The Faerie Thorn Set for the Big Telly Treatment

Jane Talbot's debut collection of dark tales will be adapted for the stage as part of the Portstewart theatre company's milestone 30th year

Big Telly Theatre Company has announced its next project to be a stage adaptation of Ballymoney-based writer Jane Talbot's short story collection The Faerie Thorn. Set in the North Coast of Northern Ireland, the debut series of dark tales was published by Blackstaff Press in 2015 and drew acclaim from fellow authors including Mia Gallagher and Bernie McGill.

The production is to be devised by Talbot herself, Artistic Director Zoe Seaton and Northern Ireland actors Shelley Atkinson and Patrick O’Reilly, both familiar faces to Big Telly audiences having featured in last year's Gulliver's Travels and One Sandwich Short of a Genius, as well as Melmoth the Wanderer and the recent tour of Puckoon. Composer Garth McConaghie and mask designer John Wright will also be involved.

Planning coincides with the ongoing celebration of the company's 30th year, and Big Telly feel the project's contents and context are a timely match with its history of bold, risk-taking theatre, and aim to do justice to the 'extraordinarily universal and yet essentially local material'.

These aren't fairy tales you remember, but they're ones you won't forget

'We are unbelievably excited about this project,' said Seaton. 'What we’re drawn to as theatre makers isn’t just the brilliant and bewitching stories but the way Jane conjures up a whole world controlled by a complex fairy mafia including the memory-takers, the time winders, the bad talkers and the trolls – a world which is both scarily familiar and wickedly comedic.

'And then there’s the beautiful and evocative language – we see a fisherman's wife "warm-hold her husband's face", we hear a baby's cry that's "full of all-on-my-ownness", children who do not survive birth and called the “almost-but-not-quites”. She does not tell us that Bright Blue and Daughter McCormick fell in love, but that they felt "the deep-root comfort of The Beautiful Belong-Together".

Patsy Horton, managing editor of Blackstaff Press added: 'From the moment that I read Jane Talbot’s stories I knew that she was a storyteller and writer of rare talent. Blackstaff was delighted to publish her first collection, The Faerie Thorn and Other Stories, in 2015. Since then, it’s been great to see her work get the recognition it deserves and this adaptation of the book by Big Telly Theatre Company as part of their thirtieth birthday celebrations is the icing on the cake. 

'We’re excited to see what Jane and Big Telly will do together – with all of the talent and energy and creativity that they bring, we’re looking forward to a piece of theatre that is original, raw and extraordinary.'

The Faerie Thorn is due to open at the Riverside Theatre, Coleraine on April 17, 2017, followed by a tour of venues through till May. Tickets can be booked now for a preview performance at the Old Auction Rooms in Bangor as part of the Open House Festival on August 13. Click here to find out more.

Jane will also be discussing her short story collection at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast on Thursday, June 16 as part of the Belfast Book Festival. Pre-book tickets here.