The Kingdom of the Heart is drawn from two Czech wondertales as well as the original voices of storyteller Katy Cawkwell and cellist Sarah Llewellyn-Jones. Elements of the story are familiar from many European wondertales, and also stories of the Arabian Nights, such as the Fiery Man escaping from a kettle, and Golden Fish who speak, as well as the landscapes and rhythms of the quest in the second half. The artists have neatly woven the stories together, with music and story.
“It is utterly absorbing. I really felt drawn into the story. I was there with them.”
This is Katy and Sarah’s first collaboration and Katy’s first show working with a musician as they explain in this clip.
The music is a mix of classical repertoire and improvisation based on Sarah’s responses to the story, showcasing the colours and textures of the cello. The choice of music is led by the imagery of the stories, comparatively modern music by Britten and Barchet in the first half, where themes are more folk-inspired, symbolic or sinister and Bach in the second, where the story moves through different formal kingdoms.
The character and personality of a talking horse is significant in the second half of the show.
“It isn’t at all surprising that horses figure in so many different ways in myth and story – there is such power in them beyond the physical. The prehistoric life in them seems whole and intact. Any horse you meet seems to have in it a knowing that is deeper, older, more primal than our own; they seem witnesses to something lost to the sight of humankind. There is something important about horses.”
Extracts from Introduction to 1977 Picador Edition of Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm also to be found in The Moment Under the Moment by Russell Hoban
The second half story is also available as a stand-alone show for schools and family audiences, as The Boy and His Horse.
Katy first performed the show as a solo experiment and was introduced to Sarah – whose first experience of storytelling was at Katy’s first telling of the story – by a mutual friend. They relished the idea of experimenting together, and so began a process of knitting music and story together around the various threads and themes of the story.
As these stories became more and more part of me, I realised that the attraction of escape into a golden kingdom was strongly connected to how alive I feel when I perform as a storyteller. I have also become fascinated about what that golden kingdom is for other people.