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Flossie Waite: Features

The Diary of a Hounslow Girl

The Diary of a Hounslow Girl

CHILDREN’S THEATRE MAGAZINE: from girls in Hounslow to broken dreams and rubber ducks – it’s Flossie’s top 10 shows of 2016!

Flossie’s top 10 shows in 2016

The children’s theatre blogger and reviewer Flossie Waite lists her pick of the shows in 2016 on her website www.childrenstheatrereviews.com 

This year our team reviewed 110 productions, and covered five festivals – below I’ve taken the pick of the top 10 shows seen in 2016. Every effort was made to see companies and work from across the UK and around the world, and we were able to travel further afield than ever before thanks to the generosity of our Patreon supporters. In 2017, we hope to review even more shows and increase our national coverage further – to tell us about your show or to join our team of reviewers, please contact flossie.waite@gmail.com

People are People
Half Moon Presents a Floods of Ink production/ Reviewed at Half Moon Theatre/ For ages 13+
“The concept of gender is in itself very nuanced and, as the play shows, open to interpretation, change and growth. People are People doesn’t feel like a lesson. This is art, not school. It lays out the humanity of the issue and allows its audience to enter into the problem, not as children, as people.”

My Mother Medea
A Unicorn production/ Reviewed at Unicorn Theatre/ For ages 13+
“When My Mother Medea opened at the Unicorn, the American election was still dragging on (its opening night was exactly in between Pussygate and the Comey announcement that the FBI was looking into more of Clinton’s emails). I’m watching Medea almost at the end of its run, in the week that President-elect Trump – who has vowed to deport millions of immigrants and is considering barring Syrian refugees – tweeted that theatre should be a safe space. Justin Audibert’s production is anything but safe. It’s uncomfortable and in your face, delivering a few home truths to a world that – as Trump’s election and Brexit would suggest – is content to at best ignore, and at worst attack, those considered different or foreign.”

My Mother Medea

My Mother Medea

Mavis Sparkle
An M6 Theatre production/ Reviewed at Bishop Auckland Town Hall as part of TakeOff Festival/ For ages 4+/ Touring nationally in Jan & Feb 2017
“Mavis Sparkle loves cleaning and chatting, and for 45 minutes she does both in M6 Theatre’s one-woman show. It’s like Hilda Ogden meets Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, with some magic thrown in. We meet Mavis as she comes to a cross-roads: it’s the final day of her current job, and she’s not quite sure what to do next. She’s worked in schools, hospitals and factories, and fancies something a bit more exciting – like cleaning a fair or a zoo! And what about her other dreams, like seeing the aurora borealis?”

Emily Rising
A Little Angel Theatre and Goblin Theatre co-production/ Reviewed at Little Angel Theatre/ For ages 7+
“Looking back over everything I’ve seen on Little Angel’s main stage, I realise that the same types of productions have almost always been on my plate: fairytales, book adaptations and operas. It’s been a satisfying, if not too varied, diet and I could quite happily have continued existing on this comfort food, until yesterday when they brought Emily Rising to the table and now my proverbial taste-buds will never be the same again.”

Us/Them
A Bronks production/ Reviewed at Summerhall as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival/ For ages 9+/ Playing at the National Theatre 16th Jan – 18th Feb 2017
“This specific event is used to examine storytelling on both small and large scales. The performance explores how the media constructs the news, questions how imagery can be manipulated and skewed for the outside world, and forces us to consider whether we can ever know the ‘truth’. It also probes the stories we are comfortable telling our children, what we want or allow them to hear, and how this measures up to their own experiences of the world. An incredible production brought to Edinbugh as part of the Big in Belgium season, Us/Them is a relevant, thought-provoking and sinister must-see this festival season.”

