Press Releases

The Falling Sky Lands at Reading – University of Reading

Release Date : 12 February 2007

The University of Reading's Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) is delighted to stage The Falling Sky on March 22nd at 7pm; a compelling new play about the realities of life in the countryside. The Falling Sky, written by Brendan Murray and performed by the Oxfordshire Touring Theatre Company (OTTC), charts the stories of five local people over the course of a year and deals with many topical issues - the financial difficulties facing small farmers, affordable housing, crop spraying, hunting and the conflict between urban values and traditional countryside ways. The production mixes music, humour, strong emotions and an outstanding cast and promises to be a thoroughly entertaining evening of live theatre, guaranteed to make the audience smile, wonder and wipe away a tear. Though fictional, it draws extensively on the experiences of people living and working in rural Oxfordshire, as told to the play's author, Brendan Murray. Before putting pen to paper, Brendan spoke in depth to farmers, trades unionists, huntspeople, clergy, conservationists and village residents. "The interviews were crucial to the play," explained Brendan. "I originally intended to write something more historical but the stories people told me were so powerful, I felt I really had to focus on what's happening in the countryside here and now." The Museum is also extremely pleased to announce that Brendan will be attending the production to introduce the play, and to lead a discussion with the audience afterwards. Kate Arnold-Forster, Head of the University Museums and Collections Service, says: "Hosting a theatre production in the Museum will be an interesting challenge for us but the Museum of English Rural Life is the perfect setting for this play, which deals with many important questions surrounding life and work in the countryside. We are delighted that Brendan Murray will be here to discuss his research with our audience, as this reinforces MERL's role of promoting debate on rural issues." Tickets are £8 (£5 concessions) and include a complementary interval drink. They can be bought in advance at the Museum, situated on Redlands Road in Reading, or alternatively, call MERL on 0118 378 8660 or e-mail Please book in advance to avoid disappointment as ticket numbers are limited. Ends Note for media: Media are welcome to attend. If you wish to come along, please contact Alison Hilton, marketing officer, on 0118 378 8660 Notes for editors: 1. More information about the Museum of English Rural Life The Museum of English Rural Life, in London Road, Reading, was founded by the University of Reading in 1951 to reflect and record the changing face of farming and the countryside. It houses designated collections of national importance that span the full range of objects, archives, photographs, film and books. Today, it forms part of the University's Museums and Collections Service. The Museum operates as a major resource and research centre for the history of food, farming and the countryside with links into the School of History and other academic departments at the University. 2. More information about the University of Reading The University of Reading is one of the foremost research-led universities in the UK. Founded in the nineteenth century and gaining a Royal Charter in 1926, we offer a wide range of programmes from the pure and applied sciences to languages, social sciences and fine art. New research and the latest thinking continually feed into undergraduate teaching, with our academic staff working at the forefront of their fields of expertise. 3. To arrange an interview with Brendan Murray, or some of the people he spoke to when writing the play, contact Jenny Roberts on 01865 249444 or Rachel Viney on 01491 836969. 4. Images of Brendan Murray and the promotional poster for the play can be downloaded from Production photos will be available in late February. 5.OTTC creates big theatre in small spaces. Its ambitious, magical productions are in great demand in Oxfordshire, and tour to small community spaces such as village halls, community centres and schools. It is funded by Arts Council England, South East, Oxfordshire County Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Cherwell District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council. 6. The Falling Sky is part of Oxfordshire 2007, a year of festivals, special events, festivals and anniversaries marking the county's 1,000th birthday.


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