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March 4th 2020: Open Tellers' Night and Annual Grand Lying Contest

Club Logo plus Pinocchio style long nose Part One: Some of our usual 10 minute story slots - one or two may still be available...
Part Two: our Third Annual Grand Lying Contest!

... which appropriately grows and stretches each year...
To enter, please let contact me.
More Entries welcome at the time of writing.

 

Rules of Lying Contest:

Tickets on the door. £6 and £4.00 for performers.


April 1st, our Fifth Birthday : Shonaleigh “The Golem”

Shonaleigh Shonaleigh returns again, by popular demand, for our birthday special. She is, quite simply, a unique world phenomenom in storytelling. After a childhood apprenticeship to her grandmother, a survivor of Auschwitz who was apprenticed to her own grandmother, and so back, Shonaleigh bears a tradition of stories going back over hundreds of years.
In the hands of such a gifted storyteller as Shonaleigh, they have compelling new life.

The Golem: In the time of the Emperor Rudolf II, the Prague Jewish community suffered great persecution. Each Passover, the Jewish Quarter lived in fear of pogroms, the pretext for these being the notorious blood-libel - the slanderous rumour that Jews used the blood of Christian children to bake the matzos, the unleavened Passover bread. The Emperor could not, or would not, protect the community. So the Maharal made a Golem, a man-made man, from the clay of the Vltava river, to protect the community in times of trouble: a Golem upon whose forehead was written the Hebrew word emet, meaning truth; a Golem who had the unutterable Name of the Most High on a parchment placed upon his tongue - giving him just life enough to obey his human creator, but no other sense of right or wrong.
Each night Rabbi Loew removed the Name of the Most High from the Golem's tongue, and he slept.
But one night - so some stories say - Rabbi Loew forgot to remove the Name …

Tickets online here and available on the door. £11.00 and £8.50.
It'll cost you the same either way. But it really helps us if you buy online, please, so we get an idea of how many to plan for. We nearly ran out of seats last time!


 

Bookings for 2020:

February 5th: Kate Corkery
April 1st: Shonaleigh, "The Golem" - and our Fifth Birthday!
July 1st: Baden Prince,
Sept 2nd: Marion Leeper and Jess Law, "Women and Power"
Nov 4th: Taffy Thomas

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Previously at the Feast of Fools, 2020...

Feb 5th: Kate Corkery, "The Sweetshop on the Shore"

Kate Corkery with mischevious smile Kate Corkery brought her magic to Delapre, every bit as gloriously as promised. Thanks to all who came and packed the Dining Room. It’s a glorious thing to have such a community of listeners all feeling to be part of something greater, and this night created just that atmosphere.

It’s great to be told by one of our longer standing regular members that we’re getting better and better at finding storytellers! Kate Corkery’s “The Sweetshop on the Shore” was wonderfully transporting. As well as beautifully telling, and singing, the tale, she becomes every person in it without ever being too theatrical; and nothing was wasted - it was a lesson in how to make every word, every gesture, all count. The scenery was wonderful too, almost tangible, audible, round us.

It was very good to welcome a whole swathe of new listeners too, including a number from Northampton’s Irish Community, some of whom knew the very places Kate was talking about. We look forward to welcoming you all again!
Many thanks as ever to the team who work so hard with me to make all this happen, Graham, Janet, and Deepa.

Open Tellers' Night, 8th Jan 2020

Truly great start to the 2020's at the Feast of Fools this evening - what a smashing variety of stories, and so very well told, what a lovely audience, and all so very welcome to start our new year!

We opened the decade with a traditional Wassail, (played on concertina. I don't offer to do singing at the FoF!). After welcomes and parish notices of all the great stuff going on these days, we moved into the stories.
I brought a brief story of a god and a baby. Thanks to, (in order of appearance), Graham Malpas with a tail, sorry, tale, of a mule and a raffle and surely the best pitch for a raffle I've ever heard!; Janet Crouch, visiting us for the first time and please come again, with another tail/tale, of an ecclesiastical cat; Dave Blake bringing King Herla, still riding, in an echo of Wild Edric; Pete Boyce and an ancient Hob; Stephen Hobbs, less ancient, bringing Nasruddin to Northampton; Lynette Hill had time for two short tales, one of Nasruddin and one of a hawk and a sparrow, (more tails); Deepa Anand with a princely Burmese snake, (hard to know where tail starts on a snake...) ; and Mark Steinhardt, a rare visitor but another welcome one, with an episode from Tristan and Isolde.

Likewise thanks to Janet and Graham for all the refreshments and raffle.
Finally, thanks to all who bought raffle tickets, with all the proceeds going to the Hope Centre. We raised £60.10. Graham's not sure where the 10p came from, but it all helps!

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Previously at the Feast of Fools, 2019...

Dec 4th, 2019: Amy Douglas and Lucy Wells - “Wild Edric”

This was a real treat of an evening.

First, my own thanks to the superb friends who jointly run the Feast of Fools. After some ill health I didn’t know if I’d be there, and everything was picked up and worked beautifully – Janet and Graham not only worked their usual wonders with catering and raffle but also entertained and dined Amy and Lucy, and would have provided B&B if needed, Dave Blake stepped in to sell the newly printed FoF sAmy and Lucy with Richard

hirts and sweaters, Stephen Hobbs willingly took on the MC role, and Deepa was unflustered by even more admin than usual landing on her; Rony as ever worked the online tickets and supplied the information even though a leaking boiler stopped her being there on the night!

“Wild Edric” was brilliant on so many levels, and all woven seamlessly together, art disguising itself as effortless, and all firmly rooted in the Shropshire landscape.
Amy and Lucy with Richard

(Amy and Lucy photobombed by the new Feast of Fools sweatshirt and some mugs. Buy yours now !!)

It was an extremely entertaining, romantic story mixing real history and the world of magic, and the ultimately tragic consequences of their mixing. It was a brilliant double act by two women who clearly enjoy working together, with deep respect and passion for the material, sharing the narrative, singing in unison, in harmony, and in Lucy’s case, making atmospheric accordion music part of the story, counterpointing or reinforcing the words - plus an occasional sly joke for those who recognised the tunes! It was the product of vast research and knowledge of folklore and history, again, lightly worn by the performers. And of course, it went far deeper than just being an entertaining story.

