In 2004 John gave his first performance of Breton Tales after Dark, an anthology of stories and folklore from 19th Century Brittany. This production has since toured throughout the UK and has attracted a range of reviews ranging from “wonderfully feral” (Raw Edge Magazine) to “the finest presentation of storytelling I have ever seen” (Marion Cockin, Wolverhampton Libraries Service).

John Edgar’s show is a collection of dark, eccentric and often bleakly funny stories of Breton life, and death, after sunset, in a land where daytime is for the living but night is the guilexclusive province of the dead. It’s a time when trees walk, dead skulls regain the power of speech and the locals venture abroad with their heads down, hoping that they won’t encounter the Ankou with his fatal scythe (even though we all will, one day), the Lavandières, the washerwomen of the night, washing sheets to make the shrouds that will be needed at dawn, or the strange and charming horseman eager to invite you to supper in his mansion house below ground, where, whatever the weather outside, it’s always warm.

All these characters and more are vividly drawn in this faithful adaptation of some of the darkest tales ever to cross the channel. The stories come from a range of sources, most notably the work of Anatole Le Braz, a Breton academic and writer who collected many stories and "first hand accounts" from across north Brittany for his most famous work
"La Légende de la Mort".

The following year John added
Breton Christmas Spirits.

Christmas Eve was always special in Brittany. Not only was it the beginning of the most celebrated feast in the Christian calendar, it was also the night of miracles. It was a night when the ox and ass in the stable regained the power of speech in recognition of their good work on that first Christmas night. It was the night when the ageless standing stones left their ancient beds to drink from the rivers, and there was treasure to be had – provided you were quick. Midnight was the hour when the waters in the wells would turn, for two seconds only, to the sweetest and strongest wine ever tasted. You were either at midnight mass or you were in bed. For, of course, the dead also walked abroad …

John’s third anthology of Breton tales and stories was 2006’s cheerily-titled
Curses, Corpses and Conjurations.

In 19th Century Brittany life could be dramatic enough, but what happened next was far more exciting. And even if someone were still alive there was always a curse to speed up the journey to the great beyond. But once you’d killed them, what if they wouldn’t lie down? What if they didn’t want to keep still?

In this collection of dark, eccentric and bleakly comic stories and folklore, we learn about the voueueses, those with the knowledge and power to curse, we meet the dead who won’t lie down (like the skull that wants its bonnet back), and we encounter the exorcists whose job is to try and make sure that the departed stay where they belong. And, of course, there are John’s usual hints and tips for keeping on the right side of death. From the hidden statues that could give justice where it was due, through ghostly revenants unable to rest until things were put in order, to the brave priests and unwilling volunteers who dragged reluctant spirits of the dead to the very gates of the Other World, this is a bleak and eccentric celebration of a time when two worlds met on a daily – or, more often, nightly – basis.

John’s fourth Breton collection,
Intersigns - Tales From a Breton Fireside, premiered in 2007.
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This is another anthology drawn from the spookily strange world of Breton folklore when the other world comes to meet ours when the sun sets. The roads and paths of Brittany at night are full of all sorts of things we don’t want to bump into, such as the Lavandières, the washerwomen of the night, washing shrouds by the river for all who will need them soon (including you, if you interrupt them), and the Ankou, who goes around with his old cart and his scythe collecting the departed for their final journey. There are also a couple of traditional Breton songs thrown in for good measure in a show that promises you a dark, eccentric and often bleakly funny evening of some of the darkest tales ever to cross the channel. And if you’re wondering what intersigns are, they’re omens, warnings of what’s going to happen. As it’s Brittany, of course, the news is rarely good …)

In 2010, John presented
Tales From The Ankou’s Wagon.
"Few see, few hear, fewer live to tell the tale …"

Sooner or later, usually later, everyone ends up taking a ride on the back of the Ankou's creaking old cart. Brittany's own Grim Reaper never sleeps, never stops working and sees everything. Each passenger has their story to tell, but only the Ankou gets to hear the last part.

John Edgar brings us another collection of dark, eccentric and often bleakly funny stories of Breton life, and death, in a land where life and death walk hand in hand, and sometimes cross over at the most inconvenient and terrifying moment.

“When I first saw John he took my breath away. He was performing one of his Breton Tales and it was like the pupil and the master ... There is never a moment when John is performing that the audience isn’t captivated by the theatrical way he weaves his stories.”
Billy Spakemon - RoosterSpake

After a break away from all things Breton, John returned in 2018 with
The Tailor, The Devil and Other Breton Tales.

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From the deeply chilling to the bleakly comical, and told in story and song, John Edgar’s latest anthology draws us into the world of that handsome, seductive stranger the devil and the artful cunning rascal that is the tailor, in another strange and chilling round of the hidden beliefs, fears and dreams that were once at the heart of life - and death - on the other side of the channel.

All Breton Tales performances are available for bookings and require nothing more than a space for John to tell his tale. Contact John for further information.

For more information visit the Breton Tales After Dark website

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