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Horse + Bamboo Theatre

   
horse + bamboo

www.horseandbamboo.org
info@horseandbamboo.org
t : 01706 - 220 241
Rossendale, Lancashire
England

Please contact Esther Ferry-Kennington

Artistic Director/s    Bob Frith and Alison Duddle

Ways of Working  
Practices
theatre, puppetry, mask
Vision  
Horse + Bamboo originally toured using horses to transport productions to rural areas. The company no longer uses horse-drawn transport but the close sense of community engendered by this way of working still inspires our practice.

We now have a venue at our base in Rossendale. Called the 'Boo', it focuses on family-friendly activities, and is one of the main venues for puppetry in the north of England. From this base the company now works extensively within the local community. Many of the projects we undertake have an environmental focus.

Founded by Bob Frith in 1978, Horse + Bamboo has its roots in the most ancient and universal of performing traditions - the magic folk theatre of puppetry, masks, transformations, and playful objects. It's both accessible and popular, but enjoys experiment.

 
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Productions and Projects

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The Nightingale
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2012, 2013
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The Nightingale is a re-telling of the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Emperor and the Nightingale. Written in 1844, Andersen’s story tells the story of a Chinese Emperor, a collector of exquisite objects, who is so enchanted by the song of the nightingale that he keeps it by his side at all times. However, when he is given a bejewelled mechanical replica of the bird, he becomes distracted and forgets his real nightingale.

Eventually the mechanical bird breaks and, having realised his mistake, the emperor falls into a deep despair. In his darkest hour the little nightingale returns and, through her beautiful song, convinces death to leave him alone, and the emperor awakes with a new found love for life.

In our story, the King is a little child, pampered and privileged, always wanting something new but never satisfied. It is only when the kitchen maid, Luscinia, ignored by the King during the day, magically transforms into a nightingale that the King becomes enthralled by her hauntingly beautiful song. Through time they become friends, the very thing the King has always been lacking.

Just as in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, the King’s attention is seized by fancy replica of the nightingale. Our version is informed by the myriad distractions we have in our lives today – interactive video games, Twitter and Facebook. As with all machines, the i-nightingale eventually breaks, and the King realises the mistake he has made.

Through a vision in a nightmare, the King realises that he needs to leave his protective palace, go outside and experience the world outside, and find the nightingale.

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The Nightingale

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Angus - Weaver of Grass
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2012, 2013
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Angus - Weaver of Grass started with a small booklet sent to Bob Frith by Chris Spears, an old friend who lives on Berneray, in the Western Isles of Scotland.

The booklet told the story of the life and work of a crofter, Angus MacPhee, who grew up in Eochar, South Uist, and went to war in 1939. He was invalided out of the army before seeing active service, ultimately spending 50 years as an elective mute in Craig Dunain, the psychiatric hospital outside of Inverness.

Joyce Laing, a pioneering art therapist, ‘discovered’ Angus in the 1970s at Craig Dunain. Joyce was interested in ‘outsider’ or extraordinary art made by non-professional artists. In Angus’ case he had utilised the Hebridean craft of making rope from grass and developed it in previously unheard of ways, constructing elaborate costumes from grass and leaves he found in the hospital grounds.

This production tells Angus’ story using masks, puppets and film. There is almost no dialogue, and the non-verbal nature of the production mirrors Angus’ own lack of words. The story unfolds using Gaelic narrative and song.

Angus – Weaver of Grass toured throughout the Islands and Highlands during the summer of 2012. The show will have a second tour in late summer and the autumn of 2013.

writer, designer, director, maskmaker: Bob Frith
puppet director / maker: Alison Duddle
music director: Loz Kaye
lighting / film: Christine Eddowes
weavings: Joanne B Kaar

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Angus - Weaver of Grass

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Deep Time Cabaret
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2009
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Deep Time Cabaret is an irreverant and complex view of how humans have used and depleted the Earth's resources.

The show, devised and directed by Bob Frith, utilises myth and absurdism. It mixes humour and dream-like imagery to create a sense of the vast time-scales involved in the creation of the landscape. In the form of a cabaret, the show links short scenes and vignettes with songs and puppetry.

