Five Most Unusual Venues from Alarum’s Performance History

Across our many shows and tours, a whole host of venues have become sites for performance, transformed through theatre magic to stage historical scenes and stories from the waterways.

In our fourth instalment of our 5th anniversary blog series, we’re taking a look back at our performance venues from the last five years, and counting off five venues that really stick out for how unusual they were as places to put on a show.

Honourable mentions include a woodland, several museums, and an old Pump House, but the top five are…

1) A Microbrewery

Alestones, a microbrewery near Tardebigge, was one particularly strange performance space. The tiny brewery had the smallest stage we have been on in all our five years – it was less of a stage and more of a hearth.

Kate performing at Alestones

Kate has a great memory of performing, quite literally, on a hearth: ‘Twenty-seven people packed into the tiny two rooms which left very little space for me to create a 72’ boat and a double lock. Fortunately, imagination plays a large part in my one-woman shows, and the landlord had thoughtfully refrained from lighting the stove!’

2) A Boatyard

Tooley’s Boatyard in Banbury was another unusual spot. Our shows are all about the waterways, and a working dry dock was definitely an interesting space to seat an audience and set up a stage.

The audience at Tooley’s Boatyard

Tooley’s Boatyard is one of the oldest working dry docks on the Inland Waterways and is usually transformed every year as the Theatre in the Dock, part of the Banbury Canal Day festival. The matinee audience even enjoyed a ‘wartime’ tea from their tables. Tea, theatre, and a dry dock: a great combination.

3) A Hayloft

Horsenden Hill Farm, Perivale, is home to lovely open spaces, greenery and gardens. Our performance however took place in their hayloft! The day’s weather was a bit damp and cold, so the indoor space was actually much appreciated.

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The audience in the Hayloft

4) An Abbey 

Dorchester Abbey in Wallingford is yet another interesting place that lent itself to theatre – we performed as part of their biennial Festival and took full advantage of the splendid space.

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Kate on stage performing at Dorchester Abbey

5) A Boat 

Although Alarum makes theatre all about the waterways, boating and of course boats, putting on a performance inside an actual boat felt quite unusual.

The boat we performed on was Kennet, and is owned by Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society. Kennet was built for Canal Transport Limited in 1947. On board the heritage boat we squeezed in an audience and carved out a little space to perform, all within a length of 62 feet!

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Kennet moored above Bingley Five Rise locks

Kate remembers: ‘Performing Isobel’s War on Kennet, a Liverpool Short Boat, in a heatwave and trying to look as though I really was freezing in the winter of 1944/45.’

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Kate and the audience on board Kennet

There is only one more blog post left in our celebratory 5th anniversary series, and it’s great one full of memories and fun facts. Don’t miss out on the final post, that will wrap up our celebrations.

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