Mark Bowden’s The Mare’s Tale – London
St. Saviour’s Church, Warwick Avenue, London, W9 2PT
The Berkeley Ensemble are delighted to present the world premiere tour of The Mare’s Tale, by British composer Mark Bowden. Inspired by a series of drawings by Clive Hicks-Jenkins on the theme of the Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare), this work for actor and chamber ensemble employs the same forces as Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale with the addition of viola.
One of the oldest Welsh midwinter traditions, the Mari Lwyd embodied pagan beliefs in the cult of the horse. Essentially a type of puppet made from a horse’s skull nailed atop a pole and draped in a sheet, the Mari turned out with groups of night-time mummers at the turn of the year.
The Mare’s Tale is a psychological drama focussing on the central character Morgan Seyes. Devastated by the death of his wife Jane, Morgan returns to the village of his childhood; an old pub sign reignites memories of a terrible experience from his past. The score underpins the psychological and poetic tension in the text and is cast as a set of dark variations on a traditional Welsh Mari Lwyd ballad, traditionally sung by bawdy revellers in South Wales demanding entrance to homes on New Year’s Eve.
Chloe van Soeterstede conductor
Eric Roberts actor
The Berkeley Ensemble’s performances of The Mare’s Tale are supported by PRS Foundation’s Beyond Borders, a co-commissioning and touring programme run in partnership with Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaion.