Barbican Theatre’s monthly Coxside Cafe Acoustica was due to take place in its usual home of the wonderful Teats Hill Amphitheatre on Friday 30 October. Given its proximity to Halloween a ghosts and ghouls Halloween special was the obvious choice.
Local singer songwriter and actor Chloe Carruba was invited to be MC and to perform, along with acclaimed Plymouth singer songwriter Alex Hart. The live acoustic music would then be complimented by fireside ghost stories performed by members of Barbican Theatre’s ReBels and The Wheel.
Advertised as being held at Teats Hill Amphitheatre ‘whatever the weather’ sadly the Barbican team had to admit defeat the afternoon before. With the forecast of heavy rain and very strong winds this made it unsafe for performers, audiences and the crew to be in the very exposed amphitheatre overlooking Sutton harbour. So the decision to move the event to Barbican Theatre’s intimate auditorium.
This was actually quite exciting for the Barbican team and performers as it would be the first performance on their stage since Scratchworks Theatre Company’s premiere of their Hags UK tour on 14 March!
As Barbican Theatre already had stringent safety and cleaning regimes in place for their weekly training classes it was a fairly straightforward process to adapt for an audience. Seats had already been marked for where to sit for social distancing, with a maximum of 27 allowed (out of the usual 110) The event was still free and open to all ages.
In order to make the performances accessible to those who couldn’t get to the theatre (or just didn’t want to brave the bad weather!) the evening was streamed via Zoom which was watched by more than 50 people (including someone in Paris and several from the Coxside and Teats Hill area). There were a total of 14 in the live audience.
The evening lasted for an hour and fifteen minutes with enchanting folk songs from Alex Hart (including her especially beautiful original song Bad Boy Bill and a cover of Laura Marling’s Rambling Man)
MC for the evening was singer songwriter and actor Chloe Carruba who performed some of her own songs and concluded the evening with a beautiful version of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams.
Barbican ReBels (l-r) , Julius Taresch, Lydia Baggley and Phoebe Turner
Lydia Baggley, Julius Taresch, and Phoebe Turner, members of Barbican Theatre’s ReBels Online Stories group entertained with their Norweigan Ships Lost At Sea ghost stories.
Thomas Bliss (The Wheel)
Thomas Bliss, from The Wheel, regaled audiences with ghost stories primarily involving married couples! From the couple on a cruise for their ruby wedding anniversary (never have the words ‘you look so beautiful’ felt so spooky!) to the sleeping couple who found an unexpected guest in their bedroom!
The Wheel (l-r) Danny Laine & Samater Ahmed
Smeaton’s Tower, mermaids and lighthouse keepers were the subject of Samater Ahmed and Danny Laine’s eerie performance (featuring the addition of some especially spooky loop pedal guitar sounds!) starting where Plymouth’s infamous landmark originally did: Eddystone Rocks
Feedback from live and zoom audiences was encouraging
“That was fantastic. I really enjoyed being a part of it and I think digital theatre like this really works” Alex
“Loved the evening. Great singers and spooky tales of cruise ships.” David
“Managed to get to the @BarbicanTheatre for some real, live theatre tonight and I know it’s super sad but it felt like a part of me was back” Katy
A big thanks to Take A Part and The B-Bar for their support with Coxside Cafe Acoustica.