London premiere for new Theatre Ballads commission


A new commission that will bring traditional folk ballads to life on stage will premiere in London in a short run of exclusive performances in March.

The Theatre Ballads, which has been developed by Horse + Bamboo Theatre, will debut at the Cecil Sharp House in London on March 23 with shows at Colston Hall, Bristol, on March 24 and The Met, Bury, on March 25.

It will combine visual theatre and folk music using voices, puppets, music and animation to portray the stories behind several traditional songs.

Ballads that will be translated into performance include The Female Smuggler, the story of a young woman who disguises herself as a sailor to follow in her father’s footsteps, Con Yo’ Help us a Bit, a song about the consequences of the Lancashire mills closing, and The Broken Contract.

The cast includes puppeteers Gretchen Maynard-Hahn and Ailsa Dalling alongside Bryony Griffith (fiddle, viola, voice and piano), Kate Locksley (voice and narrative presentation), Ewan McLennan (guitar and voice) and John Kirkpatrick (melodeon, accordion and voice).

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), in partnership with The Met and Colston Hall, commissioned The Theatre Ballads with funding from the PRS for Music Foundation’s Talent Development Partner scheme

Producer Esther Ferry-Kennington, from the Lancashire based Horse + Bamboo Theatre said: “This is a new style of performance somewhere between an evening at the theatre and a music gig. It will bring theatre to the traditional music audience and traditional music to a theatre audience.

“There will be eight pieces and each is a historic ballad arranged and performed live alongside puppetry and simple illustrations, drawing out the tales before your eyes. All aspects of the production will combine to create an evocative new look at visual theatre and folk music.”


March 23
Cecil Sharp House, London
Tickets: £16 | £10 under 26s
March 24
Colston Hall, Bristol
Tickets: £15

March 25
The Met, Bury
Tickets: £14

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