Half Term Fill: Local Things To Do For Kids

Big gulp of wine Mums, it’s half term next week. Okay, that’s quite enough, don’t panic. From daffodil picking, cooking and first aid, to football, driving tanks and having a go at being a DJ, here’s some things to keep little soldiers and princesses of all ages at bay, and smiling!

 
Sure thing is a movie; “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” is at the Palace Cinema, from today until Thursday 21st. “The Lego Movie 2” is a must, from Friday 15th also until Thursday 21st.

 

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From Thursday 14th through to Friday 22nd there’s a funfair at The County Ground in Swindon, from 2pm. Scream if you want me to go faster, or you’re running low on wine.

 
There will be the usual free swimming at the Leisure Centres, but check ahead, as some timetables have changed.

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You could take them for a trip down the Kennet & Avon, The Admiral is free on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th, find it at the Caen Hill Café, below the bridge at lock 44, at 11am. There will be trial sheets to explore the Jubilee Woods, and, back on board there will be a history of the canal and its restoration.

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Starting Saturday 16th, you can pick your own daffodils at Woodborough’s Whitehall Garden Centre, available daily until 31st March. £4.99 per bag. Both centres, at Woodbrough and Lacock, have a Gardening Nature Trail until Thursday 21st. Claim a lollipop at customer services for every completed entry.

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Saturday (16th) The Devizes Family Club have at Children’s Disco at the Conservative Club. 6:30-8pm, all are welcome but only above 9 years should be left. There’s an adult creche for you, with bar! £3 on the door, lucky dip 50p, tbc face painting and optional princess and superhero fancy dress. Proceeds are going to Rowde Academy.

 
Starting Sunday and running through the week, The Wyvern Theatre in Swindon has a roadshow at The Brunel Centre, inviting children to join in at The Crossing, to make dinosaurs or dragons to celebrate the arrival of Dinosaur World Live and Julia Donaldson’s Zog in April.

 
In Melksham there’s activities all week long at Young Melksham’s The Canberra Club. These clubs are for all young people in Year 5 and above (aged 8 to 16) and will run from 2pm till 5pm Monday to Friday, with entry costing £2.50 per session or a week-long pass for just £10. There will be a plenty of activities on offer including pool, table tennis, table football, arts and crafts, karaoke, cooking and baking, games and sports and much more. There are also computers and consoles available for use and a chill out room where you can watch tv or a film together.

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The Canberra Centre is amazing building with lots of space to run around and have fun and play games with your friends. There is also an outside courtyard for football, basketball and just burning off some energy! A variety of hot and cold food and snacks will be available to purchase as well as free squash.

 
How about teaching your nipper some line dancing on Monday? All ages and abilities welcome at The Town Hall, Devizes. Early Bird Session: 6.30-7.30pm £5 Beginners: 7-8pm £5. Improvers 7.30-9.30pm £6.

 
For footballers ages three to six, Devizes Town Youth has free coaching in their Little Kickers sessions from 9.30am to 11am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Football Club. Kid receive a free t-shirt and football. To sign your child up contact Mr Sheridan on 07860232052 or Raymond King on 07917787903 or Jon Wozencraft on 07767851332

 
Tuesday and Wednesday with two sessions per day: 11.00am – 12.30pm & 1.30pm – 3.00pm, there’s Wildlife in Wiltshire at The Wiltshire Museum, Devizes. Art and Craft activities linked to their Natural History Exhibition. You can make animal masks, create animal models and pictures. These sessions are very popular, so booking is essential. It’s suitable for age 11 and under. Age 8 and under to be accompanied. £5 per child. Accompanying adults free.

