“A lot of fun, plenty of pain”: Simon Barraclough previews his Sunspots show

Blog | Published on June 23, 2015

Sunspots is a poetic, musical, and visual journey through the life of the Sun

Touring 2015-16

Sunspots is a poetic, musical and visual journey from the birth of the Sun, through its long and eventful life, towards its ultimate death.

Simon Barraclough’s third collection of poetry, Sunspots, takes our closest star as its subject and that book provides the text for a new show that spins somewhere between the galaxies of theatre, performance and poetry.

The hour-long show fuses words, film and songs that vary in style from infectiously poppy to broodingly intense to create an exciting and moving experience that reinvigorates our neighbourhood star. Simon Barraclough himself is your guide on this journey, so we asked him to give a quick overview on how Sunspots all got started.

Sunspots is touring from October 15 – January 16

What first got you interested in writing about the sun?

Who wouldn’t want to write about the Sun? Most poets do, if not as self-consciously as I’ve been doing. It wrote us, it 3D-printed plants and fuel and all the energy we use. The planets are testament to its penmanship. For a more conventional answer, Sunspots grew directly from the last poem I wrote for my previous collection, Neptune Blue, which was called ‘Sol’ and was written from the point of view of the Sun, summing up, tartly and yet movingly, its relationship with its planetary offspring. Somehow that poem unleashed a full blown obsession with our amazing neighbourhood star and within a few weeks I had a couple of dozen Sunspots and my next project.

Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect from the stage show?

You can expect to meet the Sun (through me) and get to know its moods, preoccupations, predilections, fears, philosophies and its songs! You’ll also get to hear what it thinks of the painters who’ve tried to capture its essence over the centuries. It’s an intriguing, changeable character I think. There’s a lot of fun, plenty of pain, some teasing, great music and atmospheric films.

Explain the process of working the musician and filmmaker in the creation of the show.

I don’t like to think of it as a process: it’s a mutually beneficial and inspiring relationship. I’ve worked with Jack and Oli before on Psycho Poetica and The Debris Field, so I know how they work, what they can do and where I’d like to go with them, artistically. This time around I’ve actually been composing music, melodies and songs and working closely with Oli on arrangements and additional themes (he’s a spectacularly good composer and arranger and I urge readers of this blog to seek out his work under the moniker Petrels).

Jack, our golden boy filmmaker had more freedom. I wanted him to respond in beautiful, non-literal ways to the words and songs of Sunspots. I offered some guidance, suggestions and comments but I think he’s largely gone his own way, which I love. I don’t know what he’ll make of this comment but I think he’s done some of his best work for Sunspots.

If the sun was a person, what would their favourite tennis shot be?

That’s a marvellously odd question. I like to think that, like Agnieszka Radwanska, the Sun would pull off impossibly brilliant shots like a winning ‘reverse-inbetweenie’.

Something like this, Simon? 

We agree. Catch Sunspots near you in the coming months!


Tour dates

2 OCT LONDON Southbank Centre

8 OCT READING South Street


13 OCT BOURNEMOUTH Arts Festival

28 OCT YORK St John University

6 NOV HULL Humber Mouth Festival

23 NOV FOLKESTONE Book Festival

7 DEC LONDON Kings Place

26 JAN 2016 NOTTINGHAM Lakeside

28 JAN 2016 HALIFAX Square Chapel

Click for more information on the Sunspots tour 

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