Saturday, 11 September 2010

Porlock the Warlock Show! at Porlock Arts Festival

Back on Monday, unloading the stuff from the Bunkfest shows, and a huge amount of things people had given us, inexplicably, from a new performance cloak to a pack of card for the printer, and a heap of other stuff, to then frantically design a programme (which normally would have been done in good time, but there just hasn't been any!), and marshalling a whole other set of props and a big book stall for an indoor performance, plus getting together stuff for a workshop that we hadn't done for months, catching up on a bit of admin, a desperate attempt to stop the prop store and craft studio devolving into absolute chaos (I'm usually or rather was - very organized, and like knowing where things are...but have been so busy this summer that it's descended into - where is that again? and hunting for lost things...) answering e-mails for fresh bookings for both performances and workshops, and then it was off again on Friday. To Porlock, for the Porlock Arts Festival, where we were doing none other than the Porlock the Warlock Show! Plus a Name the Colour Workshop at St. Dubricius School in the afternoon before the two shows.
We arrived having packed the van (for what seemed like the nth time) and hunted about, but soon found the school. We bolted down some lunch, and went in and delivered the workshop. Strange to do so without Yolande - the Primary Science Co-ordinator for N.Devon schools, and a really good egg, introducing us and making us feel at home, but the school was lovely - small and homely with a really fun garden full of interest and flowers like a large hurdle cone and various levels.
Then we went to have a look round Porlock - and one always finds something new of interest - last time it was the delightful garden behind the information centre, full of public art like an upturned boat sculpture fountain, ship shaped weather vane (no pun intended), fan cut stairs, fancy dovecote, swirly pebble paving, armillary sundial and riot of split level flower beds, followed behind by a lush grassy space peppered with shady trees, including apple and pear - in which the Poetry Picnic was held, by the avant garde poet and tireless poetry champion Tilla Brading. This time it was the Dovery Manor Museum where we were performing, and its glorious herb garden with willow bee hives, staircases and a bridge that led back into the upper floor of the small and very atmospheric and idiosyncratic C15th building that was the Museum. One could hardly have asked for a more charming venue - wood panelling, gothic cut windows, a steep stone spiral stair, lovely old furniture including a delicious old oval table for the book stall/signings, and a fireplace with a pink flame as part of our backdrop! The curator made us tea, coffee and gave us biscuits, and some people had kindly cleared out the Solar as our performance space earlier in the day. David of the Festival Committee met us and kindly helped us set up, and showed us what choices were to be had in lighting. All in all, they were both a tremendous help and support, and at 6, the first show was ready to begin. It had been a beautiful sunny day, with mist that gave a fine rain that was only really mist and for which one didn't need a coat, just creating a rainbow, and then clearing up for a fine golden evening. The venue was almost full, and the first show went very well, and afterwards I dashed down the stairs to take up position and sell and sign books.
The historic space looked even lovelier in the fading light, and our props seemed to blend in completely - the dagger with the axe on the wall, the trefoil wooden chest with the trefoil window frames, cloak and staff, drum and crystal ball, drinking horns and sheepskins in keeping with the old oak and stone, vaulted ceiling and iron clad doors. Hearing people tell Deor how much they'd enjoyed the show and selling Porlock books is always good, and fortified by these, after everyone had gone I ate as much as I could and drank copious amounts of water, needing energy for the next show at 8pm - just forty minutes later!
The second show was slightly less full, but still with an attentive audience who applauded warmly at the end, and we got much kind praise for our efforts, and had pulled out a stop - serving Anglo-Saxon sweetmeats and Persian stuffed dates, and showered the audience with confetti as well as everything else! David was pleased, and we all packed up, the curator made me some more tea (although she must have been longing to get home!) and after many more thanks and goodbyes, finally everything was gone from the Solar and the Museum kitchen and entrance hall, and we made our way back to base...returning, exhausted and worn out at midnight. Workshops in schools are usually enough to take the stuffing out of me! But followed by not one, but two shows...!

However, the Dovery Manor Museum and Porlock Festival were worth it - and there was a nice feel to the place at it put on its festival colours and frills - posters on railings everywhere (including for ourselves!), and their cheerful purple signs. Porlock itself is worth visiting at any time, with its attractions and shops - including selling almond croissants in the corner shop! HUGE thanks to David and the Festival Committee for having us, to the Curator for all her kindness and patience with us invading her lovely museum for an evening, and to Chris Blazey of St. Dubricius School. And as ever, to all those who bought books, we hope you enjoy them!

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