 
Or maybe try your hand at being a DJ? Trowbridge’s Community Area Future has a Free Half Term DJ Workshop at Studley Green People’s Place on Tuesday 19th. DJ Nina LoVe will show you how to mix the Old Skool way, using vinyl records! There will be a few different types of music available – House, UK Garage or Drum and Bass. Come and check it out, book yourself some time on the decks or get on the microphone! For ages 13-18. Please feel free to drop in or call to book a place on 07765371051/tcaf@trowbridge.gov.uk

 
Have a go at a soldier-led assault course, plus Tank-themed fun family activities, at the REME Museum, Lyneham. Make your own tank with parachute and see if your engineering skills are up to scratch by dropping your tank “into battle” in one piece. On the artistic side, you can design and colour-in tanks. There’re model tanks which you can drive on a special course. Drop in from 11 am to 3 pm, any day from Tuesday until Friday. Special soldier run kid’s assault course will be running, plus fun tank-based kids trails, activities and craft in the museum. All children to be accompanied by an adult. All activities are included in the admission fee. Assault Course suitable for 5 – 12-year olds. The Museum is open from 10 am to 4.30 pm (last entry at 3.30 pm), some activities run from 11 am to 3 pm. Museum admission required to take part in activities. No pre-booking required for this activity, just turn up and enjoy.

 
Wednesday 20th is time to get fit in Hillworth Park, free event, in association with Boot Camp UK, it’s going to be all Sprint, Slide, Shake, Scamper, Scurry, Swing and Stomp!

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For arts and crafts, Fired Thoughts at the Old Potato Yard, Devizes, has Half Term Lino Workshops, from Wednesday to Friday. A two-hour workshop to design, cut and print using Lino and inks. All ages and abilities welcome. All materials included, but please book: Tel:01380 840666 email: info@firedthoughts.co.uk

 
At the Court Street Gallery in Trowbridge, there’s a Children’s Silk Sun Catchers Workshop on Wednesday at 10am. £15 per person including materials. To learn more and book, visit: www.nicoladaviscrafts.co.uk/workshops.html

 
How about some first aid training for your children? Louise Worsley, a qualified trainer is at Marlborough Rugby Club on Thursday, 21st, 09:30 – 15:30 with an essential First Aid Training for Children. Sessions are tailored to age groups and are full of practical to make them fun and memorable: 9:30-11am – Mini Life-Savers course for 5-8-year olds – £18 (£15 for a sibling.) 11:30am-1pm – Mini Life-Savers course for 8-12-year olds – £18 (£15 for a sibling) and 1:30-3:30pm – Teen-Aiders course for 12-16-year olds – £24 (£20 for a sibling)

 
Thursday is the opening night for MACS Theatre School’s “The Addams Family” at Devizes School. It runs until Sunday. Tickets at Devizes Books or online here. Doors open at 6:30pm for a curtain up at 7:30. There’s also a mini Macs matinee performance on Saturday at 2:30pm.

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From Thursday until Saturday 23rd The Seend Village Pantomime presents “Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.” It takes place at Seend Community Centre, it’s the Fawlty Players 40th Anniversary, and there’s three of the cast were in the first Snow White in 1981! Tickets at the Post Office and Community Centre.

 
At Bradford on Avon’s St Margaret’s Hall, two of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes will be performed by local theatre group, the multi award-winning Bradfordians Dramatic Society. A take on Dahl’s retelling of the classic fairy tales, Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk. Following their success with The Twits last year, the group will bring Dahl’s honest, often vicious wit and humour to the stage in this production. Show times: Thursday 21st February – 6.30PM, Friday 22nd February – 6.30PM, Saturday 23rd February – 11AM, Saturday 23rd February – 2.30PM, Sunday 24th February – 2.30PM. Head to the Bradfordian’s website to see the full cast and more information here: http://www.thebradfordians.com/

 
Learn some street dance with a taster class at Charlotte’s School of Dance, Bath Rd Business Centre, Devizes, at 7:30pm on Friday with Jacinta Childs. To book this £5 session text: 07903812364.

 
Aspiring chefs, Saturday 23rd is for you; Margaret Bryant hosts Middle Eastern at Vaughan’s Kitchen Cookery School, Devizes. Spicy (but not hot) Falafels; Hummus; Baklava. Designed to give your youngster a firm foundation that will provide them with the techniques and knowledge they need to grow into competent and confident cook, it is also lots of FUN and they will bring home the results of the session to share with the family.

 

That enough?! Still bored?

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Sean McGowan at Level III, and beyond

Swindon, next week (21st Feb) a bright young punk wordsmith will visit Level III. The talented Sean McGowan signed to the Xtra Mile label, and frequently tours with buddy, Billy Bragg, as well as The Levellers, Skinny Lister, Frank Turner. Louder Than War Mag praisied Sean as a ‘unique talent’ when reviewing his debut album ’Son of The Smith’ last year.

