You must Follow Another Plan

Performers Alice Beadle, Catherine Rajhans. Images by Ian O'Leary, Ganna Smirnova.

Forthcoming Project

"You Must Follow Another Plan" is a quote from an English twelfth-century adventure story in which young adults gain agency in their cultural experience through an inventive approach.

From 2006 - 2014, Ganna Smirnova pioneered an inventive approach to young adults entry points to Ukrainian heritage sites. Her Indian classical dance project was supported through the Indian Theatre 'Nakshatra' at Kyiv National University.

From 2021 - 2022 I created imaginative new entry points into Sussex’s medieval history placing 1066-themed conversations in dialogue with contemporary life. Children’s workshops focused on inspiring her-story adventure narratives accompanied an experiential theatre performance and a subsequent video installation supported by Arts Council England, Chalk Cliff Trust, English Heritage’s Abbey and Battleground, Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, Hastings Borough Council, International Marie de France Society and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

In this winter 2023 project, Ganna and I will collaborate to explore our synergetic approaches to creating relatable and relevant cultural entry points for young adults. We’ll support a diverse young adult community to access medieval narratives that reflect their true selves and measure how they take part and which methodologies are most effective in achieving this. This community will be engaging with their medieval heritage for the first time, an opportunity to consider their Norman connections in a post-Brexit UK, and we look forward to collecting data about this significant moment in their lives.

"You Must Follow Another Plan" is a project offering relevant medieval stories of agency to young adults who currently don’t have access to relatable entry points.

EUNIC London confirms facilitation of this project in a Culture of Solidarity EUNIC Ukraine 2nd edition funding bid supported by the Cyprus High Commission, Goethe Institut London, Lithuanian Embassy, Polish Cultural Institute and Hastings Borough Council. UBC Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies, University of Vancouver in relation to the International Courtly Literature Society 2023 conference confirm support of an honoraria bursary.

Marie In The Margins video installation

Marie in the Margins: performers (l to r) Erica Smith, Yasmin Aishah and Hannah Collisson, image by cinematographer Rod Morris, design: Ursula McLaughlin.

This video installation explores the innovative writing of England’s earliest known adventure author Dame Marie, also know as Marie de France. Her short stories in her contemporary language, the French of England and the language of rule after 1066, champion ambitious female decision makers. In this work, the stories are explored through the lens of three modern Hastings cultural innovators.

The narrative is focused around the theme of the three women’s work spaces as valued sacred spaces. In the three sections, the women step out of their places only in their imaginations. Adventures are found in expected and more radical use of their immediate environment, their furniture and work tools. And in their thoughts.

The work was conceived for placement in environments related to male medieval workforce history to remind us that women have always worked on the fertile margins. In the medieval period, this was predominantly connected with the production of books, women scribing, illustrating and creating stories often in abbeys, communal work places that supported them to undertake these careers.

This installation was hosted by Battle Abbey (English Heritage’s1066 Abbey and Battleground) from May-July 2022. It has also been hosted at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery from May-Dec 2022 and at Bexhill Museum in Sept 2022. It premiered internationally at the International Conference on Medieval Studies in May 2022 and was subsequently shown at The International Courtly Literature Society conference at British Columbia University in Vancouver in July 2023.


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