Sir Derek Jacobi brings ‘The Heartstone Odyssey’ to life with help from Moving Lives Dance Theatre.

It’s set to be an afternoon of magic and mystery as legendary actor, Sir Derek Jacobi, sets in motion the first stage presentation of ‘The Heartstone Odyssey’, a tale about a band of talking mice, astronomers who live at a Royal observatory, a young woman, Chandra, and their many friends on a quest to retrieve the enchanted Heartstone that is the spirit of their community. One fragment of the magical gem, broken in India around 200 years ago, was brought to Britain in 1796 and hidden in a stained glass window of a cathedral, so what better place to present this story than the magnificent setting of Liverpool Cathedral.    

This event, however, is more than a stage show, it is the second in a series of events to mark the start of a journey to the big screen, this time highlighting Liverpool as one of the main UK centres of the film development project being led by Barrie Osborne, Oscar winning producer on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films, sci-fi ‘The Matrix’ and The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo di Caprio, who fell in love with the stories.  He decided they could benefit from all the computer graphics wizardry that companies like Weta in New Zealand can deliver combined with writers, musicians and top named artists from east and west who are coming together in this unique project.

‘The Heartstone Odyssey’ is the work of writer and photo-journalist, Nick Sidle under his pen-name Arvan Kumar who conceived the story on a three-day journey between Mumbai and Chennai in the 1980’s.  

Spanning hundreds of years, the stories draw on ancient mythology, but this is a contemporary story, an epic tale with relevance for today, a story that starts in British India and told from a different perspective stretching into our time, following real history so closely, blurring the line between reality and fantasy. The story sees our heroes travel the world from London, across England including Liverpool, north to Scotland, east to India and west to America.  Encountering allies and adversaries in equal measure, Chandra and her whiskered champions battle onwards towards their prize. This is a story about challenging many different forms of intolerance to achieve monumental goals, a story with a powerful resonance in the current time.  

Many of the locations in the story are real and It’s also hoped that the UK and India can benefit from the same kind of tourism benefits that have been seen since Lord of the Rings filmed in New Zealand.

Producer and principal dancer, Sitakumari says:

“The Heartstone Odyssey is a gripping epic adventure but also a moral tale for today. The books have been written to entertain, a story for children, that adults too, can enjoy and, as with all great timeless stories, will leave you seeing the world in a different way forever.”

Barrie Osborne who has already toured filming locations in Scotland and England with Sitakumari says:

“This is an amazing story filled with wonderful characters and carries the reader along on one adventure after another.  I am looking forward to seeing all the great ideas in the books realised on screen.”

On the 31st March, the Cultural Programme of The Heartstone Odyssey will take shape for the very first time at Liverpool Cathedral with main characters brought to life through storytelling and dance.

Led by guest reader, Sir Derek Jacobi, and accompanied by Sitakumari together with her company of dancers making up ‘Moving Lives Dance Theatre’ for whom this will be their first major performance event, this is set to be a stunning and spectacular presentation. The dancers have all been carefully selected to represent some of the best new talent from across the UK currently based at Liverpool Hope Uni.

The show will close with a powerful lantern ceremony led by Liverpool Community Spirit to emphasise one of the story’s key messages of bringing people together across nationalities, cultures, faiths and backgrounds to celebrate a common humanity.

This is the first in a series of Heartstone Odysssey cultural events which will connect the 5 main centres who are part of the programme – London, Liverpool, Scotland, India and Alabama. To mark this, the Dean of Liverpool, the Very Revd Dr Pete Wilcox, together with Ms Louise Ellman, MP and Asst Mayor Cllr Nick Small will open the event. Also present will be the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Dame Lorna Muirhead, and High Sheriff, Robert Owen. Other VIP guests from across the region will also be present together with children and young people drawn from Liverpool and Merseyside schools and groups.  

The event and project which will follow has received funding and support from the following partners: Liverpool Cathedral, Liverpool City Council, Arts Council England, Liverpool Hope University, Tayfilm, Qatar Charity UK, Liverpool Community Spirit, Writing on the Wall and other funders and sponsors from across the region.

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