A Ghost Story for Christmas: Laura Caldow talks creeping her fellow cast members out in the spookiest Christmas show around

Posted on December 7, 2011


Today is the first day of rehearsals proper. My head is full of words and ghosts and…..things.

I first heard about this project, Who is this that Comes? A Ghost Story for Christmas, when I went to see an installation of William Tuckett’s at the Whitechapel Gallery – somewhere back around May. At that point I got “Christmas! Two-hander! Vampires! Alasdair Middleton’s writing!” and I was immediately on board.

I’ve worked with Will a number of times on varied dance, theatre and puppetry projects and I always have a great time. He’s challenging, quick, and works incredibly lightly and cleverly. Last year we collaborated on Pleasure’s Progress, a dance/opera/theatre hybrid that Alasdair wrote. The writing was brilliant and the show was a joy to make. Paul Englishby composed some wonderful music, and he is also working with Will and Alasdair on this piece. So Who Is This That Comes always felt like a must-do project for me.

The piece is really creepy. It’s a relief to be working with the actor Harry Melling on it as we already have a relationship from working on The School For Scandal at the Barbican this summer. We have been tasked in this piece to freak each other out, and hopefully the audience too. Tripping ourselves up, spooking us all out. The stories of M R James, which the play is based on, are eerie in that you often don’t know what exactly has happened, but something leaves a bad taste in your mouth and your mind goes into overdrive from there….

Today we had fun trying to gauge just the right amount of knowingness to implant a really creepy feeling in the room. The Howard Assembly Room’s Victorian history will be the third character of our play and I’m really looking forward to exploring the place when we arrive in Leeds next week. Until then it’s the scary task of learning lots of lines! Oh, and there are no vampires, sorry Twilight fans! I must have misheard. But what’s there is is a whole lot badder… Do you hear it?

Laura Caldow, Dancer and Actress


Who Is This That Comes? A Ghost Story for Christmas is a new performance piece commissioned by Opera North Projects for the Howard Assembly Room. Combining music, drama and movement, and inspired by the ghost stories of MR James, the piece is written by Alasdair Middleton and directed by William Tuckett, with a score by leading film, TV and theatre composer  Paul Englishby. It is based on a number of MR James’ ghost stories including Lost Hearts and There was a Man Who Lived by a Churchyard.

Who Is This That Comes? A Ghost Story for Christmas is performed in the Howard Assembly Room on Wednesday 14 December at 7.45pm. For more information and booking, click here.

More information about Laura Caldow’s work can be found at http://www.lauracaldow.com/