• Hercules Editions

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

Nancy Charley, author of The Gospel of Trickster, is taking her show on the road, firstly in Margate this Saturday, and then wherever the road, and Trickster, takes her...



This Saturday (15th June), The Gospel of Trickster will be performed at the Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate (link here). It is a place I love. It is such a quirky theatre which through the years has been owned by different, but all very generous, hosts. I hold it in great affection because it is one venue where I first took some tentative steps in poetry-telling, thanks to Emily Hennessey and the opportunities she gave at her storytelling Scandalnights.


Drawing by Alison Gill for The Gospel of Trickster

Since those days I’ve been gaining skills, serving my apprenticeship. I’ve picked up different elements from spoken word, theatre, and storytelling. And I’ve honed skills at open mic nights, festival events and creating one-woman shows. In traditional times, once an apprenticeship was complete, the person became a journey(wo)man. They hadn’t yet reached the status of master craftsman but were capable of taking their skills on the road to bring to different communities.


‘On the road’ is where the metaphors of Journeyman and Trickster collide. Trickster is not a slob-in-front-of-the-TV kind of guy nor a 9-to-5, pay-my-mortgage kind either. He likes to get by on his wits, on the open road, bumping into people at crossroads, pointing out and crossing over boundaries. He "passes through…when there is a moment of silence, and he enlivens…" [1] Unlike Journeyman, Trickster doesn’t want to put time and effort into learning a craft. But you can be sure, when Journeyman is on the road, Trickster will turn up to challenge, create mischief, and push Journeyman to use his skills more creatively.




Writing The Gospel of Trickster was certainly a creative challenge. How could I bring alive an old story in a new way, format poetry in a different style, imagine how Trickster and Jesus might interact? Once written, the making of the show was another creative encounter - how to lift the words off the page and inhabit all the various characters? I am very grateful to theatre director, Tamar Saphra, who helped so much with this.


But I am also keen to take on another Trickster ‘challenge’. I have previously created poetry-telling shows for my collections. These I have performed, generally in London and east Kent, where I am based. But with perhaps my apprenticeship ending, I feel challenged to become a Journeywoman and take this show further afield.



Now it is not really practical, to just start wandering and hope that I might find a place to perform. It’s possible, but not highly probable, that I would get an audience. So, I need to ask for help. I’m looking for people and venues that are keen on some ‘enlivening’. I’ve performed before in living rooms, yurts, coffee shops, pubs, village and church halls... The possibilities of venues are numerous; anywhere where people can, and do, gather.


So…

  • If you have a living room, that could host half a dozen or more people, or a village hall that could host 100, and the idea of Trickster appeals…

  • If you can offer me a bed, or settee, for the night and I can charge a fiver for a ticket, or pass Trickster’s hat round at the end of the show...

  • If you run a youth or church group and fancy the idea of using The Gospel of Trickster as a starting point for a discussion…

  • If you’ve something to celebrate and would like a show as part of that...

  • If you fancy a bit of fun one evening…

  • Or if you just want to know more details, please, please, PLEASE, get in touch.

I am willing to come (almost) anywhere, to see how my craft can be honed still further as a journeywoman. You can contact me either through this website or directly at nancycharley@hotmail.com.



[1] Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes the World: How Disruptive Imagination Creates Culture, Canongate (2008), p.6

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An exhibition of collage works by Practical Visionaries Sophie Herxheimer and Chris McCabe has just opened at the Deptford Lounge. Sophie has said a few words about the experience of assembling this new show.



Yesterday I spent a fruitful day in Deptford hanging the etching series from The Practical Visionary as well as several new Blake inspired collages that I’ve been making recently.


There was room too for some of my Emily Dickinson collages from 2017, and hopefully we will be able to add more work by Chris McCabe next week.



So a zig zag panel of collagepoems, poemcollages: explosive bible words finding new sense in a grapple with paint & other found and minted phrases - worlds of painted and glued colour within a civic world of wandering colour, aka Deptford Lounge, a large utopian library just near the market.

It’s quite something spending a day in a public library - these brilliant spaces being amongst the last ones left where anyone and everyone is welcome. The right kind of space to channel the ghosts of some of our favourite poets - who are brought alive as much by the presence of kids doing their homework, the by turns concentrated and drifting browsers, and the drunk guy sprawled by the window, as by any attempts me or my collaborator might make in nudging them and their ideas into our parallel contemporary London.



The show is up until the end of June and open every day - check the Deptford Lounge website for times. On 18th June, Sophie and Chris will be reading their poems and discussing William Blake and his continuing influence at the Deptford Lounge at 7:30. The reading is free, and copies of The Practical Visionary will be available on the night.



If you can’t be there, or if would like to experience more of Sophie and Chris’s thoughts on Blake and his world, then we are pleased to bring you this MP3 of our two visionaries on foot around Blake’s Lambeth. The recording was created by audio producer Ben Eshmade.

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  • Hercules Editions

Nancy Charley, the author of The Gospel of Trickster, the latest title to be published by Hercules Editions, talks about the book's launch earlier this month, which took place at Lumen United Reformed Church on Tavistock Place in central London. To mark the occasion, Nancy gave a dramatic performance of the entire text, and all from memory. Here she talks about the development of the performance and first-night nerves.


Nancy Charley performing The Gospel of Trickster, London, May 2019

What a joy (and it was quite scary, too) to get to the premier night. I had first started working on the performance at the end of 2018. I had tried out individual poems at open mic nights, and done some 10-15 minute sections at new writing nights, but this was the first time I had performed the whole show to an audience. I was so grateful for the rehearsals I'd been able to do with director, Tamar Saphra, as it gave me the confidence that the piece could work. She helped me with setting the poems in a given space, giving the characters separate identities, pacing the show, and 101 other little things which I hoped would help make the show understandable to the audience. I love the chance to tell poems to people, whether my own work or others. It's being present with others for a moment in time for a shared, unrepeatable, experience. Even when I do the show again, it will be slightly different, the audience will be different, the venue will be different. And what a great venue it was for the launch - with the backdrop of the stained glass window lit by the evening sun. As I began the show, it was good to know there were people in the audience who were willing me to succeed - friends and family, and of course, Tammy Yoseloff, who believed in the text enough to want to publish it. So though the nerves were there, I really enjoyed being able to birth the show on the same night as the book was let loose on the world.

It's hard to know, as the performer, how well a show is going. I was acutely aware of the mistakes I made, though fortunately they were few and hopefully not too noticeable. To me, I was happy with how I did the show but will always welcome feedback, as I want to learn and improve. Many people were kind enough to come and thank me on the night, some gave good critical feedback then, others have since. So hopefully as I continue to take The Gospel of Trickster to other venues I will also be able to develop and improve the show.




The Gospel of Trickster is available now in the Hercules Editions online shop here


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