Megalith – theatre that explores humankind’s long and complicated relationship to copper, premieres in Edinburgh this summer

Megalith – theatre that explores humankind’s long and complicated relationship to copper, premieres in Edinburgh this summer

7th, 8th and 9th October in Oxford

Prof. Jon Blundy has been using Impact funds from research grants to support innovative arts projects that help to deliver scientific discoveries and activities to a very different audience for many years now. The most recent project, Megalith, is a piece of theatre that arose out of research into the formation of porphyry copper deposits.  The research, funded through a Large Grant from NERC – FAMOS (From Arc Magmas to Ore Systems) involves a multidisciplinary team of researchers, developing exploration tools that will help locate metal resources in volcanic arcs, necessary for economic growth, improved standards of living, and development of infrastructure as we transition to Net Zero. As well as including a diverse group of international scientific collaborators and the support of several of the world’s largest mineral exploration companies, the project is made up of partners from the Natural History Museum, Oxford, Imperial, Bristol, Leicester, Cardiff, BGS, Open University and Camborne School of Mines.

Megalith was created in collaboration with theatre-maker Tom Bailey of Mechanimal, an award-winning Bristol-based theatre company (, which creates devised theatre that explores life on a changing planet. This most recent work explores humankind’s long and complicated relationship to copper (the first metal to be mined) over the last 10,000 years. The transition to Net Zero is set to create a whole new chapter in our relationship to this versatile and valuable metal. How we meet increased demand, and how we reconcile our growing needs to the environmental impacts of yet more conventional copper mines are important topics for discussion within and beyond academia. Megalith is designed to stimulate just this sort of debate.

Tom Bailey describes the project thus: “Having had fun exploring species and organic life in my previous two shows, Megalith shifts the focus towards landscape, rocks, beats and geological time; it’s a violent, fun, loud and lyrical experience, with projection design from award-winning Limbic Cinema. A silent physical performer and digital sound artist explore the ever-growing trajectory of mining and technological development, and what it means in the 21st century. Playfully dueting to Deep-Time techno, metamorphic soundscapes and the Internet of Things, performers Charles Sandford and Xavier Velastin journey deep down to the origins of mining. Harnessing Neolithic tools to smash up to 200 kg of rocks, Herald Angel winners MECHANIMAL explore the mysterious activity of bashing stone and getting metals.”

You can see a brief promo video here:

The show premiered in Edinburgh and now arrives in Oxford on 7-9th October as part of the Oxford Science and Ideas Festival (

Full listings and timings for the show and associated workshops can be found here: