Shore to Shore – Entertaining Morocco

Posted on June 1, 2011


from Shore to Shore:  An evening of music, words, song and food from 17th Century England and Morocco, Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire UK.

Last night our Editor, and daughter Hannah, enjoyed an evening of music, words, song and food from 17th Century England and Morocco.

The evening was hosted and Directed by Diana Lazenby,  inspired by Alison Atkinson’s play Entertaining Morocco’ and Performed by the Association Mogador Musique et Chant Soufie from Essaouria and Passamezzo


Part of the ‘Entertaining Morocco’ project, An intercultural exchange between England and Morocco. Around 50 guests enjoyed the beautiful setting of the Jacobean Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire; a fantastic performance, a wonderful mixture of Tudor English and Moroccan food, music, songs, extracts and speeches.

The Playwrite Alison Atkinson was present to view the interpretation of her work; which she throughly enjoyed. The Honourary Secretary of the BMS (British Moroccan Society) Benedicte Clarkson came up from London for this special event and was equally delighted by the performance.

(LtoR) Benedicte Clarkeson (British Moroccan Society), Diana Lazenby(Director -Entertaining Morocco), Simon Hawkesley (Editor), Alison Atkinson (Playwrite) photograph: Hannah Hawkesley


THE ENTERTAINING MOROCCO PROJECT is a series of fascinating intercultural events drawing together performance traditions from England and Morocco, presented as theatre works, musical concerts, and discussions, by Moroccan and English artists and scholars. The project explores cross-cultural collaboration and learning, aspects of Christianity and Islam, and invites the target audience of 18 – 30 year olds in both countries to debate personal freedom, recognise cultural differences and similarities, and appreciate the surprising historical ties between the two worlds.

At the project’s heart is a poetic and fascinating new play by Alison Atkinson, Entertaining Morocco, which is produced by One World Theatre and was premièred successfully in London in 2004.

Its starting point is historical fact: pirates from the Barbary Coast of Morocco capture a group of Devon country people in 1631, and enslave them. This leads to a new life, both of captivity and strange new richness, for the English in North Africa. Imprisoned together, they become street performers integrating their own church music with oriental and Islamic acrobatic and singing traditions. Some find unexpected love; others spiritual refreshment; some hope to return home… but where is home? And if a ransom is paid, who will pay it, and with what consequences?

The play has been revised and reworked specifically for this project and it now incorporates live music by Moroccan Sufi musicians of the Ensemble Mogador Chant et Musique Soufie, as well as exciting aerial work and Jacobean period music. Performances have taken place in Marrakech and Essaouira, Morocco and venues in the UK; continuing over the course of 2011.

Association Mogador Musique et Chant Soufie and Passamezzo in harmony

Introducing the play will be a concert series by Passamezzo, an English ensemble specialising in theatrical performances of often unknown English 16th and 17th century music, embellished with dance, food of the period and readings. The collaborate with the Ensemble Mogador Sufi musicians , which started in Essaouira and Marrakech Morocco; have contrasted and blended two traditional styles of performance into a fascinating whole. Yesterday evening the Sufi musicians performed with Passamezzo for the UK  return visit.

Surrounding the concerts and performances will be debates, discussions and workshops for young people inspired by the cross-cultural fusion of arts and examining important issues raised in the play.

A website with material in Arabic, French and English will include blogs and resources for teachers or individual study, and Neon Forest will document the project in photos and film.

The project is a result of discussion and collaboration between groups from diverse backgrounds. The work with Moroccan partners – particularly the Sufi musicians and Marrakech University – is especially innovative.

‘Each of (Atkinson’s) plays introduces us to extraordinary worlds and makes us want to know more. .. a sort of poetic meditation on freedom and slavery, Christianity and Islam, men and women… quite unlike anything else I’ve seen recently in its serious engagement with matters of religion and its ambition to return a kind of poetic discourse to the stage.’

– Chris Campbell, Literary Department, Royal National Theatre

The project has been developed and curated by Diana Lazenby of Lazenby Education whose expertise in training and education includes bridge-building and gathering insights from one discipline to enhance others, adding a new dimension or extra value to a project.