COW is a rural tragicomedy with songs, written and performed by Jessica Barker-Wren, Directed by Lucy Wray.
Bethan comes back to the family farm to find the community and support structures she took for granted are being steadily dismantled. Bethan faces that particular stage in adulthood when you lose your parents, and you REALLY have to grow up. Set firmly in the Devonshire countryside with a lifesize cow on wheels. COW takes an irreverent look at some serious topics.
Following R&D at The Bike Shed Exeter, we shared 15 minutes of COW at a scratch night. Reactions were really positive:
‘smartly written and darkly funny piece of theatre’
‘a touching family tale about ageing and responsibility’
‘about returning home, evaluating your life and dealing with emotional struggle’
Check out the video above and here is the official blurb:
'Listen, cows aren't chickens, I'd be the first to admit that, but there is a pecking order'
Bethan's come down to Yeoford with a cow. There wasn't another option. This is just a casual rural situation: she's a farmer's daughter, looking to acquire a tractor. She thinks she's got a handle on things... A tragicomedy with music about a girl, a cow and the ways we ask for help.
From Jessica Barker-Wren & Lucy Wray, director of They Built It. No One Came – 'Intriguing and psychologically complex' (The Stage). Goodstock – 'Honest, funny and true' (The Guardian). Supported by The Bike Shed, Exeter.
HOW WE GOT HERE
I showed Lucy part of a big play I’d written that takes place inside a whale. Lucy said it was great, but could I write something smaller, that would tour easily. I came up with COW. It's set closer to home and there’s a good dollop of real life in it.
I sent a sample to the wonderful Exeter Bike Shed who were immediately interested in a show set in Devon and offered us space, support and performance slots. Theatre Royal Plymouth followed suit, and Oxford OffBeat invited us to take part.
We had a script, development space, an actor, a director, a brilliant choreographer, a builder and a BIG to do list...
After recruiting two wonderful producers Kirsten and Jake and with a successful Arts council development application under our belts we put the show into development in Exeter.
We’re now ready to share COW with the widest possible audience! That means Edinburgh, to start with.
BUT Y THO?
Theatre programmers from across the country base seasons on shows they’ve seen in Edinburgh. It’s crucial to sharing the show with a much wider audience. Edinburgh is our pathway to far flung theatres in Fyfe, village halls in Abergavenny and crypts in Cornwall.
In a political climate where cities and country can feel further apart than ever, projects such as COW seek to bridge that gap.
COW’s themes include loss, climate change, UK farming and our relationship to the EU. It is also a deeply personal reflection on growing up and dealing with the death of a parent. The central figure in COW is a woman from a rural background, taking on the enormous task of running a farm. Women such as Bethan are currently underrepresented in theatre and the media and we want to challenge perceptions and invite audiences to reconsider mainstream exploration of the divide between city and country. We’re excited to share universal themes and open up dialogues both within and between communities.
We are developing workshops for young people to complement the show. We want to hear the views of young people who are the future of our farming and rural communities. We aim to collect stories from communities at the brink of significant change, recording attitudes before the removal of EU funding structures, exploring what this means now and in the future. We also intend to share this workshop with a bereavement charity for inclusion in their young people services, offering the possibility of discussion and recovery from loss through artistic means. By going to Edinburgh we increase our chances for this workshop being rolled out across the UK.
WONDERFUL PEOPLE & PLACES INVOLVED
Lucy Wray Director Lucy has worked with some amazing people. I love her work and can’t think of anyone I’d rather be directing COW.
Making Room our trusty producers Kirsten Peters Roebuck and Jake Orr. They have a plan, a track record of supporting successful theatre and a sensible budget to make every penny go the extra mile.
William Wyld a wonderful carpenter, set builder and artist to build Friendly, our cow. He helps wood and theatre come together.
Polly Bennett Movement director extraordinaire -- that martial arts dance sequence won’t choreograph itself.
Jack Thomson Choreography movement associate. Putting me through my paces.
Joe Price Never. Forget. Lighting.
Mobius These guys are the bees knees of PR who will maximise our chances of success.
The Bike Shed Exeter - space, support, mentorship, performances at their wonderful new venue The Boat Shed.
Theatre Royal Plymouth - space and support.
Wiltons Music Hall - Space, support, and mentorship on running our workshops effectively.
Oxford OffBeat - We've been scheduled as part of this wonderful festival in Lucy's home town, increasing the reach of COW.
Risks and challenges
Tickets sales are the biggest variable in the revenue this project eventually receives. Offbeat, The Boat Shed and Underbelly are all programmed but we can't guarantee that COW will be programmed in theatres for 2017/2018... We can give it the best possible chance by ensuring the quality of the show and reaching the widest possible audience in Edinburgh with our wonderful production team.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)