The Clockwork Moth are Dartmoor-based wife'n'husband duo, Victoria and Charlie Narewski Scullion, along with a plethora of incredible collaborating artists and live musicians. We have been creating much-loved shadow-shows for adults and children since 2006; intricately detailed, darkly humourous, touching, magical, mesmerising and many-levelled for all ages. Our aim: to enchant, to blow you away, to leave you wishing for more! Shadow-puppeteer Melissa Chernowetz kindly described our last feature-length show as "elegant and passionately wrought." Alexander Winfield described it this way: "...twilight entertainment, a place of dim light and mysterious figures emerging from the night. I almost envy the very young children in the audience; this will be something to linger in their dreams, a sibilant whisper interrupting their future lives as adults. Whispering of magic in the dark." We love that.
Wray Castle and Beatrix Potter
Earlier in 2017, The National Trust's Wray Castle in Cumbria got in touch to ask if we'd consider a new shadow puppetry commission for their 'Forests of Folklore' season. Beatrix Potter spent a summer Wray Castle as a child when her family rented it. Beatrix was educated by governesses, and one of them used to tell her German folktales, which partly inspired her famous writings. Wray Castle are commemorating this with various folkloric events, including their own shadow forest.
Forest Of Folklore
We decided to make a production of Jacob and Wilhem Grimm's classic, 'Hansel and Gretel,' our second foray into the Grimm's world. The show will incorporate not only the classic tale, told in our dark comic style, but will be a Halloween special, premiering on Oct 31st (Hansel and Gretel were lured to a house of confectionary after all!). The show will also have allusions to Beatrix's experiences in the wild margins of Wray Castle, the magic of nature that inspired her books and her groundbreaking scientific work, which championed conservation and was instrumental in the creation of The National Trust. The show will revel in the beauty of nature and the otherwordly folklore born of it. As for to the tale itself, we want to look at some of the themes and explore them, elevate them: a stepmother who begrudges her children's share, a marriage of poverty, childhood greed for sugar, the maternal appeal of the old woman, the fear of the forest, the witch-figure, and that iconic european mecca, the gingerbread house.
The initial show will be around 3O minutes long and created by four artists: Marisa Latimer (narrator and live musician), Charlie Narewski Scullion (puppet-maker, script/storyboard and director), Victoria Narewski Scullion (character and costume design, co-direction), and Leah Kirby (first puppeteer and assistant puppet-maker).
So, Why Are We Crowdfunding?
As you will well know if you are a working artist, or indeed a human being, everything costs more than you think it will. Ambitious art projects therefore usually need to be funded by more than one source; in this case, The National Trust and, hopefully, people like YOU, who share our passion and enthusiasm for the project. Let us elaborate...
Working with The National Trust
This really is a passion project. Not only is this a show that we are delighted to be creating, but we are proud to be supporting the wonderful National Trust. Not only do they conserve and restore iconic historic properties , but they are absolutely on the pulse of the wildlife conservation movement, with vast estates, forests and natural wonders, where they are exploring methods of increasing biodiversity, ultimately rescuing plant and animal species from the brink of extinction and providing a world where they may thrive again. It was at Wray Castle that Beatrix Potter met Hardwicke Rawnsley, whose conversations led to the creation of the National Trust, more or less saving the Lake District from industrial development.
It is true that the NT generates substantial income. They do have a rolling arts programme. But against the backdrop of their phenomenal priority overheads, it is a big ask for the NT to commission original artistic work, with all of the expense that implies. Yet Wray Castle have risen to that challenge, stretching their budget to provide the maximum that they can to make this project viable. However, a brand new show is an expensive undertaking, and that maximum is roughly the minimum we need to really make it happen. Once you subtract things like travel and fuel, rehearsal space, studio costs, etc, from the budget, there's not a huge amount left. That's why we need this crowdfunding boost. To do everything as well as we can, to avoid any compromise in quality, and to create a slightly larger personal kitty for the huge volume of work (hours) that will be inevitably spent on the project. We hope that the rewards we are offering will be a great incentive for you to make a donation.
What Will The Crowdfund Be Spent On?
•Rented rehearsal space
•Rented studio space for making the puppets
•Development and production of a CD soundtrack of the narration and live music (see rewards)
•Development and production of a Book, a visual companion to the show (see rewards)
•Material costs for the physical creation of the show
•New theatrical lighting
•A cushion kitty of artist fees. This is a modest boost to our wages towards the volume of work required of us over the next two months, somewhere in the region of £100 each. This also widens scope for the group of artists to develop the project into wider tour, perhaps in the area where you live
•Increased fuel costs - our car recently died, which was a shame as it was magically fuel efficient. So our fuel budget travelling to Wray Castle (Devon to Cumbria) will now be higher
•Possible van rental - this is more of a stretch target, which will make our lives a great deal easier when it comes to bringing the show to Wray Castle (Devon to Cumbria and back)
Thank you so much for supporting the project and the artists involved. It is the generosity of crowdfunders such as yourself that keep the arts thriving. We appreciate every single hard-earned penny, and will make sure it counts.
Charlie, Vicky, Leah and Marisa.
The Clockwork Moth, Sept 2018
Here's a little video of our shadow work - Marisa (singing) will be the narrator and live musician in Hansel and Gretel
And here's another, funded by The Arts Council and crowdfunding. Our full show of The Brother's Grimm's 'The Devil with The Three Golden Hairs'. 2015 (1 hour).
“What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit world of childhood, tempered and balanced with knowledge and common sense.”
– Beatrix Potter, November, 1896