The Secret Princess of Severndroog Castle at Greenwich and Docklands Festival

As well as 451, I also volunteered for The Secret Princess of Severndroog at the beginning of July – another show that was part of the Greenwich and Docklands Festival.

The show is for small children (and big hearted adults), and the volunteers were tasked with escorting the four groups of children through the woods around Severndroog Castle, just off Shooters Hill.

Fairies Bramble, Dandelion, Bluebell and Ivy led the groups and told the assembled audience about all the magical creatures in the woods who had been trapped by the evil wizard, and how to battle him to free the princess. 🙂

In the photo below, Dandelion and Bramble tell the children about the wishing tree, and invite them to write a message to the princess to cheer her up.

Each group then takes a slightly different route round the castle to meet different forest creatures – on my second shift I was lucky enough to go on the alternate route where we meet the princess’ mother. Here the children are meeting the vain and selfish prince and have to encourage him to not rescue the princess.

Next stop is a grumpy but good magician who was turned in a frog by the evil wizard. He has managed to turn himself partly back but still “ribbits” a lot! He helps the children with a spell and a defence word to scare the wizard away.

This forest creature swung her way down to the group on a harness and then taught us all two defence techniques to fight the wizard. If my memory is correct, we learnt a laughing pointing heckle, and a bum wiggling mooning motion!

Here in the rose garden we met a dancer and a singer both trapped in the wood, but the singer can’t speak anymore and can only communicate with her accordion. We learnt a line from a song to frighten the wizard.

After meeting the four forest dwellers, the group circles back to the castle itself to meet up with the other groups, and all the woodland creatures to rescue the princess. We meet the evil wizard as shown below, and recite our defence word and actions to scare him away. We succeed and everyone is released from the wood! Hurrah!

But we then have to persuade the princess to leave the castle as she is scared of leaving after so many years of being trapped. She is a bit of a whiny thing but we eventually succeed with our cheerful song (I didn’t manage to get any photos of the princess as Instagram doesn’t work so well from a distance of 63 feet).

The princess then comes down to thank us and we all sing our song again to finish the show.

Thank you to Look Left Look Right for a lovely show!

P.S. You can get married at the castle 🙂

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451 at Greenwich and Docklands International Festival

Now over for 2015, this year’s Greenwich and Docklands International Festival featured a fully immersive interactive piece called 451.

Based on the dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, the Periplum created performance was performed in Bethnal Green Gardens on Saturday the 27th of June.

451 focuses a number of citizens who are rebelling against the state sponsored destruction of literature, and on the fireman Montag, a initially loyal citizen who is employed to burn books.

Citizens are hunted, captured, electrocuted, shot at and burned alive in their quest for the right to read. Montag begins to question the status quo and we follow him as he tries to break free from his regimented existence.

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I applied to be a volunteer at this year’s festival, and when my role allocation came through I was on the list as a performance assistant for 451. I wasn’t really sure what I was letting myself in for but I was excited to be part of a performance that wasn’t singing related.

The ten strong team met on the Friday before the performance for a five hour rehearsal with the actors and performers. We blocked through the whole show a number of times before a dress rehearsal at 10pm. We did the same on Saturday prior to the show.

The performance assistants had a two-fold role, we needed to protect the audience from the fast moving segways that ran through the audience, but also had to play balaclava wearing fireman who blew whistles repeatedly and had to encourage the audience to burn books!

We also silently and slightly creepily gave out pages of banned booked to the audience as they arrived as part of the pre-show. Trying to stay stern faced whilst lots of polite English people said “thank you very much” was a fun experience.

It was quite a lot to learn over the two rehearsal periods, but the joint effort of ten seemed to pull everyone in the right direction at the right time. A nerve-wracking experience, but definitely one where it kept the group on our toes – ideal for a evening performance with frame throwers and bombs exploding all around!

The actual performance was quite intense and it was over far quicker than I expected. It was very exhilarating and it was really fun to work together on something so dramatic with a group of strangers I had only met the day before. I would definitely do it again, and thank you very much to Periplum for making us feel so welcome and fully part of the team.

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As usual I dragged the husband to the show, here are a few of his scary and enchanting videos of the evening:


A fiddle solo starts the main show


On the hunt for rebellious citizens


Don’t forget to tweet and betray your fellow humans!

A stunningly beautiful end: not an overthrow of the government, but a statement on keeping burnt books alive with oral tradition – a role reversal from the time before the printing press.

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