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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Vagabonding launches

THE Vagabonds kicked off their 20-day tour of South Cumbria with a show on a sun-drenched Piel Island.

Puppeteers Gary Bridgens and Phill Gregg performed 25 shows across the region throughout their epic 100-mile journey, which culminated at Barrow Park Bandstand on Sunday May 22.

And they launched Vagabonding, part of the Lakes Alive programme, against a backdrop of Piel Castle.

Mr Gregg said: “It’s a bit of a relief to get the first show out of the way.

“It was nice to have a small audience to try out the material on, and we both enjoyed ourselves.

“We’re used to working in a really small room, so to be outside in the sunshine was a pleasant change. The show has been a few months in the making and when we rehearsed it, it was way too long, so we’ve had to cut it down a bit.

“The bits we’ve left out will probably be used on our website, kind of like the bonus material on a DVD.”

The project is a modern take on the work of Walter Wilkinson, who famously toured his Peep Show throughout the British Isles and beyond throughout the 1920s and 30s, setting up wherever he could find an audience. He wrote a series of travelogues based on his experiences as he travelled the country on foot with his puppet booth.

“Wilkinson did sketches and we were going to do a book, but we think this way people will be able to find out what we’re up to,” says Mr Gregg.

“For example, yesterday’s blog was about the pigs on Piel that stole Gary’s lunch. It’s just a little bit about what we experience while we’re in our tent and the interesting characters we’ll hopefully meet along the way.”

The storyline follows the history of their hand-cart, Dolly, and the various owners it has had in the past, including the founder of Piel Castle, Lambert Simnel, a carrier pigeon called Tommy, a crane-driving couple from Barrow, and Doc Lancaster, who was responsible for bringing the Black Death to Cumbria.

Dolly and the duo headed to Bardsea last night where they perform at the Malt Kiln at 6.30pm today, before moving on to Ulverston, Grange, Arnside, Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside, Kirkby, Dalton and back to Barrow, stopping off at dozens of villages along the way.

Mr Gregg said: “We drove the route a couple of times beforehand and we have picked some really beautiful locations.

“I’m not looking forward to the inevitable rain and sleet that will come our way, but weather aside, it should be a great journey.

“As we move from place to place we’ll hopefully hear some stories, and we might change the show a little bit.”

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Vagabonds in Kendal

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