Friday 11th March 2016: Rhiannon told by Katy Cawkwell
A woman goes on a great journey, from her world into our own, from eternal youth to mortal suffering, from passionate first love to the strength of love rediscovered, from vision to understanding. Intertwined with her story are the stories of a young king, a brave farmer, an old traveller and a shadowy lord of the Otherworld. Not to mention the nine trusted companions, the six treacherous midwives and one of the three golden shoemakers...
A fresh retelling of the story of Rhiannon from Celtic myth. It is based on the 1st and 3rd branches of the great Welsh mythological cycle, the Mabinogion. This performance was originally commissioned by the Festival at the Edge in 2003 and has been performed many times since then, in story-clubs and theatres, including the Barbican, and at four international storytelling festivals.
Friday 15th April: The Blacksmith at the Bridge of Bones told by Ben Haggarty
If knowledge equals power, then what is the responsibility of such power?
World renowned for his dynamic and challenging performances, Ben Haggarty tells his stories with infectious charm and ease. This dark and full-blooded story of power, knowledge and alchemy, explores that enduring relationship between a teacher and an apprentice. Evocative, unflinching and beautiful by turn, this is a performance to lure you into a world where rules aren't broken lightly.
There is a forest you go into and never come out of. In such a place three hunters search for the exiled daughters of an ancient king. At the bottom of an abandoned well they wait in the darkness, with the heads of three dreaming dragons resting on their laps, combing the hair that pours from their skulls. This is how they stay alive. But there is a time to comb and a time to cut.
This extraordinary wonder tale is one of the great secrets of the fairy tale tradition. Not now. Storyteller and mythologist Martin Shaw will bring a story from thousands of years ago and make you feel it happened to you this morning.
Friday 17th June: Extraordinary Birds - Stories for a Summer's Evening at Topsham Museum
Coffee and cakes in the delightful museum garden beforehand from 6.30pm (or inside among the exhibits if it's raining...)
Part of the Summerlands Storytelling Festival
Friday 7th October: Sugar Skulls and Love Spoons told by June Peters
A magical evening of tales about memory and identity, death and rebirth, love and knitting.
This show interweaves traditional tales from Mexico, Europe and Wales with personal stories from family history. An uplifting and interactive performance that will engage, move and inspire you to re-member those who gave you life and identity.
..’a brilliant weaving together of the universal with the most personal’..
…’simple yet pointing to something profoundly significant..’
..’an inspiring and enriching evening…’
Katy writes: June is one of my favourite storytellers and a wise woman who wears her wisdom lightly - her stories go straight to the heart. She also makes me laugh! I've been wanting to hear this piece for ages and it seemed a good time of year for it, as we approach the Day of the Dead.
Saturday 3rd December: The Homing Stone told by Hugh Lupton
It is autumn 1919. Moscow is surrounded by counter-revolutionaries. Arthur Ransome is known to be a Bolshevik sympathiser. He’s fallen in love with Trotsky’s secretary. They both know they’ll be lynched or shot if Moscow falls. Somehow they must escape. On Ransome’s desk is a stone from Peel Island on Coniston Water. Is it a powerful enough talisman to get him home?
In this Praise Song for his great uncle Hugh Lupton tells the extraordinary story of Arthur Ransome and Evgenia Shelepina’s escape through Estonia, an adventure in which they seemed to become characters from one of the folk tales Ransome had collected in ‘Old Peter’s Russian Tales’, surviving by a mixture of quick wit and good fortune.
The first half of the performance is a series of folk-tales collected by Ransome in Russia, that prefigure his own adventures.
Hugh Lupton is Ransome’s great-nephew and one of Britain’s greatest storytellers: don’t miss this rare chance to hear him in the South West!
Katy writes: I was lucky enough to hear Hugh tell stories when I was a teenager growing up in Norfolk and was inspired to follow him down the storytelling road. Everything I have ever heard him do has been so beautifully crafted, full of poetry and images that linger for years afterwards in the mind's eye. I have also sat silently weeping through some of his shows, some of my most cathartic experiences as a story listener.
8pm Tues 17th Jan 2017: Fire and Shadow told by Katy Cawkwell, Martin Maudsley and Inez Aponte
The nights have swallowed up the days, the chill is creeping in and the creatures of the darkness are watching from the forest shadows. Curl up at the Bridge Inn and lose yourself in stories that will put some fire in your belly to see us all safely through the winter months...
