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The Little Shop Of Loneliness

At the invitation of Zuppa (a collaborative Canadian theatre company), we are in the process of creating a scene for an immersive project of theirs, ‘This Is Nowhere’, which they hope to stage in Morecambe next Spring. Each of the anticipated ten scenes will be guided by a different theme – our theme is ‘Loneliness’ and will be set in an imagined West End toy shop. Once, there were toy shops on Yorkshire Street and Lancashire Street – now no more – many toys have been relegated to the packed shelves of charity outlets.

from Zuppa's This Is Nowhere (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

We all feel lonely at one time or another – sometimes only briefly, sometimes for longer, inhibiting our ability to function. Most of us crave the touch or the words of another – when these are removed, loneliness comes a calling,

Since the lockdowns, the way we socialise has changed – there is a definite reluctance amongst many to gather in large groups. Some people, having become isolated in their apartments, have remained so. And the bonds of the local community have been weakened. The High Street and the small independent shop, already struggling, have also been dealt a further blow. Shopping online, despite the risks of fraud, had already become the preferred choice, but the presence of Covid influenced customers into thinking it physically safer too. There are of course other and perhaps stronger reasons for the current proliferation of loneliness – but proliferate it does – and is often overlooked when considering how we might improve the well being of humanity.

To further inform our staging of the scene, Steve, Beki and Jules ran a workshop at the CWE Network event on 16th August, in which the varying strands of loneliness were explored and the views of attendees written down. It is a delicate subject to discuss – and for this reason I want to thank each person who contributed. A transcription of the workshop follows (all names have been removed). The transcription is in two parts – the first part relates to ideas about and memories of loneliness. The second part is concerned with how the theme of loneliness might be reflected in how the shop is ‘dressed’.

from Zuppa's This Is Nowhere (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Ideas of Loneliness


Shop is a lonely place

Depth of sound

Immersive aspect of video games

Disorientating agenda

Alienating situation

Ageism creates loneliness

Shopfront within shopfront within shopfront


I remember going to visit my great grandma at her flat at an over 55’s visit. I remember a sense of something that just wasn’t quite right. An irk or a niggle. Perhaps this was loneliness. I was 21 I was very depressed and worried deeply that I would die alone. In the next thought I was worried that


It creeps up loneliness in grief, loss, yet it can be solved and set free with the touch of the heart.

Doll-intuition. Women. Softness. Truth. Feather. Candle.


Broken trust

...... of someone

Lost lost

End of some thing

Broken dreams

Only sound .... filling the

Void left by life.

The use of backing sound to add to vocal elements. Keep realism but add abstractions. Use of special audio to enhance odd experiences.


Spending a whole day on your own working from home and having no real conversations with other humans.


Being an orphan which must come to all of us.

At a party, not knowing anyone.


At Glastonbury at dawn – all the grass turned to mud. Someone calls. Sitting under a tree. They have never felt further away.


As a belated birthday party, bought 4 tables for Queen’s Jubilee Street Party and was unable to fill 24 places from many invited.


On a beach

Cliffs behind

Sun blue sky

Suddenly a sea

Mist approaches

Vision recedes

Sun occluded

Sky grey sands

All muffled

Feeling totally alone


Loneliness can be an issue for any age range and something that can happen to you even when you are busy and are connected to many others.


Loneliness strikes most in a crowded room, but no one can hear you, but if it were silent the thoughts would take over and I crave to be alone. However, when alone the fear that no one will notice or care, sending me into a self imposed house arrest, why go out when no one cares if you are there anyways? The mind plays tricks but convinces that it is gospel. Loneliness is not just being alone, but being adrift in the sea of noise. It is also looking after everyone, but never feeling seen enough to be looked after. Being judged on your capabilities without having been given a chance to show what you can do. Being told “You know where I am if you need me, sweetie” but never getting a call from them, until you make the effort to contact/see them. Always being nobody’s first choice, but always the one there...

How To ‘Decorate’ The Toy Shop


Pictures on the wall with only one individual in each picture. Perhaps some of these can be drawings by our CWE artists?


Endured experience

Shop within a shop


Continually empty


A musical box

A piano missing some keys


One cup, one plate, one spoon.

One half of a chess board completed.

One phone lit by a lamp.


Restoration of shop front.

Bike with no wheel.



Tap dripping

Clock chiming

Cuckoo clock

Door creaking and slamming


Apple core

Banana skin

One plate, one fork, one spoon


A discarded wedding ring

An empty rocking chair

A phone that rings and no one answers

A table set with a single dinner


Old fashioned radio

Possibly Radio 4

“All in the mind” on Loneliness

Radio Play?


Shop Keeper has a radio for company

Also – in background of phone conversations

Or announcement that gets a conversation going between shop keeper and customers.


A pre-loved bear that had been discarded after its purpose had been rendered served. It has obviously been loved and repaired but has eventually fallen into too much disrepair to fix and has been left lonely and looking for another home to be loved in.

An image of a bear on which is shown:

A chewed ear

A missing eye

Matted fur

Previous repairs

Half broken thread smiley nose

Lost fur

Shifted thin stuffing

Worn and failing repair

Even in a battered state he still has some smiles and hope for the future.

blog by JUles abraham. thanks to all who contributed their thoughts and poems. photos by mel hattie.

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