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  • The Tale

    A Journey of discovery across Torbay



    Please note the Deaf Friendly tour is on 9 September, not 23 September as in this video.

    The Tale is coming to Torbay, Devon.

    The Tale will guide you on a journey of discovery from the streets of Torquay, through hidden coves and historic harbours, to the quarry of Berry Head.

    Along the way, you’ll encounter artworks and performances by artists of international acclaim made especially for Torbay. Inspired by the ideas of writer Philip Hoare, whose boyhood experiences of Torbay shaped his future,

    The Tale will take place over three long weekends in September: 8-10 Sept, 15-17 Sept, 22-24 Sept 2017.

    A ticket to The Tale opens up a journey like no other. As the journey begins, you’ll discover where The Tale will take you. You just need to decide how you’d like to experience it: in a day or two days. Tickets start at £15.00. Children and carers for disabled people go free. 

    A Meteor ticket means you do The Tale in one day. A Wanderer ticket takes it at a more leisurely pace over two days. This ticket is good for families.

    A Diver ticket is The Tale with added extras. Do The Tale over two days plus add in artist talks, sea swims or a masterclass.

    The Tale is an adventure for explorers of all ages. We hope to welcome you to The Tale in September.

    Unfolding across the stunning landscape of Torbay, South Devon, The Tale was live for three long weekends in September.

    A unique kind of arts trail, audiences were invited to take a journey of discovery around the coast of Torbay. Starting at Torquay Musuem, from the streets of Torquay, through hidden coves & historic harbours of Brixham, to the quarry of Berry Head Nature Reserve.

    Encountering performances & installations along the way from internationally acclaimed artists, created especially for Torbay.


    “a joyous expression of what it feels like to belong to the world” –  The Stage 

    A unique collaboration between people & place, The Tale is inspired by the ideas of award-winning writer Philip Hoare, whose boyhood experiences of Torbay shaped his future.

    “Multi-sensory, genre-hopping, participative and provocative” –  The Guardian

    Philip Hoare

    Philip Hoare is the writer behind The Tale. His text about Torbay provides the inspiration for all the artists and your journey on The Tale. You can read this chapter in Philip’s new book RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR available from all good bookshops.

    Philip’s previous books include biographies of Noel Coward, the historical studies, Wilde’s Last Stand Spike Island & England’s Lost Eden. His book Leviathan or, The Whale won the 2009 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. His last book, The Sea Inside, was published in 2013.

    An experienced broadcaster, curator and filmmaker, Philip wrote & presented the BBC Arena film The Hunt for Moby-Dick, & directed three films for BBC’s Whale Night. He is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Southampton, & co-curator of the Moby-Dick Big Read.

    I have been coming here since before I was born. The red and green and blue must have registered amniotically on the watery me in my little ocean. I can’t remember the future or forget the past, only what remains: those childhood visits, the impossible glamour, the yearning aspirations. The bay opening up like the theatre of my dreams, desires strung out and suspended, as if you could always come back to them before they disappear. Dark caverns, bright lights, cold water; being lost and found in such a place, then finding it again. Always changing, always staying the same; and always the sea, fearful and fantastical:
    The thrill of it all.

    Philip Hoare, 2017

    Image: Andrew Sutton


    All the artworks & performances in The Tale have been created for locations across Torbay inspired by Philip Hoare. Exact locations & details of the works are kept under wraps until you start the journey. Here are just a few of the participating artists in The Tale.

    Claire Cunningham

    Claire Cunningham is a performer based in Glasgow. One of the UK’s most acclaimed and internationally renowned disabled artists, Cunningham’s work is rooted in the study and use/misuse of crutches, through which she engages physically with the world, exploring the potential of her own body and movement and challenging conventions and expectations of dance.

    Claire’s involvement in The Tale is supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation.

    Claire on Torbay

    It’s wonderful to return to Torbay, this time as a grown up! I came here when I was 12, or maybe 13, with my parents on holiday, and have the obligatory photo of myself and my dad in the stocks at Cockington! It’s an incredibly beautiful part of the country, and I am grateful for the chance to spend time here, meeting local people and gain even a brief insight into what it means to actually live here.

