22 January 2018

An Intriguing Stage Production of Bella in the Wych Elm

Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm - cover image from Pregnant Fish Theatre Facebook page
Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm - cover image from Pregnant Fish Theatre Facebook page

Back in December 2017, I received a fascinating email from Tom Drayton, Director of Pregnant Fish Theatre and lecturer at the Universities of East London and Worcester. Tom teaches archival performance which sounds kind of strange until you learn that he basically "teaches students how to engage with archival material and research through performance experiments whilst also adhering to ethical and moral complications that arise when theatre meets real people’s lives and histories". A different style of theatre!


For the past year, Tom, his students and the theatre company have been "obsessed with the ‘Bella’ case and the complex connections it has with a great many different topics both in Britain and beyond". Not surprising... Bella is a mystery rooted in obsession! Tom's intention for the project is to "explore theatre’s role in our current cultural fascination with True Crime, and find a way of ethically interpreting archival and historical sources".

Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm - cover poster
Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm - cover poster
Tom and his students have been exploring the case through material from the Worcestershire Archives, published books and internet resources – including my own blog on Josef Jakobs. My own interest in the Bella case stems from the fact that Josef's mistress, German cabaret singer Clara Bauerle, has been posited to be a candidate for Bella in the Wych Elm.

Tom and his group are going to create a stage production by only using text available within archival, published and online material. It sounds like an intriguing project in which there is no traditional script but simply quotes from published texts.

The show is going to have a run at The Space, a theatre in London, from March 13-17, 2018. The show will run about 60 minutes and tickets are available...

Check the Pregnant Fish Theatre Facebook page for more info...
Or visit their web page...
Or check out their project trailer on YouTube...
Or read their blog to get a sense of the background work that has gone into this piece...

Wish I could see it!

(They're doing a great job on promotion!)

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