Signal Fire (n): a fire or light set up in a prominent position as a warning, signal, or celebration

Signal Fires

Kestrel Theatre Company are proud to be joining some of the UK’s leading touring theatre companies, uniting this autumn to present Signal Fires, a nationwide project inspired by one of the original forms of theatre – storytelling around a fire.

Kestrel will be presenting an evening of storytelling on 8 November. While we had hoped to perform in the magical gardens of Asthall Manor, because of government restrictions we have now had to go online.  This will be only available to an invited audience but we will be recording it and posting it on the website as soon as possible.

Four Kestrel alumnae have been working with the writer Simon Longman to create fictional stories that look at the experiences of finishing a prison sentence and the problems and possibilities of finding yourself in a new life. The collective piece is called  AFTER TIME.

Presented at a time when it is not possible to physically tour, 45North, Arcade, Beyond Face, Big Telly, Boundless, Eastern Angles, English Touring Theatre, Fen in association with Out of Joint, Fuel, Graeae, Headlong, Hightide, Kestrel Theatre Company, Kneehigh, Macha Productions, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, New Perspectives, Pentabus, Pilot, Paines Plough, SBC Theatre, Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Slung Low, Spare Tyre, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men and Yellow Earth Theatre (with more to be announced) are uniting for the first time, to collectively tour a single idea throughout October and into November.

Each company will self-produce an evening of work – a signal fire – at a different location across the UK in celebration of our fundamental need to tell stories, in order to help make sense of the world around us and reimagine the future. Presented outdoors in front of socially-distanced live audiences, or digitally for those who are shielding or currently unable to travel, every signal fire will incorporate a different form of physical fire, ranging from large-scale bonfires to candles, virtual fires to campfires, and BBQ’s to mobile phone lights. Working with hundreds of UK freelancers each company’s fire will be different from the last, spanning different disciplines reflecting the breadth and diversity of the touring circuit.



In light of the current crisis, the signal fires will create beacons across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland warning of the threat the industry continues to face while celebrating the extraordinary vibrancy of touring theatre and the freelancers they engage. Stretching across four nations, this festival of fires will connect audiences, freelance artists and touring companies together in a communal, national act of storytelling.

Holly Race Roughan, Associate Artistic Director of Headlong and Associate Director of Kestrel said‘Signal Fires is an unprecedented project born out of unprecedented times. It has been incredibly inspiring and humbling to connect with so many different touring theatre companies. To be reminded of the sheer breadth and diversity of the UK touring ecology, the audiences we engage, and crucially what we now stand on the brink of losing. Touring theatre companies are vital for sharing stories across communities, so we can learn from each-other and reimagine a future together. Signal Fires demonstrates the power of collaboration and the need to embrace both innovation and new ways of working if we are to weather the challenging months ahead.’ 


Writer: Simon Longman

Director: Eleanor Henderson

Acting coach:  Jason York

Producer: Arabella Warner



Marc  Conway: (Another Chance, Broken Dreams 1)

Ricardo Thomas: (Broken Dreams 1)

Nathaniel Kelly: (Broken Dreams 2, Jack A Lad in the Beanstalk)

Steve: (Rio’s Extraordinary Christmas)



Paula Thompson

Kevin Cahill

Christine Tedders

Katy Daghorn


We hope that the event at Asthall Manor will happen in 2021.