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Black Shuck Festival 2023
See the 2022 festival

In the weeks leading up to the Festival the Black Shuck Festival team worked with children, young adults and volunteers to produce artworks and performances for the Festival.

Murals produced by Castle East SEN school working with James Mayhew and Toto Martinez

Artistic Fields workshopping the specially written play Little Black Shuck and Friends

Toto Martinez working on costumes for the festival parade.

The Fisher Youth Theatre Group also worked on producing costumes for the carnival.

Fire Sprites and Urchins performing at the Fisher Theatre Carnival.

Art Exhibitions

The two art exhibitions – at the Bell Gallery and, for children, upstairs at the Three Tuns were open before, during and after the Festival. The standard of work submitted to each, on the theme of Black Shuck and Friends, was extremely high and both exhibitions attracted a lot of visitors.

The Black Shuck and Friends Exhibition at the Bell Gallery

The Black Shuck and Friends Children’s Exhibition upstairs at the Three Tuns

The Shuck Shop

The pop-up shop on Market Place was extremely popular – with art, crafts, literature and more from local artists and authors with a Black Shuck or local mythology theme.

Customers at the Shuck Shop which was open before and during the Festival.

Friday 4th August St. Mary’s Church Drop-in Workshops

Churches Conservation Trust ran workshops for children throughout the day creating art on what they found in the church and on the Black Shuck theme.

Some of the children enjoying being creative

Blythburgh – Bungay Black Dog Running Club’s Fun Run

The Black Dog Running Club retraced the Black Dog of Bungay’s journey in reverse and carried the Black Shuck effigy back into Bungay.

Black Dog Running Club fetch Black Shuck back from Blythburgh

Fisher Theatre Shuck Folk Cabaret

The Festival team and friends created an eclectic cabaret for a sold-out audience on the Friday night of the Festival. Music, storytelling, film, circus artistry – and an interview with Black Shuck himself!

Daisy Black’s performance at the Black Shuck Cabaret

Black Shuck tries to give a good account of himself to a stern interlocutor

Saturday 5th August

Rain almost stopped play!

William Fergusson’s lunchtime Concert at St. Mary’s

Whilst the Black Shuck Festival Team were busily relocating the Parade and the Carnival to the Fisher Theatre, William Fergusson gave an extraordinary piano concert to a delighted audience in St. Mary’s church.

William Fergusson’s piano concert

Carnival at the Fisher Theatre

But Shuck’s devilry saw him trying to rain on our Parade in the afternoon which meant it and all of the activities planned for the Festival Carnival on the Castle Bailey were moved to the Fisher Theatre. This last minute change turned out to be a triumph! A long queue was kept entertained outside the Fisher by our carnival characters whilst waiting for their turn to be part of the audience inside.

Inside the theatre the show went on, with song, music, dance and story-telling. The giant puppets paraded around the central funeral pyre rather than on the streets of Bungay, the Fire Sprites danced around it, people placed their Demon Cards within it and as the grand finale, the effigy of Black Shuck was placed upon it to be symbolically burnt and banished for another year.

A Strange & Terrible Wunder – St. Mary’s Church

The Festival moved to St. Mary’s Church for Saturday evening with a programme of music and storytelling from Martin Newell and his Hosepipe Band, Bungay favourites, Willpower and the Feathered Thorns. before the climax of the show with the telling of the story of the demon hell-hound that terrorised the congregation in St. Mary’s all those years ago, by the Reverend Abraham Fleming.

The giant Black Shuck puppet parades in the church to mark the beginning of the evening, while young Juniper Timberlake recited her specially written poem.

Martin Newell tells the stories of the Green Children of Woolpit and the Wild Man of Orford

Willpower gave the audience a full repertoire of music and song whilst a beautiful light show played in the church

The Feathered Thorns otherworldly music paved the way for the story of the Terrible Wunder

The evening climaxed with the telling of the story of the demon hell-hound that terrorised the congregation in St. Mary’s all those years ago, by the Reverend Abraham Fleming. Black Shuck danced, crawled and generally made a nuisance of himself, even killing a couple of audience members and pestering the Reverend Fleming!

Black Shuck menacing the Reverend Abraham Fleming

However, the Reverend – played much to the audience’s surprise by the well known comedian Stewart Lee – was a match for the demon dog.

Well known comedian Stewart Lee as the Reverend Abraham Fleming

The Black Dog Disco in the Three Tuns Cellar

After a long and enjoyable day, those still standing made their way to the Three Tuns Cellar for a late-night boogie at The Black Dog Disco. Permission has not been given to show any photographs from this event!

Sunday 6th August Fisher Theatre Double Bill

The afternoon was for children and families with a double bill. Firstly, The Norwich Puppet Theatre performed their rendition of the traditional story of Pinocchio.

The Norwich Puppet Theatre with Pinocchio

This was followed by the performance of Black Shuck and Friends which the children who had worked hard in the previous workshops gave.

A delightful performance of Black Shuck and Friends written by Victoria Drew-Batty

The Three Tuns

The evening saw the room upstairs at the Three Tuns - one of Britain’s most haunted pubs – packed with an audience eager to find out more about the whole Black Shuck mythology from folklorist and storyteller, Helen Bruce. Joining her was local historian Christopher Reeve who told tales of Bungay’s notorious characters from the past and those who haunt the town.

The Three Tuns audience keen to find out more about our local mythologies for the final event of the Festival.

With thanks to Janice Issett, Adam Newport and Justin Strangward for the photographs.

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