Reimagining Dartmoor’s stories for the 21st Century

Chasing Crockern

I’m delighted to be working with fellow storyteller Sara Hurley on Chasing Crockern, a new exploration of Dartmoor’s stories. Generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England using money raised by National Lottery players, Chasing Crockern will bring a myriad of events, story walks, live performances, talks, and exhibitions to Dartmoor over the next 18 months, culminating in six performances of a new storytelling show in March 2025.

Chasing Crockern aims to connect Dartmoor’s communities with their historical roots and folklore, highlighting the enduring legacy of the moor’s tales and reimagining them for modern audiences. Sara and I are working with Villages in Action, Dartmoor National Park Authority, The Museum of Dartmoor Life, Moorland Community Care and Skylark FM. The project will also feature contributions from a range of artists including Lucinda Guy, Paula Crutchlow, Hugh Lupton, Jim Causley and Ben Tallamy.

Dartmoor is such a special place, and over the centuries it has inspired some wild and curious folk tales! Chasing Crockern is a great opportunity to look again at Dartmoor’s folktale traditions, and ask: what do these stories mean for us today? What new stories might come from our twenty-first century communities of place and nature on the moor?

The project takes its name from Sabine Baring-Gould’s tale of Old Crockern – the spirit and guardian of Dartmoor. Baring-Gould was an Anglican priest, hagiographer, antiquarian, novelist, folk song collector and scholar, and 2024 marks the centenary of his death. Last year I worked with the story of Old Crockern for a storytelling MA with Shonaleigh Cumbers, exploring the story’s roots in the landscape and its modern use in Dartmoor wild campign protests.

Keep an eye out for Chasing Crockern events, story walks and features over the coming months.

Exploring today’s land through our ancestor’s eyes

Earth, Water, Fire!

In the times before modern science, things were explained differently. Tales told through generations passed on the knowledge and wisdom of people and place, wrapped in the epic journeys of heroes, heroines and dragons.

What hero stories would our ancestors tell of rural life today? Our landscapes are rapidly changing, the maidens have attitude and armour is pointless… Lisa, with musician Emma Welton and filmmaker Matt Biggs, present a new contemporary storytelling show, directed by Paula Crutchlow, that connects us across the centuries.

90 minutes. Suitable for ages 13+.

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and by Plymouth University, North Devon & Torridge Councils and Beaford.

Fragments of Arthur for our times

The Wounded King

Three storytellers, three fragments of Arthurian legend that reflect, connect, contradict and leave vital questions in the air.
Lisa Schneidau tells Healing the Wasteland. A fool is fated to discover a great truth. He’s on the right track, when the land around him is dying. But does he even know the right question to ask?
Katy Cawkwell tells Arthur and Mordred. He’s slept with his sister. He can’t trust his son. The fake news is getting out of control. Cracks in the kingdom are widening and things are falling apart…
Ronnie Conboy tells The King Under The Hill. Somewhere underfoot, in the quiet dark, sleeps the hope of a nation. A young man walks a lonely road with an unexpected friend. Maybe there’s no such thing as magic: it’s just knowing where to look.

90 minutes. Suitable for ages 14+.

A history of the land through story

The Tangle of the Commons

The Tangle of the Commons tells the story of the British landscape and our relationship with the wild things around us, seen and unseen. Who really owns this place – and what happens if humans push things too far?

Here are some of the old tales, laced with history, ecology and a hefty dose of the ridiculous, to provoke thought and inspiration about the land we usually take so much for granted. Expect malevolent fairies, dastardly robber kings, slimy boggarts and a particularly disgruntled wild pig.

90 and 60 minute versions. Suitable for ages 12+.

“Lisa takes an old, familiar story – and along the way, reshapes and updates it with captivating skill, wit and verve.”

Wise Women and Witches

Wild Women and Witches is an hour-long storytelling piece about the hedge-wisdom held by women in Britain through the ages.

These folk tales paint a picture of how society has used and abused wise women – from midwifery to witch-burning.

60 minutes. Suitable for 14+

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