History of Company of Imagination

Jan Dungey

In 1984 Jan Dungey, who had a background as performer, director and creative collaborator with feminist theatre company The Cunning Stunts, and a passion for the environment, moved to Bungay on the Norfolk/Suffolk border with the idea of creating a unique arts collective that would be inspired by local places and people.

She brought with her fellow performers Helen Crocker and Jonathan Graham and they worked together as Rural Arts. Early projects that brought together natural history, folk lore and traditions with talks, workshops, exhibition, processions and performances around Bungay were The Flint, the Snail and the Ash Tree, The Common Pond, and a communal giant pancake-making event on Pancake Day. A three-week project in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk called A Week to Warm the Heart and Lighten the Spirits involved residents, school children and local businesses.

The idea of Animated Trails took root and the first of these was the Animated Trail of Ely in Cambridgeshire (1985). It was commissioned by Ely Arts Association, Cambridgeshire Architecture Workshop and RIBA as part of the Festival of Architecture. The three-week project, involving eight professional artists/performers and culminating in five trail performances around Ely, became a template for future trails.

Later in 1985 a new core team was recruited and in 1987 the organisation became a registered charity and limited company under the name of The Company of Imagination. In addition to Jan Dungey as Artistic Director, Maggie Campbell and Amanda Glover became Project Directors, Nicky Stainton Administrative Director, Pam Cooke Co-Ordinator and Jacqui Kerrigan Research & Development Assistant.

The trustees included Roger Deakin, Alan Carter, Sarah Gentle, Lynda Ralph-Knight, Diana Shipp, Therese Wright and Marilyn Tolhurst.

In 1991 Jan left The Company of Imagination and moved to Kent. The company was wound up in 1992 following the completion of the final project The Cycle of the Birds.

Behind the Scenes