The songs were intrinsic, most of them traditional, with two great voices blending well – and Shropshire has some thoroughly good songs.
And it would be quite unfair to end without congratulating them on great use of hats and other props in a gleeful re-working Edith Piaf’s most famous song into, of all places, medieval British history!

Thanks as well to our enthusiastic audience, who as always helped create such a warm atmosphere.

November 6th 2019: Open Tellers' Night

Sadly your usual reporter was only able to attend the first half. So very many thanks to Terrie for MC-ing so ably, as ever, and to Lynette Hill for the words here:

Hosted by Terrie Howey, Storytelling at the Feast of Fools open tellers’ night on 6 November began with the sweet strains of the sitar, played by Rooh Moore.
Have you ever wondered how Death deals with life? Lynette Hill gave us a few clues in her telling of Godmother Death. Peter Boyce shared a story of witchcraft and desire in his telling of the White Hart. Marcus Pipworth, a visitor from Forest Row, East Sussex told us the story of the King’s Dream; what happens when you don’t keep your promises and when you do.
Liz York reminded us of the season with her lovely acoustic song about November. Sandy Clarke put down her ukulele to share the personal memoir of how her back garden cherry tree could transform into a sailing ship, a space ship and even a Tardus! Stephen Hobbs left it to the audience to decide how two blind mothers-in-law should share (or not) the last available eye.
Richard York told the story of the boy who went in search of fear. David Poulter shared how the Dik-Dik, the smallest antelope on the African savannah, became King of all the animals. Terrie Howey finished the evening with the story of how a man who needed a story finally found one!
With thanks to Deepa Anand for handling the tickets and to Janet Malpas and Graham for providing the refreshments. It’s not storytelling without the cakes!

Oct 2nd 2019: Ben Haggarty

The Fate we Bring Ourselves
This was a powerful evening of storytelling by one of the most powerful of storytellers, showing just why it is many of you, the FoF community, asked us to invite him.
Ben Telling
Ben’s title was very much his theme – choices we make and consequences which follow, seen through the eyes of the Ancient Greeks. This was, as promised, a visceral performance, which never flinched from showing moments of extreme darkness, with blood and guts, and plenty of sex, and all balanced with surprising flashes of humour.

Ben, in a video on his own website, says that the storyteller has great responsibility – the power to plant images in the listener’s mind, and the duty not to leave poisonous ones there. There were certainly plenty of nightmare images, of baleful heat and dark night, with old things of very dark times, some linked to the present day, but he brought us back at the end to ourselves , in Delapre’s Dining Room, which had somehow become invisible behind the images in our heads.

There was a great audience, and it was again a delight to welcome so many new faces to the Feast of Fools. Whatever button we’re pressing, I hope we go on pressing it :-)

Richard started the evening by playing his Greek lyre, an invocation to Calliope by Mesomedes who was, rather curiously, a Greek musician at the court of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
As ever, many thanks to the whole FoF team, Deepa who both welcomes you in and takes your ticket money, and Janet and Graham for providing refreshments and also the raffle, likewise to Rony for the WeGotTickets links.

And again, to Ben Haggarty for an evening we’ll not forget. We look forward to seeing lots of people for our next session on November 6th when it’ll be our first Open Tellers’ night of this season.

Sept 4th 2019: Tim Ralphs

"How to Spin Enchantment"

An utterly brilliant, scintillating start to our September season! To a room well filled with both new faces and familiar ones, an evening of sheer joy - all the more necessary at the present time in the world Out There!
An especial welcome to those who joined us for the first time - keep coming!
Tim Telling
(In fairness to Mr Ralphs, I must point out this photo was taken after the event. The cravat stayed firmly in place throughout the performance!!)

Huge thanks to Tim, and as always, to the team who make all this work. Thanks too to Liz York for instantly sitting in on the door, while Deepa and the other MK contingent spent over an hour trapped in traffic!
"How to Spin Enchantment" nested together a series of stories from the 17th C Pentamerone MS. It was fascinating, when talking to Tim later, to learn how much of it was original, how much he'd had to do to join this selection so seamlessly, and to hear that some of the wonderfully off-the-wall descriptions in there came straight from the original text. There was a wonderful lightness of touch throughout, great interaction with the audience, and apparent effortlessness... and it's no easy challenge to join so many stories together, and still keep the momentum going so energetically.
For those who attended for the first time, what a great introduction to storytelling. For those of us who've been in this regularly, what a treat!

Thanks to Sue Martin

Sue has decided to retire from the committee. She'd like to concentrate more on her first loves, of folk song and gardens. But we do hope she'll continue to come and hear stories with us.

We're going to really miss her wonderfully quirky stories. And I for one now look a little differently at people filling in crosswords on trains!
Sue was one of the first to sign up to the original conspiracy to start the club, after that Tim Ralphs workshop day. As well as bringing her storytelling, she kindly offered to look after the finances at least until somebody else took the job on.
It was quickly apparent just how much a club like ours depends on someone like Sue, someone so reliable and thorough, and with complete grasp of what was going on. It is no platitude to say that we would simply not be where we are now without all her work, and we're enormously grateful to her.
... in fact, she mentioned quite a time ago that she really would like someone to take over the finances, and we're delighted that Deepa has picked up this task ; we're extra grateful to Sue for staying on until she was sure Deepa had become thoroughly familiar with the workings of the Feast of Fools money management.

Our committee, currently Janet, Graham, Deepa and I are, I reckon, all going to miss her mixture of kindness, patience, and sense of humour.
So again, Sue, when you see this, remember you're always very welcome to come and spend evenings with us again!