Katie’s Birthday Party
Mary-Frances Doherty in association with Young at Art/ Reviewed at The Studio at the Festival Theatre as part of Imaginate Festival/ For ages 11+/
“Whoever said school days are the best days of your life must have been home-tutored. Katie’s Birthday Party is a hugely relevant and relatable account of a painful process, told with honesty and insight. I wish I’d seen it when I was 11, and – perhaps even more so – I wish my Head of Year had seen it prior to my arrival at the school. Before I saw Katie’s Birthday Party I was somewhat wary – it had been hyped so much by those who had seen it that I feared disappointment. But all the buzz was justified. It was one of the best shows I saw at Imaginate; it is one of the best productions for young people I’ve ever seen.”

The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective A 20 Stories High and Theatre-Rites

The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective
A 20 Stories High and Theatre-Rites

The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective
A 20 Stories High and Theatre-Rites co-production in association with Unity Theatre, Liverpool/ Reviewed at The Albany/ For ages 13+
“In a show about being heard, even David Cameron has his turn: in a Cassetteboy-style mash-up about youth unemployment, you can hear him moralise about right and wrong. But the production doesn’t just crassly give DC the finger – The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective offers a sensitive exploration of the lives and difficulties of Britain’s young people who are too readily judged and dismissed, and too rarely engaged with or listened to. This is a piece of political theatre that should be seen by every young person, and every MP. Or maybe just everyone.”

Shiny
A Turned On Its Head production/ Reviewed at Half Moon Theatre/ For ages 6 months – 4 years
“Let’s start at the end and work backwards. You need to know straightaway that by the close of Shiny, it was like being in the middle of a firework, or a magpie’s dream. I can’t wait whole paragraphs to describe the bit where the audience play together, with and amongst fluttering, floating shiny material. I need to convey immediately just how dazzling Shiny is.”

Broken Dreams
Kopergietery and Mambocito Mio/ Reviewed at Out of the Blue Drill Hall as part of Imaginate Festival/ For ages 8+
“It’s rare to watch a play and feel that truly anything could happen, but tonight’s show threw caution (and risk assessments) to the wind, and I really didn’t know what to expect. One minute I was dropping a rubber duck representative of my dreams into a water-filled plastic tube, the next I was telling a hall full of people where I had my first kiss.”

The Diary of a Hounslow Girl
Ambreen Razia with Black Theatre Live presents/ Reviewed at Ovalhouse Theatre/ For ages 14+/ Touring nationally March & April 2017
“A ‘Hounslow Girl’ wears hooped earrings with her hijab, can make Gulab Jamun and Rusmalai but eats them to stave off the munchies, goes to the mosque but also meets up with boys. She performs a balancing act, negotiating the conflicting demands of a traditional Muslim upbringing and being a young woman living in West London. Ambreen Razia’s debut play – a one-woman show about Hounslow Girl Shaheeda – is a confident, funny exploration of adolescence and identity that challenges stereotypes.”

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Flossie’ s top 45 Twitter contacts in children’s theatre

Flossie Waite of @childrenstheatrereviews

Flossie Waite of @childrenstheatrereviews

Flossie produces plays for Page One Theatre. She has gained experience at Sonia Friedman Productions and worked as a Workshop Assistant at Polka Theatre. Flossie has an MPhil in Children’s Literature from Cambridge University. She runs a children’s theatre review blog to promote serious discussion around and criticism of theatre for young audiences: www.childrenstheatrereviews.com

Blogger, theatre professional and reviewer Flossie Waite lists 45 twitter accounts every lover of children’s theatre should follow

Ben Hewis at WhatsOnStage wrote this article recently listing the 123 Twitter accounts every theatregoer should be following. We wanted to add to that and bring you the twitter accounts of the individuals, theatres, companies and organisations that are creating and showing great theatre for young audiences.

