The Writer's Blog

The story for the Fox and the Child was born out of my desire to experiment with storytelling. I love writing stories, writing for performance and also singing, so it made sense to find a way to experiment with all three of these things. The first section of this show was born almost three years ago now, and it’s been performed in various guises at pubs, open-mic nights, fundraisers, and scratch nights. It’s changed a lot during that time.

The idea for the story is based on a conversation I had with a close friend about the birth of her child and the fairytale Bluebeard, which it is a very loose, modern version of. If I was trying to intimidate and impress an intelligent man into going on a date with me (or scare him off) I might say it was “born from a desire to interrogate hetero-normative romance narratives and look at the power-play between men and women, especially the through the themes of postnatal depression/depression, emotional abuse and masculinity.” Generally I wouldn’t say that, because it makes me sound like a pretentious idiot. But we all do stupid things for love, no? And I would never let my penchant for pretending to sound clever get in the way of telling a good story.

I have really enjoyed exploring a kind of lyrical prose which edged into poetry, and weaving narratives together in a way which pulls the audience in one direction and then another. Also the contrast between writing lyrics and story, and what each form can help express about a character. As a writer this whole process has been about challenging myself by writing about romance (which makes me annoyed but also sometimes feels a bit unavoidable), writing about depression and postnatal depression, bringing in the supernatural and the gothic, combining prose, poetry and lyrics, and writing about some areas which I have little first-hand experience of like birth and divorce. Plus maintaining a story over an hour. It’s been terrifying and great. Hopefully it works. This is the first full version of this show and sometimes I feel like it’s only once you see the full show that you learn what it is and what is important in it, so I guess I’ll be discovering exactly what that is at the same time as our audience.

Artists who have inspired me during this process have been Kate Tempest (particularly Brand New Ancients and her storytelling), Daniel Kitson (especially his work with Gavin Osborn), Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson and Carol Ann Duffy. Also Anna Maria Murphy who writes for Kneehigh Theatre, she sometimes writes in this beautiful visceral lyrical style which sets my soul aflame (see her version of The Red Shoes). The fairytale adaptation genre is a massive rich seam in our culture and well trodden, so this show has made me think about how I want to use this context and abuse it and place myself amongst it. 

I feel really grateful that the rest of the team have got on board with this. It’s been a labour of love, and I know how much work and effort goes into show-making so I have to sometimes really work hard to fight back constant words of gratitude. Maisie and Rowan in particular have been incredibly encouraging and generous with time and advice.

If you come see the show (please do!) then please let me know what you think, We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Come watch us at The Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol 18-20 Oct. Click here to book tickets

Image by photographer Jack Offord.

Stephanie Kempson