Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

ExploretheArch’s theatrical production explores elusive history

The ramifications of 1066 continue. A new theatrical production in St Leonards has a Ukrainean and pan-European theme. ExploretheArch continues to show the uses of the imagination. Bernard McGinley reports. Photographs by Rod Morris.

The House of the Stone that Spoke is ExploreTheArch’s exquisite new festive show running from Friday 22 December to Friday 5 January 2024 at 7.30pm (not Mondays).

The production takes three mediæval sisters, princesses: one was Elisiv of Kyiv, who married Harald Hardrada (also Sigurdsson), the ambitious Norwegian who was eventually defeated by King Harold (Godwinson) at Stamford Bridge weeks before the Battle of Hastings. So she came close to being the Queen of England. Her two sisters, Anastasia and Anna, had comparable destinies in travelling from the Kyivan Rus kingdom to lands including Germany, Hungary and France.

Elisiv on a Ukrainean stamp, 2016

The performances will be in evocative attic spaces of the theatre’s upstairs, areas not opened to the public before. Ukrainian harp duo Elizabeth Isadora and Catherine Rajhans, and their mother, yarn artist Anna Smirnova, invite audiences into their intriguing inner worlds to explore the lyrical stories of their ancestors.

Live harp music will drift through the walls meeting spoken thoughts and reflections, film and the magical scenery on strings with shadows dancing across the walls. The wild outside will weave through the angular roof spaces.

In relocating to Hastings from Kyiv, the performers found inspiration to explore their female forebears of the Kyivan Rus kingdom traversing Europe a thousand or so years ago. The performing trio have spent time examining stones on the Sussex shore, finding that rocks help to connect to their place of birth and other heritage lands. Catherine, Elizabeth and Anna share how stones speak to them as global connectors. The act of finding offers tangible connexions to historical stories steeped in myth and legend.

Tickets & information

The performance lasts an hour, in an enclosed space. Tickets for this promenade theatre are £15 + booking fee via Eventbrite. Advanced booking is essential.

Under-19s can book free tickets to accompany adult ticket holders by emailing

Doors open at 7pm, where the Xmas menu can be booked at the foyer bar for after the show. 

Accessibility note: the attic rooms are reached by stairs from the foyer, as the Victorian venue has no lift. Seating is provided in all spaces during the promenade performance. (Please email with accessibility queries.)

The production runs in tandem with ExploreTheArch’s Fossil Finder In Us ALL project at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery. 

ExploreTheArch is the UK’s theatre of domestic life, and is based in a large house at Archer Lodge, 34 Charles Road, St Leonards, opposite Markwick Gardens. The interdisciplinary arts collective does three experiential productions a year here, as well as their international installation work and community arts projects.

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Posted 17:10 Monday, Dec 18, 2023 In: Performance

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