Our latest post is brought to you from our Warwickshire & Worcestershire Fieldworker, Julia, who visited a festival in Worcestershire to see a wonderful piece of pop up performance called ‘The Whale’ as part of the Shindig scheme…
This summer we had a series of special pop up events across Worcestershire as part of the Shindig programme. You will have read about Katy’s trip to our first pop up at Bromsgrove Festival with the Travelling Treasury. Since then we’ve been to Bromsgrove Street Theatre, Batchley Street Theatre, Salt Festival in Droitwich and the Plum Festival in Pershore. I was lucky enough to go along to Batchley Street Theatre on Tuesday 4 August.
The festival took place on Batchley Recreation Ground just next to the pond in the heart of the estate and for this event Shindig provided ‘The Whale’ by Talking Birds. I organised the booking of ‘The Whale’ for the pop up’s but had never actually seen it, so I was quite excited to finally go and visit it!
‘The Whale’ is an immersive theatre space for around 2 – 4 people (although we did squeeze in 8 nursery children) in the shape of a whale, made mostly of aluminium & magic beans, with one performer inside. Talking Birds performed two shows, lasting 5 minutes each. The first one, ‘Jonah’, is for adults and older children and the second show, ‘Pilchard the Cat’, is for younger children. I was lucky enough to see both shows!
The story of Jonah is set at sea and she’s sending a letter to the ‘sexiest man on earth’. Jonah is stuck on a word for her letter and it needs to rhyme with regret. She asks me to suggest a word and I gave forget. Jonah is also only allowed to write 40 words in her letter but she’d written 41, so she sang the letter to me, so I could help her choose a word to remove. At the end of the play Jonah folded the letter into the shape of a whale and gave it to me and told me that I’m to give it to the ‘sexiest man on earth’, if I see him. Well, I still have that little whale, but I’ll keep a look out for Jonah’s sexiest man!
For my second turn in ‘The Whale’ I was then told the story of Mrs Jonah and how she has lost her cat, Pilchard, who is magical and Mrs Jonah went on to tell us why. One night during a terrible storm Pilchard ran out into the sea. The storm continued for three days and Mrs Jonah thought her cat was gone forever. When the storm ended, Pilchard came out of the sea and had made it safe for everyone to go into. To help find the cat Mrs Jonah gave me a map which was folded into a whale.
Both of the shows were very sweet, short and simple. It felt really magical and inclusive inside, as it was just you, your friends and family enjoying the performance. The highlight of the day for me was seeing so many different people visiting ‘The Whale’, from families to teenage boys and a children’s nursery. At the end of the day 137 people had enjoyed a show!
I’ve kept my map whale shaped map, which Jonah gave me to help me find cats, as I’m going to give it to my new nephew Harri, who was born on the same day of the festival, while I was visiting ‘The Whale’!
I look forward to writing another blog post for you again soon!