In Conversation

Chaired by Kerami Roberts and featuring artists from across the season’s events.

Join us for our popular panel discussion looking more deeply at the themes of the shows and events, sharing insights with our visiting artists and people involved in Jabberwocky Markets from far and wide. This season we’ll talk about Room for More, the theme we’ve borrowed from our partners, Darlington Quakers. Artists and partners will chat about what’s motivating and exciting to work with diverse people and communities.

To watch some of our In Conversation events in full, see our Arts World page.


Facebook Saved Our Baby

By Wolf Close


See the true story of the life-changing impact of their daughter’s chronic eczema and the hope they found in the most unexpected of places.

A family clings together around an illness that has crawled under the skin of their baby.
With compelling storytelling, they foster a deep connection to the audience in ways that resonate with anyone navigating the tricky path between cynicism and hope.

A deeply moving story told with lightness and humour.

The Quest for the Perfect Shirt

By Richard Bliss

Join the quest at the Covered Market, Darlington

Artist and tailor Richard Bliss is on a quest to make the perfect shirt, and he is bringing his shirt-making project to Jabberwocky Market.

Richard has been travelling the country, talking to men and women about shirts; what shirts they like, how shirts should be worn, what messages shirts send out to the world. Using these conversations as his starting point, Richard is creating shirts that are being exhibited in museums, galleries and at pop-up events all around the country.

Pop down to down and into the Covered Market; come and talk to Richard about what you think makes a perfect shirt.  Maybe you’re inspired by a shirt in a painting or perhaps an object in town has sparked your imagination.

The Quest for the Perfect Shirt is a project that explores masculinity by making shirts in public. The project has been supported by Arts Council England.

Behind the scenes

Find out how non zero one make immersive, interactive theatre for children and have a nosy around and behind the set of Ground Control.

A talk with the team who make and perform Ground Control, on site in Shildon, for artists, theatre makers and anyone interested in finding out more.

BIG Little Gigs

By BIG Little Gigs

Featuring the popular vintage swing band, Ragtime Rewind performing true 1930s & 1940s swing dance sets, plus 1950s and modern tunes with a vintage twist. For excellent musicians and outstanding vocals, immaculately presented, come along and be swept into a long gone era for a really fun afternoon.

Comprising Damaris Jean on lead vocals, Jonny on keys, Louise on saxophone, Simon on double bass, and Kenneth on drums. Professional musicians with years of experience providing that authentic vintage sound and look.

Gigs for 0-10 year olds and their families have become really popular since BIG Little Gigs began at a Jabberwocky Market 3 years ago. We’re delighted to welcome back this winning fusion of children’s entertainment and top quality gig.


To celebrate grandchildren and grandparents there’s a ticket discount for a child and grandparent, and an accompanying great-grandparent can come along completely FREE.


By 20 Stories High

Nikki doesn’t think that her Dad is a racist, he just cares deeply about his community.

But when a Zimbabwean family move in over the road, the dog won’t stop barking, the local kids start lobbing stones, and her Dad starts laying down the law.

This provocative and engaging show from 20 Stories High digs deep at the heart of racial tensions in the UK today.

Written by award winning writer Keith Saha, with lyricism and live DJ soundscapes from Chunky (Riot Jazz /Hoya Hoya) and the raw talent of Abby Melia – this is a vital and challenging piece of theatre.


“Saha’s play is sharp, funny and honest. He provides no easy solutions yet does allow a glint of hope as to the future” – Paul Foley, Morning Star on BLACK

“This is theatre at it’s best. Raw, thought-provoking and with a message that needs to be heard.” – North West End on The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective (2016)

“Brilliant, important, authentic work.” – Nina Hajiyianni, Action Transport Theatre on HEADZ


Nikki (a young white British female)
Precious (a young black Ziimbabwean man)
Abby Melia
Craig Shanda (Chunky/Riot Jazz)

Writer      Keith Saha
Director   Julia Samuels
Designer  Miriam Navarro
Music       Chunky (aka Craig Shanda) & Keith Saha

Rendezvous in Bratislava

By Miriam Sherwood & team

Miriam and her granddad are making a cabaret together. They’re the perfect double act: he’s got the stories, she loves telling them, and they both have a flair for the theatrical. The only problem is they’ve never met. (He’s been dead for 37 years.)