Purni Morell of the Unicorn Theatre

Purni Morell of the Unicorn Theatre

People

@sargent65 – Sarah Argent is a pretty prolific director and writer creating work for early years audiences. She wrote and directed Grandad, Me … and Teddy Too which is currently on at Polka Theatre

@tessabide – Tessa Bide is a writing, directing, performing, puppeteering, tap-dancing whirlwind, touring her own one-woman productions for young people like The Tap Dancing Mermaid, as well as working with other children’s theatre companies

@shonareppe – Shona is another amazing theatre maker who can do it all, creating small scale touring theatre shows for children, like the excellent The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean

@SueBuckmaster – Sue is the Artistic Director of leading children’s theatre company Theatre-Rites. She is particularly interested in object-led theatre and is nicknamed the The Puppet Whisperer

@adampuppet – Until recently, Adam Bennett was the Artistic Director of the charming Little Angel Theatre. He is co-founder of DNA Puppetry and Visual Theatre, and if you love puppets, you’l love his tweets

@PeteTrash – Peter Glanville founded Kazzum, a theatre company creating professional theatre for children to bridge the gap between education and entertainment. He went on to be Artistic Director of Little Angel Theatre, and is now the Artistic Director of Polka Theatre

@miranda_thain – Miranda Thain is Creative Producer at Theatre Hullabaloo, and has lots of experience with theatre for young audiences, having worked for tutti frutti productions, M6 Theatre Company and Konflux Theatre in Education. She also created the story for the fantastic production Luna

@Chloe_PageOne – Chloe is Artistic Director of children’s theatre company Page One. She is also a freelance director, currently working on the Rose Theatre’s Christmas Production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

@HarryTheSpiv – Harry Mottram is the creator and editor of Children’s Theatre Magazine, which covers professional standard theatre for children. He is also a playwright and actor.

Harry Mottram on Children's Theatre Magazine

Harry Mottram on Children’s Theatre Magazine

Journalism

@guardianstage – The Guardian is leading the way when it comes to covering theatre for young audiences. Their series ‘Play time’ has adults and children reviewing family theatre shows

@lyngardner – Long time reviewer for The Guardian, Lyn Gardner was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Arts award in 2013 for championing children’s theatre

@ChrisWiegand – Chris is the theatre, comedy and dance editor at the Guardian, and regularly writes and includes reviews for children’s theatre

@Childplays_kt – Tweets from the childplays blog. A mother, Katy, reviews children’s shows with her daughter and gives tips and advice for getting the best from taking children to the theatre

@SusanElkinJourn – Susan Elkin is an education and arts journalist who has been regularly contributing to The Stage for over 20 years. Her article ‘For goodness sake take theatre for young audiences seriously’ was a great call to arms shared by lovers of theatre for young audiences across the country and around the world

@HarryTheEditor – This is the official Twitter account for Children’s Theatre Magazine! Edited by Harry Mottram – see @harrythespiv as well

Grandad and Me was at the Polka Children's Theatre previously

Grandad and Me was at the Polka Children’s Theatre previously

Organisations

@ASSITEJ – ASSITEJ Int is the International Association of Theaters for Young Audiences. It aims to bring together the community of theatres, organizations and individuals across the world who are dedicated to theatre for children and young people

@TYAUK1 – Theatre for Young Audiences UK (TYA UK) is the UK centre of ASSITEJ. Birmingham was recently chosen to host the 19th World Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences in 2016, which will be led by TYA UK and TYA Ireland (@TYAIreland), and programmed by Purni Morell, Artistic Director of Unicorn Theatre

@KidsWeek – Kids Week runs throughout the whole month of August, helping children to go to participating shows either for free or for a reduced price

@ImaginateUK – Imaginate promote and develop the performing arts for children and young people in Scotland, and organizing the incredible Imaginate Festival each year

@IYAF – The International Youth Arts Festival at the Rose Theatre in Kingston runs every summer and is the largest youth arts festival of its kind in the UK

@childrensarts – Action For Children’s Arts is a UK charity campaigning for children’s equal rights to the arts, connecting like-minded professionals and celebrating children’s arts in the UK

@FamilyArtFest – The Family Arts Festival runs over the October Half Term, inviting organisations, venues and companies to provide theatre, dance, music and visual events to encourage families to engage with the arts

@TakeOffFestival – Take Off Festival celebrates theatre for young audiences in the North East of England throughout the year, and runs a festival of some of the best work each Autumn

Companies

@A1000Cranes – A Thousand Cranes are a Japanese children’s theatre company, with artistic directors Kumiko Mendl & Vicky Ireland. Their most recent production is an adaptation of the picturebook Me and My Cat?

