We’re absolutely thrilled to be launching our shiny new website today. You can browse archives of our work, seek inspiration, and keep up with everything the Beast is doing here on our new blog page, ‘Whispers’.
In celebration of the event, and thinking a little outside the box about how we can reach you all in these strange isolating times, we’re simultaneously launching our first ever podcast, ‘From the Archives’, which is currently available from Spotify (iTunes to follow).
We’ll be releasing new ‘episodes’ in the form of some of our favourite and best archive recordings, with a star-studded cast. In honour of the Beast’s dear friends Roger Lloyd Pack and Adrian Mitchell, both of whom greatly helped to get the company off the ground back in the mists of time, our very first podcast is a one-man performance from Roger of Adrian Mitchell’s ‘The Plays What I Wrote’:
New episodes will be released on Tuesdays and Thursdays and we hope that they delight you as much as they do us. As ever with the Beast, there’ll be something for everyone and all ages, so please do share far and wide.
“Fantastic acting, words,music, storytelling, magic. Amazing!” – audience member, Brandeston
Last year a highly successful reading was held of the play featuring Diana Quick as the wild woman of the woods in the HighTide Festival 2018.
To our delight this prompted an invitation to premiere it in the HighTide Festival 2019 and thus the play was developed into a fully-fledged production for an autumn tour. The Last Woodwose weaves a tale of myth, legend, magic and ecological concern, inspired by the prolific representations across East Anglia of the carved figure of the woodwose: a wildman, usually male, but occasionally female, as featured in the play.
The open-air premiere, which attracted a large audience, was held on a beautiful sunny afternoon at Blackheath House Woodland, and was an auspicious start to the Suffolk tour from 12-22nd September, during which the weather held for all our outdoor performances!
'I am A Woodwose' (taken from a line of the play) was an ambitious and exciting schools’ project focusing on the carvings of medieval woodwoses (naked hairy men bearing a club) carvings that appear prolifically on church fonts and porches in Suffolk in the same towns, or near enough, to the selected eight schools – Leiston, Benhall, Snape, Earl Soham, Bedfield, Holton, Edgar Sewter and Thomas Mills. The children went on a historical and cultural journey, visiting churches and museums, followed by drama and poetry workshops with actor Tim FitzHigham, Artistic Director Alys Kihl and poet Dean Parkin (Poetry People). Another day involved a woodland expedition, exploring the ecology and the future of our forests, led by woodland experts and finishing with a fabric printing session, creating banners inspired by their woodland walk to be on display at every performance during the tour. The project culminated in the children attending two free matinees of The Last Woodwose.
Wonderful Beast and The Association for Suffolk Museums hosted the launch of 'I Am a Woodwose' and its involvement in the production of The Last Woodwose, in the historic Saxmundham Market Hall on Thursday 6th June.
Teachers from our eight schools, staff and volunteers from the local museums and churches involved (Saxmundham, Framlingham, Orford and Halesworth) joined Gary Battell (Forestry Advisor for Suffolk County Council), woodwose experts Matt Salusbury and Pete Jennings (both publishing books on the subject) and many of our loyal supporters came together to share in the anticipation and excitement of this ambitious and unusual outreach project.
Actor Sally Ann Burnett treated us to a snippet of the play and brought the woodwose to life, and Alys Kihl invited everyone to join in singing Trees Grow Tall, Deep in the Forest, creating a fabulous atmosphere and stirring excitement all round.