Co-founder Tony Earnshaw looks forward to what promises to be a busy, exciting and rewarding 2023 for Damn Cheek and its creative partners.

As we approached the turn of the year, my colleague Susan Quilliam reflected on 2022 – the upheavals, the uncertainties and the challenges but also the positives. Against a difficult and sometimes unpredictable background, there were highlights, and they included some creative highlights in the projects we ran and the people we worked with.

The new year will no doubt produce some surprises of its own. Much is still in flux. The cost of living continues to rise while earnings do not keep pace, war continues in Ukraine, political uncertainties abound.

Mark Knopfler sang “There will be sunshine after rain, there will be pleasure after pain” but Susan’s message last month suggested that we don’t need to wait until after the rain, or after the pain but can find it now, in among the heartache.

Whatever the year brings, I think we can be confident that there will be moments of sunshine and pleasure as we at Damn Cheek develop our 2023 projects.

We’ll be working with the people of Felling once more in a new community project with the working title Spilling the Beans. This will be the mix of drama, dance, song, clowning and more that has become the hallmark of Damn Cheek productions with local schools and community groups involved in the creation of the show. The difference this time will be the use of food-related stories from local people which will form the backbone of the piece.

Later in the year we’ll be taking Passion for the Planet to the Mole Valley – again with input from local community groups and performances in Dorking – and the environmental message which is central to the piece is already sparking interest and enthusiasm.

Add into the mix a Theatre for Wellbeing primary schools project, our ongoing relationship with Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists, and a developing dialogue with Leatherhead-based Freewheelers Theatre. It promises to be an exciting and rewarding year.

And, to return to the mix of good and bad news, pleasure and pain, a reminder that it is okay to enjoy life despite what is going on around us:

Joy

When cities are ravaged,
hospitals razed to the ground,
when our dreams are haunted
by the sound of explosions,
it is not wrong to feel joy

for it has always been this way
and always must,
the fault in human make up
can turn all things to dust,

and yet we love and laugh,
we give and maybe pray
for only with the touch of joy
can we face another day.

© C A Earnshaw

Photo by Darren Cheek: masks created for Passion for the Planet, 2021