Alchemical Adaptations: Performing Leonora Carrington's The Hearing Trumpet

Book chapter

Lee, J and Sowerby, Georgina (2020). Alchemical Adaptations: Performing Leonora Carrington's The Hearing Trumpet. in: Mann, Michelle (ed.) Living Legacies: Leonora Carrington Vernon press.
AuthorsLee, J and Sowerby, Georgina
EditorsMann, Michelle

This is the story of how Dirty Market made a theatre adaptation of Carrington’s The Hearing Trumpet, how our understanding of the book (and its author) changed over time, and what happened when we tried to stage it…

Believing we were adapting the book, we discovered slowly, the book had been adapting us - personally, creatively and collectively. This chapter is about that adaptation process: our struggles, failed attempts, incomplete revelations and breakthroughs. Rather like Surrealism’s Exquisite Corpse, it is made up of a series of apparently mismatched pieces; its trajectory, certainly not linear, is more like the ‘seed collecting’, Ursula K. Le Guin talks about in her Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction essay we’ll refer to later. Dirty Market, our company, is also a constantly shifting and changing entity, and this chapter charts our deepening sensation of commonality with Marian Leatherby, the narrator of The Hearing Trumpet, and her Santa Brigida companions. Just like Marian’s companions, Dirty Market’s raggle-taggle collection of performers, writers, musicians and artists, brought so many exciting, deep, amusing, supportive and creative elements on the journey. This series of pasted fragments, thoughts, and images is a little like a Scrapbook of Memories that Marian might’ve kept, or the kind once found, perhaps, lying at the bottom of a packing box in the attic of Crookhey Hall. Our references are often child-like, and this chapter responds to a process of making that was filled with red herrings, misdirection, double backs and sudden tumbles down metaphorical rabbit holes, or perhaps, up ladders and down snakes often bringing us back to square one. As painful as it often was, we also experienced wonderful ‘windows of lucidity’, witnessed beautiful performance breakthroughs, and consumed copious amounts of tea and biscuits along the way.

Book titleLiving Legacies: Leonora Carrington
PublisherVernon press
File Access Level
Publication dates
Print01 Jan 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted01 May 2018
Deposited15 Jan 2020
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Chapter 6, Jon Lee and Georgina Sowerby, 14.06.19.docx
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Related outputs

Diffractive Dramaturgy: A Performance Practice for Complicated Times
Lee, J. (2020). Diffractive Dramaturgy: A Performance Practice for Complicated Times. Performance Research: a journal of the performing arts. 25 (5), pp. 114-121.
The Hearing Trumpet
Lee, J and Sowerby, G (2017). The Hearing Trumpet.