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Norfolk Tourism Awards

Julian Harries and Pat Whymark sign on with The Mariner as they embark on a regional tour

PUBLISHED: 16:48 09 October 2018

Julian Harries is the eponymous Mariner in Common Ground's latest tour which looks at the influence of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Photo: Pat Whymark

Julian Harries is the eponymous Mariner in Common Ground's latest tour which looks at the influence of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Photo: Pat Whymark


Julian Harries and Pat Whymark have enjoyed a strong following with local theatre audiences. Arts editor Andrew Clarke caught up with Pat Whymark as her latest play looks at the story behind Coleridge and his epic poem Rime of The Ancient Mariner.

The Mariner, a new play looking at the influential Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Photo: Julian HarriesThe Mariner, a new play looking at the influential Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Photo: Julian Harries

East Anglia has long been associated with the sea. Storms have shaped its coastline while foreign trade and fishing have provided much of its livelihood.

Unsurprisingly, the sea has become an important part of its folklore and its history. Suffolk-based Common Ground Theatre Company is launching its own tribute to our sea-going heritage with a wide-ranging tour of a magical, slightly surreal production of The Mariner – a musical adaptation of the gothic fantasy, Rime of The Ancient Mariner.

Penned in 1792 by Samuel Taylor Coleridge the epic poem heralded the arrival of the Romantic movement in England.

The show’s writer Pat Whymark said: “In The Mariner, I took episodes from the extraordinary life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and through them I interweaved his most famous poem. I wanted to examine how an artist’s work can be seen as an allegory for their life story. The Rime has a strangely prophetic relevance to Coleridge himself, but for the reader, has the wider themes of ecological disaster, our own destructive compulsions, and the death and rebirth of imagination.”

The show will feature live action, film, puppetry and original music, sung by the Common Ground Community Choir. The Mariner will be played by Julian Harries, well-known to audiences from his performances for Eastern Angles,The New Wolsey and Colchester Mercury along with Richard Lounds as Coleridge.

Live music willl be provided by Pat Whymark & Emily Bennett along with an all female community choir who will perform in teams over the course of the tour.

“The Rime has held a place in the common consciousness ever since, inspiring generations of artists, writers and film-makers,” said Pat.

This production follows previous productions such as The Old Curiosity Shop & Sherlock Holmes and The Hooded Lance in 2017. Julian Harries added: “This piece holds new challenges for us as theatre makers to create a play which is a fusion of some epic themes such as ecological disaster and man’s destructive compulsions.

“Using original music as an additional conduit for the emotional breadth of the poem, we hope to share with our audience the profound effect the poem has had on us, and to open the way for their own unique experience.”

The Mariner, by Common Ground Theatre Company is on tour across East Anglia until November 11. For the full tour schedule, to book tickets and for news of their 2018-19 Xmas show - The Scarlet Pipistrelle. go to www.commongroundtc.co.uk, or call 07807 341364.

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