Wassail on the road again

AFTER a gap of two years, Somerset’s own resident Wassail Theatre is back on the road with a new show, Birthday Day, and it will be performed at farms and outdoor locations all around the county from 18th May to 1st September.

Birthday Day is inspired by the short story A Notable Oak Tree, written by company founder and director Nick White. The original story was inspired by conversations with Somerset farmer Duncan Palmer and the show, which explores relationships, traditions, untold truths, birthdays and seasons of change, has been devised by the company. It brings people together through food and theatre, encouraging us to reflect on the relationship we have with our own community, with the land and with each other.

Three Somerset performers, Rachel Cohen, Helena Payne and Eleanor Westbrook, will seamlessly entwine with the audience 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, two sisters who share everything – including a birthday. But one year, on one birthday, at one family party, things change forever. Family ties, birthdays and pavlova all come together to reveal the secrets hidden in Somerset’s strawberries.

The original story was commissioned through Take Art’s Cultivate programme, an initiative designed to promote rural food and art in South Somerset.

One of the venues is Burrow Hill Cider Farm, which was the home for Wassail’s acclaimed 2021 production Apples and Angels. The company’s 2022, Whispering Willows, also visited a huge range of beautiful outdoor spots around Somerset including Coates English Willow and The Community Farm in Chew Magna, both of them venues on the Birthday Day tour.

The first performance is at Frog Lane Farm, Stoke St Gregory on Saturday 18th May, and the finale is at The Alfred Gillett Trust in Street on 1st September.

The tour has been made possible by funding from Arts Council England, Bridgwater Town Council, Somerset Council and The Octagon Theatre & Westlands Yeovil.

For more details of dates, venues and booking, visit the Wassail website.