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For over 300 years Sunderland, in the Northeast of England, on the edge of Northumberland, was at the heart of the shipbuilding trade. From the age of sail to the age of steel, the banks of the River Wear were abuzz with the sounds of dozens of companies employing thousands of workers turning out countless tonnes of ships. At the end of the Second World War Sunderland was the largest shipbuilding city in the world.

Just 40 years later that was all gone. Under the Government of Margaret Thatcher, both Sunderland's Shipbuilding and Coal industries vanished in only a few years. Today the banks of the Wear are unrecognizable. Seals swim in the river mouth where ships so massive and so many made it almost possible to walk from one bank to the other.

"Timber. Iron. Sinew."grew out of the 2016 Sister Cities project "Ghosts Across the Pond," at Sunderland's Washington Old Hall, the ancestral home of the Washington family. Wherever we went in Sunderland, tall tales of great ships abounded. And so Co-Artistic Director and Ciné Director Paul Gordon Emerson, with grant support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Sunderland Shorts and the Sunderland Business Investment Team set out to make three short tone poems, using dance as the medium, of the era of wood, where everything was done by hand and in partnership with nature, to the era of iron and steel, where massive machinery replaced intimate artistry, to the city as it is today, where all that remains of the great age of steel lies in the muscles and minds of the men and women who worked the line. Those men, and those women, today are in their 60s, 70s and beyond, their skills passing with time.

"Timber. Iron. Sinew." partnered with a remarkable range of artists and industry to bring these tales to light. From original scores by two of Sunderland's most remarkable young composers, Barry Hyde and Jordan Miller, to the students at Sunderland College, to the drone drivers at ROAR Motion, to the management at Liebherr Cranes, which occupies the land where, since 1791 ships were born, to the remarkable men at the Sunderland Maritime Heritage Museum, "T.I.S" was far more than a simple study in movement. It was a study in time as well. American artist, and Company | E members, Diana Amalfitano and Boris Willis worked alongside Mr. Emerson to round out the creative team, choreographing, dancing, directing and inspiring.


Company | E's partners District of Columbia Public Schools The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Shakespeare Theatre Company Spain Arts & Culture Washington Performing Arts Embassy of Poland in Washington, DC The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
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