Aphrodite & the Gods of Love

Hugh Lupton and Helen Chadwick

Aphrodite, the goddess of love and desire in the Greek pantheon, has an ancestry that goes back to the mammoth tusk carvings of female figurines made by the Paleolithic hunter-gatherers.

In this performance (originally commissioned by the Getty Villa in Los Angeles) the goddess’ appearance among the Olympian deities, her many liaisons, her marriage to Hephaestos, and the tragic story of her love for the mortal Adonis are told in a sharp and poetic language that never forgets her ancient lineage. The stories are interspersed with Helen’s settings of fragments of Sappho’s erotic poetry.

This performance is going out at £700


Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden

An evening of tales of transformation, featuring many of the most popular stories from the Classical World: Arachne, Orpheus in the Underworld, Echo and Narcissus, Demeter and Persephone, Midas, Baucis and Philemon….

Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ has enchanted audiences and inspired artists for more than two thousand years. These retellings enable them to charm and chill us still today.
“The tale… stopped all our hearts, however hardened by age.” The Guardian

This performance is going out at £700

On Common Ground

Hugh Lupton

An evening of stories, poems & songs exploring the life and times of John Clare.

The landscape holds the memory of everyone who has ever trodden it… all we have to do is listen. In this programme of story, music, poetry and song Hugh Lupton puts his ear to the ground and tells the story of John Clare. It is a performance that explores the porous boundaries between language and place, madness and exile, love and loss.

This is a programme that sings of the unsung and remembers the forgotten histories of the soil.

This show is going out at £400.

The Horses

Psalms from the Horse’s Mouth.

Hugh Lupton

Since the earliest times there has been a strong, almost a magical connection between people and horses. We can see it in paleolithic cave-paintings of wild horses, we can see it in the reverence paid to the horse in Celtic culture, just as we can see it in old black and white footage of farm labourers working their ploughs with teams of shires. It is a relationship that has continued through history, and it is only over the last seventy years (or so) that the connection has been severed for most of us by the supplanting of the horse by the internal combustion engine. But we feel it instinctively still; when we are in the presence of horses an old memory is wakened in us.

This programme of words and music explores and celebrates the ancient relationship between man and horse. It also explores what we have lost by being out of touch with ‘horse presence’. Using story, poetry, song and music it evokes the companionship and the mystery, the sense of otherness that horses conjure in us.

At the heart of the programme is the narrative poem ‘The Horses’, a story that begins in Eastern England a hundred years ago. It follows the life of Jenny Wing, a horseman’s daughter. The slow disappearance of the horses from the landscape mirrors the aspirations and disappointments of her lifetime, a lifetime that almost spans the twentieth century. The programme also includes poetry, and humorous, moving stories from the Celtic and Navajo traditions.

This performance is going out at £400.

The Unquiet Grave

Hugh Lupton.

A set of stories from many cultures exploring the thin divide between this life and the next. Moving from black chuckles to bleak shudders to moments of revelation, shifting ground between ghost story and myth, these stories explore the mystery of our mortality and what lies beyond.

This performance is going out at £400.

Barbed Wire for Kisses

A Village at War

Hugh Lupton, Nick Hennessey, John Dipper, James Patterson

The story of the First World War, told without leaving the parish bounds of a village in Lincolnshire. The tangled lives of one tight-knit community become a microcosm of the huge struggle that has enveloped the Western World.
Told by Hugh Lupton and Nick Hennessey, with music by John Dipper and James Patterson.

This performance is going out at £1,200

The Hanging of a Mouse

Hugh Lupton

Welsh stories from the Mabinogion, a rich tangle of love, enchantment and revenge, told with lightness and poetic intensity.

This performance is going out at £400.

Liberty Tree

(Robin Hood & the English Radicals)

Hugh Lupton & Nick Hennessey

‘To live outside the law you must be honest’.

Robin Hood boasts to the Merry Fellowship about the ten-tined stag he’s just killed and gralloched even as the air fills with the sound of the baying of the sherriff’s hounds… as he always has boasted somewhere in the leafy shadows of our minds, and as he always will as long as tyranny rides rough-shod over the green freedoms of England.

Hugh Lupton and Nick Hennessey tell and sing their way deep into the secret, dappled heart of Sherwood… and the ancient tradition of English dissent.

This performance is going out at £700


Hugh Lupton and Rick Wilson

Beowulf is the oldest story in the English language – and it still has the power to raise the hairs on the back of the neck! It tells of a hero’s life, a life that is mapped by three tremendous blood-curdling encounters. As a young man Beowulf defeats the monster Grendel and his even more terrifying Mother, the original creatures from the Black Lagoon. Then, as an old man, he tries his strength against a gold guarding Fire-Drake (a dragon). Alongside these adrenalin-charged encounters the story explores the journey we all make from the seeming invincibility of youth to the heroic vulnerability of old age. The story has had a tremendous effect on the imagination of many writers and poets, most notably J.R.R. Tolkien. Without Beowulf there would have been no Lord of the Rings.

In this performance master-storyteller Hugh Lupton joins forces with one of Britain’s leading percussionists Rick Wilson. Bells, gongs and drums subtly and dramatically underpin the rich language of the story.

The performance is in two halves of approximately 40 minutes. Suitable for ten year olds and over.

This show is going out at £700.

