Homespun Theatre (est. 2011) specialise in adapting European folk tales into compelling and engaging theatre performances for a family audience. It was set-up by myself and long-time collaborator Bee George. We aim to make something new from something old, and find a little magic in the corners!
A young woman gets trapped in a forest during a terrible – and unseasonal – snow storm. She is saved by a Great White Bear, who turns out to be an enchanted prince. When he is then stolen away by an evil Troll Queen, our heroine must set out on an epic journey to save him. It’s a cross between Beauty & the Beast and the Chronicles of Narnia, with the humour of Horrible Histories thrown in for good measure.
What attracted you to directing this particular show?
I’m a big fan of the work of Sally Cookson (Cinderella, Ali Baba – Tobacco Factory Christmas shows) and trained with Toby Hulse (One Small Step – Oxford Playhouse) while at drama school. Their approach is very playful and imaginative – creating worlds out of unusual props and with an emphasis on music and physicality. I love shows that tell a good story that people of all ages can access, and productions that are truly theatrical. I’ve also been a fan of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller since I was a kid and love those dark fairy tales – when Bee and I realised we both loved this style of work we thought it was the perfect project to take on.
What was your vision for the production?
We wanted something fast-paced, engaging, exciting, musical, un-patronising and silly. But also something that felt rooted and authentic, and maybe even a little bit dangerous. Everything on our stage is practical – whether it’s a sheet that becomes the wind, and then becomes snow, or a basket that becomes a fire. We wanted it to be timeless, so we don’t have any modern clothing or technology (aside from a bit of stage lighting!). We were also very keen to have an ensemble company, and the show features the lovely Roddy Peters, Hannah Douglas, Nathalie Codsi and (introducing) Samuel Griffiths¸ with musical direction from the original Great White Bear: Paul Tonkin.
Where can people find out more about you, the company and the show (web, facebook, twitter, venue listings etc)
Fairy Stories Book:
As part of our fundraising for the 2014, and as part of our commitment to collaborating and sharing stories, we’ve actually released a book! It contains a selection of fairy stories written and donated by fans and friends of Homespun. And it’s available here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Homespun-Threads-Patchwork-Fairytales-ebook/dp/B00ALK8HG8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369176524&sr=8-1&keywords=homespun+threads
Where has this production been staged before?
The show ran at the Edinburgh Fringe 2012 for a month, and is scheduled to tour to Singapore in 2014. We’re currently booking a further tour in Scotland and England to tie in with that.
Absolutely. Here are few from the press:
***** “Go and see this show – it’s really good” – Ailis (6 ½) for FEST; the show was included as part of their PERFECT DAY at the Fringe.
**** “Peppered with live music, on guitar, tin whistle and tambourine, East of the Sun, West of the Moon is living proof that you don’t need elaborate staging to hold an audience, or a catalogue of poo and wee jokes to engage a young mind…Here’s hoping it’s just the start of the journey” – The Scotsman HOT SHOW
**** “Homespun are offering a wonderful escape into long-lost childish fantasy” – Fringe Guru
“Imaginative and beautifully told” – The List KIDS HITLIST SHOW
And here’s what audiences thought:
”…still talking about it. It was AMAZING. We loved your acting, your costumes and your direction. Henry and Charlotte were spell-bound and can’t wait to see your next production…” Richard via Facebook
”…can’t recommend it highly enough. The children I took ranged in age from 4 – 10 (I’ll keep quiet about my age!). We all really enjoyed it; it was a treat to watch; funny, engaging, magical. Do yourselves a favour and go and see it!” – Libby via Facebook
”Just saw the show East of the Sun West of the Moon – AMAZING!!! Narnia with a kazoo” – Becky via Twitter
”Have kids? Or just enjoy good theatre? See East of the Sun West of the Moon” – Gareth via Twitter
Where did you train?
BristolOldVicTheatreSchool, where I was awarded the Elsa Roberts Prize for Directing, as well as a year resident at the Rondo Theatre in 2012.
What other productions have you directed?
In Bath I’ve directed An Act of Twisting (Provocation), Product Displacement (Edible Theatre), Fertility Objects (Butterfly Psyche) and Alliance (Rondo Scriptwriting Group). I’ve also directed The Importance of Being Earnest, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me and 86,400 Seconds in Bristol for FTC Productions, as well as working in drama schools and – most recently – directing 13 for the University of Cumbria. More about my productions can be found here: http://hannahdrake.wix.com/director
Who inspires you as a director?
Directors I admire are Marianne Elliott (who recently directed A curious incident of the dog in the night time, and won an Olivier), Sally Cookson, Andrew Hilton (who I was mentored by and able to assist at Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory) and John Tiffany – who created the stunning Black Watch. More generally, I find the actors I work with really inspirational, as well as music in creating worlds.
What was your approach to directing this piece?
As with everything I direct, my approach is to first understand the story and the characters and take it all from there. It’s my job to make sure the show is clear, engaging, beautiful, and disciplined. I’m lucky to work with people who share this approach and bring a spirit of fun to the rehearsal room and the stage.
“East of the Sun, West of the Moon”
Rondo Theatre, Bath (St Saviour’s Road, BA1 6RT)
Fri 24th May, 7:30pm & Sat 25th May, 2:30pm
BOX OFFICE: 01225 463362 https://uk.patronbase.com/_BathFestivals/Productions/RN43/Performances
Suitable for audiences aged 5+
Running time: 50mins approx