100 Women of Croome

Back in December – on 14th to be precise – it was 100 years to the day since women first voted, and I was back at Croome Court to see the new exhibitions. Having been involved in several projects there as poet and performer, I am proud to be one of the 100 Women of Croome whose portraits are projected in succession alongside Amy Jayne Hughes’ Garniture.

Arriving early, I took the opportunity to wander round the grounds and take a few photos. It’s such a beautiful place and there is always pop-up art inside the building. One of my previous projects was Plumlines, a series of poetry-writing workshops with schools, writers’ groups, history groups and Croome volunteers. Click here to read more about the work and the exhibition of paper poetry saplings.

If you fancy experiencing Croome from your armchair, then do listen to this podcast which I was commissioned to create 3 years ago, featuring some of Worcestershire’s finest poets. And if you would like to read my poems about Croome, you will find them in Don’t Oil The Hinges, published by Black Pear Press.

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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

 

The Idle Women Summer 2018 tour

Kate Saffin and I (Alarum Theatre) finished our Spring tour of Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways last Saturday in Calf Heath Marina, Wolverhampton. We’re now preparing for the Summer tour which starts at the beginning of June. The first show is in Stoke Bruerne, then we’ll be on the Chesterfield Canal in West Stockwith. Click here for the full schedule and to book:

https://alarumtheatre.co.uk/2018-tour-dates/

Here are a couple of audience comments from the Spring tour to whet your appetite!

“Wonderful show – beautifully and compassionately performed.” – Sarah & Tony

“A wonderful performance – it brought the whole situation alive.” – Sue & Geoff

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I become a boatwoman

Chestnut Inn, Worcester

Chestnut Inn, Worcester

The Alarum Theatre tour is about to reach its half-way point with a show at Two Towers Brewery, Birmingham, 7.30pm on Wednesday 25th April. We will then have left the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.

I thought now would be a good time to share a new poem I have performed at every show, until now. Once we’re on the BCN (Birmingham Canal Navigations) I won’t be including it any more as much of the material in my half of the show relates to the areas we are passing through.

After leaving Birmingham we’re heading for the Black Country, where I was born and lived until 2006. It’s great to be close to home! Here are the Black Country dates:

Fri 27 April 7:00pm Brook St Community Centre, Tipton with fish & chip supper
Sat 28 April 7:30pm Titford Pump House, Oldbury
Tue 1 May 2:00pm Wood Lane Community Centre, West Bromwich
Tue 1 May 7:30pm The Lamp Tavern, Dudley

For the full schedule click here. For tickets/reservation click here.

Now here’s the poem!


I become a boatwoman

On the Worcester and Birmingham
in nineteen forty one,
a week’s trial – a trial it was
in more ways than one.

Confused and bewildered
I joined a team of three.
Daphne March and Molly Traill
set out to educate me.

Boats not barges.
Boaters not bargees.’
At seven feet wide by ten feet long,
the cabin’s quite a squeeze.

There’s no room for my suitcase
with all my travelling clothes
so I’m making do with a pillowcase
and heaven only knows

how I’ll sleep on the side bed –
two feet wide, no more –
with Daphne on the cross bed
and Molly on the floor.

On the Worcester and Birmingham
in nineteen forty one,
a week’s trial – a trial it was
in more ways than one.

Confused and bewildered
I joined a team of three.
Daphne March and Molly Traill
set out to educate me.

© Heather Wastie

April 2018
Words found in Amateur Boatwomen by Eily Gayford

#TheIdleWomen Spring tour

After six shows in Worcestershire, the Alarum Theatre Spring tour continues tomorrow, Tue 17 Apr, when Kate Saffin & I bring Idle Women of the Waterways to the magnificent Alcester Town Hall in Warwickshire. The show starts at 7.30pm.

Here are two audience comments after our show in Finstall last Saturday:

“Really excellent show. Learnt so much about the trainees.”
“Very enjoyable and inspiring. Simply great!”

We then travel into Birmingham for the next three dates:

Fri 20 7.30pm   St Nicolas Place, 81 The Green B38 8RU
Sun 22 3.00pm   Stirchley Baths, Bournville Lane B30 2JT
Wed 25 7.30pm   Two Towers Brewery, 29 Shadwell Street B4 6HB

Splashed across the Evening News
“Idle boats in need of crews”
so young girls, greenhorns
applied and went off for interviews ….

Come and find out how they came to be called ‘Idle’!

For all Spring tour dates and information about the show click here for the Eventbrite page.

Heather at Foxton, Photo by Andrew Carpenter

Heather at Foxton, Photo by Andrew Carpenter

Heather Wastie, Kate Saffin nb Scorpio, Stourport

Heather Wastie, Kate Saffin nb Scorpio, Stourport. Photo by Paul T Smith.

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