Britain's smallest venue

A great article in The Daily Telegraph!

Rupert Christiansen wrote a great article about us in The Daily Telegraph last week. we are very chuffed!

Here’s the article:

How a folk concert in a box almost brought me to tears

I’ve never entered a flotation tank or “enjoyed” a lap dance, but I guess that my five minutes in Folk in a Box was an experience that had something in common with both of them.

Imagine the Tardis, redesigned in the manner of Strawberry Hill Gothick. Or a white wooden windowless Wendy House, constructed out of a flat pack that two people can slat together without nails or hammers in 20 minutes.

This is the work of architects David Knight and Cristina Monteiro, following specifications of the mastermind musician Dom Coyote, and the result is a delightful but also faintly unnerving curiosity.

You enter the box by crouching through a small, arched Alice-in-Wonderland door and then grope your way to a chair. Apart from one tiny pinpoint of intense light, the cabin’s interior, lined with serge curtain, is pitch-black. Opposite, only a foot or so away, sits an invisible unknown somebody with a guitar – in my case, the delightful chanteuse Emily Barker, who composed the haunting theme tune to BBC4’s Wallander.

Through the darkness, this somebody’s disembodied voice will ask you what sort of song you would like to hear: upbeat or downbeat? And then he or she will sing to you, and you alone. Free.

By the end of the song, you can just about make out the singer’s silhouette and you might feel impelled to offer a few words of comments or thanks. Or you might want to sit for a minute more in refreshing silence.

Without the tricky negotiation of eye contact and with nothing to distract you from the music, my visit to the box felt nakedly exposed and yet distantly impersonal, both disconcerting and comforting at the same time. A delicately intimate act of trust was in operation. “People do find it very intense,” Dom Coyote told me. “It’s not unusual for them to come out in tears.” I was pretty close to them myself.

Such one-on-one artistic enterprises are in vogue. The Edinburgh Fringe has presented several plays and recitations for a single audience member, and that fascinating maverick Pablo Bronstein has even created an opera house with only one seat in Switzerland. But I know of nothing like this.

Although Folk in a Box has existed in vestigial form for several years, appearing at outdoor festivals, until now it’s been hobbled by makeshift premises knocked up out of flotsam and jetsam. Its beautiful new cabin will change all that, and Dom Coyote plans to take it on a grand tour from Land’s End to John O’Groats this year, stopping in 24 odd or unexpected places, with the aim of singing a total of 1,500 gratis songs over a month.

If it comes down your way, don’t be scared: be brave and enter.


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