In his extraordinary hour-long performance of the first part of the epic poem known as Beowulf, Benjamin Bagby assumes the role of 11th-century scop, transporting both himself and the audience to the very roots of storytelling, when aural tradition was paramount to sustaining culture, history, and society. The scop would re-tell the story of Beowulf, in song and speech, accompanying himself on a six-stringed harp (crafted specifically for Bagby based on the remains of an instrument from the 7th Century). As in the medieval courts, and with the assistance of modern English super-titles, Bagby's audience becomes attuned to the finest details of sound and meaning, meter and rhyme, timing and mood. The performance which, for the whole epic, might last between five and six hours is never exactly the same twice, as the "singer of tales" subtly varies the use of poetic formulas to shape his unique version of the story.
Co-presented by Yellow Barn and Next Stage Arts Project.