The Honey Man

Flo & Jolly Bailey
Friday, 20th February 2015

Two of our Birmingham correspondents, Flo & Jolly Bailey, review Tyrone Huggin’s critically acclaimed story of an elderly Caribbean beekeeper and a dysfunctional teenager ahead of a full English tour. Read on and perhaps you could be one of our reviewers too?

The Honey Man [www.thehoneyman.org], is a funny but highly moving exploration of Black British identity, ecological destruction and friendship that crosses generational and cultural divides. Through the story of an unlikely friendship between an elderly beekeeper (played by Tyrone Huggins) and a troubled young teenager (played by Beatrice Allen), the play looks at the relationship between two people on the fringes of society.

In a derelict cottage on the grounds of an English country manor house, ageing Caribbean recluse, Honey Man, tries in vain to save his colony of bees. His life is set to change when rebellious teenage heiress Misty charges into his world and challenges all he knows. Initially, the two clash, but over time, an unlikely friendship develops. Events take a dramatic turn when an antique painting reveals a secret that connects their lives in ways they never imagined, shedding light on the histories hidden in art and the connections between her English heritage and the history of slavery in the UK.

Huggins and Allen's characters are very different in terms of age and race and it feels as if they are not going to have any thing in common, yet the play shows that we can find shared purposes if we 'take time' to listen to each other and question the systems we are living within.

The bees and their colony also need care and attention. Without this they start to die off and despite Honey Man's best efforts they 'sting him up' at one of the play's most dramatic points. They need the local area, gardens and landscapes to be tended properly and for the flowers and their foodstuffs to be looked after, without this they will get hungry and seek somewhere else to live and thus pollinate.

The play is suitable for ages 14+ and lasts 2 hours. Our performance was a sell out and the cast received two calls back from the audience to take their bows. The audience was mixed in age, from students up to elder members of the Afro Caribbean community. The show had been heavily promoted on radio stations around Birmingham in the build-up to the performances.

Writer Tyrone Huggins told us, "Over the last few years I've become aware that a generation of 'digital natives' has grown up surrounded by digital technology as a fact of life. I began imagining how it would be for a youngster from that generation to encounter someone who was almost locked in another time and way of life. I was also interested by how the moment by moment connectedness of the digital world was squeezing out time to reflect and bringing its own form of loneliness. The Honey Man allowed me to bring two characters together who appear to have nothing in common. And because neither has anyone else, they have to search for what they can share; survival of the bees and their British colonial history."

We at Permaculture magazine love this story. It highlights the need for People Care in society, be it age, culture, race or in terms of sharing skills and experience. So, if it is appearing at a venue near you do go along and enjoy it and enjoy the company of those attending. Why not spread the word on Twitter using: #TheHoneyManUK

The rest of the tour is as follows.

20-21 February 2015
The DOOR, Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Centenary Square, B1 2EP
£10-£12, £7-£9 (concs)
0121 236 4455 | www.birmingham-rep.co.uk

24 February 2015
Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton
Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1SE
£10, £8 (concs), £5 (matinee)
01902 321321 | www.wlv.ac.uk/arena-theatre

27 February 2015
Stamford Arts Centre
27 Saint Mary's Street, Stamford PE9 2DL
£12, £10 (concs), £8.50 (students & groups)
01780 763203 | www.stamfordartscentre.com

3-4 March 2015
The Albany, Deptford
Douglas Way, Deptford, London SE8 4AG
£12, £10 (concs)
020 8692 4446 | www.thealbany.org.uk

10 March 2015
St George's Theatre, Great Yarmouth
King Street, Great Yarmouth NR30 2PG
£12, £10 (concs), £5 (under 16s)
01493 331484 | www.stgeorgestheatre.com

11 March 2015
Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds
Westgate Street, Bury St Edmunds IP33 1QR
£8.50 - £16.50
01284 769505 | www.theatreroyal.org

12-13 March 2015
Pegasus Theatre, Oxford
Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1 RE
£13, £9 (concs), £6 (under 18s)
01865 812150 | www.pegasustheatre.org.uk

17 March 2015
The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead
High Street, Hemel Hempstead HP1 3AE
£12, £10 (concs)
01442 228091 | www.oldtownhall.co.uk

18 March 2015
Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Tottenham
Town Hall Approach Road, Tottenham Green, London N15 4RX
£12 / £10 (concs)
020 8365 5450 | www.berniegrantcentre.co.uk

19 March 2015
Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds
The Electric Press, 3 Millennium Square Leeds LS2 3AD
£12.50, £10.50 (concs)
0113 224 3801 | www.carriageworkstheatre.org.uk

If there is a play, exhibition or event out there which you believe connects with permaculture people please do let us know. As with Flo and Jolly we can help make the arrangements for you to attend and review. For more details contact: info@permaculture.co.uk

Further resources

How to build a log hive

Keeping Bees in Towns and Cities

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