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The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling

Once upon a time…

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…. Who can resist a good story, animatedly told, eyes wide, face expressive, the voice deep and resonant, rising,  then trickling to a whisper? Certainly HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths is happy to imagine snuggling down beside a fire, and being seduced by a tale of fear, fantasy or fun.

It is the 5th Annual Hastings Storytelling Festival. Organised by the Events and Education company, 18 Hours, a varied and interesting programme has been designed for both children and adults with fun educational events thrown in.

I am child-free, so what attracts me is different to what might tempt families. But Three Half Pints, known to children from CBeebies Spot Bots, should attract anyone with reputed Monty Python-esque humour. (Sanddown School TV34 2AA and Downs Farm, Community Centre, TN35 5EE 9 & 10 November at 7pm.)

Louise Coigley in A Place to Be runs workshops to support inclusion in mainstream education for refugee children and children with learning disabilities. Her way of working – in rhythm, rhyme, petition and ritual – is utilised by teachers, parents, carers and therapists worldwide. (At Snowdown School TN34 2AA 10 November 4 pm. And it’s free.)

The Storytelling Festival goes beyond the classic or the clichéd. Embracing technology – and keeping their fingers crossed, that it works – they have collaborated with Brighton-based Shared Space and Light to create Talking Posts: talking Victorian street lamps relating spooky local tales.



Hastings Old Town has a wealth of ghost stories: an opera singer haunts the streets; two coffin-making brothers fall out and one is never seen again… bones were found years later in a coffin with nail scratch marks on the inside of the lid; at The Stag Pub mummified cats were discovered stuffed up the chimneys – put there by witches to fend off evil spirits. And, of course, Hastings Castle is rife with spirits – from the days of the Battle of Hastings.

The street lamps could be spouting some of those tales or none. Go and be spooked. Simply turn up and listen. (Town Centre, Robertson Street, near Debenhams  7-13 November 5-10pm.)

Gareth Rees

Gareth Rees

Local resident Gareth E Rees is an author, psycho-geographer and spoken word performer. Intriguingly, in his talk, Uncanny Landscapes, he’ll be exploring “the themes in my writing – mostly based on my walks in London and Hastings – including the erotic potential of electricity pylons, cryptozoological beasts in East London’s marshes, the emotional impact of Hastings’ memorial benches, strange tales of U-Boats, haunted concrete walls and the unexpected wonder of supermarket car parks.”  (University of Brighton, Havelock Road, TN34 1EA 9 November 7pm. Free.)

Hastings Midnight Run  – more like a sort of meander than a run – will take participants on a Hastings arts, midnight, magical cultural journey into the unknown.  Artist Inua Ellams has previously devised this in Paris, Madrid, Berlin and London. Along the way the ‘runners’ will encounter local artists/ activists who will help them explore, play and create. (From The Stade Open Space TN34 3EJ 10 November 6pm to midnight. Tickets £6 from Tourist Information Centre and Eventbrite.)

There is Hip Hop, Words and Music with three spoken word artists. Josh Idenhen said of Anthony Anaxagorou “Bright and stained, raw and ragged and beautiful and so, so moving.” (St Mary in the Castle, 11 November 7pm.) And there are clowns.

The weekend is the big event. Dame Jacqueline Wilson is in conversation with the Festival’s Patron, Sir Quentin Blake, amongst other things, discussing her new book Clover Moon. (Saturday 12 November at White Rock Theatre at 2pm. Prices range from the White Rock Hotel. £5-£10 with one free ticket for child aged up to 10 years.)

Sunday November 13 on The Stade is Children’s Day – many activities include storytelling and a parade. And would a story telling festival be complete without a Hans Christian Andersen story? Thingamajig Theatre (12 pm) has obliged with a performance of the poignant story of The Ugly Duckling, who grows into who he really is.

Stories are being kept close to the participating companies’ chests. So go and enjoy the fun, allowing adults to be children again and smaller people simply to go with the flow and enjoy themselves.

Hastings Storytelling Festival is Arts Council funded and runs from 7-13 November in various venues around Hastings.


Posted 19:24 Monday, Oct 31, 2016 In: Performance

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