Miriam reading stories with white painted face - production shot from Rendezvous in Bratislava - showing at Jabberwocky Market on 5 & 6 October 2018


Jan ‘Laco’ Kalina was a dramaturg, satirist, collector of jokes and writer of cabarets, born in Czechoslovakia in 1913. A Slovak Jew, he survived the fascists only to be imprisoned by the communists, who believed him a threat to the regime.

Digging through objects and stories from Laco’s remarkable life, Miriam searches for her granddad’s voice through his own jokes, skits and songs, conjuring up an archival cabaret that reverberates with laughter from a very different place and time.

With original music and a live band of Slovaks, Rendezvous in Bratislava traces family connections across national, historical and political borders, and celebrates the power of laughter in troubled times.


“BRILLIANT! Totally original – extremely interesting and entertaining and thought-provoking.”

 “Real history + charming presentation + the best pop song ever = the most inventive & original theatre I’ve seen in months”

“Loved this show last night. Intimate, ambitious & heartfelt. Plus prosecco & a live band! What’s not to like!?”

“The story was incredible. I loved every minute of it! It was really touching; heartbreaking.”

“It made me cry, made me laugh, it made me proud to be myself. I loved it!”

“You captivated me with the story of a person I knew nothing about, and gave me a way into a culture I knew nothing about. Thank you.”

Here’s Jenna Johnson describing the show in British Sign Language

Jenna joins the team for the performance on Saturday 6 October at 8pm.

Download the beautiful show programme
– click the links: Page 1   Page 2.

Ground Control

By non zero one

You are Ground Control, and Futuretron is asking for your help to decide the future of a new planet.

Here’s the situation: in 1974, a manned mission was sent into space to look for inhabitable planets. Now, in present day, the sensors aboard Shuttle X27-40 indicate that it may have found just such a planet. The three astronauts on board are about to be woken from their hypersleep …They need your help.


Using a giant projection screen and a live, highly intelligent computer (well, Futuretron), you will be part of a team deciding on an identity for the planet, its laws and values. ground control is a unique interactive performance for up to forty 7 – 12 year olds.

No adults allowed!




Ambitious, tech-savvy and collaborative…their work encompasses the best traits of their generation” – TELEGRAPH on mountaineering

“Clearly masters of its craft” – A YOUNGER THEATRE

“Intelligently crafted and totally engaging” – EVENING STANDARD on would like to meet

“Their work isn’t just promising, it verges – judging by what I’ve seen – on being totally ground-breaking” – TELEGRAPH on this is where we got to when you came in

Finding My Own Story workshop

Join us for a fascinating free workshop led by Miriam Sherwood, a theatre-maker who works with oral histories, documentary material and music. Miriam will help us consider family connections across historical, national and political borders. Participants will be encouraged to explore, record and share the histories of their grandparents in a fun and thought-provoking session.

Please bring along one item that reminds you of a grandparent.

Copious quantities of tea and cake will be available to fuel the creativity.

The workshop is free of charge but booking is recommended as spaces are limited. For more details, please call 01325 466810 or email

We are privileged to be working with Miriam in partnership with Darlington Quakers whose annual Quaker Week is taking place around the country during the first week of October on the theme of “Room for More”, which we have embraced whole heartedly for this season’s programme.

Miriam’s show, “Rendezvous in Bratislava”, is playing at Polam’s Liddiard Theatre later in the week, it is an archival caberet, centring on the story of her father, a Slovak Jew who survived the fascists only to be imprisoned by the communists, who believed him a threat to the regime. “Room for More” invites us to consider ideas of tolerance, inclusion and welcome, whether within our own communities or across borders.

