastal town of Minehead, work will soon be completed on a new office and workshop space.

Theatre Mélange has successfully operated since 1996 developing a style of work that fuses image, text and sound to create highly visual, contemporary performance.

In 2009 Theatre Mélange received a Grants for the arts award of £49,269 from ArtsCouncil England, South West for the two year ECHO project (2009-2011). Led by Theatre Mélange, ECHO is a collaboration with the University of Exeter and partners in France and Romania.

The Company has a commitment to build strong foundations in the area and be a central part of the regional community. The Echo Project is a search for balance between tradition and modernity in the development of local communities. It is about people and place. What are the interconnecting stories that help us construct a sense of place; the kind of place where people feel they belong?

The UK activities will take place in the coastal town of Minehead and surrounding areas of West Somerset. Through a series of practical workshops, in-depth interviews and intensive field-research they will gather stories, impressions and different perspectives that reveal what is valued about the place, how the future is envisaged and most importantly the role that each of us can play in shaping that future. This dialogue will focus on the older and younger generations.

This journey will culminate in the ECHO ReFlection, a live performance event for the general public that directly gives a voice to local people of all ages. The ECHO ReFlection will be performed at the Regal Theatre in Minehead in summer 2010.

It will be accompanied by discussion and other activities where representatives from key stakeholders in the region and beyond will be invited to participate.

'We see ECHO as specifically fulfilling several of our key corporate priorities for 2008-2011 in terms of its European reach; the partnerships it will create and develop in our own region and abroad; the exciting way in which the fields of arts, science and local history will converge; and perhaps most importantly the ways in which a project of this kind could really make a difference'. Polly Davis (Somerset County Council Arts Partnership Development Officer).

The activities outlined above, led by Theatre Mélange in the UK, will also be carried out in similar locations in Romania and France. The activities there will be managed and financed by our international partners.

  • University of Bucharest and Teatrul Municipal Ariel from Romania
  • Culture Commune and Cie Hendrick Van Der Zee from France

Each geographic and human landscape will provide a microcosm from which to identify patterns and contrasts on the European scale. This echo effect will emphasise a sense of European identity that is rich in its diversity.

As Sandy Maberley, Artistic Director of Theatre Mélange says:

'Over the last ten years, Arts Council funding, both nationally and regionally, has enabled Theatre Mélange to do work which engages with both local people and international partners and build collaborations of real quality and depth. This investment has in turn attracted other significant investment including European funding.'

ECHO is funded by Arts Council England; Somerset County Council; ARTlife, Take Art and the European Union's INTERREG scheme.

For more information about Theatre Mélange and the ECHO Project visit: