Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Filming the second part of Chris's story

Chris Wiltshire, Firebird performer, has had a day filming with Frank Spencer at Redweather Studios. He has filmed the second part of his story for A Spark and a Beating Heart - we are trying out lots of different ways of telling our personal stories and the myths and legends of the firebird and phoenix for this performance.

Chris making the film at Redweather Studios, photos by Frank Spencer.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Rehearsals for A Spark and a Beating Heart

We are enjoying our rehearsals with actor Fionn Gill; he has helped us develop the script and our ideas about storytelling for A Spark and a Beating Heart. We are very excited that Fionn will be performing with us; we have never worked this way before and we are learning so much from all the people we are collaborating with on this new production.

We have two more sessions with Fionn before he goes to London to work - next time we see Fionn will be for the performances in May!

Olivia, Brian and Fionn rehearsing the Garden scene in A Spark and a Beating Heart

Photo by Penny Goater, Firebird Theatre

Friday, 3 February 2017

Firebird Newsletter January 2017

Prior to releasing our publicity, we would like to give you the performance dates for A Spark and a Beating Heart. Please put one of these dates in your diary!

In association with Bristol Old Vic, Firebird Theatre will be performing A Spark and a Beating Heart  at Fyfe Hall, the Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Bristol BS2 0NW on 11, 12 and 13th May – times to be confirmed.

Firebird is proud and excited to be performing in this beautiful venue, in the heart of the city.

This new production tells the personal stories and collective memories and experiences of the Firebird performers. The experience of the youngest members of the company is very different to those nearing retirement. We use first-hand stories of the Firebird artists (captured through work with local writer Claire Williamson), intertwined with the myths and legends of the firebird and phoenix. The show mixes the personal and the political, telling stories of the past, the present and our aspirations for the future.

Alongside these stories, we celebrate making theatre together over the last 25 years and more; stressing the importance of theatre as a place where people have a voice and can form immediate and important relationships with audiences.

We look very forward to sharing this new work with you.

Other news:

We received 3 year funding from The Odin Charitable Trust, which is wonderful and much appreciated.

Isabelle Sallis and a team from Kingston University are running in the Paris Marathon in April. They are raising money for four charities, one of which is Firebird Theatre. If you would like to sponsor the KU Paris Marathon Team and support Firebird at the same time, please visit.

We made £480 at our Christmas Sale and Auction after the Annual General Meeting on the 10th December 2016. Many thanks to everyone who helped raise funds by baking, running a stall and/or donating items for sale or auction.  Your help is much appreciated.

More about A Spark and a Beating Heart

MAYK is producing A Spark and a Beating Heart and the Creative Team working with Firebird Theatre are:

Fionn Gill, who will perform alongside the Company;

Adrian Lee, musician from the British Paraorchestra, composing and playing music in the show;

Ruby Spencer Pugh, set, costume and prop design;

Frank Spencer, film and projections;

Chris Swain, lighting design;

Paul Blakemore, photography;

Anna Griffiths, Stage Management;

Gemma Brooks, Production Manager.

The show will be British Sign Language Interpreted and we hope to have an audio described performance too.

Apart from rehearsal sessions, recent work has included voice recordings with Frank, working with Fionn, having a photo shoot with Paul and a Production Meeting before Christmas.

We will keep you updated with all information as and when and we hope we will see you in May, if not before!

Sending our very best wishes for a great start to 2017 from us all in Firebird Theatre

Photo of the Paul Blakemore photoshoot from 12th January, photo by Ed Goater. 

Friday, 12 August 2016

Our Summer Newsletter

On May 30th we took part in the Celebrations for Bristol Old Vic’s 250th Birthday. We performed extracts from the last 25 years of Firebird’s work and also three pieces of work in progress on the Main Stage at Bristol Old Vic.

Our patron, Kathryn Hunter, performed alongside us, dancing Steve Knight’s shadow dance from The Nine Lessons of Caliban and performing an extract from Faustus, again one of Steve’s roles. This felt very important to us and we know Steve would have loved Kathryn’s involvement.

Kathryn Hunter rehearsing the extract from Faustus with Brian Davis,
photograph by company member, Sharlie Yea
Also for this performance, Jack Drewry, Ed Goater and Ruby Spencer Pugh provided music and support on stage. Frank Spencer made projections and film especially for this show, which made an amazing and accessible backdrop to the performance.

So, we wish Bristol Old Vic another Happy Birthday and thank them and Kathryn, Jack, Ed, Ruby and Frank for supporting our work in such a wonderful and exciting way.

Thanks also to Sherrie Eugene who interpreted the performance into British Sign Language.

Moving into the Public Hall, Shirehampton 

Moving into the Public Hall, Shirehampton, Photograph by Penny Goater

At the beginning of June, we moved into the Public Hall in Shirehampton whilst the demolition and renovation work is going on at the Bristol Old Vic.

We thank Amanda at the Public Hall for being so welcoming to Firebird. It is a lovely big space and although we miss being at the Old Vic very much, we are very happy to have found the Public Hall. 

The new work 

Prior to the performance on the 30th May, Kathryn Hunter ran a workshop for us as well as rehearsing for the Bristol Old Vic Celebrations. She worked with us on the three extracts from our new work, which was really helpful. We hope to have more of these sort of sessions with workshops from people like Kathryn.
A selection of photographs from the new work that is being developed,
working title: Firebird is 25, photographs by Ed Goater

We are currently having 'closed' sessions on Mondays so we can focus on structuring the material for the new work, which is going well. When this process has finished we hope we’ll have a draft  script that will form a basis for collaborative work with the artistic team. Members of the artistic team have not been confirmed yet but we hope they will include Ruby Spencer Pugh, set/prop/costume design; Composer/musicians from the Paraorchestra; Frank Spencer, film and projections; Chris Swain, lighting design; Anna Griffiths, stage manager.

