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).
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 email@example.com . Newcomers welcome.
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.
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!
'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.