Zarina’s Orchard comes to life

Sussed Theatre Company asked if they could use my story ‘Zarina’s Orchard’ from Tales Told in Tents, to create a play with a community theatre group based at Sidlesham School.

Sussed used the story as a starting point to: research Central Asian music and dance; improvise scenes, develop characters and invent dialogue; write a song, and explore how movement and gestures can tell a story. They created set, costumes, props, and an evil Dev (demon) puppet, inspired by Sophie Herxheimer’s illustrations in the book.

The evil dust Dev - who has no heart in his body!

I was invited to the final performance, and given my own special Central Asian seat! The performance was truly wonderful. Sussed had taken Peter Brook’s idea from The Empty Space’ that a theatre company is ‘a many-headed storyteller’.  So there was no ‘fourth wall’ – the children spoke to the audience directly. The children took it in turns to be the narrator, shifting between narrator and character in a natural way. The space shifted too, flowing in an instant from river, orchard, to mountain, living in the imagination of both audience and actors in exactly the way a story does.  Songs and dance conjured the  cultural world. This project gave the children a real experience of the magic of theatre. So often school productions are about slick presentation, or stiffly trying to get it right.  I loved sitting in my special seat, and felt deeply touched to see one of my stories come to life.


  • Lavakralle wrote:

    My school is making a shadow puppet play about zarina’s orchard.

  • Sally-Pomme Clayton wrote:

    Hi! That is wonderful – can you email me some picutres and I could put them on my blog! Good luck!

  • Sally-Pomme Clayton wrote:

    Hi Lavakralle how did your puppet show of Zarina’s Orcahrd go? Do you have any pics I could post on my blog?

  • wayland Boulanger wrote:

    I was at your performance of this tale at beyond the Borders on Monday. I enjoyed every word and every move you made. It was great. the poem you finished with was inspired and concluded the whole experience most magically. I just adored the energy you put into it all. I’m about to start a storytelling project with a group of kids in school. you gave me lots of inspiration. Big Thank You.

  • Sally-Pomme Clayton wrote:

    Hi Wayland thank you so much!!! so sorry not to see your lovely comments – I have not been writing my blog much over the last couple of years! How is your project going? Do keep in touch.

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