The specially commissioned play, called I’m not one to gossip, takes audiences on a wander around the museum in the company of Jane Peart – the woman who cleans the Mine Agent’s office and knows everything about everyone and anyone.
As the play unfolds across different scenes set in various locations around the museum, Jane’s character invites the audience to join her for a gossip, as she shares the lives of Upper Weardale folk during the Victorian era.
Myths and legends
Written and directed by David Napthine and performed by Shelly O’Brien, I’m not one to gossip was funded as part of the Covid Recovery Project and the wider Killhope arts engagement programme. David was tasked with researching the myths, legends and people of Weardale, in particular those who had close links with Killhope. As a result, the heroine of the play was based on Jane Peart, an actual resident of the area who did indeed look after the mine office.
Shelley, meanwhile, spent a day with the team at Killhope, exploring the landscape, exhibitions and specifically the Victorian costumes, to help connect with what life would have been like for Jane during that time, bringing a depth to the character which is palpable in Shelley’s performance.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “County Durham has a rich heritage and boasts an amazing cultural offer. It’s wonderful that Killhope Museum is helping to bring a part of the area’s past back to life through this new and exciting play. Getting to meet the character of Jane and learning about her life in this art form is a brilliant way to explore the history of our region in new creative ways.”
As well as its summer programme, Killhope offers a wide range of events and activities for visitors of all ages, making it a key element of Durham’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025.
The next performances of I’m not one to gossip are on Wednesday, 18 August at 11.30am and 2pm. Performances take place on flat, accessible areas of the site and in the open air. Additional measures have been taken place to make the site Covid-safe.
Entry into the museum is free of charge during the summer and visitors are welcome to attend a performance of I’m not one to gossip when visiting Killhope – advanced booking and tickets are not required.
For more information about I’m not one to gossip and the wider summer programme at Killhope Lead Mining Museum, visit: www.killhope.org.uk/events/