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Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 16:58 UK
Sacred hare celebrated in dance
Movement workshop MED

By Jemima Laing
BBC Devon

When you're a theatre company looking for inspiration for your next project sometimes the answer lies very close to home.

Following the success of the MED Theatre Company's High Plateau project the young people involved wanted a new challenge.

And in the end the Dartmoor company didn't have to look any further than its own logo of the Three Hares.

The Brown Hare project will culminate in a theatre production in summer 2010.

"The brown hare on Holne Moor is the last animal we know to have to been held sacred on Dartmoor," said Mark Beeson, MED's artistic director.

MED workshop
Some of the workshops took place outside

"The hare is a potent multicultural symbol for renewal, and the use of dance will enable us to explore the role of the emotions in cultural attitudes more fully."

A number of movement workshops have already been held and the plan is to take the project into local schools to make sure the legend of the hare stays alive.

The motif of the three hares occurs across myriad cultures and as far afield as China, but one of the places it occurs the most is on Dartmoor.

The hare also features in many aspects of local folklore and Dartmoor traditions such as the tale of The Witch of Tavistock and The Hunted Hare.

Choreographer Rosalyn Maynard, composer Gillian Webster, and Mark - who is a poet and playwright - will work with the youngsters to create the final work.

As will Dr Tom Greeves who has made a special study of the three hares.

MED workshop
The three hares is the MED's logo

"There is also the ecological aspect," said Mark.

"The hares on Dartmoor are in steep decline and no-one is quite sure why - it's possibly to do with lack of mixed farming and of course they used to be hunted.

"As part of the project we discuss the current situation of the decline of the hare on Dartmoor through storytelling, exploration of movement and dance, and debates."

This project is linked to MED Theatre's three-year programme - Dartmoor Elements - on the subject of climate change and changes in Dartmoor's ecology.

If it proves effective the plan is to take the project into even more schools and develop more movement workshops on the subject of Dartmoor's wildlife.

"I think if you live on Dartmoor it's important to have an awareness of this local knowledge, which has been largely lost," said Mark.

The mystery of the three hares
30 Sep 09 |  History


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