Festival Hot Seat: I Wish I Was A Mountain
Called 'the future' by Kate Tempest, Toby Thompson is a writer and spoken word performer. He will be bringing I Wish I Was A Mountain to the Brighton Festival this year, a unique one-man show for young audiences based on Herman Hesse's fairy tale, Faldum.
Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
I Wish I Was A Mountain is a fairytale; an adaptation of my favourite short story by Hermann Hesse. It tells the tale of a mysterious wanderer who casually tips up at the annual fair of Faldum and starts dishing out wishes left right and centre. One young man wishes for a magic violin, and another to be turned into a mountain.
How and where will the work be staged?
I have a couple of record players on stage with me, as well as an upright piano. It’s an analogue thing. Also mirrors, lots of mirrors. It’s on at the Brighthelm Centre.
Why should someone come and see your show?
The show is really an invitation for people - grown ups and littlens alike - to ponder a few of the fundamentals of human existence: desire, music, nature, impermanence. With that in mind, if I were someone, I’d come and see the show if I wanted to get a bit philosophical. But also just to experience the unfolding of a beautiful and rather unusual story.
Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
Hermann Hesse is one of my favourite writers, and his story Faldum, upon which this show is based, resonated with me in a very deep way. I liked how it seemed to ask many more questions than it answered.
Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The story offers an alternative to the black and white hollywood framework. It takes you on a journey, and throws up a number of moral questions, but it doesn’t ram its message home. I find the story endlessly enchanting, and I’m told the production is suitably captivating, but the tale itself isn’t just a bit of fun, it’s a mirror for self reflecting in.
What sort of person is going to love this show?
Well it’s ostensibly for a children (7+) and families, but I’d say adults are catered for too. If you’re into poetry, then certainly this will be right up your street, but I wouldn’t rule out poetry cynics. Anyone who likes a good story really.
What’s going to surprise people about this show?
The music might. I worked in a children’s theatre for years and you do get a bit sick of glockenspiel scores after a while. I Wish I Was A Mountain is set against a backdrop of tunes by Bill Evans, Horace Silver, Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou, Nina Simone, loads of classics, all on vinyl.
What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
I’ve only been to the festival once, but Brighton has a special place in my heart. Some close friends of mine went to the Uni and so for 3 years I’d go and stay for days at a time, writing in cafes and trawling the record shops. Last year at the Festival I did a gig in The Spire, supporting Kojey Radical with Lyrix Organix, it was definitely one to remember.