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July 3rd

Open Tellers' Night

snook What a wonderful way to end our season!
Seven local storytellers, and no restrictions on theme... though themes of both animals and ships seemed to emerge in parts of the evening

So, many thanks to all. After Richard started the evening with a story of a Hebridean ship in a enchantress' storm, Pete Boyce brought a moving true story of a young badger he knew, David Poulter a tale with a cunning twist of an hostler who wasn't as silly as he pretended, Deepa a lovely story of a King who learns a tough lesson, Gary Huskisson, making his first appearance, a retelling of the Dream Time story of Tidalik the Frog, Lynette told of a memorable encounter with a communicative buffalo, and Stephen Hobbs a story of far more than just a neighbour and a rat.

As ever, our professional guests have a lot to live up to!

Extra thanks to Janet and Graham, not only for refreshments and raffle, but sourcing good cakes in the temporary absence of our usual baker of goodies.

June 5th

Tricksterland Image

Nell Phoenix: TRICKSTERLAND

This was an astonishing evening! Not that we’re surprised she was good, but just bowled over by how very good it all was!

First, thanks to the nearly capacity crowd who came and packed the Billiard Room. There was a great atmosphere from the start. Welcome to a goodly number of new visitors to the club, we look forward to seeing them with us again.

Then Nell briefly introduced her work, a saga of stories strung together, as she put it, from around the Snow Line, much of the material from what’s now called Nova Scotia, some apparently from as far as China, though these stories reach back to before either name was in use.

I’ve encountered stories from Nova Scotia before, with their deceptively simple language. Nell was completely in command of this style – seemingly almost childlike language, and plots which leapt and kinked in the manner of children’s imaginings into new angles and directions, but in fact beautifully honed words cutting straight into the matter, carrying stories which, while they came from culture(s) a world away from 21st century Northampton, somehow flew straight into the head, finding something deep buried there to resonate with, and issues such as grief, or growing up with a sibling, or being streetwise, things which still matter in real life here and now.
And some good very earthy laughs too, as well as tears in several eyes before the end.

As ever, many thanks to Janet and Graham, for providing both refreshments and beautifully wrapped wraffle... or should that be rapped raffle?… prizes.
Special thanks to Sue Martin, who arrived for an evening in the audience and found herself taking on the Door, in the absence of Deepa who was unfortunately unable to make it, through illness, but still sent everything prepared in a very orderly way, for which we were most grateful.

May 1st 2019: Open Tellers' Night

Hosted by Red Phoenix

I've heard this was a great evening! Since we were on the Island of Barra at the time, I can't do the usual first person view, so if anyone cares to send me a write-up, please, that would be most kind.
Meanwhile, many thanks to Red Phoenix for MC-ing and leading, and to Rooh for bringing and playing his banjo for the opening music, despite having been painfully insect-bitten on his hand.

April 3rd: Shonaleigh, "The Emerald Sea"

Shonaleigh image Thank you to everyone who came to this stunning evening. It's one of those that stays with me, and I'm confident I'm not alone in this. It was one of those times when storytelling comes out in all its glory for what it really is when done so well, a sharing by the performer with the audience, who become part of the performance, and in so doing, create a real bond of community.

For a couple of magical hours, we were transported into a world we utterly believed in, a world which had many more facets than we had time to see - "more stories than I can tell this night" indeed - and from the children present to the oldest, we experienced real magic and wonder. I feel strongly that storytelling is a healing thing; for me this telling of "The Emerald Sea" was just that, and from the comments from so many of the audience, it was so for many of us.

Shonaleigh is always keen to pay tribute to the women behind her, whose tradition she carries, and we applauded them too. She is a wonderful carrier, in truth.

March 6th: Open Tellers' Night including

The Second Annual Great Lying Contest

Very many sincere thanks to everyone who came to our utterly wonderful evening of lies and truths.
It is truly said that a good storytelling audience is doing half the work, the performer doing the other half, and this was shown to perfection

Between stories which sometimes brought tears of sadness and others which almost brought tears of laughter, it made for a marvellously therapeutic storytelling community of joy, profundity, and irreverence all in one evening.

It would not do justice to any to try to report what the stories were about, you really had to be there.
So I'll just give a great shout of thanks to everyone who prepared and delivered stories, song, and lies... and sometimes blurred the boundaries between them as well!

Stories were by Pete Boyce, Sandy Clarke and her ukulele, Deepa Anand, Stephen Hobbs, and Lynette Hill. Lies were by Jo Glover, Matte Black, Richard York, Frankie P looking very like Steve H, Lynette Hill, Graham Malpas, and Pete Boyce, with Pete being the lucky man who won the accolade of taking home his new Feast of Fools mug.
(Gentle reader, it must be pointed out that identical mugs are available on sale monthly, so you don't need to wait until you've won the lying contest to own one.)

Sue Martin took on the taxing task of refereeing the lies and kept the whole thing going with perfect pace and suspense, it was most beautifully done; special mention must also go to Terrie and Rooh for their impeccable time keeping, sounding the thunder alarm when 5 minutes had elapsed without fear or favour. I suspect Rooh was really hoping more people would go over the limit, so he could play with the thunder machine more often!

Thanks as ever to Janet and Graham both for running the refreshments and the raffle, and to Deepa for running the finances.

February 6th: Sarah Liisa Wilkinson, Nordic Evening

The Girl, the Snake Witch, and the Grinning Castle, and other Nordic tales

Sarah Liisa
What an evening of delight! From the very beginning Sarah Liisa's, The Girl, the Snake Witch and the Grinning Castle, a story of Brother and Sister, innocence, love, wickedness, and a young man convinced that the world had somehow yet to discover his towering intellect, fully lived up to all those recommendations, with description so vivid you were in the landscape, (and under the sea too), wicked humour spun on the turn of a phrase into complete seriousness, wonderful physical presence of all the characters, and all done with great economy and seemingly effortless precise choice of words. Sarah Liisa told me that her first nervous public storytelling 10 minutes was only in 2012, but she has all the assurance and judgement of someone who's been doing it a lot longer.
By half time the audience was happily buzzing.

Part two started with a section of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, chosen in response to a tune on the 5-string kantele, the traditional Finnish instrument to accompany story recital. I'm very grateful to Richard Leigh for lending me his kantele, and to some nice people on the internet for sharing some material I could work on!
I for one now need to hear more of this Kalevala, if it's half as vivid as the rendition we heard. Then, having most politely asked our permission for a bawdy story, a gleefully silly end to the set.
Sarah Liisa is truly a storyteller to watch out for.