The source for Deep Time Cabaret is the short film Hineingrabe, on YouTube, by the artist Tracey Holland, which looks at the Rossendale hills and quarries and their association with myth and folk-lore. The film was created for an exhibition of Holland's work at Horse and Bamboo in 2008, inspired by the landscape and geological heritage of the Rossendale landscape.

Photo: Ian Tilton

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deep time cabaret
Deep Time Cabaret

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In the Shadow of Trees
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2006
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Best New Play in the M.E.N. [Manchester Evening News] Theatre Awards 2006

In the Shadow of Trees is a unique magical production set in a mysterious woodland.

It is the story of a young girl, abandoned at birth, who grows up nurtured by nature alone, a feral child who slowly discovers, then loves and protects the natural environment she has been raised in. But one fateful day, she discovers she is not the only human in the woods.

In the Shadow of Trees was created in collaboration with the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.
Written by Bob Frith, directed by Alison Duddle, with music by Chris Davies.

Photo © Horse + Bamboo

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In the Shadow of Trees

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Botany Begins at Home
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2005
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Botany Begins at Home is the story of a young woman seeking refuge, and her search for a place to plant a seed. Set in the pPod, our miniature puppet stage, it plays with the traditional toy theatre form to create a magic dream world of transformation and release. The show draws on themes of migration, of fear, and the universal need for kindness. Suitable for all ages.

The show is written, designed, made and directed by Alison Duddle, Associate Director and Bob Frith, Artistic Director of Horse + Bamboo Theatre.

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The pPod
The pPod:
In 2005 Horse + Bamboo developed an entirely new miniature theatre, an innovative, architect-designed structure that houses short pieces of original, visual theatre. The tented space of the pPod evokes the world of travelling theatres and sideshows, and functions as the venue for short, intimate, performances, either indoors or out of doors. It has seating for about 35 people.

Photos © Horse + Bamboo

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Botany Begins at Home

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Early One Morning
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2005
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Early One Morning is the haunting story of a hunter and his quarry, a mystical folk story which celebrates the mystery of nature. It draws its inspiration from folk-song ballads. A 15-minute, glove-and-rod puppet show, Early One Morning creates a sense of tradition within the contemporary setting of the pPod. Suitable for all ages.

The show is written, designed, made and directed by Alison Duddle, Associate Director and Bob Frith, Artistic Director of Horse + Bamboo Theatre.

The pPod:
In 2005 Horse + Bamboo developed an entirely new miniature theatre, an innovative, architect-designed structure that houses short pieces of original, visual theatre. The tented space of the pPod evokes the world of travelling theatres and sideshows, and functions as the venue for short, intimate, performances, either indoors or out of doors.

Photo © Horse + Bamboo

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Early One Morning

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Harvest of Ghosts
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1997
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A collaboration with Nigerian author Sam Ukala, Harvest of Ghosts is an exploration of the circumstances of the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the prominent writer and environmentalist.

The play captured the mood of the Nigerian people faced with the brutality of ruthless multinational corporations.

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Harvest of Ghosts

Photo © Horse + Bamboo

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Harvest of Ghosts

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Seol
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1984
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Commissioned by the Scottish Arts Council to tour the Outer Hebrides, Seol was a story which combined traditional themes (foretelling and odyssey) with current issues (militarisation of the island and pollution of the waters by nuclear waste).

‘Seol’ means ‘sail’ or ‘quest’.

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Small Heads (Don’t Wear Big Hats)!
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1981
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A strange and compelling story based on the writings of the American environmentalist poet Gary Snyder.

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The Homemade Circus
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1980
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A circus influenced by the writings of the American environmentalist poet Gary Snyder. The show toured in a white tent.

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  Horse + Bamboo Theatre
www.horseandbamboo.org
info@horseandbamboo.org
t: 01706 - 220 241
f: 01706 - 831 166

The Horse and Bamboo Centre
Bacup Road
Waterfoot
Rossendale, Lancashire
BB4 7HB
England

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