    Photo by Paul Blakemore

    one step at a time like this

    one step at a time like this are an Australian group who create performances that allow audience to see places, architecture and others anew. Their works are mobile, immersive and place-responsive experiences, often with a digital media component.

    They have been commissioned to create works for London 2012 Olympic Cultural Festival, Arts Centre Melbourne, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Arts House & City of Melbourne. Their work has received numerous awards and been the subject of award-winning documentaries in the US.

    one step at a time like this have been working with Play Torbay and one step’s involvement in The Tale is in association with Richard Jordan Productions and Bureau of Works. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

    Photo: Forever Young, a teenage adventure for grown ups, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

    Chris Watson

    Chris Watson is one of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena. The unearthly groaning of ice in an Icelandic glacier is an example of, in Watson’s words, putting a microphone where you can’t put your ears. He was born in Sheffield and in 1971 he was a founding member of the influential Sheffield-based experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire. His sound recording career began in 1981 when he joined Tyne Tees Television. Since then he has developed a particular and passionate interest in recording the wildlife sounds of animals, habitats and atmospheres from around the world. As a freelance recordist for film, TV and Radio, Chris Watson specialises in natural history and documentary location sound together with track assembly and sound design in post production.

    Chris has been working with Sound Communities in Torbay.

    Photo: No Man’s Land, Berry Head Quarry, Brixham.

    © Paul Blakemore


    Ingri Fiksdal

    Ingri Midgard Fiksdal works as a choreographer and is currently a research fellow at The Oslo National Academy of the Arts (Norwegian Artistic Research Programme) whose work has toured globally.

    As an artist, Ingri places equal emphasis on sound, light, choreography, costume and set-design within a performance. The audience is always integral to her performances.

    Ingri’s involvement in The Tale is supported by the Norwegian Arts Council.

    Ingri on Torbay

    When first invited to be part of The Tale, my first reference to the area was my memory of Norwegian teenagers going to Torquay for language school. They stayed with local families, ate prawn crisps for lunch, and spent the evenings partying! Working on The Tale, the picture of Torbay is expanding every day. I’m loving the opportunity to hear of the changes going on.

    Image: Diorama for Shoalstone Pool, Shoalstone Pool, Brixham

    © Briony Campbell

    Jonathan Anderson

    Jonathan Anderson is a Swansea-based artist who has been working in South Wales since graduating from Swansea Metropolitan University in 2007. Past group shows have included Crafted at Oriel Myrddin, Carmarthen, 2009, Ground, Wrexham Arts Centre 2009, and To the Buddha: Veils and Voids at St Davids Hall, Cardiff, 2010. His sculptures often employ materials such as sand, soil, water, coal, which Anderson describes as a ‘a dark, mysterious, almost mythical material’.

    Ellen Gallagher

    Ellen Gallagher is an American artist. Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions and is held in the permanent collections of many major museums. Her media include painting, works on paper, film and video. Some of her pieces refer to issues of race, and may combine formality with racial stereotypes.

    Ellen currently lives and works in New York and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

    Photo: Chalk Water, Berry Head Quarry, Brixham

    © Paul Blakemore

    Britt Hatzius

    Britt Hatzius (UK/DE) works in performance, sound, film and video. In her practice she often reflects on the conceptual, technical or social context of the moving image, and its relationship to language, interpretation and the potential for discrepancies and (mis-) communication. Her work has been shown internationally at performance and media arts festivals, institutions and galleries. Recent collaborations include cinematic installation Micro Events (with Tom Kok), interactive performance This is Not My Voice Speaking and site-specific installation As Never Before, As Never Again (with Ant Hampton), and her currently touring live performance Blind Cinema.

    Britt on Torbay

    For The Tale, Britt is collaborating with local primary school students from Curledge Street Academy in Paignton aged between nine and eleven, who, in many ways, are in the midst of discovering the potential, but also limits of language, and the struggle of expressing thoughts through words.

    Photo: In Order Not To Be There, Paignton Picture House, Paignton

    © Paul Blakemore

    Marc Rees

    A born and living Welshman, Marc Rees is an artist who works across different media with an established track record of creating groundbreaking, provocative and risk-taking site-specific projects. He often describes his role as a contemporary archaeologist – exhuming a site’s multilayered history and unearthing fossil fragments of fact, or fiction. Examining these findings in detail, he transforms them in collaboration with artists, performers or the community to deduce, interpret and re-imagine.

