An Interview with Firebird Theatre, creators of The Breadhorse


In the next of our artist interviews we spoke to performers Dan, Jenny and Sharlie of Firdbird Theatre about their upcoming show, The Breadhorse…

Briefly describe (for us) what your show is about?
The show is an adaptation of a story by Alan Garner called The Breadhorse. The Breadhorse is a playground game where children carry each other on their backs. The game goes wrong when one boy always has to be the horse. He is bullied by the other children.

He discovers the true nature of the game by creating the horses of his imagination and eventually comes to a greater understanding of himself, the game and the other players. He also realises the importance of sharing your dreams.

Now describe it in 3 words.
Mystery, understanding, joy. 

Is it similar to what you’ve done previously or are you trying something new?
We are trying something new with this production. Alongside the Firebird ensemble we are working with young disabled and non disabled people from Bristol schools and we will be using music in a different way because we will have a Choir and a band live on stage. There will be lots of us! For Ferment we will be presenting something simpler but this is where we’re heading for our full production in March

How will it make people feel? / What will it make people think about?
We hope it will make people feel: sad, amazed, warm, emotional, happy. We hope that it will give them a sense of wonder, of magic.

We think this story will mean different things to different people. We hope it will make people think about bullying, that it is not the answer. We hope people will go away understanding that this is a story of life, a journey of self discovery and they will remember their own journeys. We hope that people will recognise the story and think about the messages within it, and that it will inspire them to think of the breadhorse and what it means to them. We hope they will start thinking of their own breadhorses. We hope they will be happy that in the end we can share rather than bully. This story is about self respect and how important that is when life becomes difficult.

What stage will it be at in its development when we see it in January?
We are performing The Breadhorse, a story by Alan Garner, in the Studio in March. The story has inspired us to write our own poetic introduction to Garner’s story, which is now part of the whole show. These poems explore the rules of a game as a parallel to how we would like our lives and the world to be. A place where everyone is made welcome regardless of their differences and what they can and cannot do; a world where we care and look after each other and by doing so come closer to the wonderful mysteries of life.

This understanding is something we develop through sharing stories, memories, games; passing them on from one generation to the next. Firebird has created a piece of theatre from this perspective, making The Breadhorse a story that is about us all, adults and children.

For Ferment we are performing this short 15 minute introduction – testing out how the poetry and projections work and how it feels to have an audience again. We want to hear what people think and we hope they will be intrigued and want to see the full version of March.

We think The Breadhorse is a story that everyone can identify with – young or old. It is a story with big themes, like bullying and how hard it is when you are made to feel different because you can’t do things the way that other people can do them; as a company we identify personally with these issues. There is darkness in the story, but it is also glorious and full of imagination. Through The Breadhorse we can tell the audience about our lives. On the surface it is an ordinary story about bullying, which most of us have experienced as either bully or by being bullied; but when you get into the story then you know it is about how you can change attitudes to make a better way for understanding. And this is where the heart of this story is, it is why we chose to tell it.

An excerpt of The Breadhorse will be performed as part of Ferment Fortnight on Wed 30 Jan, find out more information here. The Breadhorse will be performed in full on 14-16 March, and tickets are half-price before  the end of February. Firebird Theatre are Associate Artists at Bristol Old Vic and The Breadhorse is produced by Mayk.




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