 
Sean McGowan cruises into a headlining UK tour with “Auto Pilot,” his new single (HERE.) You can catch him with a full live band during Feb and March.

 
This title track taken from Sean’s warmly-received debut album of last year, “Auto Pilot” is another prime example of the perfectly preened and poetic indie-pop that made ‘Son of The Smith’ such a rewarding listen.

 
Brim-full of Sean’s distinctly wry social observations and set in vividly relatable situations, “Auto Pilot” tells a tale to lost loves and the pitfall-strewn pathway that lies beyond a bitter break up.

 
“And I can’t hack it any more, I smash up the wall… yet it doesn’t cure, the shame, the guilt, regret and all the dread in the morning and the next few days,” sings Sean, in a track that stands as one of the singer’s most emotionally complex and endearingly confessional outings to date.

 
Weaving interloping guitar lines around a driving motoric beat, “Auto Pilot” is an adrenaline-racing rush that testifies to the tight-knit musical mentality of his trusty backing band, who, fittingly join him on the road for this extensive run of UK shows.

 
It kicked off at Brighton’s The Hope & Ruin on the 7th. Sean and band will be travelling the length and breadth of England and Wales for a whopping 21 live dates that culminate in Bournemouth’s The Anvil on 3rd March 2019. Full dates and details, as follows.

 
The upcoming UK tour directly follows Sean’s biggest headline show to date, a Christmas homecoming in Southampton at the 1865 as supported by friend and labelmate Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly; the cherry on top of what was a monumental year for the ascending singer-songwriter.

 

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FEBRUARY 2019

 

07 Brighton @ Hope & Ruin
08 Bristol @ Louisiana
09 Manchester @ Star & Garter
10 Birmingham @ Sunflower Lounge
13 Leicester @ Soundhouse
14 Cardiff @ Clwb Ifor Bach
15 Hastings @ Blackmarket
16 Oxford @ Jericho Tavern
17 Guildford @ Boiler Room
19 Norwich @ Bermuda Bob’s Rum Shack & HiFi
20 Cambridge @ Portland Arms
21 Swindon @ Level 3
22 Leeds @ Hyde Park Book Club
23 Newcastle @ Underground
24 Glasgow @ Hug & Pint
25 Edinburgh, Sneaky Pete’s
27 St Albans @ The Horn
28 Nottingham @ The Bodega

March 2019

01 Bedford @ Esquires
02 London @ Borderline
03 Bournemouth @ Anvil

TICKETS ON SALE NOW:
www.musicglue.com/seanmcgowan

SEAN McGOWAN – ‘SON OF THE SMITH’

– ALBUM OUT NOW ON XTRA MILE RECORDINGS –
Order the album on CD, LP and digital here:
https://Seánmcgowan.lnk.to/sonofthesmith

FOR MORE INFORMATION

https://www.facebook.com/seanmcgowanmusicuk/

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Talk in Code Announce Tour Dates

Beginning of January, I reviewed Swindon indie popsters, Talk in Code’s second album, Resolve; blinking catchy it is too. Now, they’ve announced they’re heading out on the road for a RESOLVE Tour.

“Talk in Code write throwaway pop songs you’ll want to listen to forever – how cool is that?”
-Dave Franklin, Swindon Advertiser

The February and March tour to promote Resolve will be stopping off at The Cellar Bar in Devizes on Friday 1st March.

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The four-piece, who have supported names such as Catfish & The Bottlemen, Jesus Jones, Embrace, My Life Story and Toploader, are making waves in the indie music scene, having been featured on BBC Introducing, BBC 6 Music, Q Magazine Track of The Day, The Premium Blend Radio Show, and BBC Radio Wiltshire, with a session booked on Swindon 105.5FM later this month.