January 2nd and Feast of Fools opens the New Year

What a blast! Feast of Fools' welcome to 2019 was surpassingly wonderful! Over 50 people present, with many new faces among them, a lovely warm atmosphere, and every story a great success.

Lynette Hill has written this account for us - thanks Lynette :-)
"To quote one of the participants, Mr. Stephen Hobbs, January 2nd at Storytelling at the Feast of Fools was 'a stonking evening' with an audience of more than 50. Every story of our open mic night was a delight.

We were graced with music from the from the Shetlands, performed by the ever-amazing Richard and Liz York. Richard got the storytelling started with a tale of luck, misery and the rivalry between brothers.
Dave Blake gave us the tale of how a hard-working maid's mistake reminds him to always back up his computer.
Sue Martin made a bravura return with the song and story of the hanging of master pick-pocket Tom Clinch.
Quick-change artist Peter Boyce followed with an Arctic tale of how a polar bear turns the tables on a foolish sailor and his mates.
After the break for all important tea and cakes, Liz York sang a traditional Irish song, "The Snow it melts the Soonest".
Then Sandy Clarke brought to life the French Canadian story of 'Petit-Jean and the White Horse.'
Lynette Hill gave us 'St. Peter and the Blacksmith' and
Stephen Hobbs finished off the evening with his original romantic true tale of avid cyclists Jim and Mabel.'

And what a night it was, every one a winner! We look forward very much to welcoming you all, both tellers and audience, for many more meetings!

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Previously at the Feast of Fools, 2018...

December 5th: Clare Murphy: UniVerse

Clare, arms spread
You'll have noticed these reports contain superlatives, because, to be honest, we've never had a duff evening yet. This one was superlative. A new visitor to us wrote afterwards to say "It was fantastic! If I say anymore I risk getting into hyperbole!"
Clare had the audience in her spell from the outset, and held us that way, delighted with the whole thing. It takes a special talent to make quantum physics come to life and even make quarks and gluon particles gain audience empathy, but she did, most triumphantly, woven with equally magnetic tellings of ancient Greek mythology. Writing as a musician, I particularly loved the theme of the music of the spheres, through the soul in the first instrument.
After an enlightening Q&A session following the break - great questions from the audience, including some she's not been asked, again from newly arrived listeners - she gave us a couple of very different Irish stories, with no physics but just as much magic.

The Delapre Dining Room was looking good too - more thanks to everyone who booked tickets in advance so we were able to use it. And more welcomes to those who joined us for the first time. Now you've met us, please do come and make the friendship more long lasting!
Feast of Fools mugs were on sale for the first time. We'll go on bringing them to subsequent events, so you've not missed your chance if you didn't buy one!
As usual, very many thanks to the teams of Malpas, Sue Martin, and Deepa Anand, for all their work both before hand and on the night, to make it all work so well.

November 7th: Open Teller's Night

Write-up by Lynette Hill - thanks Lynette :-)!
We heard from a full spectrum of the Feast of Fools’ storytellers. Richard York led the way with a story of three soldiers ‘who travelled across the back of nowhere’ and found that swans under spells could be turned back into potential brides. Deepa Anand helped us celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, with the lovely story of a story and song that refused to be forgotten, and lamps gossiping about their households. Lynette Hill both frightened and amused us with the tale of an ancient ghost who was not as terrifying as the family he tried to haunt.

Pete Boyce told two linked tales: the fable of a man who spent a night under the mountain, returning to find himself in the time of his great-grandchildren; and the true story of the body of a man missing more than 60 years found perfectly preserved in a cavern. Could a true event have inspired the myth? Storyteller Matte Black, in his first performance for us, brought the South American tale of the snake that ate bird hearts and grew so big that it now lives in the sky above as the Milky Way.

Sandy Clarke warned us that sharing and good manners always bring the best results with the traditional tale of the Three Heads of the Well. Stephen Hobbs finished the evening in fine style with his tale of Nasruddin and his Cockerel – it was news to us that Nasruddin lived in Northampton, but then, he pops up everywhere!

October 3rd: Red Phoenix and Chris Secker: The Crown of Feathers and Fins.

Leaflet with pictures
This was a superb evening, and one well worth waiting for. Chris, musician, and Terrie, storyteller, promised us a story of heroes in a land of jealousy and greed, in a grown-up magical tale bringing music, Phoenix filled skies, mermaids and creatures who talk and dance, and it was all there, and more! Lots of happy people both at the interval and afterwards fed back how much they'd enjoyed this.
Terrie was in great form, with two main stories woven into a seamless whole, combining several traditions most beautifully, and as ever, bringing her huge knowledge of storytelling to bear, while wearing that knowledge lightly.
And it was fascinating to see how wonderfully Chris' music both supported and enhanced the storytelling... not forgetting his starring role as the horse of the first hero! We've not had an evening with a double act of storyteller and musician before, and it worked brilliantly.
As I write, I've just confirmed Amy Douglas and Lucy Wells for December next year, so you've already got another to look forward to.

 

September 2018

A great night of tellers from round here - somehow the report never did get written, but very many thanks indeed to all who contributed, both through telling and being that most important element of live storytelling, a warm and responsive audience!

July 2018

July was a definite case of a cloud with a silver lining. Sadly our advertised teller, Amy Douglas, was unable to attend due to ill health, and we all sent HUGE get well wishes to her.
So instead...

"The Thesiad" by Stephen Hobbs, and "Ernest and the Wolf" by Lynette Hill

Theseus with Minotaur, and a Wolf After a great story of The Blue Rose by the always superb Kevin Walker, Stephen and Lynette each took a major spot in the evening, with a very entertaining and well sung version of "Ratcliffe Highway" by Sue between, as a change of mood.

While they'd both performed these pieces before, having worked them up, you'd not know they had only a week to get them back up to performance level, both were wonderful.
Stephen's Thesiad entertainingly explored the Thesius myth from the angle of an ageing Theseus and his scribe, determined that posterity should know about his great deeds, whether or not they were actually in the versions we now have. On the way we were reminded of many of the perhaps lesser known aspects of both the Minotaur and other stories of the hero, along with both surprising humour and more murkiness than some may have expected. Homer would have been proud!

