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Archive for August, 2012

A gaggle? An eloquence? A cacophony? Whatever it is, there was one at Sutton Bank – the visitors’ centre for the south-western edge of the North York Moors – last Sunday for a storytelling event in their ‘Lime and Ice’ project.

Adrian Spendlow, Helen Sant, Linda and Tony Hensher and I formed the posse/convivium/troupe – complemented by Chloe and Carl from We Are Theatre.  All of us in costume, we performed individually and together at spots around the centre.  We’d researched the area’s natural history, cultural history and folklore and were each fairly inhabiting a character from its past.  Tony’s ‘Roadman’ was particularly memorable – as was Linda’s Dorothy Wordsworth, Adrian’s ‘Hobb the Storyteller’ and Helen’s travelling medicine woman.

I became very much at one with my role as an eighteenth century drover’s wife.  The drovers – cattle traders from Scotland, leading herds down to southern ports and markets for sale – left their threads and marks all over the landscape and a major droving route passes a mile or so from Sutton Bank.  Their lives were hard and risky, and I felt myself toughening as the day wore on.

However, my storytelling site was far from tough – rather, it was a dingly dell:

Visitors were surprised but rather pleased to find all these unexpected performances to see them on their way across the moors (or into the tearoom, in many cases) – especially when, at the end of the day, the entire compendium/parliament/loquatium of storytellers joined together for a collaborative performance.  We used the drover’s road as the thread tying all our stories together.

Here we are in all our period splendour:

Thanks to Nick Lishman and Jen Smith who put great labour into organising the event.  And get yourself up to Sutton Bank – it’s a gorgeous place for a walk, as well as being absolutely riddled with history, folklore and atmosphere.

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