I am travelling to Ventnor, on the Isle of Wight next week. I am so excited to visit a place where some of my ancestors lived, but where I have never been! Ventnor Library’s Tanith Hicks and Andrew Walker are hosting my visit, and I will be doing three events for them at the library. These have been kindly funded by Arts Council England and Friends of Ventnor Library.
I will lead my storytelling workshop ‘A Life on the Wind’ on Wednesday 25 March 9 – 12.30pm. The workshop takes participants through a process of liberating a story from the confines of a book and bringing it back to life through telling it … setting it free! I will give a storytelling performance for adults on Thursday 26 March 7 – 9pm ‘A World of Stories’ – telling fairytales, romances and fragments of forgotten myths for grown-ups. And on Friday 26 March I will be at the library from 10 – 12.30 to collect and share stories with anyone who wants to talk to me.
The visit is linked to my performance project Night Visit. Part of the story of Night Visit takes place in Ventnor. My great-grandparents lived there from about 1920 to 1955. My grandfather spent his boyhood there and loved it deeply, so deeply he called his house in South Wales ‘Wight House’. I want to visit the building that used to be my great-grandparents hotel, the places where my great-grandfather Sydney used to sing and perform, and the cliffs where my great-grandmother Mabel would – ‘pick wild spinach’. Unfortunately she was not a good cook – ‘boiling it until it was tough and stringy’!
Night Visit tells the story of the lives of my great-grandparents from 1870’s – 1960’s. It is a story that was lived by many – through two World wars. Their story starts in Peckham, South London, moves to Ventnor and the Isle of Wight, and ends in Newport, South Wales. Throughout their lives they were involved in a search for ‘the truth’ (as Mabel called it). They believed in spirits and were often guided by ghosts. The strange stories of these ghostly encounters were passed down to me by my grandfather and are brought back to life in Night Visit.
I will be performing Night Visit in each of these three locations. And will be collaborating with three amazing venues. Before each performance I will spend time in each location, visiting the haunts of my ancestors, taking photos, writing, researching history, passing on some storytelling skills, and trying to collect any local stories. Save the dates!
Night Visit performances:
18 July 2015 Ventnor Arts Club
13 September Asylum Peckham
17 September Northern Stage, Newcastle
20 November The Riverfront Newport