An invitation from Wonderful Beast and Wardens Trust was enjoyed by participants from our Zoom project, Bubble Wrap, during the last covid Lockdown. This time, we had the pleasure of actually meeting each other in person at Wardens Hall in its wonderful setting on the clifftops of Sizewell beach. House Manager Bev greeted everyone with tea or coffee and the most delicious array of her home-made cakes.
It was a beautiful summer’s day and poet Dean Parkin, actor Hilary Greatorex and WB's Artistic Director Alys Kihl led a workshop in a bosky shaded area, with the gentle sound of the sea below and a slight breeze rustling the leaves over us.
The song Bella Mama was learnt, and poem ‘The Table’ by Turkish writer Edip Cansaver stimulated our creative juices as we all ‘placed’ our own imaginings and wishes on our ‘table’. With Dean’s inimitable coaxing, a group poem emerged that triggered conversation and great pleasure in our achievement though such simple means. Hilary initiated some wonderful improvisations from the group with her drama exercise featuring an orange, its texture and how we would cut it and eat it.
Caroline Way read for the group her poem 'The Tardigrade', written during the online series in response to this seemingly indestructible creature who became a favourite subject during the Zoom project. Richard Williams also read his beautiful poem 'Swift'.
Then it was picnic time. The fun of chatting to each other in person was what we had been missing during lockdowns. However, Zoom was a boon for those who couldn’t have travelled to a specific venue. Looking ahead to the forthcoming dark winter months when everyone prefers to stay at home, we are hoping to bring about Bubble Wrap 2, which will be open to new participants alongside our original Bubble Wrappers, who we will welcome back with delight.
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).
We had so many fantastic entries to our Quangle Wangle's Hat Competition - all of which you'll be able to see on our upcoming gallery page, so watch this space, and a huge thank you to everyone who entered. After much careful deliberation from our lovely judge, author Julia Blackburn (who also read The Quangle Wangle's Hat poem for Lockdown Tales), we're delighted to announce the winner as Alice Reeves, aged 8, with her 'Ogglegog'. Isn't he marvellous? Alice wins a lovely hardback copy of The Everyman Book of Nonsense Verse, kindly awarded by The Aldeburgh Bookshop. Thanks to Julia, John & Mary James at the bookshop and of course, all our fabulous entrants!
Since our last entry about Lockdown Tales we have reached over forty stories and poems! They include the Indian tale 'A Drum' told by Anusha Subramanyam, with fabulous drumming by Prathap Ramachandra, and there's more music from opera singer Rob Gildon in the Yiddish story, 'Two Tunes for Three Hundred Rubles', in which he sings the haunting folk melodies that were the undoing of the protagonist. Montserrat Roig de Puig delights us with a story she heard from her grandmother, 'The Vain Little Mouse', whose reprise 'I don't know, I don't know!' has become a Wonderful Beast household catchphrase, while Martina Schwarz can be heard singing like a bee in the lesser-known but enlightening tale by the Brothers Grimm, 'The Queen Bee'. On Thursday, Morven Macbeth tells Switch on the Night, a story of a child conquering their fear of the dark.
There are only a few days to go before the closing date of The Quangle Wangle Competition on 31 August. Don’t let a young family member or friend miss out! Their art work will be displayed in an online gallery on our website and first prize is a gorgeous hardback copy of The Everyman Book of Nonsense Verse, awarded by the Aldeburgh Bookshop.
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.
Alys Kihl, Founder and Artistic Director of Wonderful Beast.