A project to translate traditional folk ballads into theatre was chosen as the winner of a competitive commissioning process by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) through funding from the PRS for Music Foundation’s Talent Development Partner scheme.
The Theatre Ballads was developed by Horse + Bamboo Theatre and featured singers and musicians Bryony Griffith, Kate Locksley, Ewan McLennan and John Kirkpatrick alongside puppeteer Gretchen Maynard-Hahn.
Producer Esther Ferry-Kennington described the performance as “an evocative new look at visual theatre”, retelling popular ballads with a combination of voices, harmonies, stories, puppets, music and animation.
The show debuted at the home of EFDSS, Cecil Sharp House in London, on March 23 2017 followed by performances at Colston Hall on March 24 and The Met on March 25.
“We are delighted to have won The Commission Award. We aim to create an evocative new look at visual theatre and folk music combining voices, harmonies, stories, puppets, music and animation.
“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.
“Folk ballads we have been researching so far include ‘Con Yo' Help us a Bit’, a song about the consequences of the Lancashire mills closing, which is pertinent today, that will be developed into a stop-frame animation and ‘The Female Smuggler’ that could become a suitcase puppet show.”
Esther Ferry-Kennington, Producer, Horse + Bamboo Theatre
The funding programmes come under the umbrella of EFDSS’ Artists’ Development Programme that provides professional development support, both creative and business, to artists at all levels of their career.