Autumn 2018 overview

Some events have a bar, some don’t, each event will say but do contact us if you have questions.  Each venue is also getting a detailed access guide which you can download from Venues & Access page, or request by emailing us on

Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know what’s in store

‘All New’ Weekend (2018)

Fresh for 2018 we bring you Jabberwocky Market’s ALL NEW Weekend

A weekend of brand new theatre, including previews, scratches and discussions.

4:00pm – Doors open
4:30pm – Pricks (preview) by Jade Byrne
5:40pm – Pricks post show conversation with the creative team
6:30pm – The Smog (scratch) by Scott Turnbull
7:30pm – Status (preview) by Chris Thorpe
9:00pm – Jabberbar & musical entertainment (tbc)

Artists breakfast
11:00am – Theatre Uncut do-it-ourselves

££ info
All events are ticketed on a Pay What You Decide basis, meaning you should reserve your place free of charge then pay what you think it’s worth after the show (via cash or card)

Come for one, stay for it all. The Jabberbar will be out in force throughout and we welcome you to bring snacks, picnics or takeaways to eat between the shows.




by Chris Thorpe & Rachel Chavkin (preview)

We all have a nationality.

Or almost all of us.

Status is a show about someone who doesn’t want his any more. About running away from the national story you’re given. About who is responsible for that story and what might happen to it if you give it up.

A globe-spanning journey of attempted escape, with songs along the way. Status springs from conversations about who we might be, and whether your country needs you more than you might need it.




by Jade Byrne (preview)

I’ve had over 70,000 pricks… of the medical kind. 

This is my chance to set the record straight about Type 1 Diabetics like me. I’m not bankrupting the NHS, And I can eat cake, a whole bloody cake if I want to.

Pricks blends spoken word, poetry, projection and an original soundscape to tell a moving story about families and learning to care for each other better.

Join Jade on this explorative journey through the ups and downs of dealing with a lot of pricks.


The Smog

by Scott Turnbull (scratch)

The SMOG descended on Teesside two weeks ago and since it arrived strange things have been happening- supernatural occurrences and disappearances, sightings of something indescribable in the clouds, something unexplainable in The Smog.

Where did it come from? When will it go? And who will survive to tell the tale…



Theatre Uncut

by various artists

Theatre Uncut was created to get people thinking, talking and taking action on the events that are happening in the world around them.

The idea is simple. Playwrights from a selection of countries are asked to write brand new short plays in response to their current political situation. These scripts are then made available for anyone to perform anywhere for a limited period.

Theatre Uncut is run by artistic directors Emma Callender and Hannah price. For more information please visit 

PAST EVENTS THIS SEASON:     Sponge     Our Line     Ugly Chief

Our Line (2018)

A story you can listen to on the train from Darlington to Bishop Auckland

A Jabberwocky Market pop-up theatre event from Luxi, Northern & the Bishop Line

“I never met my great grandmother Nora, but she hovers around the edges of my mother’s memory.  A tiny woman, she died when my mam was about 7. She remembers her baby teeth coming out at the time.  Nora’s story is woven into the landscape that you travel through from Darlington to Bishop Auckland on the train.”

A brand new collaboration bringing pop-up theatre events onto the world’s first passenger train line. Hannah Bruce & Co have created a wonderful story to listen to that is available to anyone with a smart device, via a unique code on the TlotT app.

Our Line is free for anyone with a valid train ticket (and access to their own smart device). There will be Jabberwocky Market stewards on the trip with you, so it’s available on specific trains.

If you’d like more details please email and put ‘Our Line‘ in the subject.

Tailored trips for your GROUP of 8 or more can be arranged for a small charge, email for details.


