Our Autumn Rattle Tales took us bit by surprise this year. We???d had such a full and fantastic summer what with the Green Man and Brighton Digital Festivals, and supporting Lonny Pop as host at The Small Wonder Slam, we almost forgot about organising our regular show. By the time we did remember there weren???t many dates available and the whole thing was a bit rushed in terms of calling for submissions and publicising the show. The subs came in though, and the standard was exceptionally high.
We headed to our spiritual home, The Brunswick Pub in Hove, last Wednesday for a night of stories and, for the first time, music. There weren???t as many people in the audience as usual (probably due to the spontaneity of the show!) so the venue was a little less packed, people could sit comfortably around candle-lit tables and there were enough rattles for everyone.
Rattle Tales veteran, Katherine Doggrell started off proceedings with a funny flash fiction about a pre-9/11 airline pilot disturbed by a stream of visitors to the cockpit, arch and thought-provoking, ending with the line, ???he???d do anything for a sturdy door and a gun.??? The audience was on fine form from the off and asked Katherine several questions about her inspiration and intention.
Out-of-towner, David McGrath launched into a spirited reading of his prize-winning story The Elephant in the Tower complete with French accent about an elephant in the king???s menagerie at the Tower of London several centuries ago. The tale was absurdly tragi-comic, narrated by the sophisticated beast, it spoke volumes about cultural difference, between us and the French and between us and our ancestors (though some would say we hadn???t changed that much.) At the end, we had tears in our eyes for le pauvre elephant and again the audience had many questions.
Mike Liardet finished off Part One with The Invention, a memoir from Sir Isaac Newton???s cat, Spit Head, about his involvement in the scientist???s greatest invention. Again, truth was revealed to be stranger than fiction when Mike revealed that Isaac Newton was indeed responsible for the feline-related invention and that the prototype can still be seen in his former home. The small dog in the front row particularly enjoyed Mike???s story.
With I Was There Watching, Edward Rowe gave us a harrowing first-person account of a terrorist watching the scene of devastation before and after her attack. In less than 400 words Ed managed to tap into the psyche of fundamentalism and its justification of atrocity.
Ruby Cowling followed with Give Over, a tale of child manipulation unfolding over the course of an interview between a teenage girl and her concerned teacher. Ruby gave us an authentic teenage voice with a story which stared with comic recognition of youthful folly and ended leaving us all feeling decidedly uncomfortable.
Musician Sam Crawley, a friend of Rattle Tales approached us some time ago proposing a musical interlude during the show and this idea came to fruition this October. She and vocalist Sam Ireland performed two songs which provided an extra dimension to the stories we had just heard, beautiful, stirring and melancholy, a Lynchian pause in proceedings in which to float away and clean our minds.
After another short break Alice Cuninghame read The Washout, a dystopian tale about a world under-water, where the rich live in sky-scrapers in reverse, the most affluent residing the furthest from the surface. Expertly read, it told of class injustice and loss of liberty that seems only a natural disaster or two away from the present.
Jo Gatford made her Rattle Tales debut with Now Look What You Did, the story of cat death and psychotic Women???s Institute outrage that moved from laugh out loud to a horrifying approximation of the rise of Nazism. Jo???s story was extremely clever and prompted one audience member to ask if it was about the death of Princess Diana.
Erinna Mettler sent us home with an atmospheric ghost story, a lonely Devon pub, a blizzard at the door, wind rattling the windows and footprints with no owner. Truly terrifying.
The audience was fantastic, the readers brilliant and we at Rattle Tales think it may have been our best show yet. Thanks to everyone who came along, here???s to the next one.