When I first visited Hugh Lupton’s room at Keswick Hall in the early 1970s I noticed a large trunk bearing his initials. Making polite conversation, I asked what the middle initial M stood for. His apparently diffident reply had me nearly convinced for some time. Murgatroyd, he claimed, was an old family name...
So it was no great surprise when he launched his storytelling career at the Albion Fairs as that master of mendacity Billy Bullshit (lies a penny, whoppers tuppence). Wikipedia does not mention his various awards save one: Hugh won the "Hodja Cup" at The Crick Crack Club's renowned Grand Lying Contest ...probably.
One of only a handful of professional storytellers nationally in the early eighties, he teamed up with three others to form The Company of Storytellers, who toured theatres, arts centres and festivals establishing their craft as one entirely suitable for adult consumption and countering the notion that storytelling was ‘just for kids’.
I was always one of those children (and teachers) who looked forward to storytime as the highlight of my day. That slightly slack-jawed and vacant expression of the truly absorbed, can be observed in any of his audiences - child or adult. The Times review of a performance at The Barbican puts it best:
...the images that billowed and faded in that darkened auditorium were quite different from those that unspool across a screen. I could put my hands in front of my face and the pictures would not vanish. They were inside me. They belonged to me.
One standout feature of Hugh’s career has been his collaboration with artists from many disciplines: visual arts, music and theatre. Notable, too, has been the variety of his output:song lyrics, narrating shows, community theatre, and, in addition to a raft of children’s books, he is author of two novels for adults - most recently “The Assembly of the Severed Head”. He has also published what is, in my opinion, much the finest collection of Norfolk folk tales.
As his reputation has grown, demand for his skill has taken him beyond our shores to Europe, North and South America and Africa.
I last saw Hugh perform at the launch for his recent novel, in a very large marquee at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. It was, as always, an entertaining, riveting listen. But storytelling is still at its best where it began - as an intimate, ‘fireside’ experience; and so it is with enormous pleasure we welcome Hugh to the Waveney Heritage Centre on February 20th at 7.30
‘impossibly engaging storytelling’ - Guardian