If you ever pass by the village of Cranborne in Dorset, make sure to pay a visit to the Ancient Technology Centre, an outdoor living history centre with recreations of several ancient buildings, including an iron age roundhouse, a Viking Longhouse (eat your heart out, other museum cafés!), and a spectacular recreation of an iron age Earthouse.
The earthouse itself provides a 250 seat capacity in-the-round indoor theatre (although you might want to take a cushion to sit on).
The venue is regularly used by the Crick-Crack Club for storytelling performances. This week, it hosted a performance by Pandvani 108, a performance storytelling telling troupe combining stories, music, and movement/dance in the retelling of ancient myths and legends. The current line-up included tales by Emily Hennessey, Ben Haggerty, and island-based Steph Brittain, with musical accompaniment in the form of sitar and drums, by Sheema Mukherjee & Rav Neiyyer.
The troupe’s name is based on an Indian storytelling performance genre, Pandvani (Pandavani) that also drives the ‘epic shorts” performance style: a series of movement rich, 15 minute tales based on traditional myths, accompanied by music, performed by the storyteller (the “teller”) but in partial dialogue with another (a “Ragi”), who adds interjections that variously acknowledge, drive, clarify and even mock the teller.
The 150 minute set (two one-hour long sets with a twenty minute interval, with 3 main stories, one per performer, each set) was a completely new style of performance to me, but a great fit for the Earthouse (also a first visit for me). If you ever get a chance to see Pandvani 108 — particularly if we can find a venue on the Island that would suit such a performance — I encourage you to take it.