Katy writes: our summer multi-voice event at Topsham museum reminded me of the fun, energy and unexpectedness that can arise when you put three tellers in a room, give them a theme and see what happens. Looking forward to trying out the Bridge Inn too - the Maltings should be a great space for storytelling!
8pm Sat 11th March: Little Red Riding Hood and Other Lost Girls told by Nell Phoenix at the Bridge Inn
'Superb storyteller Nell Phoenix leads us on a winding, unfamiliar path through that most well-known of fairy tales, the story of Little Red Riding Hood.' Exeunt Magazine
What did the Wolf do to Granny?
What did Little Red do to the Wolf?
What did Little Red do to Granny?!
The fairytale world is littered with girls who are lost or mislaid, and very few are as innocent as you might first imagine. Nell Phoenix strays from the path in search of young, and not so young, ladies who have played in the woods, forgotten the rules, and should have at least had an inkling, that something was likely to go horribly wrong.
Darkly humorous and Seriously playful.
‘…kooky, creative and off the wall’ **** EVERYTHING THEATRE
'Bold, bubbly and brutal, Nell Phoenix guides us through a plethora of girl-meets-wolf tales in a lively evening of storytelling' **** TheatreBubble
Katy writes; so glad that Nell's able to join us in March - she really cares about her audience having a good time and I'm sure we're in for a treat of an evening. This show has been getting great reviews in the London theatres, but this will be it's premiere in the SW - don't miss it!
8pm Fri 5th May: Kali, the Story of the World's Wildest Goddess told by Emily Hennessey at the Matthews Hall
From demure housewife to bloodthirsty goddess, gurgling infant to elephant man, meditating sage to cosmic fire-eater, Hindu mythology illuminates a mind-blowing world of radical transformations. Kali is one of the wildest shape-shifters of all. Demon-slayer, Life-saver, Supreme-Mother, Destruction-dancer; this goddess is truly Awesome.
Storyteller, Emily Hennessey, takes the wheel on a white-knuckled tuc-tuc ride through sun-kissed palaces, fiend-infested forests and every cacophonous saffron-scented marketplace in between.
Katy writes: everywhere I go, I keep being told "you must hear Emily's Kali" and I seem to keep missing it, just. So, there's nothing for it, Emily is valiantly making the long journey from the wilds of Cumbria to satisfy my desire to hear this piece! Should be an evening to remember.
Friday 16th June 2017: At the Water's Edge, Stories for a Summer's Evening at Topsham Museum
told by Dave Oliver, Jane Flood and Katy Cawkwell
Where the tide drifts...
Where the lake water laps...
Where the river cuts her course...
Fertile ground for old stories to spring forth!
Join us for tales of love and loss, encounter and adventure.
With tea and cake in the gardens by the Exe Estuary.
Katy writes: I'm very much looking forward to going back to Topsham Museum after our gig there last summer. Let's hope for perfect weather again and the ripples of the estuary to inspire some great watery tales.
8pm Saturday 7th October 2017:
A Fiery Double Bill at the Bridge Inn!
The Ashlad and the Master Stoorworm
told by Raventales
A sea serpent creation story from the Orkney Isles told in shadow theatre, song and story by Michael and Wendy Dacre, a warm-up for our main event...
Fire: a State of Matter
told by Vergine Gulbenkian
Tales of burning
Kindled by a 16th century Caucasian love-epic.
Fuelled by family stories.
Fanned by the wings of a fiery bird woman.
Wendy will also be selling her beautiful shadow lanterns (see middle image) - perfect for autumnal and midwinter celebrations.
8pm Saturday 18th November 2017:
Tales from the Bawdy Bardess
told by Debs Newbold at the Bridge Inn
Debs Newbold knows the meaning of the word bawdy as well as any woman with 5 aunts, a wily grandmother and a Chaucer fixation possibly can. In this show you will hear three frolicksome tales from merrie Olde Europe all told with a glorious dollop of Debs' masterful ribaldry; one English, one French, one Italian, all roll-off- your-chair funny.
Chaucer, Boccaccio and the anonymous writer of a fruity French Fabliau get a womanly reworking in this skilful and rollicking piece of stand-up storytelling that had a packed
house at FaTE 2015 clutching their sides and reaching for their Canterbury Tales.
NB Debs' show has been lovingly and cheekily crafted for an adult audience - strictly no under 17s!
