The Last Post

A theatrical letter-writing tour in a Mobile Sorting Office Van.

We are now taking bookings for The Last Post throughout 2014 & 2015.  Book 2 performances a day or have the Mobile Sorting Office open to the public for hours on end as a letter-writing emporium. So many combinations were so successful in 2013 – let’s push the envelope! But be quick! Weekends are filling up fast!

“like a wizard’s horde, an anorak’s obsession” “a beautiful touching eulogy” ”you had me crying, laughing, smiling” “I want to see it again now!” “I don’t have the words to say how much I enjoyed this” “the best bit of theatre I’ve ever seen” “wow wow wow” “you guys do what needs to be done but nobody else has the courage to do” “WOW WOW WOW” (comments from visitors)

Performances of The Last Post unwrap a curious love story between a redundant Post-Master & the irrepressible heiress of an international pen-palling agency, accompanied by “harmony-drenched, melancholy-tinged” live music. 18 bums squeeze onto 18 seats in our bespoke van-atorium, known as Mobile Sorting Office 451.

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Mobile Sorting Office 451 is a bright red Luton van crammed with retro-chic details from a much-travelled life, a thousand items of real mail and a limitless collection of stationery and letter-writing accoutrements. There is also a sherry decanter and a ping-pong set. 

Mrs Black takes tea in MSO 451 photo by The Little Photo Company Ltd

Outside of performance times, Great Aunt Sofya and her good friend, Mrs (Penny) Black, always welcome new members to the real-life, working Pens for Friends PenPal Exchange Scheme and hold your hand through the intricacies of the modern snail mail.

“…inventive, funny, visually engaging, well-constructed, intimate, quirky yet accessible for all. Full of surprises and surprising characters. Unusual but not alienating. Sophisticated but not impenetrable.” Kate Cross, the egg, Bath.  

“…part elegy for a slower way of life, part celebration of epistolatory fun – the intimacy & authenticity of Kilter’s performance make for an evening that may cause you to rethink how you connect with others.” Lynne Locker, Events, Bath & North East Somerset Council

If you’d like to arrange a visit for MSO 451, please send a pigeon or email olly at kiltertheatre dot org.

Why The Last Post? >

Kilter believes that thoughtful slow communication can lead to healthier happier lives. In this uncertain age for the Royal Mail, we also want to promote local Post Offices and Post People that tie communities together. Kilter often makes work about the changing environment and the uncertain future ahead. The Last Post gently approaches some subtle ways in which we can personally adapt and perhaps be better prepared.

Touring theatre to unusual locations breaks down boundaries that prevent people from enjoying live performance. It also reduces the number of car journeys made into cultural centres.

 “an enchanting and beautifully crafted show which celebrates and reminds us of the dying art of letter writing.” Fiona Fraser-Smith, Producer, Beaford Arts

MSO 451 as a Letter Writing Emporium>

“like a wizard’s horde, an anorak’s obsession” (Jim, Bath)

When MSO 451 rolls into town and opens up its sides, all are welcome to climb inside and rummage through the files and pigeon holes. As Kilter tours, the collection of letters continues to grow & irresistibly draw in visitors.

The longer the Mobile Sorting Office is parked in one place, the bolder passers-by become; first peering, then crossing the threshold before eventually sitting down to pour over the extraordinary archives, to write a long-overdue letter or to join the thriving penpal exchange scheme.

“Perhaps there’s a long anticipated love letter with half your name on it, or maybe you could help deliver an apology to an address you nearly recognise. Perhaps you have something important you need to say to someone special. Pick up a pen, write a letter, take a chance…”

The MSO is saturated in authentic historical & peculiar letter-writing accoutrements, pens, papers, ideas and even a working Royal Mail post-box. There’s a stamp collection to satisfy budding philatelists & a working pen-pal exchange board to melt the hearts of die-hard social-networkers (LOL). A member of the company is always present to discuss The Last Post and the issues it touches upon. If it’s quiet, there’s a good chance they’ll offer you a sherry and a game of ping-pong.

