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The Life And Times Of Mitchell & Kenyon
The Life And Times Of Mitchell & Kenyon
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Mitchell and Kenyon events to celebrate the lost filmmakers’ movies

Lancashire film-making pioneers Mitchell & Kenyon are the focus of a new play which premieres at The Dukes this spring.

The Life And Times Of Mitchell & Kenyon is a celebration of the factory-gate film-makers who showed audiences their world as they’d never seen it before and made cinema history along the way.

The co-production between The Dukes, Lancaster and Oldham Coliseum Theatre will run from April 19-May 10 in Lancaster and May 15-31 in Oldham.

This play with songs is the brainchild of awardwinning director Amy Leach who hails from Darwen where Mitchell & Kenyon were based in the Edwardian era.

And it’s been written by the Lancaster-based awardwinning playwright and screenwriter, Daragh Carville. He brings Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon back to life to tell the story of a unique film-making partnership whose collection of “local films for local people” is now regarded as a national treasure.

“Mitchell & Kenyon honoured the people they filmed and gave them a certain respect and dignity.

“I want this play to honour Mitchell & Kenyon in the same way,” said Daragh.

The spirit of the music hall is also rediscovered in this show which is full of songs, laughter and, thanks to the BFI National Archive, clips from the original films themselves.

Lancaster’s own imitating the dog theatre company will project stunning video designs onto the set, combining theatre and film to tell this tale of the birth of modern cinema. Mitchell & Kenyon made their name by giving ordinary folk their 15 minutes – or less – of fame.

During the close of the Victorian period and into the Edwardian era, they set out from Blackburn and travelled throughout the North and nationwide filming people as they left factories and enjoyed their leisure time in places such as Morecambe and Blackpool.

The films would then be shown at fairs, theatres and other venues, where people could spot themselves, their family and friends on the big screen. After their heyday, Mitchell & Kenyon’s films were largely forgotten until they were rediscovered in metal churns in a Blackburn photographer’s shop, in1994.

They were donated to the British Film Institute which together with the University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive, restored the 800 camera negatives.

Director of the National Fairground Archive is Prof Vanessa Toulmin, who was born on the Winter Gardens fairground in Morecambe.

On March 27 at The Dukes, she will be presenting films shot by Mitchell & Kenyon in the Lancaster and Morecambe district and beyond with live musical accompaniement.

Tickets: £8-£19.50.

Call The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit www.dukes-lancaster.org.