8pm Thursday 11th January 2018:
A double bill at The Globe Inn
Iron Teeth, Eaten Heart, Katy Cawkwell tells a wild tale from Siberia.
A hunter lets a trapped duck fly free.
A woman hangs high in the silver birches.
Iron teeth are glinting in the firelight.
Do you dare face the darkness in the forest?
Master storyteller Ben Haggarty unleashes the Greek myth of ATALANTA
A girl raised by a bear, Centaurs intent on rape, maniacal kings, troublesome boars and bitterly feuding deities contrive the bloodiest race to ever stain the soil of Arcady. Audaciously reshuffling epic Greek Mythology, Ben Haggarty brings to the stage a fierce tale of a remarkable virgin hunter and devotee of Artemis who sure as hell doesn’t want to have anything to do with men. Here the veneers of classical civilisation are stripped away and the truly awesome implications of the tales are made, sometimes unbearably, clear. Spend a moonlit night in the company of wild women, cocksure warriors and gods unleashed.
‘A fresh dose of magic that you need in your life.’ ***** Everything Theatre
8pm Saturday 21st April 2018: Silence told by Rachel Rose Reid
In the whole World, only one manuscript unfolds the Roman de Silence, inscribed in 13th century Cornwall & discovered at Wollaton Manor, Nottinghamshire in 1911 in a box marked 'Old Papers, No Value'.
It was too hot to handle. Suffrage protests were at their explosive height and this tale suggested that England and King Arthur's lineage both depended on a quest for female freedom.
So the legend was silenced once more.
But the story was made to be told.
Now is the time to tell it.
"Immense skill and breathless conviction...There's no faulting Reid's command of her craft" The Times
Saturday 19th May 2018: The Howken Field told by Nick Hennessey
"Beneath a low sky an old man, bent with purpose, makes his way through a field. Above him, in the swirling dark, two ravens speak of those that have fallen and of those yet to be born into this world of the hollow wind."
Existing between worlds, between laws, the Scottish Borders are mysterious, a place of secrets. Unearthing a hidden hoard, storyteller and musician Nick Hennessey tips out the glittering treasures of story and song that press up through field, fell, burn and beck of the Borders shedding light on dark memories of the place.
Monday 16th July 2018: Gone Cuckoo told by Malcolm and Joshua Green
Storyteller Malcolm Green and musician Joshua Green follow the trail of the Cuckoo to explore the fascinating world of this extraordinary creature through stories, music, song and visual imagery.
It’s shortly after dawn at RAF Fylingdales on the North York Moors and a male Cuckoo is having a tiny 4.5g radio transmitter strapped to his back. A few weeks later he will have flown thousands of miles south and 5km up over the Sahara Desert, sending signals back to England as he travels through Libya and Chad to the Congo.
For millennia, the cuckoo’s call has inspired songs, stories and poems. Does he bring the spring? Tell our fortunes? Was he the shapeshifter that became a hawk? He certainly fools the reed warblers who feed him as a changeling baby. Now the voice of the cuckoo is fading – where has it gone?
Friday 28 September 2018: Eros & Psyche told by Sally-Pomme Clayton
Socrates questioned it
Eros made sure of it
Aphrodite excelled at it
Psyche thought about it all the time
"This one-woman show is remarkable, entertaining, spell-binding storytelling."
From raunchy to poetic, sacred to profane, pioneering performance storyteller Sally-Pomme Clayton recreates the myth of Eros and Psyche in spoken word and living sound.
Socrates and his friends are having a drinking party, debating the purpose of love, but in the Other World a power play of beauty and jealousy is underway between gods and humans. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, expects to be worshipped, and beautiful mortal Psyche is attracting too much attention. So Aphrodite sends Eros, with a quiver-full of arrows, to seek revenge. In a darkly comic twist, Eros falls in love with Psyche himself.
This stunningly composed, mesmerizing performance brings together two classical texts, the mythical romance of Eros and Psyche, and Plato's Symposium.
These texts are over 2000 years old but capture the contemporary imagination. This compelling performance ask questions about love, beauty, suffering, and the choice to live.
Sally-Pomme portrays Psyche's journey from romance to the edge of existence, stripping back the myth to reveal hidden Platonic ideas. She combines magical musical sounds with poetic spoken word, evoking the character of Socrates with his sharp humour and cutting mind, recounting his life and search. As Socrates is sentenced to death for his revolutionary ideas, Psyche opens a forbidden box and falls asleep in the underworld. Plato's Symposium is a counterpoint to Psyche's quest, Socratic thought weaves through the performance, asking - what is the path of love?