Again, we cannot definitely confirm other artistic input but we would like to work with Tristan Sturrock, Kathryn Hunter and others to help us develop the new show.

Other news

New Trustee

We are proud and pleased to welcome Mel Scaffold as a new Trustee for Firebird. Mel is co - director at Theatre Bristol and brings a huge amount of experience and expertise to Firebird.

New film on website

You will see a new film on our website of work in progress performed at Bristol Old Vic on the 30th May. The film was made by Frank Spencer who not only contributed hugely to the performance but also managed to set-up a camera in the auditorium so that we had a record of performing on the Main Stage: big thanks to Frank.

Doing things Differently

Some of us are getting involved in the Choir for Extraordinary Bodies and Diverse City's ‘Doing things Differently’ in Bristol over the weekend of 16 – 18 September. There is a lot happening over the weekend and the performances are free. Please visit  for more details.

Jenny Stafford

Finally, Jenny Stafford has retired from Firebird Theatre after nearly ten years with the Company. We wish her well with all future enterprises and would like to thank her for all she has given Firebird. We have all enjoyed working with Jenny and recognise what she has brought to the Company.


We thank everyone for their constant support – it is very much appreciated. We particularly thank families and supporters who have helped make our move into the Public Hall so easy, supporting us by helping with transport and planning journeys.

We wish you all a good summer and we will be in touch again when we have more news to share.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Performance at Bristol Old Vic, Bank Holiday Monday 30th May 2016

Please join us at 1pm at Bristol Old Vic on Bank Holiday Monday 30th May.

We are very excited to let you know that we will be performing on the main stage as part of Bristol Old Vic’s 250th Birthday Celebrations.

We will be performing excerpts from our work of the last 25 years, including new work in progress.

We are very proud to announce that our patron, Olivier Award winner Kathryn Hunter, will perform on stage with us. As you can imagine, this makes the performance even more special to us.

We are also joined by Jack Drewry who worked with us on The Breadhorse and Frank Spencer from Redweather Productions whose documentary film about Prospero, Duke of Milan is on the home page of our website. Frank will use film and projections from past productions made by his partner Ann Pugh, as well as new films that he has made especially for this performance.

Ed Goater provides live music and the Firebird Theatre artists who will be appearing on stage are:

Daniel Bryan, Stephen Canby, Brian Davis, Penny Goater, Kevin Hogan, Tina Kelly, Mary Lansdown, Sarah McGreevy, Marilyn Rees, Jenny Stafford, Chris Wiltshire and Sharlie Yea.

We do hope that you will be able to come and see us on the 30th, tickets are free on a 'first come, first served' basis and our performance will last approximately 30 minutes.

There is so much happening at Bristol Old Vic over the Bank Holiday weekend, for more information about the 250th Birthday Celebrations, please visit

Money raised for Firebird

We are pleased to report that Isabelle Sallis ran an 8 mile road race around Hampton Court on the 3rd April and raised £212.27 in sponsorship money for Firebird Theatre! A big thank you to Isabelle (who also joined us on our sponsored walk last year) and all the people who sponsored her, we really appreciate your support.

We will use the money to pay for a British Sign Language Interpreter and access costs for the Company artists for the performance we are doing on Bank Holiday Monday 30th May. Without this sponsorship money we could not afford to do either, again thank you.

                    Isabelle, number 2716, running for Firebird!

Firebird Theatre: Company update, May 2016

Since we received the funding from the Arts Council’s Grants for the Arts programme, we have been working with Claire Williamson to start collecting our stories and experiences. There is a lot of material from these writing sessions and we now have the task of shaping it into a new piece of theatre. We will be working with different people during the next stage of the process; we have had a workshop with Fionn Gill and hope to do more work with Fionn. We are also working with Kathryn Hunter and Jack Drewry over the next few weeks.

Fionn working with Firebird artists

We are now meeting with other practitioners and over the next few weeks, we will be able to confirm the other members of the team who will work with us on Firebird is 25, as well as other guest artists.

In April we went to MAYK’s Mayfest Launch, which we really enjoyed. We saw Candoco’s Counteracts at Bristol Old Vic and some people took part in the workshop they did afterwards.

We met Jamie Beddard and Claire Hodgson from Diverse City, they will be bringing their company, Extraordinary Bodies, to Bristol in September and are inviting us to get involved and maybe showcase some of our new work, which will be very exciting.

Finally, we need to move out of Bristol Old Vic at the end of May because of the major renovations and building works that will be happening in the theatre. Bristol Old Vic has offered us a huge amount of support over the years, in particular a space for us to meet and rehearse once a week. We have so appreciated this support and the help they are giving us now to try to find an alternative venue. Firebird will remain an Associate Company and  Bristol Old Vic will continue to offer support whenever they can.

If anyone knows of anywhere that may be suitable for Firebird to meet and rehearse, please contact us, we would love to hear from you.

We need a physically accessible venue that is not difficult to get to and is on a main bus route. Ideally, we would like to meet every Monday for a minimum of 5 hours in the daytime; we would like somewhere that is consistently available to us all year round.

As soon as we know where we’ll be meeting and rehearsing and we have settled in then we will let you know.

This last bit of news makes our performance on the 30th even more important to us all; a great way of bidding farewell to Bristol Old Vic for a while until they re open in 2018!