Saddleworth folk tale comes to life with audio drama and local walks

SADDLEWORTH folklore is brought to life in a new audio drama accompanied by walks around the local countryside.

A Tale of Two Giants has been created by Tameside-based artist Tori Burgess and is one of seven micro-commissions picked by Oldham Coliseum to be unveiled over spring.

It is made up of four short audio dramas, suitable for children, families and seasoned giant spotters, available to listen to free on the Coliseum’s website.

They explore the folk tale of giants Alphin and Alderman, big-hearted best friends whose peaceful life in the Saddleworth countryside is disturbed by the arrival of a very unusual fish.

Follow a year of gigantic upheaval in the Chew Valley – from the promise of a new spring to the coldest winter these old giants can remember.

A Tale of Two Giants is a celebration of friendship and local natural beauty. It is inspired by and offers a fun, contemporary reimagining of the Saddleworth folktale and the poem Greenfield (1780) by Samuel Bottomley.

Each episode is accompanied by a suggested walking route, which brings the story to life by retracing Alphin and Alderman’s ginormous footsteps.

Each walk also includes activities such as write your own folk story, draw a picture from your adventure, or listen out and record some bird song.

Tori, who has worked across theatre, television, radio and film, explained she has mixed her love of folk stories with her new-found enjoyment of walking to create the project.

Tori Burgess

“I like reading folk stories, I think they are a great way to get into the bones of a place you visit, whether that’s Ashton-Under-Lyne or Japan!” she said.

“Stories that are meant to be heard aloud, like folk stories, work really well theatrically. 

“I loved reading the folk story of Alphin and Alderman, I only came across it a few years ago. It surprised me that I didn’t know the story sooner or hadn’t learnt about it in school (Mossley Hollins went on a sponsored walk around Dovestone every year!)

“I think what inspired me most is the characters. Giants, a water nymph and all the animals which surround them; there’s loads of room for fun and silliness.

“Pre-lockdown I was on tour with a play and was meant to go straight into another one. Then all the world came crashing to a halt. I did all the clichés: baking, yoga and then I got a dog. 

“Being out for two dog walks a day made me notice and appreciate the seasons in close detail that I hadn’t done before. 

“This inspired me to think about framing the audio story by each season and it taking place over the course of a year. 

“Some families might’ve done the walks I’ve included a zillion times but I hope A Tale of Two Giants will breathe some new life into old walks. 

“And, for people who’ve never done them, it’s perhaps not as intimidating because you have a story to explore and guide you.

“I love the idea of a young person listening to the story and being able to choose their family walks, based on a character or place from the story.

“I hope people like the story, get outside and enjoy our beautiful, ginormous hills. But, as Alderman says: ‘take yer’ litter home with you!”

A Tale of Two Giants is written and performed by Tori and she has teamed up with Jake Fletcher (music and original songs), Lizzie Rigby (artwork), Sushil Chudasama (director) and Matt Williams (recording and editing).

• Find out more and enjoy A Tale of Two Giants online.

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