    Marc on Torbay

    Torbay has provided a fantastical terrain to explore and excavate and I’ve unearthed wonderful, bizarre and extraordinary stories to weave into The Tale.

    Photo: The Alphington Ponies, Fleet Street, Torquay

    © Paul Blakemore

    Extra Events

    Enrich your experience of The Tale by going behind-the-scenes or taking in the delights Torbay has to offer.

    Dawn Swims with Philip Hoare
    6.30am every Saturday & Sunday of The Tale. A relaxed dip in the sea to greet the sun!
    Meet by Meadfoot Beach Café, Meadfoot Sea Rd, Torquay TQ1 2LQ
    Free. No need to book. Swimmers swim at their own risk. Children welcome. Under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Please bring warm up clothes.

    Family workshop with Philip Hoare
    What Does A Whale Do?  We dive into the world of whales & dolphins.

    Sat 16 Sept: 3.30pm-4.30pm
    Sat 23 Sept: 3.30pm-4.30pm
    Torquay Museum, 529 Babbacombe Rd, Torquay TQ1 1HG
    Free, but booking essential. BOOK NOW*.

    *It is not possible to attend this workshop on the same day as a Meteor or Wanderer ticket.

    Artists’ talk
    SOLD OUT. Chris Watson in conversation with Ellen Gallagher, chaired by Philip Hoare
    Sat 9  Sept:  3.00pm – 4.30pm
    The Guardhouse Café, Berry Head Nature Reserve, Brixham TQ5 9AW
    Free, but booking essential. BOOK NOW*.

    *We do not advise booking a Meteor or Wanderer ticket on the same day as this talk.


    Masterclasses & Professional Workshops

    Masterclasses with Claire Cunningham

    Permission to speak…
    Thurs 14 Sept: 2 – 5 pm
    Dartington Hall, Totnes, TQ9 6EL
    For professional dance artists & those with established dance or physical practice.
    Claire will explore techniques that inform her own practice – building methods of communication, trust, layers of perception. Permission to speak is focused on process, rather than results or product.
    £10 / £8 Concessions


    Movement Exploration Workshop
    Thurs 21 Sept:  2 – 5 pm
    For dancers aged 16+ with some experience of movement.
    Claire looks at methods & concepts that underpin her performative and choreographic practice, focussing on aspects of awareness/presence, perception & individuality.


    Both masterclasses are accessible to disabled & non-disabled participants. Please let us know of any access requirements in advance – email


    Masterclass with one step at a time like this
    Thurs 21 Sept: 10 am – 5 pm
    Unit 28, First Floor, Fleet Walk Shopping Centre, Torquay, TQ2 5EB

    Explore Torquay like never before & find out how one step at a time like this develop a new performance. You’ll be introduced to techniques used by the performance company, explore the backstreets & beaches of Torquay & develop your own short walking performance. For educators, students, artists, performers & anyone interested in sharing new ways of exploring & understanding urban & natural environments.

    £20 (£15 conc). Refreshments provided. Bring your own lunch.
    Capacity limited so early booking advised.

    Listening to life underwater in Brixham with Chris Watson.
    Sun 10 Sept:  1 – 3 pm

    Join one of the world’s foremost natural history sound recordists for an unforgettable walk. Along the way Chris will use hydrophones & speakers to tune into the ebb & flow of the tides & marine life under the surface. He will try to interpret these sounds for everyone & comment on how he uses these sounds to make his installations. The walk starts at Brixham Quay & finishes at Berry Head quarry with Chris’s sound installation.  Along the way the group will stop & listen to the sounds at places such as Shoalstone & Breakwater Beach.

    *It is not possible to attend this workshop on the same day as a Meteor or Wanderer ticket.

    International Agatha Christie Festival
    13 – 17 Sept
    Our friends at the IACF are offering a brilliant array of events which you can combine with a visit to The Tale. Philip Hoare is speaking about Torbay’s stories of writers, poets & the sea. Literally Drowning is on Thursday 14th September at 9pm.  For more info, visit

    Get Involved

    We have been lucky to work with many people across Torbay for the last two years to make The Tale happen. For example, young people from Play Torbay are devising a new performance with one step at a time like this and others, supported by Sound Communities, have been making field recordings for Chris Watson’s new sound installation.

