In February 2016, Weird Séance: Dyspraxe 2 (Max Dyspraxe!) exploded onto the stage at Norwich Arts Centre.
A raucously deconstructionist, roughly layered participatory performance about participatory performance, this unabashedly irreverent gathering was hosted by charlatan spiritualist and performance art reconstructionist Daniel Oliver.
Not too long before, in the very same space as this event, and in a similar show hosted by Daniel, something went fatally wrong. Working with audience interaction, role-play and re-enactment, Daniel cobbles together the details, responsibilities, and causes of this elusive tragic accident.
Weird Séance was part of Norwich Art Centre’s [Live] Art Club strand of events. Find out more about Norwich Arts Centre.
Is Live Art your thing? See what else is on, and plan a trip with Visit Norwich.
Photo: Daniel Oliver, ‘Weird Séance, SPILL Festival of Performance 2014, photo by Guido Mencari.
The artist John Constable was just 12 years old when one of his great heroes – the renowned English painter Thomas Gainsborough – died in the year 1788. Constable admired the work of Gainsborough so deeply that he once described Gainsborough’s landscapes as capable of bringing ‘tears in our eyes’, knowing ‘not what brings them’.
Although Constable was born nearby in East Bergholt, this is the only known view the artist captured of Gainsborough’s hometown of Sudbury, Suffolk. The pencil and wash sketch shows the parish church of St Peter’s, one of three in Sudbury. The grouping of houses shown against the southeast corner of the church no longer stand, and are otherwise not recorded. Pictured in 1814–1815, this is a rare view of an important Suffolk market town by one of its best-known artists.
Constable’s St Peter’s Church, Sudbury was on view at Gainsborough’s House from March-June 2016.
The Greene King story starts back in 1799, when Benjamin Greene moved to Bury St Edmunds to set up his own brewing business. By 1806 he had entered into a partnership with William Buck, an elderly yarn-maker, and acquired the 100-year-old Wright’s Brewery in Westgate.
By 1868 Benjamin had handed the reins over to his son Edward, who was one of the first employers to introduce employee benefits, including a pension scheme and accommodation for staff. In 1887, local competitor Frederick King amalgamated with the King business and formed the Greene King we know today.
In 1888, the wife of the Managing Director set up the ‘Mothers Meeting’, a chance for the wives of employees to get together, and occasionally provide financial assistance. Remarkably, the Mothers Meeting is still going today.
Greene King continues to grow to this day, acquiring new pubs each years and still brewing award-winning ales.
You can visit the brewery in Bury St Edmunds and take a guided tour.
In February 2016, Aldeburgh-based theatre company Wonderful Beast held a fundraising event to raise vital funds for its forthcoming festival, Storm of Stories.
Bottom’s Dream was a variety show inspired by Shakespeare’s fairy tales and audiences were delighted by comedy, fairy tales, Shakespeare, music hall, drag, sketches, songs, poems and ballet presented by a stellar cast and hosted by Iestyn Edwards as Madame Galina.
Alys Kihl, Artistic Director, said before the event: ‘I’m very excited about Bottom’s Dream, which will be an extraordinary performance featuring a wide range of talented and distinguished artists and I’m thrilled that they are supporting our cause: a family friendly festival with storytelling at its heart.’
The performance took place at Jubilee Hall. Find out more about the theatre company at Wonderful Beast.
Norwich is a city of dragons; from Snap and the guild of St George, to Dragon Hall and 2015’s GoGoDragons. In Spring 2016, visitors to Norwich Castle were able to see how the city was keeping up this tradition with an exciting exhibition; ‘A Viking’s Guide to Deadly Dragons.’
Inspired by Cressida Cowell’s hugely popular children’s book series ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, visitors were transported to a world where Vikings rule and dragons roam. They also had the opportunity to meet Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third and Toothless, his hunting dragon, before joining this unlikely hero on his adventures with a tribe of Hairy Hooligans, as well as visiting the Hooligan village and the wild dragon cave.
