Final push for The Idle Women

If you would like to see the show I have been touring with Kate Saffin since the end of April, there are just 3 more opportunities – two at The Rising Sun, Berkhamsted (Monday & Tuesday) and one at The Pirate Castle, Camden (Saturday) – the last time we will perform the show in London. This will also be the last chance to see historic narrow boat Tench which has been with us all the way. After the tour, owner Alex will whisk her away and get back to her own solo adventures!

We have had very appreciative audiences, rave reviews and have been featured in national press so we’re delighted, if a trifle tired as we have done quite a few lock miles over the past 15 weeks too! Do come and support us at one of our final shows if you can.

Here’s one of my ‘found’ poems from the show which is also in the book we have produced to accompany the tour:

A horse on the path

Early in the morning
a horse on the path

the ring of shoes on cobblestones
the swish of a bow, a shout

the whip of a line, the soft flap
as it drops on the cabin top

another whip, another shout
lock gate thud, rattle of paddle

through cabin doors nudged ajar
we stir to grey outlines
on a slack-black star-stippled sky

© Heather Wastie

using words found in The Amateur Boatwomen Canal Boating 1941-1945 by Eily Gayford

Saturday’s performance will be our 50th since we launched the tour in April and the journey has been incredible. See www.alarumtheatre.co.uk and our Facebook page for more.

Once the tour is over I will be taking a well earned break!

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#TheIdleWomen Recreating the Journey

My collaboration with writer, Kate Saffin, has gone from strength to strength since we first met, just a year ago! Our show Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways is about to embark on a major Arts Council funded tour, travelling by canal, recreating the journey worked by women trainees during WW2.

IWWW 2017 e-flyer

To read an article about us in the quirkily named online magazine, The Floater, click HERE or to go to the Alarum Theatre website click HERE.

Loom in the loft (finally)

Yesterday was the culmination of a wonderful collaboration between many different people to restore and celebrate the Weavers’ Cottages in Kidderminster and turn them into homes again. I was commissioned by Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust to write a song cycle about the cottages. A few months back, I met the Site Manager & others working on site during an inspiring tour of the cottages when the buildings were taking shape. I subsequently watched 360-degree films of the interior made by James McDonald who also inspired me. Site Manager Andy told me yesterday that the poem I wrote and recorded in response to all this had had quite an effect on him. He came up to me after one of two performances of the songs (plus evocative poems and stories written by people who came to my writing workshop) and said how much he had enjoyed them. I will treasure the special connections like this which I have made through this project. It was also very moving to see Roger at the loom in the loft – the final time we would ever see a hand loom being used there. 

The title of this post refers to the first line of the chorus of one of the songs:

Loom in the loft / Silk on the loom / Wool in the shuttle / Give the shuttle room

Performing with me were Sue Pope (Project Organiser) on ukulele and poets Margaret E Green and Sharon Cartwright. 

For further details about the cottages, which will be for sale very shortly, see http://www.weaverscottages.info/

Dad was a fan of The Archers

Who knew that when Archers actor Sunny Ormonde performs her one-woman show, she likes to include work from poets living near the venue? I didn’t know, until she contacted me by email, asking if she could read one of my poems in Bewdley on October 13th. We chatted on the phone so I could find out what kind of piece she was looking for and it was clear that she wanted humour. It was also clear that she’s a really nice person. During the course of the conversation I told her about my Dad’s ‘addiction’ to The Archers, and it wasn’t long afterwards that I began working on a new poem on that very subject. Sunny was delighted with it and, though I sent her alternatives to choose from, she decided to include Dad was a fan of The Archers in her show, and arranged for me to have 2 complimentary tickets.

As we arrived at Bewdley Baptist Church, my mother and I passed ‘Sold Out’ signs and were guided to central front row seats. Although I haven’t listened to The Archers since the days when I lived at home, I enjoyed every minute of the show, which was entertaining, inspiring, hilarious and, at times, moving. It was packed with poetry, including limericks, extracts from Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and of course, my Archers poem. Sunny had asked me how to pronounce my name so I sent her this poem which she also read out:

Heather Wastie rhymes with Tasty not with Nasty,
Heather Wastie rhymes with Pasty not with Pastie,
not with Frosty, not with Asti,
rhymes with Hasty, Heather Wastie!

I love the way she ended her show with a gentle and moving extract from Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine. Throughout the performance she had dipped in and out of her Archers character, Lilian Bellamy, with ease. I was mentally taking notes about ways of moving in and out of character in my own shows.

