Our first week

What a week!

Saturday was launch day, after which we travelled from Bull’s Bridge to Limehouse for the opening night (Monday) which was also press night. Three reviews followed, all pleasingly positive. Here’s an extract from one of them, Theatre Things:

“… an enjoyable retelling and great entertainment … a powerful reminder of the crucial role women played in keeping the country running during the war.”

“The enthusiasm of both ladies, who come from boating backgrounds themselves, is infectious; even someone as averse to audience participation as I am couldn’t resist joining in with the final chorus (though I wish it hadn’t been quite so catchy – it’s a difficult one to forget once you’ve learnt it).”

Click here for the full review: Theatre Things review

On Tuesday we performed at the Ragged School Museum and on Wednesday at the London Canal Museum, having locked through wind, hail and rain. Narrow boat Tench was expertly steered by Heather B, who managed to moor up outside the Museum without once touching the lines of boats either side of our allocated space. She also made an excellent departure (though Kate managed to plant a shaft in the mud and had to go back to retrieve it …)

Two reviewers came along to Wednesday’s show and one of them (London City Nights) wrote this:

“Both women are exceptional storytellers, their performances brimming over with personality and linguistic virtuosity.”  Full review here: London City Nights review

Audiences have been good-sized and enthusiastic – our comments book is full of positive feedback and email addresses for our mailing list. For more reviews, photos and news, go to our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/alarumtheatre/

Now we’re gearing up for Cavalcade tomorrow!

Setting Off

From the family album…


I’m a landlubber. Kate is a live-aboard boater. We first encountered each other on Twitter in February 2016 and – fast forward at break-neck speed! – we are about to embark on our third tour of a show we cooked up together, Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways.

My love of canals started as a child when my family owned a Fellows Morton & Clayton narrow boat called Laurel. We had many adventures and holidays, during which we slept in the cabin Dad had built over the hold. Mom learned how to do graining and traditional canal art so the stern cabin could be restored in traditional style. I loved the sound of the Lister engine. Sleeping in the stern cabin was fun as a child but it wasn’t a popular place to sleep because a trip to the toilet involved a major excursion into the modern part of the boat. There is so much I could tell you about those days, but this blog is not about that.

Tomorrow we begin a journey the wartime trainees did over a three-week trip. Our journey will take three and a half months. But in fact the journey has already begun. It started with Kate’s idea – “I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before!” – to Recreate the Journey, then went through the painstaking completion of an Arts Council funding application which took many many hours – no, days, possibly weeks! After the euphoria of receiving the acceptance letter, we then set about organising the tour. The grant enabled us to employ a Tour Manager and a PR company (more women at work), run community events and workshops, and write and rehearse new material, with director, Milla Jackson. Since beginning work on the funding application it has been non-stop.

I cannot begin to tell you how much work is involved in organising a tour of around 50 performances. However, we are gluttons for punishment so we decided to produce a book of all the material written so far as well. Copies will be on sale throughout the tour and are not available from any other outlet (at the moment). There will be mugs on sale later in the tour, plus another rather special piece of merchandise made specially for us. You will have to wait and see what that is!

Kate and I will be travelling on Kate’s boat, Morning Mist, from the beginning of May and we are extremely lucky that historic narrow boat Tench will be with us for the entire tour, thanks to owner, Alex, and steerer, Heather B. Tomorrow we will set off from Bull’s Bridge (now Tesco visitor moorings), the original location of the dry dock where the boats were maintained, and where the boats would begin their journey during WW2. Coffee will be served at 11.30 and at 12.00 there will be a short performance before a bite to eat, then Tench sets off at 1.00pm.

So amid all the venue booking and liaison, putting together copy and designing the flyers and posters and delivering them, ordering merchandise, doing interviews etc etc etc, we need to be ready to give top notch performances. Oh, and there’s the small matter of getting to the venues by canal. One thing’s for sure, this will be an adventure unlike any other and we’re ready for it!

Heather Wastie

21st April 2017

Rewriting Richard: the final week


Well, here we are in the final week before Now is the Winter is on at the RSC The Other Place – time has whizzed by. Susi Dalton has done a fantastic job of bringing a new slant to the play. We’ve had a preview at the Unicorn theatre in Abingdon and the clarity of Helen McGregor’s storytelling wowed the entire audience.  However, it’s not easy getting the word out and about and selling tickets for one night only show – even if it is at the RSC! So that’s where all my effort is going this week whilst Susi and Helen work on the final polishing.

Susi writes…

We have had 2 rehearsals this week and adapted the play into another interesting space for the performance at the European school on Friday. The Hall is very big compared to the Unicorn and we have had to take volume and sight lines into account when we use the heavy curtains which we pull across the proscenium arch. This stage is quite high and it has been interesting to work with the audience location in mind –  sitting on the very edge of the stage swinging her legs is a nice picture.

And finally, here’s the all important ticket link!


We nearly had a show!

Camp house floodedOur first show should have been on Thursday at the Camp House Inn on the River Severn near Grimley (just north of Worcester). Unfortunately, quite a lot of it was in the River Severn – the garden stage and the access road were flooded. I was coming by boat but stopping wasn’t an option, the rails in the picture to the right of the yellow boat are the back of the mooring stage which is about 3ft out of sight.

We had already decided that the river levels meant that we would have to make the journey to Stourport in one go as the Worcester lock keeper had said that the river would probably close the next day. It was all a bit exciting but we arrived safely – I usually travel alone but was very grateful to have a friend with me for that expedition.

Plans are in hand to book a new date as soon as things dry out a bit and the next four shows are indoors, which means there will be heatwave and everyone will wish they were sitting out in a garden, next to the river (or canal)…

Current Production

Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways