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Chatteris in Myth and Memory: Community Storytelling

Ric Savage's bookshop

Last week the community of Chatteris came together to celebrate local history and talent. On Thursday, 22 June 2017 we hosted Chatteris in Myth and Memory Celebration Day. The programme included a creative schools workshop in the morning, and an evening of storytelling, theatre and music together with the official book launch of Chatteris in Myth and Memory: Art Through Storytelling .

For the schools event in the day 20Twenty Productions created the ‘forgotten bookshop’ where Rojo led Glebelands Academy and Kingsfield Primary in repurposing book covers and making their own 3D pop up book sculptures.

Students enjoying the Rojo activities

Students enjoying the Rojo activities

Getting creative

Getting creative

Year 5 students at Kingsfield Primary School then read their poems about the Great Fire of Chatteris and Gran Jagg’s Monkey, follow this link to find out more about their poetry writing.

Next Joseph Coelho enraptured his audience (young and old) with his hilarious and gruesome performance of Zombie-rella and her vampire prince. Our storyteller Polly Howat then told the tale of Bride Pies – as grisly now as it was when told to the young Charles Dickens by his sinister nurse! The children were then treated to a creative and collaborative poetry writing session from Joseph Coelho who inspired all to go home and write their own rap poems.

Joseph Coelho

Joseph Coelho

In the evening we invited all participants of the project, their families, friends and colleagues as well as anyone  interested in finding out more about the project to join us for a night of storytelling, poetry and music. We opened the marquee at 6.30pm and everyone was encouraged to enjoy the refreshments, look at the project exhibition, and meet those involved.

Student reading the exhibition

Student reading the exhibition

Polly Howat and the U3A creative writers opened the event. Polly chose the extraordinary tale of the Fen Giant, and each of the authors told one of their tales from the book.

June Rickwood reading her story 'the Goodwife’s Tale'

June Rickwood reading her story ‘the Goodwife’s Tale’

This was followed by the official book launch where the audience was invited to get their copies of the book signed by the authors and our designated bookseller for the evening Richard Savage, who not only published the book, but also created the beautiful illustrations that can be seen on the front cover and throughout the book.

Book selling and signing

Book selling and signing: Polly Howat and the U3A writers sign the book

Afterwards students from Cromwell Community College impressed the audience with their creative performances. Groups who had worked alongside Theatre Ensemble Company Tangled Feet acted out their chilling silent performances of the ‘Hooky Man’ and other stories from the book.

Cromwell students performing the Hookey Man

Cromwell students performing the Hookey Man

Then young musicians who had been working with local songwriter Bondy impressed the audience with an original composition and a rewriting of a classic with ‘Fenland Roads’.

Cromwell musicians and Bondy

Cromwell musicians and Bondy

Bondy then closed the evening with a set of original songs inspired by the local landscape, Five Miles from Anywhere was a crowd favourite. Click here to watch Bondy perform.

Bondy performing

Bondy performing

This was a wonderful celebration of the Myth in Memory project, and of the town of Chatteris. Folklore and history met with a range of fresh talent to produce a varied and exciting evening of originality and storytelling. There was a great sense amongst the participants of the community coming together to produce a unique event, and the audience were excited to see this year long project coming to life in front of them.

If you missed out don’t forget you can still get your hands on the book! Chatteris in Myth and Memory: Art Through Storytelling  is available to buy at The Honest John Pub and Chatteris Museum. You can also find postcards with beautiful artwork by Ric Savage at various locations in town – in the Honest John Pub, local library and museum. Get hold of your very own piece of local history (and don’t forget to get it signed)!

Chatteris in Myth and Memory postcards

Chatteris in Myth and Memory postcards

Thank you to everyone who got involved in the project and who helped at the event!

It was a wonderful showcase for such a great project.