    There are some great ways to get involved in the final stages of the making of The Tale.

    Attend a masterclass
    Claire Cunningham and one step a time like this – will be running masterclass sessions, aimed at students, arts professionals and others who want to learn more about how these artists are working on the project. Book your masterclass through the Events page.

    Become a trained host
    We’re also looking for volunteers to help steward the event as our Tale hosts. You’ll get full training and the chance to meet and work with artists and to meet and greet new visitors to Torbay. If you are interested in joining our team of hosts. Register your interest below.

    Be part of a new performance
    We have a few places left for young people age 14-25 to help devise, perform & work ‘backstage’ in a new performance by One Step At A Time Like This, made for Torquay. People will need to be available for a few days at the end of August, some after school/evenings sessions in early September & then some or all of The Tale public days. We’re particularly interested in casting roles for a skateboarder, singer & rapper. A great way to meet artists and performers & see how a new performance comes together. Contact

    Be part of our technical team
    A few aspects of The Tale need people to help with technical. You’ll get an insight into sound installations & binaural sound. You might be a student, recent graduate or even have more experience. Contact

    Work with us as a digital reporter
    The Space, an organisation which helps cultural organisations to build digital skills to reach more people using digital media, are helping us to tell the story of The Tale to remote online audiences. If you’d be interested in a bursary to become part of our digital team of reporters. Contact

    Attend a masterclass
    Claire Cunningham & one step a time like this are running masterclass sessions, aimed at students, arts professionals & others who want to learn more about how these artists are working on the project. Book your masterclass through the Events page.


    Schools across Torbay are using The Tale as a great opportunity to see new art, up close, in unusual places. Themes of the sea, journeys and local environment fit well with many curriculum areas.

    Year 6 children at Curledge Street Academy worked with Britt Hatzius to help record the sound for her installation in Paignton and Torbay’s school children will be the first to see The Tale at one of the Schools Day visits on Thursday 7 and Thursday 14 September. These are now fully booked with 700 children and teachers from across Torbay coming along.

    The School of Listening is a new free online resource for Torbay schools. It provides all a school needs to run an unusual daily listening experience in the classroom. 30 one-minute sound clips, background information & workshop ideas. The Tale artists have donated sound ideas & it’s been devised with Torbay’s Sound Communities project. The School of Listening launches in September, but there are samples already online. Find out more.

    Image credit: Kate Rudman, Sound Communities


    • “Proposing the whole world as a potential site for artistic, theatrical encounters invites audiences to respond to everyday...

      “Proposing the whole world as a potential site for artistic, theatrical encounters invites audiences to respond to everyday things with an attention normally reserved for the gallery or the auditorium”

      Read a review of The Tale online in The Stage. Photos by Paul Blakemore. 

    • Go behind the scenes of The Tale and listen to Situation’s artistic director Claire Doherty summarise the journey. 

    • Torbay-based Sound Communities, who collaborated with Chris Watson on his piece No Man’s Land, lead sound recording workshops...

      Torbay-based Sound Communities, who collaborated with Chris Watson on his piece No Man’s Land, lead sound recording workshops for local school children.

    • The sea is the great paradox: something sublime and beautiful, wonderful and terrible. It is the deepest source of imagination, a place in which our dreams are invested. It is our last available wilderness, our last frontier; mortal and immortal, always the same, always changing…

      Travel by ferry in between The Tale’s artworks.

    • "Loved seeing how #ACEsupported @situationsUK has brought the architecturally stunning @PaigntonPH to life as part of #TaleTorbay"

      @HENLEYDARREN on twitter, Chief Executive of the Arts Council England

    • Brixham is one of Britain’s last thriving fishing ports - a working place. Here, acclaimed disabled performer Claire Cunningham...

      Brixham is one of Britain’s last thriving fishing ports - a working place. Here, acclaimed disabled performer Claire Cunningham has drawn inspiration from the choreography of work and builds a structure every day of The Tale between 3pm and 5pm. 

    • If only you could hear a picture! This was an immense soundscape of epic proportions. If you zoom in you can almost see 16...