Performances in MSO 451>

“a beautiful touching eulogy… you had me crying, laughing, smiling” (Helen, Shaw) 

Set to an original live score and performed at extremely close quarters in the back of the MSO wherever it happens to be parked, The Last Post offers a faintly wonky love story about letter writing in a time of instant gratification.

An itinerant postmaster reeling from the cavalier downsizing of his family business turns up at MSO 451 expecting comfort and reassurance from the infamous Great Aunt.  Instead he’s welcomed by a horde of undeliverable parcels, including a mute musician playing the soundtrack to his life from on a shelf stuffed with jiffy bags.

As he unwraps a back catalogue of self-addressed packages, Great Niece Verity realises the wisdom in the old postal saying: “miracles come in strange shaped packages.”

Workshops>

“[Kilter does] what needs to be done but nobody else has the courage to do.” (Lori, Monmouth)

Kilter workshops are always created specifically to suit the needs of any group. Sessions can begin or take place wholly within the MSO, depending on group size. Most will take advantage of additional spaces.  Below are 2 ideas to consider.

1. Letter writing. (1 hour)

This session on the art and etiquette of letter-writing is run by the exuberant Great Aunt Sofya with support from ‘Inky’ Stan. All participants will write and send a unique hand-written letter!

2.  Site-specific, devised theatre. (2-3 hours)

Caroline & Olly introduce participants to ways of working that can create genuine, innovative, theatrical responses to any non-theatre space.

Caroline & Olly have been making site-specific devised work for 12 years & teach at universities, drama schools & community groups. Education is a central part of Kilter’s output. It can equip participants with a unique understanding and attitude for tackling daunting environmental & social issues… as well as giving them lots of fun!

Post-boxes>

“vivid… unique & memorable as ever” (Serena, Mells)

Kilter has launched a beautiful series of flat-pack post-boxes to accompany The Last Post.  These are sent out to local addresses in advance of the MSO arriving on site and are designed to be inserted into the heart of community life to provoke letter-writing on a wealth of subjects. Instruction panels invite locals & passers-by alike to take 5 minutes to pen a last post.

A work-sheet is also available for schools and community groups to run letter-writing sessions together. All contributions to the post-boxes are archived for public scrutiny in the MSO. The best will form part of a coffee-table book due for publication 2014.

A Review from Exeunt Mag in Exeter….

Using live music to serenade the touching romance at its heart is Bath-based Kilter Theatre’s utterly charming The Last Post. Performed in ‘Mobile Sorting Office 451’ – a miniature museum to all things postal – this piece is tender and funny, a wistful paean to more slower forms of communication and the importance of making connections. Verity (Caroline Garland) runs MSO 451, sorting lost and misdirected letters, postcards and packages, as well as running Friends For Pens, a pen-pal introduction service instigated by her great-aunt Sofya. Red (Olly Langdon) is an ex-postman who turns up – much like a misplaced parcel himself – in the hope of finding the bricks from his demolished childhood home (a village post office, of course), which are being mailed to him one by one. Will Red and Verity realise that they are like two matching stamps in an album before Red’s final brick is delivered and he no longer has a reason to stay?

The Last Post is a joy not just because of the nuanced performances, perfect pacing and utter gloriousness of the set, but also because the intimacy of the performance space matches your connection to the characters and their story – you sit inside the narrative as much as you sit inside the van. Sitting up in the bunk is Tomas, himself a lost parcel – he still has the label on his sock asking the finder to take care of him – who serenades the action, his playing and singing commenting on the gently unfolding love story. Kilter’s commitment to making low-carbon theatre – all sets, props and costumes are secondhand, recycled, re-used and sustainably sourced; energy requirements for performances are derived from a collapsible wind-turbine on the van’s roof – enhances the experience still further. They’re tackling big issues but doing so with an incredibly light touch. Catch it at the Larmer Tree Festival in Wiltshire in July.

Arts Council England
Bath & North East Somerset

 

ICIA