“Over and Nether”

A celebration of Alderley Edge and Alan Garner’s work, life and landscape through story and music.

“Dreaming the Great Bear”

A cow stands in a fire holding sun and moon between her horns.
A pine martin gathers spit from the mouth of a bear to brew beer.
An egg falls from a nest just balanced on the sky-girl’s knee.
And from its broken shards, nothing becomes something…

Storyteller, musician and singer, Nick Hennessey forges a world into being. Here in the Finnish far north the light is a just little too bright and the dark a little too blinding, the rivers flow fast and deep, and it’s all too easy to get lost in the forest.

Held within a wild enchanted soundscape of story, song, percussion, mbira, and harp – this remarkable performance of elemental epic lures us into the untamed, playful, and surreal territories of the Finnish creation myth – the Kalevala.

‘The Whispering Road’

“A riotous roller-coaster of a story, soaring from tenderness to wild hilarity, all in a perfectly formed folk tale.”

Nick Hennessey, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer combine as seriouskitchen to create a brand new show. Drawing on the rich heritage of Scandinavian myths and stories, The Whispering Road blends Nick Hennessey’s spellbinding storytelling with Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer’s experience in the Swedish folk music scene.

Drawing on the rich Swedish folk tradition and instruments, through spoken word, song and music ‘The Whispering Road” tells the story of hope in the darkness, of two strangers bound by a ring and of the one who could not love.

The show content is suitable for children, 8+

‘The Ruined House of Skin’

“The hag, a ruined house of skin and bone, sits winding up a thread. It is a thread that draws us slowly, inevitably into the withering arms of age. It is our ruin. But on her tongue is a song, on her breath is the fragrance of truth.”

This story of a great search and the ultimate journey, is a reconfiguration of wild Irish mythology that lays bare our thirst for truth. Elemental, poetic and moving.

 ‘The Liberty Tree: A celebration of Robin Hood & the ancient tradition of English dissent.’

A performance originally commissioned by Festival at the Edge in 2007, along with internationally renowned storyteller and writer Hugh Lupton, the two performers sing and tell their way deep into the secret, dappled heart of Sherwood, and at the same time tell the true and harsher histories of English dissenters, tricksters and radicals. Mischievous, poignant, radical, this is storytelling at its best. Not suitable for children under 10 years old, owing to sophistication of language.

‘Barbed Wire for Kisses’

Barbed Wire for Kisses is a spellbinding performance of storytelling and music, in which the narratives of families in one small community tell the bigger story of the First World War. Lives and deaths on several fronts are played out without leaving the boundaries of an English parish. The trials, tragedies and triumphs at home open a human window onto the trauma that shaped the twentieth century.

Drawing on material from the Lincolnshire County Archive and using music that is traditional, original and adapted from composers and writers of the period (Butterworth, Finzi, Gurney, Hardy and Housman), storytellers and musicians invoke an English rural world in crisis, a world that is both remote and familiar.

‘The Howken Field: a Reiver’s Tale’

Beneath the low sky there is a field. At its edge two ravens speak of those that have fallen and of those yet to be born into the world of the hollow wind.

Existing between worlds, between laws, the Scottish Borders are mysterious, a place of secrets.  Unearthing a hidden hoard, Nick Hennessey tips out the glittering treasures of story and song that press up through field, fell, burn and beck of the Borders shedding light on dark memories of the place.

‘This is storytelling brilliance at its best.’  Everything Theatre

A Harper’s Trade

There was a time when ‘to harp’ meant to speak, when harpers travelled the length and breadth of the country telling stories and singing songs. As they travelled, the stories and the songs they carried with them were shaped by the places they went, by the roads they took and by the wind that blew them. Over the last 18 years Nick been developing a vibrant and exciting style of performance harpers of old would recognize. Drawing deeply from the wellspring of traditional sources, this performance of song and story re-interprets the material for a modern 21st century, with powerful and evocative language and an innovative style of harp playing.

The Kalevala:

Collected in the 19th century into a piece of world literature that is considered the national epic of Finland, the Kalevala is a collection of epic poetry reaching back some 5,000 years. Beginning with the story of creation itself, and the birth of the singer-magician Väinämöinen, this performance opens up the ancient and elemental world of Finnish mythology woven through a land of long sunless seasons where the Great Bear sleeps, turning the winter in his dreams. 

Fire in the North Sky

Travel to the extremes of the Finnish landscape – the vast forests and lakes, the harshness of winter, the intoxicating summers. Experience authentic creation myths, tales of Finland’s epic heroes and journey with them to the dark river of the underworld.

Nick Hennessey and three virtuoso Finnish musicians make these 2000 year old stories come alive with a touch of offbeat fun, enchantment and evocative music that moves between dancing flutes, infectious rhythms and hauntingly beautiful sung melodies.

From the mythic creation of the sky and earth, to the forging of the Sampo – a mystical object which brings infinite bounty – to seduction spells and a mother’s love for her son; Fire in the North Sky combines epic feats of heroes like Väinämöinen and Lemminkäinen with very human stories of love, loss and longing.

Experience Kalevala returned to its oral roots in this dynamic, intimate and surprising performance. Produced by Adverse Camber.

Where the Bear Sleeps

Telling the story of the stealing of the sun and moon, and their imprisonment in the northern mountain, in this piece Nick tells of how Old Väino made his harp of fishbones, and how the mighty smith Ilmarinen swung his hammer to forge a new light for the heavens.

The Bitter Berry: Kullervo son of Kalevo

One of the most important stories in Kalevala, and the inspiration behind Sibelius’ classical music piece of the same name, this is the story of a boy born to be great but who is, time after time, refused. In many ways the ultimate tragedy, this is a journey of great emotional depth, challenging the belief that all stories end happily ever after. But when all is lost, what do we truly have? Not suitable for children under 12 years old, owing to content.

 If you have any specific requests for performances, please feel free to get in touch.