The Lent Lily


New song added to the A Shropshire lad playlist: The Lent Lily. Amazingly composed in 15 minutes of a lunch break by Niall Ashdown and Katie Birtill!

For the full playlist click “Songs” on the menu bar.

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Jen’s Daruma Doll


I was given this about a year before our workshop of “A Shropshire Lad”,
as a good luck token upon which to place a wish.

The wish I placed was that I might have the perfect opportunity to develop
the kind of audience engagement I wanted to explore.

It works this way: that you colour a pupil in one eye as you make the
wish, and colour in the other pupil when your wish comes true.

I didn’t even know about A Shropshire Lad at that point, but while we were
in the workshop, I realised that this was my ‘other eye’.

So here it is, with both pupils now coloured in, both eyes seeing clearly.

Jenifer Toksvig

The Copenhagen Interpretation

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Personal Connections

One of the central aims of A Shropshire Lad is to enable the participating communities to share their stories, filling the space with their own histories and reminiscences that will be informed and  influenced by the ideas and actions put forward by the show.

This was something we explored a lot in the rehearsal space and I will make a separate page illustrating all of the amazing stories that were shared. For now though here is a short piece by one of our actors Maggie Saunders, who brought this personal connection to the First World War into the room to share with us. She has graciously allowed me to share it here.


George Jones

My granddad George was 18 when he was sent to the front in 1914.

He was in the Royal Engineers. He was part of the team who dug the trenches and buried the dead. He was wounded twice and sent back to the front twice, which meant that he served the full 4 years of WW1.

He never spoke about what happened to him but I do know he was a difficult man and his relationship with my grandma Ann was hard for her. He hit her.

When my dad became a priest George had a revelation and asked to be confirmed and the last years of his life were much more peaceful. I loved my granddad because he was a brilliant gardener and smoked rollies and I sat on his knee while he did it. I remember his cigarette machine. He was gentle and kind to me.

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Responding with a knife


Our second ‘Creative Responder’, Aime Taylor, joined us on the Thursday and brought her amazing skills with a craft knife to produce these exquisite paper-cut silhouettes.

paper2 paper1copy

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An introduction to a theatrical Scent Witch


On the second Wednesday we were joined in the rehearsal room by Sabine Cornic who came to us as a ‘Creative Responder’. Sabine’s chosen medium was scent and she brought with her an olfactory apothecary curated in response to her impressions of the text.

Here is her blog about the experience.

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Photo overload

shrop background copy2

Over the two weeks I took over 5000 photos but fortunately for you (and even more fortunately for me) Jenifer Toksvig took the time to whittle them down to less than a quarter of that and shared them on her flickr site.

Three cheers for Jen!!

Here’s the link, though I suggest you take a moment to make a cup of tea and disconnect the phone before clicking:

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Welcome to the online Archive for the March 2015 R&D for A Shropshire Lad

Hello, my name is Ben Norton Davies and I am the Archivist and Documentarian for the research and development period of “A Shropshire Lad” a new musical by Niall Ashdown based on the poems of A E Housman. The R&D period ran for two weeks from the 22nd March 2015 and over that time I was tasked with capturing all that was created, discovered and realised within the rehearsal space. I attempted this Herculean task through a combination of video, photography, art and writing. This blog is my opportunity to share with you many of these captured moments of brilliance, flashes of genius, and indeed fragments of horror, that go into creating the most exciting, and innovative theatre. It was my absolute pleasure to be invited into the working space of such a committed, talented and infinitely generous company of people and I hope that this documentation will give you a window into what was one of the most artistically rewarding periods of my creative life.

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