The Storm Officer
Weathering the storm: TEMPEST and engagement with the national weather memory
This is a one-year project (1 November 2017 – 31 October 2018) led by Professor Georgina Endfield, working with Dr Sarah Davies (Aberystwyth University), and the Archives and Records Association (ARA).
The main output will be a short tour of 'The Storm Officer', the first play by award-winning poet Matt Black, during 2018 in five locations in England and Wales. Stories of wild floods, Nottinghamshire whirlwinds, fire-drakes, the Thames frozen over, Sir Cloudesley Shovell and Ann the local poet, with her many-coloured notebooks. Read more about TEMPEST in this blog post.
Originally commissioned by the Extreme weather in the UK, past, present and future project team as a pamphlet of poems, the play is inspired by the contents of the main output of that project - the TEMPEST database, and focuses on the highly sensitive and emotional issue of contemporary flooding in Cumbria (particularly that following the record breaking rainfall and severe gales associated with Storm Desmond (5-6 Dec 2015)).
Preview performances of 'The Storm Officer' took place at Lakeside Arts in Nottingham and Kirkgate Arts Centre in Cockermouth in spring 2017, in conjunction with the Arts Council of England, and proved very popular with audiences.
The themes of the play explore directly the content and the central questions informing our research in TEMPEST. How we remember historical weather, through accidents of language, history and locality, and how memory and history shape attitudes and beliefs, is played out as the central conflict between the main protagonists.
One of them (the Storm Officer, who has researched extreme weather) loves the language and history of extreme weather but is detached from the reality of the suffering it causes when a real storm (Storm Desmond) arrives.
The others, whilst struggling to survive being flooded out of house and home, learn through the course of the play to contextualise their experience of flooding through deeper understanding of historical weather, as well as issues of climate change and the role of other human agencies.
The new performances will be free to attend and are open to invited guests and members of the general public.
Details of locations, dates and tickets will be available soon.
All shows will include pre- or post-show audience discussion and also be linked to workshops in local archives.
Funded by the AHRC through the Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement scheme.