Lynette's gripping "Ernest and the Wolf" told a reportedly true story of a famous wolf, in true Wild West 19th Century America, during which our respect for this creature grew and grew, along with ultimate respect for the man charged with exterminating him and his pack. Lynette moved us, and her at times shocking account made a great story out of this surprisingly complex story.

Many thanks go to all four performers, and especially Lynette and Stephen for stepping in and doing so much more than merely subbing in.
Thanks also to Kevin for more lovely cakes, and to Janet & Graham, back in the saddle after their own travels, for both raffle and refreshments.

June 2018

Thanks again to Lynette, superstar reporter for the Feast of Fools!

In June, Kevin Walker and Terrie Howey took the helm with a slightly Shakespearean theme in honour of Midsummer: ‘Where Faeries Wear Boots and Asses Talk.’ Kevin, Terrie, Dave Blake and his puns, Peter Boyce, Louisa McCleod, Lynette Hill and Stephen Hobbes stepped up to the open mic to share tales dark, spooky and fun in their turn. A delicious assortment of cakes were once again available, this time provided by Barbara Everest.

Insert from Richard, who at the last minute was unable to attend - reports from others suggest Lynette is too modest - the sentence, "Every one of the tellers was on fire" was included! Figuratively, not literally....

Mention was also made of the Feast of Fools’ strong presence at the upcoming MK Lit Fest at the Milton Keynes Holiday Inn on Saturday, 22 September.
First up, at 4:15 p.m., Terrie Howey will put on a workshop for children aged 8 to 12.
At 9:15 p.m. Richard and Elizabeth York and Kevin Walker will bring music and night-time tales for adults. Check out the lit fest at www.mklitfest.org for more details.

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May 2018: Giles Abbott, "Mongan's Frenzy"

Many thanks to Lynette Hill for this report, in my absence!

May was the month when red hair ruled at Delapre Abbey. While Richard and Liz York skived off to tour France with a caravan for a month, Red Phoenix a/k/a Terrie Howey took the helm to introduce another flame-haired tale teller, the accomplished and very tall Giles Abbott. He brought ‘Mongen’s Frenzy,’ his wild Irish tale about a dream within another story. Which part was fantasy and which reality? Only the Gods and perhaps their sons know for sure. But watch out for the witch who tears holes in the fabric of reality. And her venomous sheep. Seriously. Keep an eye out for those sheep!

Kevin Walker generously provided a most excellent assortment of delicious cakes. In the interval, a rather dodgy character calling himself Frankie Purcell raffled off a library’s worth of books for storytellers. Thank you Kevin and Stephen Hobbs … I mean, Frankie!

Third Birthday, April 2018

What a superb birthday we had! More repoting soon...

March 7th: Emily Hennessey, with "Coyote's Sky"

Emily Hennessey (No prizes for guessing which animal featured in this moment!) Emily gave us a magical evening of wonderful storytelling, and superb pictures in the mind, as she explored the Native American Coyote figure with us. I think she's the first teller to get the audience singing too! A truly spellbinding set of stories, which deepened as the evening went on, stories to go away and think about too. She also gave us a Q&A session afterwards, with lots of excellent questions which both she & the audience enjoyed.
Several people asked about her source for the stories, and she's generously shared the book she mainly referred to - ask me if you'd like details.

Thanks to all who came and shared in it - again more praise from a teller for our audiences.
As ever, many thanks to Sue, to Janet and Graham, who really do so much of the work which makes this club thrive.
And especial thanks to Kevin Walker who at the last minute provided really lovely cakes which sold like, well, hot cakes!

New Year Double Bill, January 3rd 2018
Kevin Walker and Richard York

Kevin Walker Richard York What a smashing way to open 2018! We'll admit to wondering how many would turn up so soon after the New Year, on a cold windy night: we packed the Carriage House, using almost every chair in the building. Extra points to everybody who came, as the wind cut most unkindly through the gap in those glass doors! (Remember - we're in the warmer Billiards Room from February!) And the famous Feast of Fools atmosphere was as great as ever.

First Half: Since it's Richard writing this, I can only comment that it was an inspiring experience to tell a longer story to our audience, and feel the intensity of the listening. Many thanks for such a warm reception at the end for a story I love dearly.

Kevin started the second half, having set up an appealing display of Buddha statues and images, by taking us straight into a wisdom tale of a man chased over a cliff by a wild animal - a sort of cliff-hanger beginning. There followed almost an hour of sheer delight, as Kevin entertained and moved us, while giving deeper material to think on afterwards. Storytelling is the joy it should be when it's so conducted, leaving the audience feeling like a community brought together by the shared experience of listening.

Thanks too to the people who wrote afterwards with feedback - it's all very much appreciated. Please send us more - it really helps with planning how we run the Feast of Fools.

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Previously at the Feast of Fools, 2017...

Open Tellers' Night at the Feast of Fools, Dec 7th 2017

Open Mic Snook

There's a lovely community of storytellers and listeners making up the Feast of Fools. This was one of the times it felt a privilege to belong to it - what a superb night of hugely entertaining and moving stories we had!
... with the added bonus of an extra running thread through at least the first half.

Many thanks to our many tellers: after Richard came Pete Boyce, Stephen Hobbs, Lynette Hill and Tom Phillips in the first half, then Sue Martin, Phil Chippendale, David Poulter, and Kevin Walker.

So many thanks are due to everyone who came, who created such a lovely warm atmosphere despite the wind howling between the glass doors; especial thanks to the indefatigable Janet and Graham who turned up to calmly dispense refreshments and raffle tickets despite their house and their neighbour's being damaged by arson the previous night.

If you've never tried one of our open tellers' nights you missed a cracker!

November 1st 2017

Debs Newbold: King Lear Retold

Lear poster Huge praise to Debs Newbold for such an involving, gripping evening!
Our audience, who nearly filled Delapre's Dining Room after finding the way there through the suitably forbidding darkness, came away at the end of the evening full of the stories they'd just heard, an evening of such a love for storytelling and the characters of those stories, that I'd defy anyone not to be moved by it.

