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Birthday Day, touring 2024 

Devised by The Company, from A Notable Oak Tree by Nick White

Director Nick White

Dramaturg Jesse Briton

Designer Julie Read

Composer Eleanor Westbrook

Movement Director Georgia Wall

Performers Rachel Cohen, Helena Payne & Eleanor Westbrook

“Sweet, poignant, nostalgic and terribly tragic”

Audience

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The story & background to the show

Sometimes, what we remember is happier than what is true.  Family ties, birthday celebrations and pavlova come together to reveal the secrets hidden in Somerset’s strawberries.

 

Originally commissioned through Take Art’s Cultivate programme in 2022, Birthday Day is a story about the truths and lies of a farming family. 

 

Three performers and the audience seamlessly entwine to create an annual family party, spanning 70 years. Uncle Brian, Cousin Georgina, Granny and Grandad: they’re all there to celebrate Jeanie and Lily’s joint birthday. Two sisters who share everything - including a birthday. But one year, on one birthday, at one family party, things change forever.

Birthday Day is inspired by the short story A Notable Oak Tree, which itself was inspired by conversations with Somerset farming families including The Palmers of Bower Hinton, The Denmans of Merriott, and The Wares of Kingsbury Episcopi.  It explores the relationship between agriculture, heritage and story.  It brings people together through food and theatre.  It encourages us to reflect on the relationship we have with our own family community.

Originally performed under a gazebo in a pasture field at Bower Hinton Farm, and close to The Old Dairy Cafe which is based on the farm, Birthday Day has been designed for outdoor spaces.

 

It’s best on a farm, whether in a field or in the yard.  If there’s a view, that’s even better. The show could also work in a community garden or green space.

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How it works

Birthday Day is set up as an informal family party. 

 

Think trestle tables, handmade bunting, great granny’s table cloths and a massive pavlova.  Performers and audiences are cast as members of the same extended family.

The performance takes place in a small marquee, around tables, with the action weaving between the audience.

  • Running time; 50-60 mins approximately

  • Capacity recommended at around 50-60 people

  • The show does not use lighting design or amplified sound

  • The show tours with three performers and one stage manager

  • Venues will ideally have accessible parking and amenities

Audience, dates, cost

Birthday Day is suitable for everyone aged 10+.  

 

It’s for theatre goers, non-theatre goers, food producers, food lovers, localists, heritage enthusiasts, agricultural professionals, people who love ancestry. Somersetphiles. Anyone that loves a Somerset story.

 

Birthday Day is available on weekdays, weeknights & weekends during these windows:

  • 19 - 23 May

  • 1 - 16 June

  • 24 June - 21July

  • 24 August - 1 September

 

We can offer two options for booking the show:

Option 1: Book up to 2 x performances of the show in one day for a fee of £600.  You take 100% of the box office.

Option 2: Book up to 2 x performances of the show for no charge.  We’ll take 100% of the box office.  We will charge £10 full price / £8.50 concession.

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We’ll be accepting donations at the end of each performance to support Somerset Emergency Theatre, our ongoing programme to address the challenges facing the live performance sector in

Somerset, North Somerset and Bath & North East Somerset.

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For more information, including to book the show,
email us: wasson@wassailtheatre.co.uk

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