Paschale Straiton started operating under the name of Red Herring, creating playfully provocative outdoor theatre shows for outdoor arts festivals, aiming to reach people who didn’t normally go to theatres or galleries.
She worked with Sarah Sansom (Time Won’t Wait) as a producer, who supported the development & touring of: The Séance, a theatrical installation about spiritualism (2006-8) and That’s The Way To Do It, a life sized and political take on the Punch and Judy show commissioned by the Without Walls Consortium (2009-13). Both shows toured extensively across the UK, including Winchester Hat Fair, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Greenwich & Docklands International Riverside Festival and Watch This Space at the National Theatre.
Paschale started to develop community engaged work, with opportunities for non-professionals to take part: Red Riding Hood at Enchanted Parks, Saltwell Park (2008), involved the participation of 6 students from the University of Northumbria. Gnome Sweet Gnome involved a residency in Cuddington Village, Buckinghamshire, working with young children and grandparents to create pop up performances within their village fete (2009).
In 2011, Paschale was Assistant Director at the New Vic Theatre, Stoke on Trent, where she developed a series of projects including Drive In – a series of short, interactive performances in a series of parked vehicles (later re-commissioned in 2012 for Sitelines Festival and 2014 for Wycombe Awakes Festival)
In 2013 Paschale set up Red Herring Productions with Ivan Fabraga, to create outdoor theatre shows with social value in Brighton and for national touring.
Now, There’s a Funny Thing – was a heritage project examining the history of popular entertainment in Brighton from 1960, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (2013). Red Herring’s Speakers Corner – was an experimental platform for public speaking in Brighton (2013), later developed with Time Wont Wait into Changing Places as community project including training young people in public speaking (2015). Funny Peculiar – was a guided tour of Brighton, celebrating the art of eccentricity (2013-14). We then worked with Time Wont Wait to create bespoke versions of the project in 5 locations across the UK, with substantial community engagement, funded by a Strategic Touring grant from Arts Council England (2015).
In August 2016 the company moved to Bideford in Torridge, North Devon. Ivan Fabrega stood down and Kim Tilbrook became a new Director, joined in 2019 by Fiona Fraser Smith. The company has 2 strands of work – creative projects in Torridge and North Devon that encourages local people to see familiar places in unfamiliar ways; work that travels from Devon to tour nationally and internationally.
From May to September 2019, we launched Stepping Out – a programme of work that celebrated the Estuary of the Taw/Torridge Rivers, with three strands of work: creative walks, strolling performance and sound. In August 2019 we were commissioned by Green Carpet to create Whistlers / Les Siffleurs – a piece of performance that investigates the confluence of birdsong, whistling and listening, to be created through a series of residencies in 4 locations across France, Belgium and the UK. Due to Covid-19 pandemic, this was postponed until 2020.
We became Associate Artists of the Burton Art Gallery.
Due to the Pandemic, activities mainly focused on developing digital skills. As Artistic Associates of the Bideford Art Gallery, we were commissioned to curate an element of their Seeds of Hope exhibition and an accompanying video – The Pandemic Stock Exchange Index. We also created Chronicles of an Infectious Agent, a series of short comic films, following the character of Sars CoV-2 as they grapple with trying to get close to the suspecting public of a small town in North Devon.
However, the Burton asked us to run the Social DisDance Silent Disco as part of their outdoor programme, which was our only live activity this year and very well appreciated.