100 The Day Our World Changed

  • 11th Aug 2014

A unique performance, 100: The Day Our World Changed, started at 5:30am at the Gorran War Memorial and climaxed with a haunting battlefield, a shared grave and a long roll-call, near to dusk, of the names and short personal descriptions of each of the 53 local men who were killed as a result of the First World War. 

This unique spectacle involved several community male and female voice choirs, local children, sewing bees and crafting groups, gardening experts, comedians, fishermen and their boats, pyro-technicians and hundreds of volunteers who brought the epic day together. The cast of hundreds, made up of many local volunteers merged with professional actors, moving through several settings, driving a powerful and deep impact via the tiniest of details as well as extraordinary landscapes. Throughout the day, an audience of over 5000 found themselves in the midst of the experience, seeing, hearing, learning and feeling something of the actual events and experiences that would have occurred amongst the residents of the three Cornish parishes on that fateful day one hundred years ago. 

Other elements of the day included thousands of residents and visitors alike turning out at Mevagissey Quay with local dignitaries to mark the centenary. A 1914 town crier summoned local men to depart whilst in the distance, a lugger was seen approaching the harbour. Here, the audience met the main characters caught up in the drama: the local squire, Jack Tremayne; Jack, one of his gardeners from Heligan; and Mary, his true love, and after that, they followed them as a motif throughout the day. The audience then follow the men of the naval reserve leaving to go to war, departing the Mevagissey village en masse, marching to the sounds of St Austell Town Band like they did 100 years ago, up into the grounds of Heligan. 

Squire Tremayne then invited the audience for a harvest picnic in Valentine’s Field below Heligan House, where a stage of traditional rural activities was set. At the heart of the gardens, on Flora’s Green, an Edwardian bandstand was used as a focus for the drama throughout the afternoon. At Heligan House, the audience will had privileged access into the normally private grounds, as the Squire got involved with preparations for war.

Back in the gardens, the audience heard the stories of the Heligan gardeners who enlisted and never came back. An outdoor chapel was created on the bandstand, which became the backdrop for a significant moment in the performance. The audience then experience a cinematic-style climax as they promenaded back out into the fields to witness various haunting visions of the future and the deaths and burials of the lost gardeners of the Estate. 

Once again, we would really like to thank every single person that was involved in this truly unique and extremely memorable event.

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