Monday, 1 November 2010

Halloween Shows

Halloween is almost always a busy time for storytellers, and this one was no exception - we were booked to do some Halloween storytelling as part of the Halloween celebrations at the Sharpham Estate run by the Sharpham Trust near Totnes, which came hot on the heels of our Halloween Radio show on Phonic FM. For the latter, we had some wonderful classical music from the likes of Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, and Bach, haunting tales from Old Iceland and Devon, and fabulous classic poetry from Robert Frost, Ben Jonson, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Causeley, Harold Munro, John Masefield and others.
   For the former, we arrived at the Sharpham Estate in the afternoon after a beautiful journey over the Haldon Hills and south of the Moor, and found that the Estate in no way brought an end to the dazzling Autumnal experience - the views over the Dart Estuary, the woods in all their glory and many different vistas and plenty of visual interest greeted us. Volunteers came to collect us, and show us to the Quarry which is where the pizza oven and big fire, seating areas etc. were. We were led in through a door, and out past a very attractive vegetable garden, and then through winding paths with lovely views up into the forest, and finally round to the quarry, and then up to our changing space and prop storage venue - a dry warm yurt with sofas and LED lighting. The quarry space was welcoming with some delightfully carved pumpkins on the bar area - one with a huge smile, and another with a tree and bats silhouette, cobwebbing over wooden structures, and a powerful but subtle LED spotlight for our performance space, plus a ring of lanterns made by people earlier. We were brought pizza and tea, very kindly and once everything was ready, and most people had finished eating or queuing for food, we began - we didn't do our most frightening tales as some of the audience sitting around the campfire were rather too young, so as well as trademark tales 'Molly the Dauntless Girl' from Norfolk, and 'The Girl Who Gave a Knight a Kiss of Out Necessity' from Sweden, and the creepy but high energy 'Tipingee' from Haiti, we did the tale of the Chinoo - a Native American heart warming tale with an unusual twist, and (to suit the lantern making and procession) a Chinese New Year story. Everyone seemed to enjoy the set, with lots of applause and a good 'ahhh!' at the end of the Chinoo story. Organizers, volunteers and audience all thanked us afterwards and 'brilliant' 'wonderful' and 'awesome' were words that warmed our hearts. So despite having left the shoes I had been intending to perform in and so jumping about in the mud on an October evening, and getting lost once the lanterns were put out in the pitch dark wood in deep country with a maze of paths and only a couple of torches and starlight at one point! we felt it had been well worth it. We were also very fortunate with the weather - it had been raining and misting earlier, fine for walking, but not good for sitting about or costumes and masks, but it dried up to be a beautiful warm evening, and the paths were a little muddy but not bad at all. All in all it was a really good gig - the Sharpham Estate more than worth a visit - they do lots of courses and events, and the whole Halloween evening went with a swing. And it was all rounded off for us by a party at a friend's house in Dartington.
   Big thanks to Dani for booking us, to Jenny, Sarah and the rest of the volunteers for being so endlessly helpful, and to Jade for recommending us!

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