Roll Up! Roll Up! Roll Down! Roll Down!

Last Friday was the final show of #TheIdleWomen Summer tour — another water-borne adventure! To see some highlights, do visit the Alarum Theatre Facebook page.

“Roll Up! Roll Up! Roll Down! Roll Down!” *
During the tour Kate Saffin and I were interviewed by Sony-award winning David Bramwell for Waterfront, a monthly podcast from the Canal & River Trust, dedicated to the stories, people and heritage around England and Wales’ historic waterways. Here’s the link to listen. It lasts 16 minutes and includes one of my poems and an extract from one of my songs.

* Our potential audience were above us on a slight hill.

Living Waterways Awards
We’re absolutely delighted that the Alarum Theatre 2017 tour The Idle Women: Recreating the Journey is one of the finalists in the Living Waterways Awards. The winners are announced on 20th September. Fingers crossed!

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A photo I took when we were on the beautiful Chesterfield Canal

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Kate took this one at the bottom of the spectacular Bingley Five Rise on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

 

Tiller, Kettle, Windlass

I’m delighted to be featured in this wonderful new film by Erin Hopkins:

Tiller, Kettle, Windlass – A Narrowboat Film

Windlass100 year old windlass – backdrop, NB Tench, 2017

BBC Countryfile – The Idle Women

At the end of October I spent the day filming for BBC Countryfile with Kate Saffin for a feature on The Idle Women whose stories we re-tell as touring company, Alarum Theatre. The programme is being aired on BBC1 this coming Sunday at 6.20pm. Here’s how the day went.

We assembled in the Museum cafe at Stoke Bruerne at 8.45am on a cold but dry day, and it was decided that the first job was to film me performing two of my poems – Idle Women and Judies and Heather Bell. The second of these was chosen because it’s all about Daphne March whose niece Kathryn Dodington was also being filmed for the programme. She didn’t have far to walk because she lives in one of the canalside cottages. Mind you, she had already got the fire going on Sculptor, ready for our trip down (and up, and down, and up) the locks once the poems had been filmed.

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Idle Women and Judies
Here you can see Ian with the fluffy microphone, Steve behind the camera and Simon, the producer, looking down at the shot as it is being filmed.

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Filming Heather Bell


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We waited in vain for an intermittent and rather loud noise coming from the other side of the towpath and eventually had to abandon filming in this location. The poem was recorded later in the day on board Sculptor with Kathryn nicely positioned in the background as she steered. Sadly, neither of the poems made the final cut because there simply wasn’t enough time to pack everything in.

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Having shown presenter Ellie Harrison how to work a lock (she was completely new to this) we chatted to her on board Sculptor as Kathryn steered through the other locks with a crew of Canal & River Trust volunteers. Kathryn was a stalwart, winding the boat (ie turning it round) then steering it up the locks again. While one of the volunteers took Sculptor off and winded it again we stopped for lunch (and to warm up) in the Museum cafe. After lunch we set off down the locks again, leaving the boat once we had finished recording so that we could get to Enslow for our evening show and the crew could focus on interviewing Kathryn who had some wonderful stories to tell. In case you’re wondering, the blue barrel in the hold is ballast. This is where the heavy cargo would have been.

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All in all we had a really good time. Thanks to lovely researcher Debs for sending us the photos! And thanks to Canal & River Trust, Kathryn Dodington and the hardworking volunteers for making the day possible. 

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A far from Idle Woman

Heather Wastie - Idle Women & Judies 2

I was overwhelmed by the wonderful feedback I received after my performances as an Idle Woman on Sunday at Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum. The photo above was taken at the National Waterways Museum, Gloucester where I’ll be performing on Saturday November 8th. The piece was commissioned by the Canal & River Trust and is now available for bookings elsewhere!

Idle Women and Judies by Heather Wastie

Performances at Stoke Bruerne
Sunday 28th September 2014

Comments

Absolutely fantastic. Now have a better understanding of women’s role on the boats. Can’t wait for the audio.
Mr & Mrs Roberts, Soham, Ely Cambs

Was great story especially knowing it was real. Sounded very life like, and it was like being there and feeling how the women were feeling. A new life for them in more of a man’s domain. Fantastic.
Belton Family from New Zealand

A lovely performance full of feeling – thank you.
The Richardsons from Lincoln

Very interesting and informative. Very well done!

Very interesting and educated. Thank you.
Isaac Smith age 10

It was very entertaining.
Iona Smith age 8

Very informative and moving.

Fascinating insight into a bygone age.

Learnt new things about ‘Idle Women’ in the WW2. So v. educational. As a woman & new to owning a narrow boat I wish there was an Idle Woman around to teach me her hands on skills!
Penny, Coventry

Very entertaining. Learnt the connection between facts I already knew and those that emerged during the performance.
John Adshead, Northwich Cheshire

Thank you for bringing the story of WW2 women working the waterways to life – very memorable and enjoyable. Great way of bringing history to children.
Rachel