Edinburgh Round-up

It only feels like a couple of days but we’ve been back from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe since August 30 – two weeks at the time of writing – what a festival!

Four shows with a total of 99 performances and a total audience of nearly 7,000 people and a host of fantastic reviews ensured that Story Pocket’s festival was a huge success.

As well as the shows themselves – A Pocketful of Grimms, Storyteller, Storyteller, Pub Quiz for Kids with Patrick Monahan and Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur – we returned from the festival with a hatful of great memories.

Our shows were featured on a series of TV and radio interviews, we performed at various “pick of the fringe” shows including the two biggest of their type hosted by Nicholas Parsons and Mervyn Stutter. Plenty of celebrities and their children were spotted in our audiences throughout the festival.

It was a month of meeting up with old friends, making new ones and, of course seeing hundreds of shows from the silliest of sketch shows to the most profound of plays.

Story Pocket Theatre must have been one of the hardest working companies in Edinburgh this year. Our 10 actors and one comedian gave a total of 397 performances between them (five of them were in two shows) We gave out thousands of flyers and put up hundreds of posters.

For the cast of King Arthur one of the biggest highlights was a meeting with the master storyteller, author of Arthur: High King of Britain and Story Pocket Theatre’s patron, Michael Morpurgo. His warmth, kindness and encouragement were truly inspirational.

And now two of those Edinburgh shows are on the road. King Arthur opened a tour on September 29th at Peterborough and, two days later, A Pocketful of Grimms began in Oxford. We will have another two shows on the road in December but more details of that in a future blog.

So have a look at our website to find out if Story Pocket Theatre is coming to a theatre near you and be sure to come and see us.

Edinburgh Preparations

 

We’ve had nearly three weeks of rehearsals for Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur and it looks like it’s going to be a really exciting, sometimes funny, sometimes moving show telling the story of the rise and fall of Camelot.

You won’t find any spoilers here – but it’s not spoiling anything to say that the cast of seven have clicked together and it’s like they’ve known each other for their whole careers. Most of them met for the first time at the photoshoot for the show back in April.

It’s been a joy watching all the ideas tumbling from all of the cast, directors, designers, stage manager and, of course, our fabulous composer George Jennings.

The second week of rehearsals started with two days of fighting with Paul Benzing, one of the country’s top fight directors. He’s worked on so many huge shows over many years and last week was at the National Theatre, where he has directed more fights than anyone can number. So lots of sword-play, quarterstaffs-bashing and good old fashioned fisticuffs are being sorted in our rural rehearsal room. We hope the locals aren’t frightened by the blood-curdling cries and clashing of swords.

In two days, we will have finished rehearsing, travelled to Edinburgh, settled into our home for the month and be preparing for our first performance, the World Premiere of King Arthur on August 3. That’s a tiny bit scary.

What is more scary, is that we will be preparing to open three other shows on the same day – two of them at the same time! Our festival starts each day at 11.15am with A Pocketful of Grimms which was a hit last year and returns to Gilded Balloon. Then, at 12.40pm our bonkers clowning show Storyteller, Storyteller takes to the stage. At 2.30pm our brand new show, Pub Quiz for Kids with Patrick Monahan provides an hour of barmy brilliance, lots of laughs and a little bit of knowledge. Finally, at 2.45pm King Arthur begins. It’ll all be over by 4pm-ish and then it’s off to take part in the World Leaflet Distribution Championships being played in Edinburgh throughout August.

So if you’re in Edinburgh for the festival, come and find us in the High Street, say hello and ask how you can get tickets for our shows. Or you could look up this link for Gilded Balloon http://gildedballoon.co.uk/tickets/ , find our shows and book online.

Story Pocket facts:

  • This will be Story Pocket Theatre’s third year at the Fringe
  • We have won two awards (Primary Times Children’s Choice 2014, ThreeWeeks Editors’ Choice, 2015)
  • We will have 11 performers in four shows
  • They will play more than 40 different characters
  • One of our actors starred in Braveheart with Mel Gibson
  • One has appeared in Game of Thrones
  • One has been in War Horse
  • Two have starred in TV blockbusters with Keira Knightley
  • Five appear in two Story Pocket shows at this year’s Fringe
  • One has released a DVD of his stand-up show (Patrick Monahan)
  • One of the company has appeared in, written, directed or produced more than 20 shows at the Edinburgh Fringe
  • We will hand out nearly 20,000 booklets and put up more than 1,000 posters during August
  • We will sleep for much of September!