Talk in Code released Resolve in December 2018, with a homecoming show at Swindon’s Victoria. Now the band are talking their own unique blend of shimmering synth-led indie pop out on the road with a string of dates in the South, and a number of festival bookings throughout the summer all over the UK:

 
RESOLVE Tour Dates:

Thursday 28 February – JAGS Bar, Southsea, Portsmouth
Friday 1 March – Cellar Bar, Devizes
Saturday 2 March – Spice of Life, Soho, London
Thursday 14 March – Facebar, Reading
Friday 15 March – University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham
Saturday 16 March – The Horn, St Albans
Saturday 30 March – Level III, Swindon (with The Britpop Boys)

RESOLVE album link:
https://soundcloud.com/talkincode/sets/talk-in-code-resolve/s-shw7Z

 

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Shuffling in Swindon

Swindon Shuffle has been mouthed around my earshot recently, whazat? Some kind of euphemism? Nope it’s Swindon’s longest running contemporary music festival; been ‘appening since 2006. It now consists of four days of original live music spread over Swindon’s finest music venues, much of it locally sourced, and it’s free entry to the whole shebang!

 

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Swindon being cultureless is an old wife’s tale as ancient as carrots helping you see the dark, I learned this when drawing my little goldfish cartoon for the free rave/rock zine De-Railer in 1992, and nights at Queen’s Tap when the Skanxters shook the rafters. Swindon always has had a healthy music scene, don’t let anyone tell you any different, and even if they do, here’s a chance to prove that it’s staying more alive than John Travolta in a hot tub time machine.

 

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So, for a cheap article, I’ve cut and pasted the line-up, check it out and dribble! But also take note, sponsor the West Berkshire Brewery will be brewing an ale especially for the event called 5 Knuckle, which will be available in venues. Our friends at the Ocelot have been long-time supporters and a partner of the Shuffle, alongside Swindon Viewpoint, Britain’s original public-access television service, and venues The Beehive, Vic, Tuppenny and Castle. The Shuffle will also be raising money for the Swindon branch of Mind, a mental health problems charity.

 

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Yeah, so blow me down and call me David Murray John, it looks a little bit like this:

Wednesday 11 July 2018 – The Beehive Stage
19:30 Swindon Shuffle Music Quiz

Thursday 12 July 2018 – The Castle Stage
22:15 Slagerij
21:30 Street Outlaws
20:45 Post 12
20:00 Flour Babies
Thursday 12 July 2018 – The Tuppenny Stage (acoustic)
21:45 Canute’s Plastic Army
21:00 Tamsin Quin
20:15 Atari Pilot (acoustic)
Thursday 12 July 2018 – Baila Stage
(time tbc) Live Hip Hop Jam Session

Friday 13 July 2018 – The Victoria Stage
22:50 The Harlers
22:00 GETRZ
21:10 Monkfish
20:20 The Oxymora
19:30 Falls On Deaf Ears
Friday 13 July 2018 – The Castle
22:15 SN Dubstation
21:30 Wilding
20:45 Basement Club
20:00 The Compact Pussycat
19:15 Matthew Bryant
Friday 13 July 2018 – Baila Stage
(time tbc) After Party DJs

Saturday 14 July 2018 – The Victoria Stage
22:50 Wasuremono
22:00 Fabian Darcy
21:10 SHORE
20:20 Palm Rose
19:30 Moleville
Saturday 14 July 2018 – The Beehive Stage
22:15 SexJazz
21:30 Aural Candy
20:45 Grasslands
20:00 The Illustrations
Saturday 14 July 2018 – The Tuppenny Stage (acoustic)
18:30 Josh Wolfsohn
17:45 Sarah C Ryan
17:00 Steve Cox
16:15 The King In Mirrors
15:30 Sumita
14:30 Raze*Rebuild (acoustic)
Saturday 14 July 2018 – Baila Stage
(time tbc) After Party DJs

Sunday 15 July 2018 – The Beehive Stage
20:15 True Strays
19:30 Hip Route
18:45 Sunset Service
18:00 Cobalt Fire
17:15 Richard Wileman
16:30 Strange Tales
Sunday 15 July 2018 – The Tuppenny Stage (acoustic)
15:30 Emily-Jane Sheppard
14:45 Jack Moore
14:00 Special Guests
13:15 The Shudders (acoustic)

Swindon Shuffle Website

Facebook Page

 

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The Great Western Reggae Soundclash

Trains have an emblematic relationship with reggae and its predecessor ska.

