Charity comedy gig to mark #NationalMapReadingWeek

We all know that getting outside for a walk is great for both our physical and mental well-being, but did you know that having a good belly-laugh can provide another boost to wellness? We’re supporting Solent Mind as our corporate charity, raising funds to support better mental health, so the prospect of a charity comedy gig with a map theme during #NationalMapReadingWeek was irresistible.

Comedy performer Helen Wood came to our attention this summer, when she was performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as Helen’s show explored one of her passions, OS maps. The eight performances of ‘The OS Map Fan Club’, were sold out at Edinburgh.

Helen is performing her solo show at our Southampton head office on Monday 16 October at 7pm. Space is limited, so booking is necessary, and attendees are asked to make a minimum donation of £5 on the night to gain access. To reserve your place email businesscentre@os.uk.

What can people expect from the OS Map Fan Club?

I’ll be taking people on an easy-paced, virtual walk filled with humour and pathos with interesting facts about the walk route and locations. There’s musical accompaniment, autobiographical stories, poetry, walking experiences, character sketches, a potted OS history section, origami and the chance to receive their own club badge.

What was it like performing the show at the Edinburgh Fringe?

It was the first time the show was performed, so I had no idea whether there would be anyone interested in a show all about maps and walking, when there is so much competition for audiences at the Fringe. But I was delighted that the show sold out for its run of 8 performances. Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities so a great place to spend a couple of weeks – an early morning walk with the dog up Arthur’s Seat, a show to perform at midday, then all the delights of the festival and the city for the rest of the day.

How did the audience react to a show about an OS map?

Feedback from audience members was very positive. As I handed out club badges at the end of the show I got to hear many enthusiastic anecdotes about their own OS and walking experiences. One person later wrote, ‘for anyone who has ever walked anywhere, and appreciates paper maps, rather than digital maps, this is a must see. Great fun! Just a wonderful, easy, comic performance. And now I’ve got the Fan Club badge to treasure into the future.’

How do you feel about performing the show at OS’ head office?

Well it’s surely the ultimate headquarters of the OS Map Fan Club so I’m very excited. And to be performing to a whole audience of OS enthusiasts will be very special.

Why base a show on OS Explorer 168?

It’s the area where I live, so getting to the locations of the show’s virtual walk was easy.

Can you read a map in real life?

Yes, I think I’m a pretty good map reader. I don’t need to turn it upside down to work out where I am. But I’m not so keen on using a compass as I much prefer to use the sun and landmarks.

How did you learn?

I talk in the show about how my parents were both keen OS map users and that maps and walking were a big part of my upbringing. A fact that I don’t mention in the show is that my mum was a kine-theodolite operator during World War II. I believe navigational skills are in my blood.

What would you say to someone who has never seen or used an OS map?

‘Don’t start with a double sided map. You might get frustrated before you’ve begun.’ One of my rants in the show is about double-sided maps!

Do you have a favourite map symbol or feature?

It’s got to be a viewpoint. I love a good view!

What’s next for you?

During 2018 I hope to take the show to smaller festivals and venues around the UK, including Brighton and Buxton Fringes and then next August I will take the show back to Edinburgh for 14 performances at a bigger venue.

Now you have based a show on one OS map, could you ever imagine doing a show on all the others? There’s only 607.

I think I’ll leave that to someone else. Maybe Ed Fielden, who I mention in the show, who has all 607 maps, and more besides, might like to consider that challenge.

You’re helping to launch National Map Reading Week, why is it important to be able to read a map?

I think the opening paragraph, on your website, says it all. With digital technology taking over I wholeheartedly agree that being able to read a map can inspire adventure and allow you to get lost in a landscape without actually getting lost.

Do you have a favourite geography or map joke?

Although the show is a comedy it has very few traditional jokes, in fact it only has one pun. But here’s a joke to finish on: old map readers don’t get senile they just lose their bearings.

To reserve your place email businesscentre@os.uk.

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1 Response

  1. Pingback : How is your map reading? | University of Southampton Library Blog

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