Hazelsong Theatre

Performances with Bamburgh Bones

About Hazelsong Theatre

The work and the folk of Hazelsong Theatre are rooted in the songs, stories, myth and folklore of the North and the Borderlands and the many cultures that have made the North their home. Hazelsong Theatre create performances which bring together storytelling, music, puppetry, theatre and ritual and all borne of the knowledge that these stories and songs are vital and very much alive. They might stop us in our tracks, break spells that keep us asleep or challenge us in unexpected ways. There is a relationship to be forged and maintained with the forces outside the castle, forces from the deep forest and high moors. That's where Hazelsong is working, at the edge of the village, where the human world meets the wild, and where there is so much at stake.

The Origins of Hazelsong Theatre

This is the tale of how Hazelsong Theatre came to be:

Some years ago James and Andy met, by chance they thought, in a pub in a Hexham called ‘the Heart of Northumberland’. James was reading a book of dragon lore and Andy was preparing dragon’s eyes for mounting in a giant puppet. Their conversation wove itself together from notions of dragon processions, music and street theatre and bringing St George’s Day truly to life with a big dragon.

Years passed, until James received a call from Professor Barbara Ravelhofer of Durham University inviting him and Sam to contribute to a performance of dragon songs, stories and music in the Cathedral. When they arrived at the English Department in Durham Andy was already there, with a giant dragon puppet which had been made by him and Emma Berry, and whose eyes had gazed upon Andy and James all those years ago in Hexham.

Destiny was at work and its insistent call drew Linda and Andy together and then Linda into the troupe.

The four met in the Cumberland Inn in Alston. They shared their experiences of their spirituality and of their connection to the land and its people and the stories of both and they knew that they needed to give voice to these stories. It was then that Hazelsong became, named for the tree which brings wisdom and inspires prophecy and poetry in Celtic myth.

Thus did the work of Hazelsong begin, with a telling and a film of the Ballad of the Laidley Worm of Spindlestone Heugh, a tale of Northumberland and of a dragon. This work continues.

Andy Bates

Andy Bates is an archaeologist, a craftsman, a musician, a puppet maker, a writer and performer. He has walked the hills of Northumberland, its fields and its river valleys for decades. He has listened to the voices of wind and water telling their stories and those of folk long gone and those still vital. He has delved into its earth and has witnessed its cradling of the bones of the ancestors. He dug at the Bowl Hole. For Andy and for the troupe, rock cut spirals and waterfalls are songs waiting to be sung

Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is an artist, activist, performer and maker. She holds both the Christian tradition and Celtic land-based spirituality in lively tension in her work and practice. She states, “I think that Aidan is particularly resonating with our work and at this time because he cared about the disenfranchised, the outsider and the poor. He went everywhere by foot and shunned the feasting tables of the rich and wealthy. He is a spiritual being who speaks to our times of upheaval and great change.”

James Gillespie

James Gillespie is a Northumbrian musician who is inspired by the wild land and the mysterious history, song and stories of the border country as well as by the tenderness of the human heart. As one of Northumbrian folk duo The Brothers Gillespie he has played over 150 concerts in the UK and beyond. James is a writer of songs, a singer and multi instrumentalist. He is thrilled to be engaged in work celebrating this most potent of times in Northumbria’s past and telling some of the old stories anew.

Sam Gillespie

Sam Gillespie is a Northumbrian singer and guitarist, songwriter and wooden flute player hailing from the village of Wall. With his brother James he is a member of renowned duo The Brothers Gillespie who have recorded several albums and travelled widely with their music. He draws deep inspiration from the wild places, folk music and myths of the borderlands and the power of music, theatre and other art forms to liberate the heart and imagination and to foster vital connection and community. He is delighted at the invitation to engage with the rich and compelling stories related to Bamburgh’s past which still seem to glow so mysteriously in the present.

Watch a selection of short video performances from Hazelsong Theatre