Masterminded by Golden Tree Productions, Hellfire Kernow is a community-based project delivering an innovative programme of creative workshops leading to a spectacular celebration, which will take its place in Cornwall’s cultural calendar annually – on the early May bank holiday Monday.
On Monday 1st May 2023 four colourful crews of Redruth residents took to the streets for this playful new celebration of Cornish heritage and culture. The project is inspired by Redruth’s medieval Cornish amphitheatre or ‘Plen an gwari’ – a circular ‘playing place’ most likely located close to ‘Plain-an-Gwarry’ street near to Redruth Rugby Club, where audiences would have experienced extraordinary plays, theatrical goings-on and sports tournaments.
With the traditions of plen-an-gwari behind it, this ‘brand-new, ancient celebration’ included a spectacular procession through the town, a reimagined and theatrical re-enactment of the story of the life of Saint Euny, Redruth’s patron, and a revival of an ancient Cornish sport with the ‘Hellfire Hurl’, a dramatic tournament played by Year 7 pupils from Redruth School at Redruth Rugby Club.
Hellfire Kernow joined together the familiar and the unfamiliar – combining art, heritage, community, and sport. The event brought together Redruth residents, and those from further afield, in four distinct Kryws (‘crews’) of Angels, Demons, Tormentors and Saints, with the Kryw divisions based on the medieval keverangow (‘hundreds’) of Cornwall.
After witnessing a proclamation at the Miner’s Statue in Redruth’s Fore Street the four Kryws began to process, with each of the Kyrw bands playing their distinctive tune. Having triumphed last year in the first Hellfire Hurl, the Saints proudly carried the Silver Ball trophy through the town to the Rugby Club. The four teams played until a battle of good and evil resulted in a win for the Tormentors who celebrated with their choreographed Cornish Garm Vresel ‘battle cry’ performed to all. The story of the life of Sainy Euny then unfolded, with four imposing processional sculptures of an Angel, Dragon, Tormentor’s wheel and Saint’s Boat carried by the Kryws around, and through, the circular performance area to bring the story to life.
For more information, visit Golden Tree’s website here.
- Shared Prosperity Funding boost for Redruth’s spectacular celebration of Cornish heritage – Cornwall Council
Image Credits Steve Tanner Photography