Explore the author’s imagination through her notebooks and original illustrations, get involved in creative play, dress as a Viking and discover real Viking objects in the permanent gallery at Norwich Castle Museum.
‘A Viking’s Guide to Deadly Dragons’ was created by Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books and ran in Norwich from 6th February until 30th May 2016.
Part of Norwich Puppet Theatre’s Manipulate Visual Theatre Festival in 2016, Birdheart explored transformation, loneliness and the urge to fly.
Through a series of animated images created in front of the audience’s eyes with a sheet of brown paper, shadows and a box of sand, Birdheart creates something achingly beautiful from the humblest of beginnings.
The two performers, Julian Crouch and Saskia Lane, weren’t new to the stage either. Currently represented on Broadway with his Tony-nominated scenic design for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the world-renowned theatre designer, director and puppet-maker Crouch has wowed audiences with work at New York’s Met Opera and the West End. Lane has appeared with artists as diverse as Jay-Z and Beyonce, Marc Ribot and the Kronos Quartet.
Birdheart marked their first project together as puppeteers and performers.
Norwich City Hall is one of the finest municipal buildings of the inter-war period in England.
Built between 1936 and 1938 to accommodate the increasing size of Norwich City Council, the hall featured an art deco interior and a number of fine architectural features, including a top-floor cupola, mahogany panelling and one of the country’s longest balconies, and a pair of stylised bronze lions, sculpted by Alfred Hardiman, greets visitors to the building.
Designed by S. Rowland Pierce, the plans were held in high esteem and were shown at the Royal Academy in 1933 and 1934.
Norwich City Hall is also one of the Norwich12 buildings. The reception areas are accessible to the public, and the Tourist Information Centre runs full building tours during the summer months. For more information, see Norwich Tourist Information.
Written in 1962 by Henry Treece, Man With A Sword is a young-adult historical novel that tells the story of Hereward the Wake.
Hereward the Wake was an 11th-century leader of local resistance to the Norman conquest of England. Hereward’s base, when leading the rebellion against the Norman rulers. He roamed The Fens, covering North Cambridgeshire, Southern Lincolnshire and West Norfolk, leading popular opposition to William the Conqueror.
Treece was a prolific writer of childrens’ historical fiction, and published over 50 novels and collections of poems over his career. This novel is now out of print, but it’s possible to find copies on various online shops.
Explore the land that Hereward the Wake roamed with a trip to The Fens.
If you want to make a weekend of it, plan a trip with Visit Norfolk.
This fine silver tankard, nicknamed the Godfrey Tankard, sits amid Sudbury’s regalia in the town’s Heritage Centre.
Made in 1676 it celebrated the public services of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey during the Great Plague and Fire of London. Dramatic scenes of both events are engraved on the sides. It was given to Sudbury by Sir Gervase Elwes as a ‘sweetener’ to win the favour of the Corporation – it must have influenced the return of both Sir Gervase and his son as Members of Parliament for Sudbury in 1679.
Often referred to as the Sudbury ‘Loving Cup’ it was used in a very unloving manner after the Mayor’s banquet in 1895. During an angry dispute over the distribution of staff tips the hall-keeper struck the caterer over the head with the cup giving it a large dent (subsequently beaten out). The hall-keeper was dismissed with a week’s notice.
Nestled in the heart of historic Norwich, The Maid’s Head Hotel has many literary links. Originally built for bishops travelling to the adjacent cathedral, the hotel has welcomed many famous (and fictional) people throughout its life, including Thomas Wolsey, Catherine of Aragon and poet Philip Larkin.
The hotel is best known for its links with L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between. In the novel, two characters share a lengthy lunch there after exploring Norwich. The film version was actually shot in the hotel, making it especially significant for Norwich literary enthusiasts.
The hotel is also featured in two detective novels, P.D. James’ Devices and Desires and Francis Beeding’s The Norwich Victims, though, a stay there today is guaranteed to be less mystery-filled!