THIS IS A PAST EVENT… for details of future outings, please sign up to our mailing list


Thursdays & Saturdays from 31 March – 28 April 2018
Meet at station 10:35am, 12:35, 6:05pm

(duration 90 mins inc return journey from Bishop Auckland)

VENUE: Darlington’s Banktop Station (Platform 4)

AGE & ACCESS:  all ages – contact us about wheelchair spaces

TICKETS:  FREE with your valid train ticket

How to:

  1. click Get Tickets above (it will take you to an external booking site)
  2. select the time and date that you would like to attend, and the number of tickets
  3. once booked, you will receive a confirmation email, please check details
  4. the day before your booking you will receive another email, this time with a unique code so you can download the story and start the countdown to your journey
  5. please arrive at Darlington station at the time stated on your email
  6. purchase a train ticket from Darlington to Bishop Auckland (return)
  7. report to the Jabberwocky Market stewards who will check that you’re ready to start
  8. NB – you will need to bring headphones and a smartphone, tablet or ipod

If you need a wheelchair space on the train, please mention that on the booking form – or you can contact us on or 07583 655018 for details

.   .   .   .   .   .   .

Behind the scenes making Our Line: theatre on a train

Ugly Chief (2018)


Artist and performer Victoria Melody teams up with her dad, TV antique dealer Mike Melody, for her most ambitious show yet. Ugly Chief is a comedy based on true-life events, performed by a real-life father and daughter. Victoria returns to Jabberwocky Market after blowing us away with the wonderful Major Tom in 2014.

In 2013, Mike was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and given five years to live. Victoria was put in charge of planning the funeral (complete with eulogies, a New Orleans jazz procession and a congregation dressed in Blackpool FC tangerine). But a year later the doctors realised they had misdiagnosed Mike.

Victoria and Mike decided to go ahead with the funeral anyway and Victoria went to Port Talbot to train as a funeral director. Ugly Chief plays out two funerals – the one Victoria planned and the one her dad really wanted. And Mike is guest of honour at both. As the show unfolds, it unpicks the complicated relationship with a parent whose opinion you don’t always agree with.

Mike will be running his own version of the Antiques Roadshow during the show. The audience are invited to bring along their heirlooms, curiosities and collectables for him to value during the show. No promises but if he likes it, he might even buy it!

“Messy, moving and funny. Exposes the fractures in families we often avoid addressing while we’re alive”
★★★★ The Times

“Fascinating, beautiful and utterly human”
★★★★ Time Out

“A ridiculously enjoyable show… Of course we love it”
★★★★ The Guardian

“An off-piste comic treat”
★★★★ What’s On Stage

“Extremely funny and wonderfully strange”
★★★★ The Stage

Victoria Melody is an award-winning British artist with a background in fine art. She has made one-woman theatrical shows, performance interventions and films mainly about Britain’s pastimes, passions and tribes. Fascinated by anthropology, she immerses herself into communities and becomes an active participant in their rituals as research for her work. In the past she has become a pigeon racer, a Northern Soul dancer, a championship dog handler and a beauty queen.

Musicians James Gow, Steve Pretty (Hackney Colliery Band), Kieran Rafferty and Gemma Storr provide the appropriate live accompaniment for the funeral – including Soul classics and more. They will be joined on stage by a band of brass players from the Darlington area.

Ugly Chief’s creative team is director John Gordillo, known for his work with Eddie Izzard and as host and co-creator of the BBC’s The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance); set and costume designer Lucy Bradridge; musical director Tom Parkinson; and lighting designer Sean Philips.

Here’s Jenna Johnson’s welcome to Ugly Chief in British Sign Language.

OTHER EVENTS THIS SEASON:     Sponge     Our Line     All New Weekend

Sponge (2018)


Roll, squeeze and pop yourself through a new squashy kind of show, set to a 1970s influenced score, perfect for babies, young children and families.   Shortlisted for the “Best Family Welcome” award in the  Fantastic for Families Awards 2018

In  Sponge at Jabberwocky Market, two friendly dancers guide the participants, revealing small-scale AND large-scale squishy, squashy environments, fascinating in shape, texture and touch.

There’s also the leggy character Splegs, who needs a bit of help walking.

Dance company Turned On Its Head makes exciting participatory theatre for early years, taking children on a creative journey, engaging audiences throughout its performances and encouraging lots of family interaction.

