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A red telephone box stands in front of trees and next to a white fence

Feral Productions present Last Call

21st July 2021

Feral Productions present Last Call, a series of digital vignettes exploring the history of local red telephone boxes.

LAST CALL

In 2020, The Courtyard commissioned a series of digital vignettes from Feral Productions exploring the stories connected with local telephone boxes.

The project, named Last Call, was conceptualised during a meeting between Feral Productions Artistic Director, Estelle van Warmelo (who also directs The Courtyard’s annual pantomimes) and Shropshire based poet, Jean Atkin when Jean was discussing her passion for the traditional, British telephone box. Jean had been photographing phone boxes for years and was keen to expand the creative playing field. Estelle saw an opportunity for a collaboration. The Courtyard was pleased to commission the project for creation as digital content for its audiences.

Estelle and Jean began to explore the history behind a selection of local telephone boxes and uncovered a rich assortment of stories from the public.

“We were struck by how much meaning they carried, these icons of a bygone age, how much significance.” Said Estelle van Warmelo, “We began to mull what was being lost as they sat in their varying states of obsolescence, how the value of contact was diminishing without the driven need for another 10p when the pips came – in order to book that taxi, complete a declaration of love, phone home…  All those moments! All those stories! As we shared our experiences on social media, a dam burst – everybody had a phone box story and everybody wanted to tell us theirs.”

After months of reconnaissance, Jean developed a series of poems which were transformed into a collection of short films, screened for a private audience at The Courtyard in July. The films are now available to watch for free on The Courtyard’s website.

Working alongside Feral on the Last Call project was Ivor Novello award winning composer and musician Sophie Cooper. Sophie is a sound artist whose practice focusses on new presentations of acoustic instrumentation with electronics, experimental composition, text placement and performance.

In addition to performing and composition, Sophie is heavily involved in the UK underground DIY scene promoting regular shows in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. She also hosts a bi-monthly radio show promoting new music for The Neon Hospice under the name Tor FM.

Sophie is a music workshop facilitator specialising in music technology, creative mentoring and music for early years. Recent clients include, Yorkshire Sound Women network, NYMAZ , Sound and Music and Rhythm Time. Sophie also manages learning and participation projects for hcmf in Huddersfield.

 

A camera set up in front of a red telephone boxA man in a face mask fixing the hair of a woman in front of a red telephone box A man in a brightly coloured jacket signalling towards a telephone box A woman holding a small black dog in her arms standing in front of a telephone box A man wearing a grey suit standing next to a film camera

Also involved in the production of Last Call was Open Sky director Lisle Turner, cinematographer Kie Cummings and designer Carl Davies.

There is a notable relevance of exploring the themes and stories surrounding old red telephone boxes during a time of enforced separation and isolation. Just as technology has served to retain human connections during the covid 19 pandemic, telephone boxes have provided the same lifeline for so many isolated people over the years. Now, as many lie in disuse, Feral Productions hope to bring life back into these old village stalwarts.

 

WATCH THE LAST CALL FILMS

 

The Best Man

 

The End of the Line

 

From England’s Gate I Rang New York

 

The Tipping Point

 

The Endless Day at Mill Lane

 

The Waiting Game

 

I Am Not A Phone Box

Margaret and Tony Can’t Come To The Phone Right Now

 

The Dog Box

FERAL PRODUCTIONS

Feral Productions are a Herefordshire based, site-responsive theatre company. Their aim is to connect people to places through multisensory performances.

“The Feral model has become increasingly defined over the years.” says Estelle, “Typically, we research a local site that has universal relevance and we respond to it through poetry. Thereafter, I adapt the poetry using multisensory processes in order to develop the final material for performance. Recently, that has of course meant digital performance which has been an almost vertical learning curve. While we have often integrated film to some extent it’s quite a different matter to go entirely screen-based but we have been in good hands with our seasoned film director Lisle (Open Sky) and cinematographer Kie (The Task At Hand). And we have loved it!

Previous productions include The Gingerbread House, Follow Me, Riversong, Feral Tales and Hush Now. Adapted for the stage and screen from Feral’s original site-specific productionHush Now is a piece of digital theatre supported by The Courtyard. Hush Now gave voice and visibility to Herefordshire’s unmarried mothers who were stigmatised, silenced and hidden away in Mother and Baby Homes. The production premiered on The Courtyard’s website in March 2021 to critical acclaim. The project also included the production of a series of 9 short films. Each one centred around a different character from Hush Now. These can still be viewed here on our website.