Pass It On : Outdoor Theatre Experience

Posted on by Anita O'Donovan

This year the National Coal Mining Museum for England is proud to be building its reputation for commissioning original events such as theatre and performance working with a range of artists and performers from musicians, poets through to theatre groups and dance performance artists.

Part of the year-long focus is a commitment to showcasing a series of original events and productions for all our visitors to come together and enjoy, which brings the stories of nationalisation to life.

At the beginning of June we were delighted to welcome ‘The Whispering Wood Folk’ to the Museum for the first time. The group were commissioned to write and perform an original piece of promenade theatre which included storytelling, daring acrobatics and music.  The audience was invited to walk with the performers as the story unfolded.

The ‘Pass It On’ story started at the Museum's Hope Pit site, using the original colliery buildings as a backdrop. It progressed through the Memorial Garden descended into the trees along the nature trail and the grand finale took place in the industrial buildings at Caphouse Colliery so it not only led the audience on an interactive adventure but showcased the Museum in a unique and original way.


‘Whispering Wood Folk’ are a troupe of artists working together and usually perform in a woodland setting. Here’s Director Nina Bambrey talking about the commission.



Here’s a small selection of lovely things people have had to say ..

” Captivating; a delight for the senses! We have now enjoyed 2 performances, both so different, but so expertly executed and a joy for all ages. Keep working your magic, wood folk!!!”

“We have just enjoyed the most magical evening at the Coal Mining Museum with this amazing crew! Thank you!”

“My son and I were on an afternoon out with friends today at the mining museum when you asked if we would like to stay and watch your performance. Pass it on. It was brilliant, we really enjoyed it. A very approachable and interactive performance. My son didnt want it to stop and has just wanted to do forwards rolls since we left. A special thank you to your storyteller who held his hand when we got to the top of the hill while I sorted out my daughter. Thank you again for letting us watch you practice.”

A selection of comments from the visitor book

• I loved all of this outstanding performance – all the elements were creatively produced – the music was haunting & very beautiful. I was never bored! Very clever music, acting & acrobatics – I would like to see more

• Really enjoyed the performance and especially the connections with the mine and its history. Beautiful mix of music, dance and storytelling xxx

• An absolutely magical experience – the children (and parents) loved it!

• Fab storyteller, fab singer/musician & fab performance. A touching story of the mine. We’ll definitely Pass It On!

• Excellent & unique way of storytelling. Very imaginative storytelling. The expression inspiring. Music – out of the world & unique.

• Thank you, your show is both fun & moving and keeps our history alive

• A wonderful way to Pass It On. Thanks for creating a wonderful piece 

• Incredibly relevant and inspiring piece with the upcoming election. I really enjoyed the entertainment and morals and hope this group are able to reach a wider audience in the future to encourage more young people to take a more active role in society. Thank you for a brilliant and thought provoking performance Georgia 16 xx 

Community led

The Museum is proud to be commissioning more original events and productions from the local creative community and we have been keen to give them space and creative freedom, with support from our dedicated team.

We strongly believe that this is already leading to some inspiring partnerships and is really bringing the stories of coalmining and all the values of that strong community back to life. A spokesperson for the Museum comments "This year we are celebrating the optimistic values of work, ambition and welfare. We hope it will spark debate on how to learn from and be inspired by the past. The theme of this particular commission was a folktale telling the story of how we can pass on our knowledge and wisdom to the next generation. It’s a unique way to bring stories of coalmining to life."

With heartfelt thanks to

Museum Director, Mike Benson

The Whispering Wood Folk

Richard Stanley of The Portrait Sideshow for capturing the moments!

& the Museum Team

Posted in Heritage


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