Everything in Sponge can be made with simple materials at home so there’s more fun to be had after the show.

Turned On Its Head’s first work was co-commissioned by Curve Theatre, their second by The Spark Arts. Turned On Its Head is an Affiliate Company at Curve, Leicester where Liz Clark runs Little Movers, child-led creative dance with children aged 4 months to 4 years and their grown ups.

OTHER EVENTS THIS SEASON:     Ugly Chief     Our Line     All New Weekend

Jabberwocky Market autumn 2017

For Season 9 Jabberwocky Markets were joined by Paines Plough’s Roundabout to make a Pop-Up Theatre Town, coordinated by Darlington Council with Theatre Hullabaloo and theatre makers OddManOut.



The Castle Builder by Kid Carpet & Vic Llewellyn

Ross & Rachel

BIG Little Gigs with Kid Carpet

Almost Always Muddy

Scratch night including – Stupid by Sian Armstrong, Pricks by Jade Byrne, Seaside Terror by Odd Doll Puppet Theatre

In Conversation about Play, chaired by Miranda Thain of Theatre Hullabaloo

Fun Palaces including Ask a Child

Darlington Rocks Hide & Seek

Jabberwocky Market spring 2017

Season 8 highlighted really exciting pop-up theatre and site-specific shows.


Starting in February, we welcomed Shannon Yee and her headphone experience for just 6 people at a time, Reassembled, Slightly Askew, which took place in an empty shop unit thanks to support from Feethams Darlington and the company Urban & Civic.


Next came the return of the awe-inspiring Theatre Ad Infinitum with their epic Bucket List, hosted by our long-term partner venue, Polam Hall School in  their lovely Liddiard Theatre.


Playing on the idea of traditional ‘salon theatre’ but with a 21stcentury twist, we brought In Good Hands by Catherine Ireton and Farnham Maltings, about a hairdressing experience taking place in the salon of our very good friends, Be Premiere Hair, with a soundtrack playing out onto Blackwellgate on a sunny April evening.


For our littlest audiences, the Dolphin Centre’s sports hall played host to a massive white tent and the gorgeous Neverland from Tom Penn and Battersea Arts Centre.


Our last show of the spring was one we’ve been trying to bring to Darlington for a long time; thanks to support from the Darlington Theatre Town partnership, Early Doors by Not Too Tame Theatre happened in the Hole in the Wall pub for a week in May.


The season continued as Jabberwocky Market events travelled to a range of other events in the town, including Darlington Community Carnival and Includefest.

Jabberwocky Market autumn 2016

Back in festival mode for the autumn, this time from 28 September to 3 October 2016, and particularly special because the original funding had been for six seasons and here we were launching a new three year programme of activity; this time with loads more partnerships.


The season began back at The Forum, where we had launched season one in 2013, this time featuring a core show, DenMarked by Conrad Murray, followed by the popular local band, Weekend Sun, in partnership with the new music collective, Tracks Darlington.


Alongside the main shows every day of the festival featured an opportunity to have a 5 minute headphone encounter with the International Archive of Things Left Unsaid, recorded using binaural beat technology to induce calming brainwaves in the listener.


On Friday evening, The Trouble with Compassion by Kirsten Luckins, a conversational performance about kindness was at Polam’s Liddiard Theatre, followed by the ever popular Scratch Night which we handed over to OddManOut Theatre to present a plethora of new writing in-progress to an audience for feedback and discussion. The Jabberbar was back helping the festival feel, providing thirsty theatre lovers with refreshments throughout the weekend.


Saturday saw the beginning of two extremely fun and creative days, as the Jabbering Fun Palace began. Starting with Big Little Gigs featuring beatbox master, Conrad Murray and his cru. Later in the day, artist Rhiannon Armstrong’s Can I Help You involved her walking around the town centre lending a hand to anyone who asked. At Be Premiere Hair salon another event was taking place, Ask A Hairdresser, in which the public were invited to come in, sit down and ask a hairdresser ANYTHING.