Some thoughts about the last 12 months

With the Edinburgh Festival Fringe just round the corner, now seems to be a good time to have a look back at what’s happened since the last one.
It really only seems like a few weeks ago that we were loading a van with the sets, costumes and  props for three different shows for Edinburgh. Arabian Nights was returning to the Fringe after an award-winning run in 2014. Alongside it were our two new shows, A Pocketful of Grimms and Storyteller, Storyteller.

Our Grimms show is another hour of storytelling fun and loveliness and had a successful run at the Gilded Balloon as did Arabian Nights.
Our third show, Storyteller, Storyteller is a bit of a departure. We asked the question, what would happen if the Storyteller from Arabian Nights met his counterpart from Grimms? Well, we didn’t know. So we got them together in a room and didn’t let them out for a few days and the result is the funniest 40 minutes of silliness you’d ever wish to see. Since Edinburgh, Storyteller has played festivals in Leeds, Cheshire and Brighton delighting anyone with a funny bone in their body.

In 2014 Arabian Nights won the Primary Times Children’s Choice award at the Fringe and in 2015 A Pocketful of Grimms was runner-up in what was apparently a very close contest. We had a lovely surprise in the last week of the Fringe when ThreeWeeks, one of the biggest publications at the Fringe presented us with their Editors’ Choice Award for our “outstanding” work in children’s theatre.

So a good Fringe 2015 should lead to a deserved rest, shouldn’t it? Not for Story Pocket. Within a few weeks of Edinburgh, we were packing again, this time leaving the Edinburgh jumpers, jeans and jackets behind and replacing them with shorts and t-shirts as we headed for a week of Arabian Nights in Dubai. What a very strange mix of worlds Dubai is but that’s another blog. We had a brilliant week at the beautiful DUCTAC theatre and had lovely audiences. Oh, and Dubai is very hot!
In October we played A Pocketful of Grimms at the Royal Albert Hall. Yes, THE Royal Albert Hall – the really big round building where they do the Proms. And we sold out two shows in one day. Okay it wasn’t the 7,000 seat main hall, we were in the Elgar Room, which is lovely and holds around 190. But it’s still the Royal Albert Hall!

And before you know it, along comes Christmas and The Nutcracker is in Clapham for two weeks, Guildford for a few days and then a week in Southend playing to full-houses of festive friends. Oh, and Arabian Nights went on a short Christmas outing to Yorkshire.

Surely time for a rest? Nope, back into rehearsal for Arabian Nights and a new cast. Luke Pitman and Yasmin Goodwin had finally bowed out from the show after being utterly brilliant for nearly two years (with Sarita Plowman and Tilly-Jane Wilson in noble occasional support). William Forde stayed on and was joined by Chris Gunter and Adeline Waby as they prepared for a two-week run in Geneva. Yes THE Geneva – the big city by the lake in SWITZERLAND.

Back home and Arabian Nights and Grimms joined forces for a lovely three days as part of the StoryStock festival at the Bush Theatre in London. Then a spring/summer tour for A Pocketful of Grimms which took us from as far north as Settle in Yorkshire to the far south of Folkestone in Kent. Oh, and Arabian Nights had a sold-out two-show day at the Royal Albert Hall, yes, that one.

And while all this was going on, Adam was writing a new script for Edinburgh – we have exclusive permission to adapt Michael Morpurgo’s novel Arthur: High King of Britain.

So, to Edinburgh 2016 and Story Pocket Theatre will be there for a month with not one, not two, not even three but FOUR shows. A Pocketful of Grimms returns along with Storyteller, Storyteller, Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur is in the wonderful new venue at the National Museum of Scotland. And the fourth show? Adam woke up in the middle of a bizarre game-show dream, wrote a few notes, had a chat with the Gilded Balloon folk and that strange dream became Pub Quiz for Kids with Patrick Monahan and will be at the venue all month.

And so we prepare for Edinburgh with one of the UK’s favourite comedians, the man who killed Braveheart (David Gant, star of King Arthur) and a company of actors and technicians of the richest talents. We know, we know: four shows at Edinburgh is madness! But we can’t wait.
Adam xx

King Arthur

We are delighted to announce our next show will be Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur, based on his novel, Arthur, High King of Britain, adapted by our very own Adam Fletcher-Forde. The première will be at the National Museum of Scotland during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 run by Gilded Balloon. Don’t miss it!