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

Emily Hennessey Emily Hennessey is a vibrant and dynamic storyteller, who we are lucky to have coming to us. Playful, imaginative and daring to take risks, Emily tells myths, legends, epics, folktales, fairytales and fables from around the world. With a Swedish background to inspire her love of Norse mythology, work and travels in India have also infused a great love of Hindu myth and epic; now she brings her characteristic verve to Native American stories.

Emily’s work is often described as intelligently composed and beautifully performed, while her storytelling style is said to be warm, captivating and witty, delighting audiences of all ages.

"Coyote's Sky" is her newest show. Old Man Coyote, the great Native American trickster, has a head full of questions. Big Questions. Questions for the Creator. He crosses from one end of the world to the other, traverses the sky, and delves into the Land of the Dead seeking answers.
On his journey, Coyote - wise, cunning, brutal and brilliant - avenges his death, vomits up his sisters and puts Crow, Bear and Owl in the stars, all the while wreaking havoc, creating wonder and laughing as he goes along.

Emily Hennessey shares a pack of wild and wonderful Coyote tales from the tribes of Nez Perce, Chinook, Wasco and Plains Ojibwa.

Yet another storyteller we've booked as a result of seeing her perform and being blown away!

Tickets online at here

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Previously at the Feast of Fools, 2018...

National Storytelling Week Special Feb 7th 2018

Truth and Lies in the Billiards Room

The Truth:

Thank you to biggest audience we've ever had for an Open Tellers' Night, who last night filled the Billiards Room at Delapre Abbey. Welcome as well to the people who came to us for the first time - we look forward to welcoming you again too.
We keep on saying what a great audience you are, it's true, and this first session in the new room had a lovely atmosphere.
The fact that it was warm, with comfortable seats, and just feels like a nice place to be definitely helped, but it was the people there who made it!

Thanks to Stephen Hobbs with a wisdom tale on several levels from Ethiopia, Pete Boyce with an evocative retelling of a tale from Arthur Ransome, Sue Martin with a lovely ghost story, ideal for the dark paths round the Abbey, and Lynette Hill with a fuller version of the Pecos Bill story she told on the BBC last week.
Thanks to Alison Mead for a great off-the-cuff introduction to the plot of the Pirates of Penzance, by way of a highly entertaining plug for Northampton Gilbert and Sullivan Society's next production!

Especial thanks to Deepa Anand, with her most satisfying story of a good man and a greedy man and the just rewards of each, and Sandy Clarke with the Peddlar of Swaffham, which may as she said be a well known tale, but it's one which takes retelling. Both Deepa and Sandy told for the first time at the Feast of Fools, and for Sandy it was her first time telling a story to an audience.
We very much enjoyed both, and look forward to welcoming you back for more stories.

Thanks as ever to Sue, Janet and Graham for all the work of ticket sales and club finances, catering, and the raffle - the things which really make the Feast of Fools work!

The Lies

Then there was the serious and gritty part of the evening, in which Jo Glover, Sue Martin, Graham Malpas, Pete Boyce, Richard York, Steve Hobbs and Dave Blake each had just over three minutes to persuade the audience of the truth of a range of phantasmagorical rubbish, which nonetheless started off in a credible manner. Private conversation afterwards revealed that some of the most unlikely were, as ever, the ones with most truth buried in them!
Thanks also to Peter and Gabriele for time keeping so sympathetically, and to Valerie on her first visit for judging the applause levels!
Definitely something we look forward to repeating on a larger scale in future!

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.

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 higely 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 finally moved into the Coach House at Delapre Abbey in June 2017. 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.



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"


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!

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!


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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