Psyche holds up her lamp and gazes at the sleeping Eros, a drops of oil scalds him and love flies away. The eternal search for the beloved begins …
Adults only (16+)
Katy writes: hearing Sally-Pomme was my highlight of the recent Oxford Storytelling Festival - she is a such a warm, wonderful teller and I love the way she composes her work. Very excited about putting her on at the Cygnet Theatre - it's a studio space, ideal for storytelling.
8pm Sat 19th Jan 2019: The Big Blind
Dominic Kelly – Storyteller
Bridget Marsden – Violin
Leif Ottosson – Accordion
A boy stands on a lakeshore. Behind him: all he’s ever known. Ahead: a chance for love but a higher chance of death. He’s had a happy life, and a sheltered one. But his father gambled away that life, the debt cannot be paid in money and it won’t be his father who pays. Childhood is over…
Dominic, Bridget & Leif combine storytelling and music in a playful and gripping performance. They bring to life an ancient full-bloodied fairy tale for modern audiences, weaving versions from Norway, Scotland, Ireland and India with contemporary Scandinavian folk music. Through it they explore the consequences for the young when older generations fail to make adult decisions.
“…magical, haunting… a truly inspired performance… makes you sparkle from the inside out…” oneandother.com on The Devil’s Purse.
“…a bewitching fusion of storytelling and music that takes theatre right back to its origins… Bridget Marsden and Leif Ottosson beautifully fuse enchanting Nordic music with Dominic Kelly’s prose… complementing and accenting the narrative seamlessly.”
ayoungertheatre.com on The Devil’s Purse
7.30pm Fri 1st March 2019: Others from the Other Side
told by Clare Muireann Murphy
The Irish landscape is full of stories peopled by shape-shifters and once-god-fairies who move seamlessly between our own and a decidedly other world… there are rules and ways to learn if one is to survive an encounter. Strange roads, weird rites and good allies enter these tales.
The fabulous storyteller, Clare Muireann Murphy, acts as an intermediary between these two worlds, with stories of the other people, changelings, stolen children, strange marriages, theft, deception and wild curses.
Clare, born in Dublin and now living in Bristol, brings her own dynamic take on the tales. Dancing between the now and then with a word, a gesture and a look.
Allow Clare guide you through a liminal landscape of grown-up fairytale, where the light is a little too bright and the dark is very, very dark…
‘Truly fantastic’ Everything Theatre
Age guidance: 12+
7.30pm Fri 10th May 2019: Sunflowers and Buddha Babies
told by Xanthe Gresham Knight
The Ancient Greek Eleusian Mysteries involved enacting the myth of the Goddess Demeter and her daughter Kore. The ritual gave its participants ‘joy in life and hope in death.’ Following the loss of her mother, Gresham Knight goes in search of the sometimes bawdy, mind-blowing path of the initiate.
The result is a recipe: ‘Buddha Babies’ the unconventional cookery show.
To achieve Tantric re-birth, take 1lb of unconventional birth stories from anywhere (China, India, Greece – whatever is fresh and available); marinate with sprinklings of Taoist, Confusionist, Shamanic, Platonic and Vedic philosophy; pinch of salt, zest.
‘Buddha Babies...is a complex and hilarious exploration of what it means to be ‘childless’... Knight navigates the politically charged conversations around womanhood: of wanting children, or not wanting them, of being unable to have them, of menopause, of the reclaiming of the C word, of the unimportance of defining gender. She does it all with a vivacity and energy that makes the time seem to pass in the blink of an eye…..I really could watch Xanthe Gresham Knight speak from now on and for the rest of time:’ Bryony Taylor for Everything Theatre
Xanthe Gresham Knight is a storyteller with a distinctive, physical, performance style, who delights in the absurd and preposterous. Alongside performances in theatres and art centres around the world, she works as a storyteller for Holland Park and The Chelsea Physic Garden and lectures on Storytelling Drama at the University of East London. Her 9 Goddess-inspired shows were funded by the Arts Council of England.
'She unfolds each tale like the petals of a lotus. At the end, you leave with something beautiful created in your own mind.' British Theatre Review
Age guidance: 12+