This Christmas Mangled Yarn Theatre is presenting Every Time a Bell Rings, a festive collection of heart-warming, emotional and comical stories inspired by the diverse Bedford community. The production, a sort of prequel to It’s a Wonderful Life, runs at the The Place Theatre, Bedford from 18 to 23 December 2020.
Alongside a live, socially distanced audience, Every Time a Bell Rings will also be available to live-stream or download, so even if you can’t get along to see the show live, the company is still keen to reach out to you.
The story of how Clarence Odbody, Angel Second Class, earned his wings is a familiar one. But even an angel has to learn their trade, and that’s a much lesser told tale.
Join Clarence in his angelic education, as his celestial colleagues teach him the ropes, offer him advice and regale him with their own stories of how they gained their flying licences. Will he be ready when the call finally comes?
Christopher Smart, a co-founder of Mangled Yarn Theatre and the director of Every Time a Bell Rings, explains that the company’s plan had been to work with The Place Theatre on a new production of It’s a Wonderful Life but the pandemic has meant pushing it back to 2021.
“As well as the obvious reasons for moving that show back, it didn’t seem to be the right story to tell in the middle of this situation. It felt much more like a piece we would use to take stock of what has happened. It struck us that 2020 needed a piece that reflects the time and circumstances we find ourselves in here and now.
“It goes without saying that 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, but the arts have been hit particularly hard.
“Out of what seemed a rather desperate situation, working with Alex Levene and The Place Theatre team, we managed to secure funding from Arts Council England to create a kind of prequel to It’s a Wonderful Life.”
In Every Time a Bell Rings we find Clarence Odbody, Angel second class, in need of guidance. He is a kind-hearted soul but easily distracted, the other angels are worried he isn’t ready for his wings just yet.
Before he faces the challenge of George Bailey he needs to be prepared, so upper management sends him to a crack team of Angel educators, who use their experiences and knowhow to try and pull Clarence into shape. They will share with him their own stories of how they won their wings and became first class angels. They are the best of the best, if they can’t knock some sense into Clarence, nobody can!
Rather than creating stories from scratch the company reached out to the diverse community of Bedford for inspiration. Drawing from the true and imagined stories, past and present, of the incredible local people Mangled Yarn Theatre will create a heartwarming Christmas show for everyone. “It may be inspired by Bedford,” adds Christopher Smart, “but it’s a show for everyone!”
The cast features Alex Rivers, Rhianna Compton, Edward Ferrow, Kelly Griffiths and Neil Jennings. The show will run live at The Place Theatre Bedford for a socially distanced audience BUT every performance will also be streamed digitally, so anyone, anywhere can be part of the experience.
Using a mixture of live and pre-recorded performances, including interviews and stories, all collected and reworked in Mangled Yarn’s own raucous style, Every Time a Bell Rings has lots of music, laughs and silliness thrown into the mix.
No matter what your age or where you’re from Every Time a Bell Rings is the feel-good festive spectacular you need this Christmas. And remember, every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings!
“Every Time a Bell Rings; a show inspired by Bedford for the whole wide world”. Book your tickets, spread the word & have a very Mangled Christmas ✨
Live & digital tickets here: https://t.co/dDaOyCT3KZ
The Place Theatre, Bedford and your living room! pic.twitter.com/jucOajFDSO
— Mangled Yarn Theatre (@mangled_yarn) November 25, 2020
Kelly Griffiths: Every Time a Bell Rings will be Kelly’s first outing as a “Yarner”. Since 2010, she has predominantly worked as a touring theatre actress across 27 countries and 4 continents in some of her favourite roles such as: Lady Macbeth with TNT theatre, Polly Garter in Under Milk Wood with The London theatre, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with The Dot Collective and Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest with The Pantaloons, to name a few. The most notable boards she has trodden across the globe include: The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the National Theatre of Costa Rica, the Savoy Theatre Helsinki and Teatro Dei Rozzi Siena. She is also an in house writer and director for The Phoenix theatre company in Germany.
Edward Ferrow: Edward graduated from Cygnet Training Theatre in 2010. Since then he has worked in theatre, radio and various short films and interactive/immersive projects. Regular visitors to The Place Theatre may recognise Edward from his work with The Pantaloons. Previous roles at The Place include Jaques in As You Like It, Iago in Othello, Baron Hardup/Edwina in Cinderella and most recently Sherlock in Sherlock Holmes. Edward is also a Mangled Yarn veteran, having played Dr. Frankenstein in Frankenstein the Pantomime at last year’s Brighton Fringe Festival.
Alex Rivers: Alex is delighted to be working with Mangled Yarn again this year, having performed in their original production of Frankenstein the Pantomime at the Brighton Fringe. Alex’s work spans across theatre, voiceover and radio. Most recently putting her voice to a Fisher-Price ad for television and directing and co-producing the Bleak House radio play for The Pantaloons. Alex’s theatre credits include: Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Esther in Bleak House, Gwendolen Fairfax in The Importance Of Being Earnest, Emilia in Othello, Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Rosalind in As You Like It. She has also performed at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Rhianna Compton: This won’t be Rhianna’s first Mangled Yarn adventure, after playing the Monster in the company’s first ever production, Frankenstein the Pantomime. After graduating in 2015, Rhianna has worked internationally both as an actress and singer. Some highlights include working and touring with The Song of the Goat Theatre, a polyphonic choir and ensemble theatre company; producing her own show Wild Symphonies with the support and funding of the Manchester Royal Exchange; and, most recently, being both the writer and CSM for a new pantomime in association with Simply Smiley Productions.
Neil Jennings: Neil is the co-founder of Mangled Yarn theatre company, and, as such, has been involved, in some way of other, with everything they have produced. He played the Dame, Mrs. F, in their first ever production Frankenstein the Pantomine, as well as co-writing and producing the show. Neil has had a varied acting career, spanning theatre, television, film and radio, and has worked all over the world. His theatre credits include Bottom, Benedick, Sir Toby Belch and Banquo with The Pantaloons’ Shakespeare productions, as well as performing in other favourites like Bleak House, The Odyssey, Sense and Sensibility and The Importance of Being Earnest. He also played the Mouse King in The New Royal Theatre, Portsmouth’s 2019 Christmas production of The Nutcracker Musical.
Christopher Smart (Co-founder and the production’s director): Christopher is the co-founder of Mangled Yarn Theatre Company. He is an actor/musician and director. He directed the company’s first project Frankenstein the Pantomime in 2019 and cannot wait to get started on Every Time a Bell Rings and bring the amazing stories of the Bedford community to life. Recent director credits also include Treasure Island with The Pantaloons and The Most Sensational Comedy of Dick Shwick with Notice this Notice Theatre Company. He has also worked for ten years as an actor-musician in the UK and across the globe with companies such as Tall Stories, Kenny Wax Family Entertainment and TNT theatre.