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Happy birthday to us! We’re five!

This year, 2021, marks Alarum’s 5th anniversary! To celebrate we gave our wonderful work experience student, Jess Saunders the task of summing up the last five years of performing, creating, producing and boating in five blog posts. Each blog post will be made up of five fun facts and archive photos. Here’s her first one:

From key dates to venues to memorable moments, these celebratory posts have it all! Heather and Kate have shared a lively collection of anecdotes, as we reminisce on how Alarum came to be and share some of the memories collected along the way.

We’ll start off the series of blogs with a list of five moments from Alarum’s first year. As we look back on an eventful five years of performances, tours, collecting oral history, celebrating the UK’s waterways, recognising women’s roles, raising voices and more, we have chosen five key dates from 2016 when our journey began. Read on to see our timeline of events, tracing how Alarum came to be!

1) First Tweet

On 1st February 2016, a single Tweet made a spark that grew into something much bigger. A change meeting on Twitter saw Heather and Kate connect (virtually) for the first time. Ah, the power of the internet.

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Heather’s tweet, promoting her performance of Idle Women & Judies for The Canal & River Trust, was shared by Kate who, unable to make the show, encouraged her followers to get involved.

The very same day a direct message conversation sparked up, as Heather and Kate shared their expertise, discussed new ideas and a possible collaborative venture… 

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The date of this Twitter exchange has been fondly adopted as Alarum’s date-of-birth, and will kick-off our 5th Anniversary celebrations!

2) First Phone Call

A month or so later, after a slew of online messaging, Heather and Kate had a proper chat. Thanks to Kate’s old diary, and thorough note-taking, she can remember the exact time and date of the first call: Tuesday 8th March, 3pm.

3) First Meeting 

By the end of March, on the 23rd to be exact, the first official in-person meeting took place. Kate left her boat, moored in East London, arrived at Heather’s home near Kidderminster, and jumped straight into planning (and biscuit dunking) mode.

Kate busy working

With copious cups of tea, lots of ideas, and a big map of the waterways, our the first tour became a fully realised idea.

4) First Performance  

Alarum’s first performance took place on April 3rd at 4pm when Heather and Kate premiered Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways, a double bill of theatre, poetry and song made up of Kate’s Isobel’s War and Heather’s Idle Women and Judies.

The Barge House in East London housed the first show, a canal side venue of course, which was a perfect spot, dedicated to showcasing art exhibitions and performances. Alarum’s debut put even grander plans into motion. Next up, tours!

5) First Tour (and cancellation)  

Touring, it turns out, didn’t come without challenges. Alarum’s first official tour, of Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways, was kick-started with a cancellation. The first show would have taken place on 16th June, at Camp House, Grimley but a rather important component was nowhere to be seen – the stage.


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Front of the first tour flyer

Thanks to the River Severn bursting its banks and flooding, the stage was underwater. The tour was put on pause and began again on the 21st June at Ashwood Marina on the Staffs & Worcs Canal instead, taking the tour’s planned 11 shows down to 10.

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Back of the first tour flyer

When creating theatre around the waterways, sometimes the water has other plans. Luckily, flooding hasn’t slowed us down since, as 126 shows later our stages have stayed above water!

So, our 5th anniversary is now officially underway – look out for four more upcoming blog posts. More fun facts, stories and pictures to follow!

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