For those who missed it, from the first, she had us listening intently, and intensely. How anyone could distil the story of King Lear into this solo performance and bring it so fiercely alive is in itself a great wonder. I can still clearly see Lear carrying Cordelia's body at the end, along with vivid images of the rest of this supremely dark story - and all conjured with words and beautifully controlled use of movement.

The inbox was busy the next few days with people writing to say how stunning it was, what a superb storyteller she was, and what a great evening the whole thing was.

As a bonus, we started with music of Shakespeare's time, by John Dowland: one of his most famous pieces, "Flow my Teares", which seemed fitting, played by Liz York on a replica period double harp, with Richard on tenor recorder.

Many thanks indeed to all involved in setting this wonderful event up.

Somewhere in here has got lost the account of October. It will reappear....

September 6th 2017

Simon Heywood: Out of the Silence

(In very superior surroundings!)
 
Simon Heywood in performanceOver seventy people, our biggest audience yet, sat in the splendour of the Bouverie Dining Room at Delapre, and from start to finish of this astounding piece of storytelling, were utterly gripped. "Out of the Silence" is at times a harrowing roller coaster of an emotional ride through the stories of the WWI Conscientious Objectors, leaving the audience uplifted and inspired. For me, this was the third time of hearing, and every bit as as powerful as the first, and from all the audience comments I heard, every bit as powerful for all of us. Huge thanks to Simon for bringing us this landmark in storytelling.

We'll hope to use this room again from time to time, it's a great atmosphere, with a nice acoustic, both for hearing Simon's voice from the very back, and for playing the concertina into! The cafe did a roaring trade too. More thanks: to Sue Martin for much extra ticketing work, to Janet and Graham Malpas for the raffle along with other help, likewise Dave Blake for extra signage and help, then to Terrie Howey for rescuing us when I forgot to bring my camera and taking this wonderful picture of Simon as seen in role during the telling.
Truly a night to remember.

Delapre - our new home!

Delapre Carriage House Feast of Fools in Carriage House for first meeting

After much searching for our new home, one with decent acoustic, access, exclusive use, parking, affordability, etc, we moved into the Coach House at Delapre Abbey in June 2017.[ 2018 Edit - and later moved into the more comfortable surroundings of the Billiards Room, with no draughty doors, and better seats!] We're delighted to be there, and look forward to working with our new hosts at the Abbey. It's a place with its own stories - it was already there when the Battle of Northampton armies massed on its fields in 1460.
They probably weren't politely queuing for cake like ours as they did so, however... Between Barbara Everest's baking and Janet & Graham superbly cheerful and efficient combined refreshment and raffle service, ours is a much more civilised atmosphere! Cake Queue

Open Mic at the Feast of Fools

We had a great night, our first Open Mic in our new home, with some superb stories. I confess that I was feeling fairly grotty, but Dave Blake guested as MC Blake and did us proud! I apologise for a lack of further detail just now.

June 7th 2017

Dave Tonge: Tudor Tavern Yard Tales"

Dave Tonge Telling Tavern Tales How utterly appropriate that our first meeting in this historical place should be filled with Dave Tonge's mixture of the scurrilous and serious, with his set of tales from the 16th Century. (Yes, I know our bit's not a 16th C building, but it's part of a site which goes back a lot further!)
Result - one happy audience, very pleased both with the storytelling and the venue! Dave produced a brilliant mix of erudition and high entertainment - all that experience on heritage sites means he both instantly engaged his audience and then kept them with him on a journey showing how people four and five centuries back were so very like us, while living in a different mindset.

2017 Part One - Itinerant Story Club

As you'll see, we went on our travels between homes...

May 3rd

Open Mic night at Foodies.Rocks

There's a long tradition of itinerant storytellers, and May's meeting saw us in the basement of Foodies.Rocks on Northampton's Derngate. It was a smashing little place, just right for the intimate atmosphere of a small open session... between a flat bardic tyre on Stephen's van, a train in no hurry for Lynette, and some last minute illness, there was a moment when we thought it would be a case of several stories from each teller present, but it turned into a hugely enjoyable evening, and yes, Stephen and Lynette both made it, and gave us both stories and, in Stephen's case, a hard hitting poem as well. Sue was in good voice both for story and song.

Between a heavy cold and the need to rush off early to drive to the other end of the country very early next morning, I confess to not having kept such detailed notes as usual... though memories of some unusually excruciating football puns from Mr Blake still lurk in my mind...!

April 5th 2017

Janet Dowling: "No Damsels in Distress"

Janet DowlingOnce again, the Royal and Derngate generously hosted us in their Crown Room. Once again, thank you most kindly!

Janet gave us an evening of twists in stories we thought we knew, through a carrier story which switched between the present and the timeless, and through it all maintained a slow-burn growth of tension which culminated in a superb rendition of the "Bluebeard/Mr Fox" story during which nobody in the packed room dared to move for fear of breaking the spell.

Janet's another of the storytellers who were on the list of people we hoped to book right from the start, and it was a great reward for us finally to have brought her here. I'd been touting her as the storyteller other storytellers go to for knowledge, and her seemingly encyclopaedic knowledge of stories and traditions informed this superb set.
All extra credit to her, for working despite a painful leg condition. I think those there would agree she thoroughly overcame this as she immersed her listeners ever deeper in her narrative.

March 1st 2017

Open Mic at the Royal & Derngate
With many thanks to the lovely people almost next door to us, who provided a very comfortable space at short notice, Feast of Fools went to the Theatre! ... or at least, to a rather pleasant upstairs room at the Royal. Here we had a very friendly Open Mic Night, with thanks for some wonderful stories from Stephen Hobbs, David Poulter, Sue Martin, Lynette Hill, and the unexpected bonus of stories from Jo Glover and from Graham Malpas, who made his debut as a storyteller, and who we look forward to hearing again. Thanks especially to these two for coming up with such great goods after walking in not expecting to tell!
Thanks also to Janet and Graham for dealing with the all important matter of cake, once again baked by Barbara Everest.

