Cap-a-Pie is very pleased to be working with UHArts at University of Hertfordshire on a new R&D theatre commission – Sparks Might Fly. We are exploring fortune telling, cunning folk and grimoires (spell books) in collaboration with Professor Owen Davies.

The commission is part of a research project at the University called Everyday Lives in War, which looks at the impacts of the First World War. People’s use of fortune tellers significantly increased during First World War as people tried to deal with the uncertainty of war. However many people continued to visit fortune tellers for reasons not related to the War such as relocating stolen property, for love charms and the un-bewitching of livestock.

In May and June 2015 Cap-a-Pie worked in collaboration with Professor Owen Davies and with creative input from students and members of the community. Together we have been exploring Owen’s research into fortune-tellers, and the people that visited them, during the First World War.

We were struck by the variety of both the fortune tellers and why people were visiting them. Some fortune tellers used items such as tarot cards, crystal balls and palm reading whilst others spoke to the spirit world through spirit guides. Others branded themselves as cunning folk and were able to dispense charms and good luck talismans as well as divine the future whilst some felt their powers were coming straight from God.

In the piece we want to show the breadth of the different types of fortune tellers and the needs of their clients. The piece focuses on two characters Professor Calderon and Peter D Bramston, both very different fortune tellers with different and potentially opposing views.

We are currently working with UHArts to develop and tour this piece to schools and community venues.

Commission from University of Hertfordshire
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