Big Telly’s Zoe Seaton Talks About The Faerie Thorn

The Faerie Thorn, the stage adaptation of my book, is now a month into its UK/Ireland tour. With ten performances still to go, Zoe Seaton [Big Telly Theatre Company’s artistic director] talks about the show to Mary O’Neill of Waterford’s WLRFM. It’s a really great interview and includes insights into the way the show was developed.

You can find details of the UK/Ireland tour schedule, along with book links, here. I really hope you can make it along to the show. If you enjoyed the book, you’ll love the stage production!

And We’re Off!

You’d be forgiven for thinking that The Faerie thorn and Other Stories has been helped along by the Fair Folk themselves. Within two weeks of publication Zoe Seaton, Artistic Director at Big Telly Theatre Company, had read the book and expressed an interest in adapting some of the stories for the stage.

The first development workshop took place in December 2015 and 16 months later, on Friday 21 April 2017, The Faerie Thorn opened at The Riverside Theatre in Coleraine – the first show in a 32-performance tour.

Over the course of several development workshops between December 2015 and July 2016, ideas were ‘auditioned’. There was then a preview at the Open House Festival in August 2016 which let the development team know what worked [and what didn’t]. In November 2016 I set about writing a new story for the production to add to the two that had been selected for the show, and in February 2017 the pace really started to pick up.

March 2017 was pretty full on: the cast [Nicky Harley, Shelley Atkinson, Seamus O’Hara, Rory Corcoran and Colette Lennon] were in rehearsals for 6 days a week; the set got built; costumes and props were made and bought; dances and set pieces were choreographed; music got composed, and lighting and sound were layered in to the performance.

During this final period of preparation, I was still very much involved with the whole process. I wrote lyrics for songs and new material for the the scripts and I learned a great deal about how theatre works. It was great to watch the composer and sound designer, Garth McConaghie, at work: I was astonished at how he could evoke the spirit of the stories with the underscore and the songs. Kevin Smith, lighting and special effects, knew exactly what to do to create a dark faerie tale atmosphere; and Maree Kearns , set and costume designer, built a set that, although simple, offers the perfect vessel for the cast’s colourful performances. Sarah Johnston, choreographer, skilfully echoed many of the conventions associated with the oral tradition and came up with some astonishing movement sequences.

I watched how Zoe Seaton shaped and perfected the piece, and how she left enough space for each performance to develop its own energy and for the actors to take the piece and make it their own.

I was there on the opening night in Coleraine and I’ve seen the performance a second time in Coleraine and once in Belfast. It’s wonderful to get caught up in the performance. It’s wonderful to see the actors enjoying themselves on stage. And it’s really wonderful to share the experience with different audiences.

There are still another 27 performances to go, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the piece matures over time. If you enjoyed reading The Faerie Thorn and Other Stories, I’m convinced you’ll love this show as much as I do. Please go and be magicked by it 🙂 .

You can read theatre reviews and audience feedback here. You can find the tour schedule and booking links here.


Tour Dates for the Stage Production of The Faerie Thorn

Tour dates for Big Telly Theatre Company’s  production of The Faerie Thorn are as follows. For those theatres with tickets already on sale, booking links are provided [in aqua]. You can read theatre reviews and audience feedback here.

April 21st – 22nd         Riverside Theatre, Coleraine 

April 25th – 29th         The MAC, Belfast 

May 4th – 6th               Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin

May 9th                         Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, Newry

May 10th                       Cushendall Golf Club

May 11th                        Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen 

May 12th                       The Playhouse, Derry 

May 13th                       The Old Courthouse, Antrim 

May 16th                       Garage Theatre, Monaghan 

May 17th                       The Market Place Theatre, Armagh 

May 18th                       Island Arts Centre, Lisburn 

May 19th                       The Web Theatre, Newtownards

May 23rd                      Seamus Heaney Homeplace, Bellaghy

May 25th                      Theatre Royal, Waterford 

May 26th                      An Tain Theatre, Dundalk

May 27th                      Strule Arts Centre, Omagh

June 6th – 7th             Blackwells, Oxford

June 8th – 10th           Omnibus Theatre, Clapham

June 12th                     Societätstheater, Dresden