In 2009 an amateur metal detectorist discovered a great hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure in a Staffordshire field. It dates from a time when the Midlands was the most powerful part of England, and perhaps that’s why it gave us, in what’s now one of the most economically disadvantaged parts of the country, an infusion of pride and self-belief.
It will be a decade before archaeologists can tell the story of this hoard. Who put it there, when and why? At the moment, there are as many potential stories as there are items in the collection. The skilled artist who worked the metal and garnetry; the fabulous dragon who guarded the gold; the king whose ransom it was; the runaway who buried it; the amateur who found it; the archaeologists who now work on it.
A parallel story is one about Englishness. This was the era when successive waves of migrants changed the country and began to form what we now think of as English culture; when Paganism gave way to Christianity, forming a belief system that was to shape the country; when the idea of the nation state was born – here, in Mercia. Even the English language in which we now write is based on the Mercian English of that time.
This summer 2015 the New Vic’s Hoard Festival will be a large-scale event lasting five weeks, which will tell many stories about the Hoard. We will feature 22 stories of how the Hoard might have ended up in that field; of whose lives it touched; of the objects it comprises; of the world it comes from, and what that says about the world we now inhabit. Some of the pieces will be works of imagination; some of history and fact; some will be provocations.
The Festival is supported by an Exceptional Award from the Arts Council of England and developed in partnership with the National Theatre Studio.
The New Vic delivers a programme of international-class work made with local audiences in mind. And, through an extensive community involvement, is helping to make our community a better, safer and more inspiring place to live and work.
Our home is the New Vic Theatre, the regional producing theatre for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. We make around eight major theatre productions each year and, as a theatre-in-the-round, have a special role in delivering Arts Council England’s strategy for theatre.
We are an efficient and effective social enterprise and we recognise our responsibility to provide tangible returns for the public investment we receive. We actively support the economic, cultural, educational and social priorities of a wide range of national and regional agencies through our professional theatre productions and award-winning community programmes.
The theatre is acknowledged to be a national beacon for the way we make the widest contribution to the wellbeing of the local community.