The Mary Neal Project acts as a catalyst for connecting the traditional and the contemporary.
Inspired by the experiment of the Espérance Club, a series of one-off events and celebrations create practical opportunities to explore common ground between practitioners working in folk and the contemporary performing arts today.
Respect for tradition and the men and women who have handed down songs and dances over the years, ensure the stakes are high when the inheritance of singing and dancing is explored. Most people would agree that song and dance traditions are kept vibrant and live with the re-inventions that each individual performer and singer brings to them. How this happens can produce some passionate and heartfelt views. "Each generation and each individual who has sung them has added or omitted some little touch" said Mary Neal herself, and more recently, the musician and singer, Martin Carthy: "The only way to hurt a traditional song, is not to sing it".
What then, is the role of creativity in tradition? And what what is the role of tradition in creativity?
The following Projects open the questions out in practice:
The following artists have played a part in this project:
Sam Lee Nikki Crane Laurel Swift Freddie Opoku-Addaie Anna Ledgard Fabio Santos Paul Brett Enitan Osinake Moussa Keita Tabitha Neal Chris Wood Tim van Eyken Cat Radford Janet Foster Chris Pentney Michelle Bloom Rosemary Lee Lucy Richardson Paul Clark Verity Sharp Sally McKay Damien Barber Simon Maggs Jen Walke Ally Walsh Lucy Neal Ruth Holdsworth