Telephone box tales at the Courtyard

Published: 20 July 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

“Rich assortment of stories”: Last Call

The Courtyard Hereford has commissioned a series of digital films exploring stories connected with telephone boxes.

The project, Last Call, came about during a meeting between Feral Productions’ artistic director Estelle van Warmelo, who also directs the Courtyard’s annual panto, and Shropshire-based poet Jean Atkin when she was discussing her passion for the traditional British telephone box.

Atkin had been photographing telephone boxes for years. Van Warmelo saw an opportunity for a collaboration and the Courtyard commissioned the project.

The two women uncovered a rich assortment of stories from the public.

“We were struck by how much meaning they carried, these icons of a bygone age, how much significance,” said van Warmelo.

“We began to mull what was being lost as they sat in their varying states of obsolescence, how the value of contact was diminishing without the driven need for another 10p when the pips came. As we shared our experiences on social media, a dam burst—everybody had a phone box story and everybody wanted to tell it.”

Atkin developed a series of poems which were transformed into a collection of short films, screened for a private audience at the Courtyard. The films are now available to watch for free on the Courtyard web site.

Working alongside Feral on Last Call was composer and musician Sophie Cooper, director Lisle Turner, cinematographer Kie Cummings and designer Carl Davies.