 

The chugging offbeat imitating a steam engine has been a running theme throughout its history. From choo-choo vocals of the Ethiopian’s classic “Train to Skaville,” to Keith & Tex’s rock steady anthem, “Stop that Train,” and The Wailer’s song of the same title, reggae is awash with train themes; it’s only apt there’s such thing as “Great Western Reggae,” and a substantial scene in the historic railway town of Swindon.

 

Pop-a-Top Records is Swindon’s label dedicated to its reggae homebrew. It’s headed by the ex-Skanxter, Erin Bardwell and his Collective who’ve just released “Great Western Reggae Soundclash,”a double-album which serves as a prodigious sampler for Pop-a-Top’s Great Western Reggae style.

 

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In those ravey daze, the Skanxters were a local archaic blessing, harking to an era when life was less Altern 8 and more, well, Specials. I fondly recall heady nights following the Skanxters, at the Queen’s Tap, The Vic, and the Lamb in Marlborough, and remember the disheartening revelation a gig at Level III in 98 would be their last. I reminisce how, during their comical, “I’ll never know (who nicked my bike),” lead singer Andy Paton would ask the dodgiest looking audience member, “Oi, was it you?” and how once I was selected for the honour!

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Imagine my delight at catching up with Erin, who played keyboards in the band and hasn’t stopped since. “Not all the artists (on Pop-a-Top) are from Swindon,” Erin explained, “but most are, or have links to it.” With countless projects under his belt, such as dub production duo Subject A’s “Sleepwalkers” release with ex-Skanxter bass player Dean Sartain, and nostalgic two-tone reunion gigs for the Skanxters, Erin is exceptionally prolific.

 

Though meticulous effort has been refined into “Great Western Reggae Soundclash,” and while not astoundingly lyrical, despite the opening track “Rock Steady Rub,” with vocals parallel to Johnny Cash popping into Studio One, GWR concentrates more-so on keyboards akin to Jackie Mitto.

 

The Collective glide steadily through a plethora of traditional rock steady, which while wouldn’t sound out of place on a Trojan “Tighten Up” compilation, also has a sprinkle of reflections on Swindon. Again, in the aforementioned running train theme, the tongue-in-cheek “Night Bus to Highworth,” and a nod to Edith New, the Swindonian suffragette first to campaign in an aggressive manner.

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Fans of Jamaican music in Britain tend to separate into two trends, echoing dub and skinhead ska; the transitional stage is often overlooked. When really, developed through hard times in 1960s Kingston, where curfews set by the government to curb “rude boy” culture, it consequently mellowed the mood for the following era, and was Jamaica’s most creative period musically.

 

To hark back to this rock steady/boss reggae period is tried and tested in this album, a rarity left to groups like New York’s Frightnrs, who in turn add a little New Yorker panache to their sound. The Eric Bardwell Collective do similar, plus, while fundamentally inspired by rock steady they’re not afraid to explore techniques usually saved for ska or reggae, from chugging choo-choo vocals to nyabinghi drums and one drops, the tune “Why Why,” being a grand example of this, and along with both male and female vocals, the latter supplied by Dominican-born Sandra Bell, it makes the sound wholly unique and excitingly refreshing.

Erin Solarise

With rich history including backing reggae star Dennis Bovell, and a trip to Jamaica in 2003, to record at Byron Lee’s legendary Dynamic Sounds with Studio One engineer Sylvan Morris, Erin Bardwell has the contacts to add a plethora of talent to feature within the Collective. On this release you’ll find Selecter Guitarist Neol Davies, drummer Matty Bane of the Neville Staple Band, Pat Powell of the Melbourne Ska Orchestra alongside Swindon’s finest line-up, such as, among others, horns from the SN Dubstation.

 

There’s much here to impress and delight the reggae enthusiasts, my personal favourite being “Change,” where the Byron Lee influences shine, reminding of the frequently sampled piano riff of “My Conversation,” by the Uniques. Although there’s equally as much inspiration external to reggae, at times the soundscape took me to contemplate early Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett days, and a sprinkling of Sgt Pepper towards the album’s close. So, I figure there’s as much here to enjoy for the occasional reggae listener.

