Stars of the stage and screen, arts and music are helping to transform one of English Literature’s most celebrated poems for the digital age.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is an epic tale of adventure, fear and fascination – a work of 18th century science fiction that has prophetic messages for the natural world, climate breakdown and mental health globally relevant in the 21st century.
With that in mind, the Ancient Mariner Big Read – commissioned by The Arts Institute, University of Plymouth – brings together renowned public figures, artists and scientists to retell the poem for a modern audience.
The 150-verse poem has been divided into 40 readings, with each reader recording a sequence of three to four verses to be broadcast over the internet, day by day. Once complete, it will be available to listen to as one symphonic piece with a specially designed soundscape by Jay Auborn.
Free to access, the readings will also be accompanied by outstanding work from international contemporary artists and paired with relevant scientific research in fields including marine science and climate breakdown.
The project has been curated by author Philip Hoare, artist Angela Cockayne and Dr Sarah Chapman, Director of The Arts Institute. They previously collaborated on the Moby-Dick Big Read, which has gathered over 10 million hits since first being broadcast in 2012.
Launched on Saturday 18 April with a reading by actor and activist Jeremy Irons, the Ancient Mariner Big Read will also feature recordings by Tilda Swinton, Hilary Mantel, Lemn Sissay and Alan Bennett.