      If only you could hear a picture! This was an immense soundscape of epic proportions. If you zoom in you can almost see 16 suspended mega speakers which were playing David Attenborough’s favourite sound guy, Chris Watson’s ‘No Man’s Land’, a soundscape of ocean birds and animals, recorded all over the planet. Reverberating around the mega quarried landscape, on the edge of the ocean…

      – Audience review of Chris Watson’s sound installation via @rhonanrg on Instagram

    • "Absolutely loving #TaleTorbay by @situationsUK. Headphone soundwalk the best I’ve been on (and I’ve done a few!)."

      @jakesdownsmusic on twitter

    • Water has its own history. Poets have drowned, ambitions burgeon and fail, the uncaring sea giving and taking...  A fragile band...

      Water has its own history. Poets have drowned, ambitions burgeon and fail, the uncaring sea giving and taking… 

      A fragile band of colour like a tide mark or the accumulation of algae, Chalk Water is, on closer inspection, a series of horizontal marks and lines. Designed by leading visual artist Ellen Gallagher, Chalk Water can be seen as depicting the musical staves of Chris Watson’s sound installation, which echoes in the adjacent quarry. 

    • Caught between the fin-de-siècle art nouveau and the modernism of art deco, Paignton Picture House is Europe’s oldest purpose...

      Caught between the fin-de-siècle art nouveau and the modernism of art deco, Paignton Picture House is Europe’s oldest purpose built cinema. Closed to the public since 1999, Paignton Picture House is currently under renovation. The Tale offers an exciting opportunity to visit the historic building as it stands in limbo between Torbay’s past and present. 

      Devised in collaboration with children from Curledge Street Academy, Britt Hatzius’ In Order Not to Be There is a sound installation which allows you to see a film without using your eyes. 

    • "You managed to harness the full majesty of nature, invite us into the intimate company of the local community and bring to life the astonishing visions of some great artists, and deliver the whole immensely moving experience with incredible panache, expertise, pride and devotion to the project."

      audience review of The Tale

    • “Everything out there in the ocean lives in a world of sound and vibration, from the tiniest crustacean to the largest and loudest group of animals that have ever lived, the whales… I think there’s a musicality to our seas and oceans, and that’s what I’ve drawn upon”

      Go behind the scenes of The Tale and BAFTA-nominated nature recordist Chris Watson’s No Man’s Land. 

    • “Now we’re going to bring you out of Torquay’s past and into the present. You’re going to explore the backstreets of this town,...

      “Now we’re going to bring you out of Torquay’s past and into the present. You’re going to explore the backstreets of this town, guided by the words of young people who live here now. Take a pebble and hold it in your hand…” 

      A collaboration between Melbourne-based one step at a time like this and Play Torbay, Immergence is an audio guided tour and the second stop of the journey on The Tale. Photo by Paul Blakemore.

    • We forget it is the sea from where we came; that it is what gives us life; and can take it, just as easily... Choreographed by...

      We forget it is the sea from where we came; that it is what gives us life; and can take it, just as easily…

      Choreographed by Norwegian artist Ingri Fiksdal, Diorama for Shoalstone Pool is the closing performance of The Tale. As dusk falls across the bay, head down to Torbay’s historic lido and watch this enthralling performance. | Photo by Briony Campbell

    • “I’m building a sculpture and allowing people to see what they see in it… it’s not up to me what it is”

      Go behind the scenes of The Tale and renowned disabled artist Claire Cunnigham’s Beyond the Breakwater

    • “As I get older - I listen much more than I record. Choosing when to press record is an important part of the compositional process.”

      Leading sound recordist Chris Watson leads a masterclass on recording life underwater. Attendees are given hydrophones to hear the sounds of the oceans near Berry Head Quarry, Brixham. 


    The Tale is produced by Situations in association with Curledge Street Academy, Paignton Picture House, Play Torbay, Sound Communities, South Devon College, Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, Torbay Culture and Torquay Museum. Special thanks to Diverse City for their consultation and support.

    The Tale has been made possible through the generous support of an Arts Council England Ambition for Excellence grant, Australia Council for the Arts, Ernest Cook Trust, the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Norwegian Arts Council, The Space and Unlimited Impact.

    Full thanks and acknowledgements available here

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