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There’s an album launch at the Thomas Hughes Memorial Hall in Uffington on December 1st, the Erin Bardwell Collective are also live at The Castle in Swindon on Friday 8th and Zed Alley in Bristol 15th December. If that’s too close to the big C, I’d highly recommend you keep warm and treat yourself to an early yule pressie; grab yourself a CD or download of this outstanding local riddim redeemer here at Bandcamp.

 

For more info on Erin Bardwell Collective and the Top-a-Pop label, click here.

 

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Daniella Faircloth in a Shoebox; Unbinding Halloween Chills

It’s been about a year since the editor of Index:Wiltshire sent me to Swindon for the press screening of a new, homemade film. Slightly anxious at the prospect of being among “real” journalists, thought I was in over my head. Instead, I was welcomed by a family atmosphere, with more cakes than journalists (turned out it was the producer’s birthday too.)

 

Immediately I threw off those fears, this isn’t a pretentious Hollywood charade, this is Swindon for crying out loud; only provoking a new concern, how good could a locally made movie really be, would I need to humour wild Swindonian thespians?

 

Turned out I was pleasantly surprised, the film, Follow the Crows, was superb, but my bag of nerves not through yet. An unidentified apocalyptic event threw an oddball bunch of survivors into a baron wilderness, each with their own vicious agenda; the plot of the film unnerving when surreally, you’re sitting amidst the actors playing these fruitcakes.

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At the movie’s close I stumbled up in awe, cake crumbs scattered the floor; this was an awesome film and I felt honoured, as if I was initiated into a secret gang with this exclusive preview. But meeting the actors and one actress, Danielle Faircloth, who I’d just seen at daggers with each other on the screen, I had to acknowledge it was just an act; that’s what these guys do, and very realistically too. This exceptionally talented bunch weren’t about to carve me up over a tin of spam. No, we just shook hands and chatted amicably.

 

I have maximum respect for those who can so convincingly act, my personal performing career peaked when my Shakin’ Stevens impression gained me first place at the Cub Scout pack holiday talent show, the rest has been downhill since (I probably didn’t need to mention that.)

 

The Producer of Follow the Crows, Marcus Starr, explained a lot more work was needed to perfect the sound, and as I write this I’m pleased to announce the team claim a release date is imminent. More on this news as and when, but today I wanted to make a point, and introduce Swindon’s cosy, Shoebox Theatre.

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The Shoebox Theatre is a space in Theatre Square for talented performers, writers, musicians and directors to develop, train, and showcase their work, in hope of bringing something different and exciting to audiences of Swindon. And with the talents of Danielle heading a mature themed horror play, by resident theatre company, the Wrong Shoes, called The Unbinding, I’m rest assured this will be a supreme Halloween indulgence.

 

With a local component, The Unbinding devised from historical accounts of witches from Wiltshire; the play explores mob-mentality and our insatiable need to punish those who are different. Accused of witchcraft, four women are locked together, to await their sentence in the shadows. Scared and hungry they don’t know who they can trust, or who will survive.

 

It promises to be an intense performance, featuring stark realism, horror, physical theatre, strobe lights, and containing scenes of a sexual nature, with violence, and strong language some viewers may find disturbing; has to be scarier than wandering the streets collecting Haribo.

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Book your tickets for The Unbinding, opening on Halloween (31st Oct) and running until 4th November at the Shoebox Theatre via www.theunbinding.co.uk

 

The only thing not scary is the price; tickets at a tenner. Plus, you’ll be supporting the Wrong Shoes at the Shoebox Theatre, who, as well as creating theatre, the registered charity since 2015, also provides educational opportunities for people in Swindon and the surrounding areas to engage in original, contemporary theatre, both as performance makers and as audiences.

 

Look out for ingeniously titled, Much Ado About Puffin too, a performance for the children. Using skilful puppetry, beautiful music, and good old fashioned storytelling, Much Ado About Puffin is about old habits, new friendships and stepping out into the unknown, and runs this Saturday, 14th October.

 

For more information and other performances by the Shoebox Theatre: https://www.shoeboxtheatre.org.uk/

 

But don’t take my word for it; listen to Billie!