A digital celebration of the winter solstice and festive season, streamed into your living room on 20th December!
First Light Festival presents ‘Winter Solstice’: an invitation to stay in good heart and look to the new year. As the year turns, the winter solstice heralds the restarting cycle of the seasons, reminding us that winter is not forever and life continues. Although it marks the shortest day, the solstice is also a time for renewal. The First Light community will be reunited virtually, as we enjoy storytelling, music and dance as we dream of being together on the beach next summer.
Wonderful Beast is bringing its own special contribution to the festival with a filmed storytelling performance from Hilary Greatorex, with music by Sylvia Hallett. Find out How Night Came From the Sea with the help of a Sea Serpent, in this beautiful Brazilian folktale.
You'll be able to watch the event live here via Facebook (you won't need an account as it's a public event).
A little bit of musical relief for you all. After months of Zoom singing, and before the second Lockdown, members of the Wonderful Beast Singers thankfully gather in a Suffolk cowshed as darkness falls, to sing together whilst a fire crackles, bats swoop and circle, and Rob Gildon coaxes the group into a more musical rendition of ‘Steal Away’.
Coming up on December 18th, a socially distanced outdoor Christmas Sing in the same cowshed at 3.00pm. For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org . Newcomers welcome.
Inspired by Julia Blackburn’s rendition of The Quangle Wangle’s Hat, here is an exciting opportunity for children to create an image of that crazy Edward Lear hat, and to add an even crazier animal or creature inspired by the famous poem.
We want as many children to take part as possible so share far and wide with everyone you know between the ages of 5 and 11!
First prize is a gorgeous hardback copy of The Everyman Book of Nonsense Verse (ed. Louise Guinness) will be awarded by the Aldeburgh Bookshop. For more details and to find out how to enter, CLICK HERE!
Alongside our fabulous podcast series, Stories from the Archives, which has been entertaining listeners for the past few months, we wanted to do something more for our lovely audiences during these strange times. So, since Lockdown came into force, we have been developing Lockdown Tales.
This project is a series of home-recorded stories and poems from actors and authors, combined with fun and imaginative activities for isolated children and their families during these difficult times. Children’s stories, folk and fairy tales, contemporary and a bit of Shakespeare are all in the melting pot, brought to life by voices new and familiar, from young Suffolk talents to seasoned stage, TV and film actors, as well as children’s books read by their authors. We launch next week, hoping you enjoy them and that they provide a little communal escapism for families separated from those they love.
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.
'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.
Alys Kihl, Founder and Artistic Director of Wonderful Beast.