Title: Investigating new forms of content creation, storytelling and audience engagement to reveal the Genius Loci of heritage sites (The Workhouse, Southwell)
Heritage Project at The Workhouse, Southwell, is a 5-year long collaboration partly funded by National Trust with Nottingham Trent University; it was enabled by National Trust’s Research Strategy aimed at ‘fulfilling the role of heritage in the modern world, realising experiences that move, teach and inspire’. The project was focused on The Workhouse, Southwell to reveal its Genius Loci (distinct character), to unearth its forgotten, denied and unexpressed stories; and to unveil them through Scenarchitecture, Moneta’s performative methodology that utilises architecture and performance to provoke visitors to think differently about history, identity and today’s world.
Scenarchitecture blends Imagination with Memory using a given architectural site; it works with the complex overlay of historical and contemporary fragments embedded in the host building, and it combines them with the stories, memories and meanings of the people that lived there. The aim of this process is to unveil feelings, to reveal invisible links between places and people, using perception and sensibility.
Moneta’s project was developed through research-led teaching: since 2015, a number of Theatre Design students had been involved as active researcher for content creation; they had been paired with Workhouse’s volunteers to engage with the building and its archive material; together, they devised different 'stories' inspired by The Workhouse’s archive; in the first two years of development the project inspired students’ installations; from 2017, after gaining interest from National Trust, the ‘stories’ evolved into a collective, costumed promenade performance open to public around The Workhouse, with the volunteers as storytellers and Moneta as project manager and director.
The project is now a regular and popular feature of The Workhouse’s Public Programme inspired by a specific year’s theme. Outputs included photos and video, website and blog, newspaper article, exhibition; in 2019, a documentary captured the development of the project and final performance.