Both shows on the Saturday evening were moving and powerful epics in their own right. Labels, a story of migra5tion and social stereotyping, and The 56 a true life story of community spirit in the event of a tragedy.


Concluding a fantastic weekend the Panel Discussion was hosted by Steve Gilroy, exploring the themes of Truth and Compassion; whilst children and families tried out our Story Café and Jabber(breakfast)bar.


Sunday afternoon offered relaxing experiences at Quaker Meeting House, including a Perfect Day with Kirsten Luckins, and Public Self Care System with Rhiannon Armstrong, gently easing audiences, artists and our team back into the real world.

Jabberwocky Market spring 2016

Season six was the first time we ran a series of events instead of a festival and it was a brilliant way to welcome in our 4th calendar year of Jabberwocky Markets. In March we hosted Second Hand Dance’s show, Grass, at Darlington’s Cattle Market with a big event for children and families.


Later that month came Touretteshero with Backstage in Biscuit Land at Teesside University’s Darlington campus, The Forge.


In April we presented a work-in-progress sharing of a brand new play, Empire of the Rats, by Van Badham, directed by Selma Dimitrijevic and produced for this Jabberwocky Market by Luxi.


Our last major event of the season was Sean Mahoney’s Until You Hear That Bell presented at Darlington Boxing and Martial Arts Academy and then at the Dolphin Centre.


Each event included two performances of the main show, the Jabberbar and Gift Shop and activities for audiences. Later in the spring we started to take Jabberwocky Markets to other events and venues around the town and thanks to new funding we will be doing more of that over the next three years.

Jabberwocky Market spring 2015

The fourth season was a spring festival 26-29 March 2015, for the first time being based all in one venue as our main theatre, the Quaker Meeting House. The line up included:

Gloriator by Spritz & Co

The Frights by Alphabetti Theatre

Lorraine and Alan by Bucket Club

Scratch moved across the road from Voodoo Cafe to Quaker Meeting House too and featured extracts of Wasted by Nicola Cameron, of The Palace of Varieties by Chris Stewart and of Fat-Free, Sugar-Free, Child-Free by Byrnes and Lofthouse.

1-1 Surgeries with industry expert and coach, Chris Grady; Cardboard Costume Making workshop with Kate Eccles and No 47 Project brought an interactive vintage bus experience into the town centre.

Our panel discussion looked at Why We Tour Theatre and the benefits for artists and audiences, it was chaired by our young advisor, Ayla Huseyinoglu and the panel included Katie Duffy, Touring Producer at Battersea Arts Centre, Amy Golding, Artistic Director of Curious Monkey Theatre and members of Bucket Club.

This season, instead of a festival hub, we created a branded Jabbervan as a hub for tickets and information.

Jabberwocky Market autumn 2014

The third season took place over the weekend  of 2-5 October 2014 featuring:

Fish/Girl: what the little mermaid found out about the world by Make/Shift Projects,

Solas Fae by The D Project,

Folk in a Box by Emily Barker & Dom Coyote,

Ballad of the Burning Star by Theatre Ad Infinitum,

Dead to Me by Gary Kitching & Co with Greyscale,

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Bootworks Theatre.

Our popular Scratch night returned with performances of To Get To The Other Side by Lost the Plot Theatre, an extract of A Christmas Carol by Chris Foote-Wood and Empire of the Rats by Van Badham and Carl Kennedy for Jabberwocky Jam.

Fun Palaces took over Darlington’s Market Square with an Arts Assault course of events.

We held a panel discussion on How Social Conflict Affects the Development of Theatre, chaired by Stella Hall FRSA, Artistic Director of Festival of Thrift and featuring Nir Paldi from Theatre Ad Infinitum and Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh.

The festival hub was in our usual location at Darlington Indoor Market and events took place in the Cattle Market, Voodoo Cafe, Liddiard Theatre at Polam Hall, Darlington Crown Street Library and Darlington Market Place.