Afterwards Sunny obviously enjoyed meeting and chatting to people and it was a pleasure to work with such a warm, friendly woman. There were discussions about the possibility of us collaborating again in the future. It did seem to work rather well.

img_0585The show was part of Bewdley Festival 2016. The Director, Dave Collins, contacted me after the event saying “…. the audience loved your poem. Several have asked if it will be available on-line or in a forthcoming book”. I had already decided to blog about the event, sharing the poem, so here it is. Thanks, Sunny, for inspiring me to write it:

Dad was a fan of the Archers

Every weekday evening,
His radio at his side,
He’d monopolise the toilet
From just before 7.05.

His friends knew not to phone him
Till after twenty past seven
And those who called at quarter past
Were usually given

A reason not quite truthful
For why he wasn’t free.
Dad was a fan of The Archers,
A treat after his tea.

And if we drove to see a show,
A concert or a play
We had to leave by five past seven
And whisper all the way

And when I heard the theme tune
I’d sing it way off key
On purpose just to tease him.
He took it manfully.

Sometimes he had to miss it
And catch the omnibus.
This everyday story of country folk
Didn’t appeal to us.

In the days of Walter Gabriel,
He loved his evening treat.
Dad was a fan of The Archers;
It made his week complete.

© Heather Wastie
October 2016

#idlewomen autumn tour news!

I’m delighted to announce that ABNB Boat Brokerage will be supporting Alarum Theatre’s Autumn tour of Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways! http://www.abnb.co.uk/

September 16 Tour flyer.inddSeptember 16 Tour flyer.indd

Wednesday 7th Sept – 7.30pm • Garden of Camp House Inn, Grimley, WR2 6LX, 01905 640288 – In association with The Worcestershire Literary Festival & Fringe

Saturday 10th Sept – 7.30pm • The Windlass Cafe and Restaurant, Stourport, DY13 9EN, 01299 871742 – In association with Stourport Heritage Open Days, Stourport Canal Basin

Thursday 15th Sept – 7.30pm • The Folly Inn, Napton on the Hill, CV47 8NZ, 01926 815185

Friday 23rd Sept – 7.30pm • The Wildside Activity Centre, Wolverhampton, WV6 0HA, 01902 572240

Sunday 25th Sept – 1.30pm • Wolverhampton Boat Club, Codsall, Wolverhampton, WV8 1RS, 07977 101411

Friday 30th Sept – 7.30pm • Theatre in the Dock, Tooley’s Boatyard, Banbury, OX16 2PQ, 01295 272917

* Saturday 1st Oct – 2.30pm • Theatre in the Dock matinee, Tooley’s Boatyard, Banbury, OX16 2PQ, 01295 272 917
– Includes a wartime tea!

* Mon 28th & Tues 29th Nov – 7.30pm • The Rosemary Branch Theatre, Hoxton, N1 3DT, 020 7704 6665

* indicates a ticketed event (see www.alarumtheatre.co.uk for details) otherwise free entry with donations to support the artists

 

Photos from our Summer Tour:

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Didn't they have a lovely time at The Bonded Warehouse 29 June 2016

Weaver’s Cottages an inspiration 

Today I took advantage of a free-to-attend Open Day at the Weaver’s Cottages in Kidderminster, as inspiration for the song-cycle I’m writing about the history of the cottages. The site manager took us up to roof level to see tiles of clay and slate highlighting the fact that the cottages were not all built at the same time. Craftsmen demonstrated and described the making of bricks, wall plates etc and we were able to speak to the project director and volunteers. Everyone spoke with passion and enthusiasm and brought aspects of the cottages’ history to life. A walking talk by Melvyn Thompson, always an inspiration, then took us to the Museum of Carpet where more information was available.

The Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust is doing an excellent job, not just with the building work but also with its programme of events to engage and inform the public. I’m delighted to have been commissioned by the Trust to write songs which will be sung for the first time at free workshops in Kidderminster on 16th August 11.00-1.00 and 2.00-4.00. You’re invited to take part! See www.weaverscottages.info to find out more.


 

Grimley show cancelled due to grim conditions

Sorry folks! The stage at the Camp House Inn, Grimley is under water which has forced the venue to cancel tonight’s performance of Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways. They would very much like us to reschedule so we’ll see what we can do, but in the meantime, there are plenty of opportunities to catch the show. See below, and keep up to date on Facebook or Twitter @Alarum_theatre

Idle Women 1Tour flyer back UPDATEDv2