The Secret Commonwealth

Hugh Lupton

All over the British Isles there are accounts of another realm that lies within and beyond the visible world, but which we cannot see. The denizens of that world spill over into our world sometimes either visibly or invisibly – and bring us good fortune and ill fortune in equal measure. Individually they might bear such names as Hob or Lob or Robin Goodfellow or Queen Mab or Yallery Brown; as a people they are known as the Todloweries or the Boggarts or the Strangers or the Tylwyth Teg; the realm they come from has been called Tir-Na-Nog or Elvenland or Anwwn or Faerie. This Secret Commonwealth is governed by laws that are strange and paradoxical to us mortals, and it exercises a power, a ‘glamoury’ that defies all reason.

In this programme of stories and ballads Hugh Lupton explores the nature of this Otherworld and its strange, humorous, dangerous, erotic inhabitants…. and their various edgy interactions with humankind.

This performance is going out at £400.

Animal Tales

Hugh Lupton.

Every culture has its animal stories: tales of trickery, tales of shape-shifting, tales of how things came to be, tales of adventure and knock-about humour. The way the stories have been shaped tell us a lot about the people who first told them. Native American, West African, Indian, Haitian, Norwegian and British stories rub shoulders in this entertainment for children (over six) and adults.

This performance is going out at £400.

The Mardling Acre

Hugh Lupton.

A programme of folk-tales, legends, music and songs from East Anglia. In turns funny, frightening, bawdy and playful, this performance celebrates the gossiping acres of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and the Fens, conjuring some colourful characters in the process – Black Shuck, Charlie Wag, Jack Ostler, Tom Hickathrift, Old Nol, Tom-Tit-Tot… and East Anglia’s patron saint – Edmund.

This performance is going out at £400.

The Homing Stone

Hugh Lupton

It is autumn 1919. Moscow is surrounded by counter-revolutionaries. Arthur Ransome is known to be a Bolshevik sympathiser. He’s fallen in love with Trotsky’s secretary. They both know they’ll be lynched or shot if Moscow falls. Somehow they must escape. On Ransome’s desk is a stone from Peel Island on Lake Coniston. Is it a powerful enough talisman to get him home?

In this Praise Song for his great uncle Hugh Lupton tells the extraordinary story of Arthur Ransome and Evgenia Shelepina’s escape through Estonia, an adventure in which they seemed to become characters from one of the folk tales Ransome had collected in ‘Old Peter’s Russian Tales’, surviving by a mixture of quick wit and good fortune.

The first half of the performance is a series of folk-tales collected by Ransome in Russia, that prefigure his own adventures.

This performance is going out at £400

The Sleeping King

Hugh Lupton, Daniel Morden & Nick Hennessey

The great English writer Alan Garner has described traditional stories as being ‘how a nation dreams’. If that is so, what might the recurring dreams of this nation be?

The Sleeping King is an attempt to answer that question. Each story (whether told or sung) is an encounter with the other world – that world that resides beyond the known – always present but just out of reach. Although the motifs may be familiar from other cultures, the stories as they appear here seem to us to say something fundamental about the soul of these islands. Chilling, poignant and beautiful by turns this programme of stories, music and song is a demonstration of the power of a classic tale well told.

Includes: Gawain and the Green Knight, The Pardoners Tale, Llyn y Fan Fach, Fairy Ointment, Tam Lin, The Loathly Lady & The King asleep under the Hill.

This show is going out at £900 (or £700 with just Hugh & Daniel)

The Gate of Horn

Hugh Lupton & Daniel Morden

A four hour re-telling, over two evenings, of the two mighty Homeric tales: ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’.
These stories have a cast of characters whose shadows have stretched across the European imagination for three thousand years: Helen, cursed by her beauty; Achilles, the archetypal flawed hero; Cassandra, destined to see the future but to be believed by no-one; Odysseus, the quick-witted survivor against all the odds… characters whose destinies are driven by the all consuming force-fields of the Olympian Gods.

The Iliad

The story of the siege and fall of Troy is as contemporary now as it has ever been. It is an extraordinary account of the testosterone-charged energy of war, with its savagery and mad ecstasy. It explores questions of nationalism (one sides triumphant moments of victory are another sides atrocities), of grief (Achilles’ mourning of Patroclus, Priam’s mourning of Hector), of divine indifference, human frailty and the destructive and redemptive faces of love.

The Odyssey

The story of Odysseus’ ten year journey from Troy describes the systematic stripping away of a hero’s wealth and warrior bravado until, at last, he returns home ‘alone, unknown and under a strange sail’. Buffeted by the Fates, helped by indomitable owl-eyed Athene, Odysseus’ voyage is the journey of Everyman from the cock-sureness of youth into the wisdom of age, from male ego into feminine mystery.

These compulsive performances, by two of Britain’s leading storytellers, are true to the momentum of a rattling good tale, the wry humour and poetic reflection, and the profound human observation of the Homeric vision. They are aimed at an adult audience and are not suitable for anyone under twelve.

Each performance lasts approximately two hours.

The Odyssey and the Iliad can be booked separately (each is a performance in its own right) for a single evening, or together as “The Gate of Horn” over two consecutive evenings.

Each performance is going out at £750, ’The Gate of Horn’ is going out at £1,300


The Three Snake Leaves

Hugh Lupton, Ben Haggarty & Sally Pomme Clayton

Searching through uncharted and unfamiliar latitudes of the Brothers Grimm collection the Company of Storytellers have devised a sequence of interwoven tales that follow ancient story tracks deep into the dark oak forests which once covered western Europe, and which still cast their shadows in our minds.

‘A wonderful, intricate piece about storytelling and the possibilities of redemption.’ The Independent.

This performance is going out at £1,000.