February 1st 2017

Marion Leeper "The Kitchen Cat"

Marion Leeper Just as cats can be mysterious creatures, from behind this modest title came one of the most beautifully crafted pieces of storytelling. Marion simultaneously told at least three stories, two of them traditional, one emerging more and more as the story of her own mother and her remarkable life as a diplomat's wife. Never overstated, but moving, funny, and with depths which kept me going back to it for ages afterwards, this was a piece which surely deserves to be shared with many more audiences.
There were so many clever touches which lesser hands could have made clumsy, but Marion made it seem effortless - for example, her use of colour in parallel in all three stories.

If you missed this, I urge you to look out for it!

Marion finished her evening with a couple of great lollipops in quite different, earthier style - another superb evening for the Feast of Fools and many thanks to Marion and to all who came! Once again we were on our own for catering, so thanks to Anne-Marie Sandos & Janet and Graham Malpas for running the bar for us again.

National Storytelling Week 2017, FoF and the BBC

On the same week as Marion Leeper's visit was the Society for Storytelling's National Storytelling Week, when the Feast of Fools did itself proud. Radio Northampton's John Griff has been supportive ever since we started, and once again we had a storyteller each weekday, and great stories they were. Thanks indeed to Stephen Hobbs, Lynette Hill and Red Phoenix for joining me in recording for them. We were also joined by Northampton storyteller Alex Ultradish, which was great.
And not just the stories - on Monday John ran a superb live phone interview with Del Reid, the grand master inventor of the whole Storytelling Week idea and still co-ordinating it.

Jan 4th 2017

Happy New Year and Wassail!

One of those nights when the Feast of Fools community combined to produce a smashing evening with great atmosphere. It started with the NN cafe being again in the interim between proprietors, so we were allowed to work our own DIY catering arrangements, for which all thanks to Anne-Marie Sandos and Graham and Janet Malpas, who did a great job.

Then, on a cold evening, when many people were huddling round their fires / central heating with mighty coughs and dripping noses, a lovely crowd of tellers and listeners turned up to share stories and see the still new Year into life, and there were some wondrously good stories too! After your 'umble correspondent kicked off with a traditional tale in a new form, there was a feast mainly of tellers' own original tales, some having their first airing. Thanks to Lynette Hill, Dave Blake, Anne-Marie again, David Poulter, Sue Martin, and Stephen Hobbs, after which I added another to make up for us losing a teller or two to the lurgy!

Thanks to Laura and Catherine of the NN Gallery for making the place available to us to work this way. And it worked very well! We loved being there, it gave us a great start.

 

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2016

Dec 7th 2016

Peter Chand -The Snake Queen and other stories

Peter Chand Huge thanks to Peter Chand, who had the club doubling as a storytelling club plus an active Bhangra Dance class!! Feast of Fools Bhangra Then, from gleefully joyous stuff, everyone rocking with laughter, he did that thing only superb storytellers can do, and turned the whole atmosphere into pin-dropping dark. And back again.

Dhol Drummers And before that, two wonderful young Dhol drummers from the local Sikh Community Centre, who set the whole thing up perfectly... even if the PA system refused to talk to their backing track, so they ended up giving a drum duet with more rhythmic twists than you'd think were possible.

Extra thanks to Bean for running the bar for one last time before she and Pete head off to Cornwall, and to them both for all their hospitality and co-operation while they've been there. We wish them all very the best in future.

November 2nd 2016

Open Mic Night

Maybe it was something to do with Hallowe'en being so recent, but there was a definitely macabre theme running through some of the evening's stories this time!

After the traditional tune of a Soulcaking Song, Sue Martin, who MC'd, set the stories going with her most recent creation, or maybe, since it was a story of bending time, one she made years ago in the future...
And the evening was full of really great stories! All thanks to Stephen Hobbs, Anne-Marie Sandos, David Poulter, Lynette Hill, our NN Cafe host Pete Norman, and finally your 'umble scribe.

And thanks to the audience who as ever made the whole thing live!

October 5th 2016

Shonaleigh: "The Opal Forest"

Shonaleigh

This was truly a night of wonders from a leading, world class, unique storyteller .
I feel sure I'm not alone in feeling to have had nourishment for the soul as well as a great night's entertainment, as Shonaleigh brought us stories combining some of the bleakly terrible things humans do to each other, and some of the joys they share, with compassion, humour, great asides, pin-dropping silence, and a real over-arching sense of the community for whom these stories are intended.
We're privileged indeed to have such an evening, one which we'll not forget. And we packed a goodly number in, too!

Jump to Shonaleigh's 2019 visit

September 7th 2016

Open Mic Night Opens New Season

Our second Autumn Season opened with 8 strong storytellers and a very appreciative audience. It was an extra pleasure to welcome both two tellers new to our stage, and new members of the audience as well.

So following my story from Africa, here are, in programme order, my thanks to Theresa Kelleher for an evocative and atmospheric tale of Anglesey, to Stephen Hobbs for a wonderfully dark re-working of the Golden Apple story, to Dave Blake for an Olympian assault on our pun synapses, to Sue Martin for a crafty new slant on a Grimm story of death by cookery, to Mark Steinhard for an Orkney story which truly conjured both landscape and the people in it, to Lynette Hill for her moving tale of a passionate and unlikely love affair, and to David Poulter for his first visit to us, with a great tale.. tail? ... of two tigers to wind the whole evening up.
What a smashing way to start up again!
Come again next month!!

July 6th 2016

Kevin Walker: "A Whisker of Truth"

Kevin Walker

Kevin gave us what he described as a "compilation album of stories from favourite performance pieces, created over the last fifteen years for grown-up audiences." And what a wonderful evening it was. He filled the room with sheer delight, and a range of stories from dark to sensuous to gleeful, all told apparently effortlessly. I'd seen him several times before, so thought I knew what to expect, and it was even better. It was great to see him captivating the Feast of Fools club so completely, a club to which he gave much wise help when we were setting up, so this was his first visit to this particular child of his telling and advice!

