A remote live performance. Programmed as part of Art and the Rural Imagination a More Than Ponies conference in partnership with Arts University Bournemouth.
The last known colony of the Common Tree Frog (Hyla Arborea) in the British wild was found at Hilltop Pond, near Beaulieu, New Forest. It once thrived and frog song was reported to be heard frequently by locals for decades. By the late 1980s the pond fell silent, and the very last male specimen was spotted far away from its original site in 1988, calling a lonely ‘Brekekekéx koáx koáx!’ for a non-existent female. The colony was made extinct largely due to humans collecting the frogs as colourful pets. Previously the Common Tree Frog was considered a ‘non-native’ or ‘alien’ species within the UK, but the inability to trace the origins of this particular colony has led scientists to consider that the frog may indeed be native. Local folklore had it that an intriguingly named Mr Turner Turner, a wealthy villager who made his money in casinos, had brought the frogs back from his travels in Africa and Monte Carlo. However, the frogs were not found in the areas he visited.
‘Brekekekéx koáx koáx!’ is a new work performed by two local singers, a song that could act as a futile, ritualistic attempt to resurrect the extinct (in the British wild) species. The lyrics to ‘Bryd one Brere’ (said to be the oldest surviving secular love song in the English language) have been rewritten using astrological predictions for 1988, the year the last male was sighted, as an attempt to retroactively foresee the extinction.
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