Wonder & Dread is shown as part of the Being Human Festival of the humanities.

Tales of magic, migration and mayhem at storytelling and performance event

The gypsies of Romania, the magical shapeshifting underground inhabitants of Russia and the crying dolls of Poland will be conjured in Exeter through the power of storytelling and performance.

Wonder & Dread: Slavic Tales of Foreign Lands and Wild People is organised by University of Exeter academic Dr Bryan Brown. The event brings together local, national and international artists to reimagine the mythic tales of wild people and uncanny creatures popular in Slavic countries for generations, and explore the themes of migration, knowledge, technology and wildness. Performers include Janina Vigurs, who will tell traditional tales from Poland and Russia, Hedgespoken, an itinerant theatre who will be stepping off their converted Bedford truck for an afternoon descent into a mortal tale of Red Kings and gypsy witches, and ARTEL (American Russian Theatre Ensemble Laboratory).

Wonder & Dread is shown as part of the Being Human Festival of the humanities. It aims to help the audience and performers examine how we learn and what role knowledge has today in the age of smartphones and nanotechnology.

Alongside the myths and folk tales of Eastern Europe, ARTEL will present a short work-in-process performance of a larger collaborative project, The Black Hen Society with Animal Cracker Conspiracy, based on the first children’s story written in Russian - the Black Hen by Antony Pogorelsky. The book tells the story of a young boarding school boy who rescues a chicken with transformational powers. In return for saving the hen’s life the boy is given a magical hemp seed which allows him to know all of his studies without doing any work. A complex exploration of fantasy, ecological disaster and secret societies, this piece will combine strong visuals, songs, and an accompanying installation.

Dr Brown said: “Storytelling has the power to enthrall as well as entertain. A rich heritage exists in Eastern Europe and these stories have migrated to other countries. For many reasons, not least of which is the pervasive rise of digital technologies, these stories speak to that which is missing in people today, all over the world. One of the themes of the event is how knowledge operates and within The Black Hen particularly there is a juxtaposition between moss and migration. Some types of knowledge, it would appear, cannot be rooted for too long.”

Wonder & Dread: Slavic Tales of Foreign Lands and Wild People will be held on 20th November at 3pm at The Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter. The show is sold out but there is a waiting list available if you email The Bike Shed Theatre via their website. All are welcome but there is an age appropriate caveat that some of the tales are dark and powerful.

Date: 15 November 2016

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