June 1st 2016

Open Mic at the Feast of Fools

This was Sue's night of heroism! Through circumstances beyond our control, I couldn't be there, but there was a full list of tellers ready. Then through circumstances beyond their control, in the 48 hours before the event, four had to drop out, but I hear it was still a thoroughly enjoyable evening. A high point, I'm told, was the appearance of our new host at the NN Cafe, Pete Norman. As a Northampton Bard he's well used to a high standard of performing, but it was the club's first chance to see him in action. I'm just sorry I missed it! All thanks to Sue for MC-ing and thinking on her feet, and to all those who performed. We look forward to catching up on the others next time, and I look forward to catching up on hearing Pete.

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May 4th 2016

Guto Dafis: "Abduction and Enchantment"

Guto Dafis by Zoe Childerley Diolch yn Fawr Guto Dafis! Guto gave us stories told by an old lady in the Vale of Glamorgan, then a masterly retelling of part of the Mabinogi, with a perfect mix of warmth and darkness, wry humour, spot-on pace, and enormous love of both material and the places it's rooted in, with his music now urging the action on, now drawing a frame round a story.

People kept commenting on how Guto's mastery made us feel we almost knew the places in the landscape the stories came from. It wasn't until next morning that I realised he'd hardly described most of these places, but somehow triggered us into constructing our own pictures of them.

The sensitive way he integrated his music into the stories also won much praise - truly another great evening at the Feast of Fools, and all of them different!

April 6th 2016

Open Mic Special

Open Mic Snook April 1st 2015 saw us first open. Now here we were, celebrating a year on, thriving, gaining a great reputation among storytellers, and a wonderfully warm community of audience and storytellers.

Thanks to the crowd who filled Pete and Ben's newly acquired chairs in the NN Cafe, and thanks to the performers who kept us happy all evening! It was great to welcome back regular tellers and a new voice too - come again Lynette!
The superb Joe Brown was there with his camera too, and soon there will be pics up here to prove it. They'll be worth waiting for...

March 2nd 2016

Sarah Rundle: "Gawain and the Green Knight"

Sarah Rundle ... which was every bit as gripping as expected, and then some. Sarah held the audience, and took us on a rollercoaster of a journey as emotionally varied as that of Sir Gawain himself; she also wore a vast amount of research apparently lightly, so that whether you listened never having encountered the medieval poem or as a student of the period, you were perfectly satisfied. And there was a great tribute to the recently deceased "Father Jack" actor built in...

Richard & Liz York also set the scene with a variety of period music on period instruments. As half of that duo, all I can say is that we enjoyed both the playing, and our reception by the audience!

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Feb 3rd 2016

Eamonn Keenan

Eamonn Keenan Eamonn perfectly demonstrated the great storyteller's ability of art which disguises art: seemingly effortlessly holding an audience in his hand, engaging us almost as conversational listeners, in a truly delightful evening, ranging from parts of the Ulster Cycle of myths to his own experiences as a film extra.

Jan 6th 2016

New Year Open Mic Night

Sue Martin hosted the second in our pair of midwinter open nights, and as ever, the atmosphere was great. In fact there are those who reckon they like our home grown nights every bit as much as the guest teller nights, which is wonderful news, as that's exactly our aim in organising them!

2015

Dec 2nd 2015

Open Mic Night for the Darkest Month before Christmas

You'd have had to pay well to see the line up of professional tellers who generously gave us short stories for this night. Jo Blake Cave, Clare Muireann Murphy, Marion Leeper, Red Phoenix, plus regular and resident tellers - a true pre-Christmas treat for a fortunate and very happy audience!

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Nov 4th 2015

Liz Weir

Liz Weir Liz Weir has been described as "The Storyteller's Storyteller". This evening showed why. Knowing that we're a fairly new club, she generously took us on a tour of different styles and sources of stories, keeping the audience perfectly relaxed, with a wonderful balance between the next laugh and the next moment of moving emotion. There's something about great Irish storytellers...!

Oct 7th 2015

Open Mic Night

By now we felt to be getting into our stride with Open Nights, and this first one after the Summer break was no exception - great atmosphere, great storytelling, and the great pleasure of never knowing what's going to happen next. Not forgetting great puns when a certain Mr Blake, father of September's storyteller, is telling...

Sept 2nd 2015

Jo Blake Cave

Jo Blake Cave We are truly lucky to have such a superb, poetic storyteller living in our midst. Jo gave us her newest story, "A Seat of Softest Fur", her version of the Norwegian story of the bear king. It was an hour in which any concerns of ordinary life were simply put on hold, as we followed this wonder tale, truly in wonder. These stories survive for so long only because they are so gripping, but it takes a great storyteller to make them gripping and fresh, and so Jo did.

June 3rd 2015

Tim Ralphs

Tim Ralphs Tim has a special place in our affections as it was at his workshop session early in 2015 that I floated the idea of starting the club, and we all got together, with much encouragement from Tim. In May Tim brought us "Rebranding Beelzebub", a wonderful journey of a story which somehow started with a row of organic vegetables in a Sheffield cellar... yes, it does seem unlikely, but made it perfect, entertaining sense to us all at the time, and explored a wide range of ideas in the process. Tim generously followed this with a question and answer session, which took us further into how the story was made, as well as giving insights into his storytelling art.

July 1 and May 6th 2015

Open Nights

Our first two open mic nights reassured us that our aim of dividing our time between guest professionals and "home grown" storytellers was a successful recipe. We had both experienced tellers, and more than one who'd never appeared before an audience before, and never a duff moment!

APRIL 1st 2015

Opening Night of Storytelling at the Feast of Fools

Red Phoenix storyteller Grand Opening Night... so there we were, in the lovely NN Cafe; we'd done the publicity, opened up, and just hoped people would turn up. And people did!

We started the stories ourselves, then Jo Blake Cave lifted the whole thing with a great tale of a man and some shoes, before Red Phoenix took the main spot for the second half, and so became our first featured Guest Artist, with a range of stories taking us through a range of emotions. Her reception was, quite rightly, wonderful.
Northampton's new storytelling club was well and truly launched!

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