As part of an extensive repertoire, Nick offers a growing number of shows:
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 very wind that blew about them. Over the last 15 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 Ruined House of Skin
In the cold heart of winter the King of Ireland lies dying. Frost bites the field and breath rattles his narrow chest. If an ending is a beginning, then who can claim the crown and make good the promise of Spring? Through story and song we follow the King’s son on a journey through rich and lyrical Irish mythology, along a winding path leading us into the shared heart of people and land. Not suitable for children under 10 years old, owing to sophistication of language and plot.
Performances from 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. Not suitable for children under 10 years old, owing to sophistication of language and plot.
Where the Bear Sleeps
Telling the story of the stealing of the sun and moon, and their imprisonment in the northern mountain, this piece 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 his 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.
with Anna-Kaisa Liedes, Kristiina Ilmonen and Timo Väänänen
This is a brand new collaboration, premiered in Helsinki on National Kalevala Day (28th February) 2014. It then appeared at the prestigious Beyond the Border Storytelling Festival in July 2014, receiving much acclaim, and will tour subsequently all over the UK, Scandinavia and further afield in due course. Please click on the title to follow the link to further information and photographs.
With Hannah Sanders:
The Howken Field
Beneath the low sky there is a field. At its edge, two crows speak of those that have fallen and of those yet to come. The pestering wind hears all. Existing between two worlds, the Borders are mysterious, a place of stirring secrets. Storyteller/harper Nick Hennessey and singer/musician Hannah Sanders take you by the hand and lead you into the treasury of story and song hidden beneath the fields and fells, the burns and becks, and shed light on the dark memories of place.
With Serious Kitchen:
Drawing on the rich heritage of Scandinavian myths and stories, The Whispering Road is a show blending 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. Suitable for all ages.
With Hugh Lupton:
with John Dipper and James Patterson
In this spellbinding performance 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 Liberty Tree: A celebration of Robin Hood & the ancient tradition of English dissent.
“To live beyond the law you must be honest”
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.
With Xanthe Gresham:
From Merlin to Malory, Camelot to Excalibur, Morgan le Fey has reigned supreme as the fiendish counter Queen to King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Playing by her own rules, she foils their quests, dismantles the fragrant towers of each princess and wreaks general havoc from the safety of the shadows.
Tracking down the spaces in between her many myths, internationally renowned performers, Xanthe Gresham and Nick Hennessey use music, games and story to check-mate medieval misogyny. The result? Thoroughly Modern Morgan is centre stage at last.
Pussy’s in the Well – The Goddess under the Pavement
A well is an eye of the earth. In an attempt to improve vision, Xanthe Gresham and Nick Hennesey uncover the stories and songs of the U.K’s lost watercourses and their even more lost goddesses. Like a divining-rod incarnate, Xanthe Gresham has spent the last few years unearthing deities from Soho telephone boxes, Argentinean tango classes and middle class dinner parties. They’ve been airy, earthy and fiery – and this time they’ll be wet. This is metaphorical archaeology of the soul. ‘Whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea’ E.E. Cummings