Devoted and Disgruntled 19.

Session 4 Sunday 3-4:30pm

The ‘Lost Mother Moon’.
I want to make a show with/for m/others who feel lost or who have felt lost. Please help!

Lucy Smith

I was joined in this session by Ali Ford who was really helpful in considering the possibilities and next steps to take.

Adaptation of Lost Mother Moon a folk tale
Why do this story?:
I had recent experiences (particularly during the pandemic) where I felt completely lost and without guidance, where there was no available help for my child from the places we would traditionally turn to. I have written about it, but it is too personal and autobiographical, so I needed a way to explore this artistically in a form that was meaningful to me.

There are many folk tales around the world that tell the story of the moon, sometimes disappearing, or other unusual happenings.

Working with the themes of motherhood, cycles, feminine energy and what it feels like to be lost.

Possibilities: Link to the experience of women feeling lost in their roles as mothers. Collect personal stories, small moments of feeling lost at any point whilst being a mother, and their particular experience of this - and what helped. Important to be very clear what the invitation is for this. Perhaps linking to the metaphors in the story.

Also, gather folk tales from mothers around the world re the moon. Create a gathering of artists who would like to create an offering for a lunar festival - and find ways to share the stories in theatre.

Could this be widened to include all parents? How does this story relate to fathers, carers?

Starting places:

M/Others Who Make network
Who can help?
Probably need a Producer - check Facebook UK Theatre Producers - you can see there Producers who you can ask for support. May need to do the initial work yourself, but they may be able to lever some connections, eg a venue that could support for the R&D section.
Perhaps look for an Arts Council Grant, with a Producer.
Could work with local community groups/international groups.
Reach out to the Lawrence Batley Theatre, they may be able to connect up with local groups, and do ask for any ‘Seed Commissioning Funds’, and/or a space to do focus groups.
Perhaps consider bringing in a Clay Artist, and a Paper Lantern artist.

Ideas for this version of The Lost Mother Moon:

The stage objects and images are created in paper, with lanterns, shaped sculptures, and with paper puppets that emerge and disappear or transform. The strength, flexibility, and fragility of paper to be played with. This will be an important part of the R&D process. Voices and soundscapes will be important.

At the back of the stage a circular screen may portray images for the story, setting the scene of the island and the swampland.

The bog/swamp ‘evil creatures’ could be made at the front of the stage, a large platform covered in clay that the audience are invited (workshop pre performance) to create. This is then played with through lighting during the performance to enhance shadows etc.,.

In the session I played one recorded version of the story. Clay and art materials were available to respond to the story.

The ‘Lost Mother Moon’ story:

There is an island, and on one half live villagers, and on the other half there is a big swamp where evil creatures live who are predatory and monstrous with large claws. Life in the village is good and the people were grateful for the Mother Moon. The villagers stay safe by following the light of the moon to navigate the dark, and being in tune with her rhythms. They use the nights of darkness when the moon doesn’t shine to make poetry, make love, and be with their families. On these nights the swamp is especially dangerous.

On one occasion a foolish person had wandered off into the dark on a moonless night, and they had drowned. When the Mother Moon heard of this death she was so upset because she loved the earth people so much, and she decided in that moment to come down to earth on a slow star to see if she could help. She wrapped a heavy cloak of night around her, and made her way slowly down to land on the island. She landed softly into the marshes at the edge of the swamp, and just a small ring of light shone around her feet. The marshes were cold and inhospitable, filled with heavy smelly mud, roots that were tangled and dark tree trunks. As she came into the middle of the place she felt a chill about her and as if something wasn’t quite right, and she shivered in the cold, as if there was something or some spirit present with her. Suddenly a vine began to creep up her ankle, and then another, and then three more, until she was held fast by vines that were pulling her down into the mud. She sank forwards onto her knees, and fell, all the while more vines wrapping their tentacles around her and pulling her further and further down. She cried out, and the sound carried across the marsh and swamp. But because it was a dark night the villagers were all asleep and no-one heard her cry. Just as she was contemplating how to get out of the vines, she heard a cry ‘Help Me!’, ‘Please, Help Me!’ And throughout the darkness she could just make out an old man who was struggling through the marshes, trying to stay on the strips of land between them. She was so concerned that she threw back her head and the cloak fell from her face, lighting up the swamp with the luminous beauty from her face. The old man began struggling towards her, towards the vines in the swamp, and she realised that she was actually luring him to his death. So she shook her whole body until her cloak fully opened and a huge ray of light spread across the swamp, and he suddenly saw that he was about to fall in so he quickly took a different path, and he was saved. He thought no more of it and went on his way. But she sank deeper and deeper into he mud, as all the evil creatures moved towards her, with their claws high above their heads, and they danced about her and shouted: ‘Let’s kill her!’, ‘Let’s get rid of her!’, ‘Let’s bury her!’, ‘Let’s bury the Mother Moon’. So they held her down, and pushed her further and further into the swamp, beating her and kicking her, until only a pool of her golden hair showed on top of the swamp. And they were triumphant, ‘At last we have got rid of the Mother Moon!!’. And they rolled a huge stone over her so that at last no light was visible, and everything was dark.

The villagers waited as normal for the light of Mother Moon to return. When after a few days they realised that she hadn’t returned, they began to gather together, and ask ‘What has happened? She is normally back by now. Its been a week.’ And then another week passed. Everything began to fall apart, the crops began to fail, they were running out of grain, and people had to go out at night without light and they fell into the swamp, and were taken by the evil creatures. Children were made orphans. Lovers were lost. Parents lost children. There was much grief. No-one could find their way. So they talked and said ‘No-one should have to live this way’, and a group of them took up their torches and banded together to fight off the evil creatures. They stepped farther and farther through the marshes and came to the edge of the swamp, and felt the vines and the creatures tugging at their coats, and could hear their chattering, and hear the clicking of their claws, and this made them very afraid. Sometimes one of the villagers was grabbed, and the rest of them had to quickly pull the vines off of them, and so they progressed slowly until eventually they came to the middle of the swamp. And here there was a strange stillness, and an unusual atmosphere. A huge stone stood in the middle, and as they got closer to it they could just make out the faintest ring of pale light around the edge of the stone. Together they decided to push the stone, but it was too huge and too heavy. So they went back to the village and asked everyone else to help them, and then they returned, and with levers and with many hands they began to push and heave the stone. They worked together, the young and the old, to cut the vines, releasing the stone, and eventually they began to move it slowly, and rolling it away across a few feet of the swamp. And as they looked down into the muddy swamp they saw the most beautiful face that they had ever ever seen. A beautiful luminous face that made them bask in the wonder of it. And their eyes were filled with love, and their hearts were opened. And the luminous face began to lift and shed golden light across the swamp and the marshes, flooding the whole place with the beautiful shining light. And the evil creatures ran quickly away to hide from the light, scurrying under bushes, sinking back into the mud, and were seen of no more. As the face rose higher and higher it became less defined in its features, and softer and softer, and they all stood in awe as Mother Moon rose higher and higher into the sky. They walked home together content, knowing that they had helped the Mother Moon to return. And they felt blessed that the cycles would return. Once again, they would spend the dark night of each month at home with those they loved, while the poets wrote their poems, the lovers made love, and the children came close to their mothers and fathers who told them the story of the Mother Moon, how she was once lost, how the darkness came, and how they helped the light to return.

If you would like to contact me about this project I’d love to hear from you. I am really keen to work with others in bringing this story to life.

Please email me at :

Lucy Smith

[email protected]

Monday 18th March 2024