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A hybrid dance theatre piece

Based on the poetry cycle by BRIAN CATLING

Storyhouse 30th July 2019



The premiere performances of our new hybrid dance theatre piece which is based on the poetry cycle by BRIAN CATLING took place at STORYHOUSE in Chester as part of the CHESTER MUSIC FESTIVAL on 30th July 2019.

The festival director CLARK RUNDELL, renowned conductor and Head of Conducting Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, chaired the post-performance chat with the company and including our very special guest Brian Catling himself.  Brian said of the performances that we had "captured the resonance of the poetry in drumming" and that the choreography reminded him of "precise imagery which inspired some of the poems in the first place".

The Stumbling Block is a cycle of twenty poems written by the remarkable sculptor, photographer, poet, painter and novelist Brian Catling in 1990.  The heftily cleaved words within this unique cycle define what a stumbling block might be - whether physical, mental, emotional, political, technological, societal or evolutionary.  Brian’s poetry is dense, but there is much meaning hidden in its fog.  It is a poetry to swim in rather than to simply logically decode, comprehend, dissect.

The piece has subsequently also been performed at EDGE HILL UNIVERSITY on the 1st October 2019 and the company are planning tour the piece across the UK in 2020/21.

PLEASE NOTE a trailer for the production will be available shortly and a film of the complete work will be available for professional use.

Performed by dancers GABRIELLE ORR & PAIGE LYON

and drummers TOM MAUDE & PAUL SHEARD

Lighting Designer CATH CULLINANE

Drum Technician SAM PRITCHARD

Costume Designer CHRISTINE CARPI

Voices “on tape”:  Brian Catling, Michael Burke, Isabelle Mohan,

Julian Waite, Janice Fryett, Zoe Smith, Neill Baglin

Production Assistant ALICE LAPWORTH

Based on the prose poem THE STUMBLING BLOCK by

the acclaimed poet, author and sculptor BRIAN CATLING with his support and "delighted approval"


Photography by Brian Hickey


ALICE  OSWALD, professor of poetry, University of Oxford, in 2019:

“Poetry is an ancient memory system that asks to be heard out loud or at least read in the manner of a musical score.

It promotes imaginative over rational understanding.”

PAM  TANOWITZ, choreographer, talking about her groundbreaking 2018 dance piece ‘Four Quartets’ based on poetry by T.S. Eliot:

“It’s massive, it’s abstract.  I still don’t understand the poem.  I don’t think you would ever understand it.  It’s the kind of thing where you pick it up in a different headspace, age, or whatever’s going on in

your life, and you get different things from it.”


Made possible by the generous support from Arts Council England,

The Arts Centre Edge Hill University, University of Chester,

Manchester Medical School, Cheshire Dance, Chemistry Lane, Storyhouse.

With all our love and many thanks to Cathy Butterworth & The Arts Centre, Edge Hill University & staff, and to:

Clark Rundell & Chester Music Festival,

Evelyn Jamieson, University of Chester,

Cheshire Dance,

Michelle Hodgson & the Huddersfield Literature Festival,

More Reasons To Dance Network (in particular Fallen Angels,

Dance Syndrome & Sally Starborg),

Michelle Man, Paula, Sam & Dan Pritchard, Hannah Kelly, Connor Elliman,

Martin Ellis, Lewis Hall-Benning, Claire Barratt, and Brian Catling for granting us permission and his kind support and finally to everybody involved either on stage, on tape or behind the scenes for your generosity, talent and passion.


"Company Carpi make innovative, inspirational and highly creative dance theatre infused with a love of literature and the written word"

MICHELLE HODGSON, director Huddersfield Literature Festival

"The Stumbling Block remains a darkly glittering obelisk on the form's late twentieth century landscape"

ALAN MOORE, author and magician

"Brian Catling is simply a genius. His writing is so extraordinary it hurts, it makes me realise how little imagination I have."

TERRY GILLIAM, film director

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