Quarry firm Longcliffe takes the drama out of opera company’s dilemma

Viv Russell with festival team members (seated) John Phillips, Michael Williams, Lucy Marsden and standing, Lee Barnes and Lucie de Lacy.
Viv Russell with festival team members (seated) John Phillips, Michael Williams, Lucy Marsden and standing, Lee Barnes and Lucie de Lacy.

One corner of quarry firm Longcliffe’s Peak District operation is now home to a bit of darkest Peru after the company came to the rescue when Buxton International Festival needed space to store its stage props.

Peruvian flags from the 2018 production of Alzira, set in the South American country, chairs and tables, scenery and other theatre equipment which can be recycled now have a home in a secure container at Longcliffe’s site in Brassington.

“Buxton Festival has no storage space of its own, so every year we have had to throw away items like this which could quite easily be re-purposed for other productions,” said Michael Williams, chief executive officer.

“Longcliffe’s generosity will save us a lot of money by allowing us to build up a store of really useful stuff – although it might be a while before we use the Peruvian flags again!

“Donations in kind are a great help to an organisation like ours. We now have a warehouse which will give us the freedom to plan ahead rather than creating props on an ad hoc basis.”

The quarry firm have also offered to install power, light and de-humidifiers to keep everything safe.

Longcliffe Group managing director Viv Russell said quarry firms were not only stewards of the Peak District landscape, but also stewards of the local communities.

“As a quarrying industry we are very committed to our local community, and supporting the community fits in with our licence to operate,” said Viv – who has backstage theatre experience himself.

One of his past part-time jobs was making props for the Haymarket Theatre – including creating a bed for Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall in the Tennessee Williams play ‘Sweet Bird of Youth’.

The container was donated to the Festival by supporter, Derek Raphael. Another, donated by Bill and Sue Tyson, will also be used for storage.

Viv Russell is pictured with festival team members (seated) John Phillips, Michael Williams, Lucy Marsden; (standing) Lee Barnes and Lucie de Lacy.