@floodsofink – Floods of Ink are an amazing company formed from the Rose Bruford TYA course. Their recent production Up in the Attic shows they really know what they are doing

@angelscompany – Company of Angels create challenging theatre for and with young people . They also run projects such as The Commissioners, which allows young people to commission professional playwrights to write new short plays

@CWheelsTheatre – Award-winning theatre company Catherine Wheels produce theatre for young audiences that has been performed across the world. Recently, they created an app for children to accompany their production White, which they believe is the first app of its kind

@feveredsleep – Fevered Sleep’s artistic, surreal tweets are always a joy. They make new work in performance, installation, film, publication and digital art, and their new production, Dusk has just opened at the Young Vic

@tuttifruttiprod – Tutti Frutti are a children’s theatre company at the top of their game. Producing a wide variety of work for children aged 3+ and their families, they also produce plays by the Olivier-award winning Mike Kenny like The Princess and the Pea

@theatriolo – Theatr Iolo want to welcome babies to the theatre at 6 months old, and continue to create work that will engage and excite them for the rest of their life

@oilycart – Oily Cart have been making astonishing work since 1981, creating multi-sensory and highly interactive productions for the very young and for young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities

@hullabalootweet – Theatre Hullabaloo, based in the North East, makes high quality theatre for young people, who they consider the most important audience of all

@TCLive – Theatre Centre have been touring new writing to venues and schools around the country for over 60 years. To commemorate the centenary of the First World War, their current show is The Muddy Choir

Youth: Pegasus Theatre in Oxford

Youth: Pegasus Theatre in Oxford

Venues

@artsdepot – Artsdepot in North Finchley is an award-winning multiplatform arts venue using their great studio space for children’s theatre

@polkatheatre – Polka Theatre in Wimbledon was the first children’s theatre in the UK, and remains the only one to have a dedicated space for early years performances

@YorkTheatre – Along with Tutti Frutti, York Theatre Royal present the Little Feet Festival of Children’s Theatre annually, presenting the best shows touring the UK for children aged 6 months to 12 years

@TheGulbenkian – The Gulbenkian in Kent offers a high quality arts programme, keeping the empowerment of children and young people at the core of their activity

@macrobert – The Macrobert Arts Centre is Central Scotland’s leading arts venue with a commitment to programming work for children and families

@LakesideArts – Lakeside Arts Centre in Nottingham presents children’s theatre year round, and is also home to Wheee! Lakeside’s International Children’s Theatre and Dance Festival which has seen over 35,000 children and families coming to high-quality performances since it started in 2005

@Unicorn_Theatre – Based in London Bridge, the Unicorn Theatre is the UK’s leading professional theatre for young audiences, and has been receiving an increasing amount of praise since the appointment of Purni Morell as the Artistic Director in 2011

@TheMontyArts – The Mongtomery is a multi-purpose venue in Sheffield city centre specializing in family & children’s programming

@z_mcr – Z-arts in Manchester is an artistic hub for young people, providing participatory activities and productions

@HalfMoonTheatre – Half Moon Theatre in Limehouse is a welcoming space that programmes, co-produces and supports innovative work for young people. Their Exchange for Change programme supports and develops young artists creating work for children and young people

@theeggbath – The Egg Theatre in Bath presents a year-round programme of shows and events for young people aged 18 months to teenagers. It also works with hundreds of schools and runs the Young People’s Theatre

@LittleATheatre – This lovely little theatre tucked away in Islington has been called ‘the Home of British Puppetry’. Providing high-quality puppetry productions for over 50 years, the atmosphere at the Little Angel Theatre is incomparable

And of course, if you’re looking for the latest reviews, news, interviews and a what’s on guide, check out…

@ctheatrereviews!

This is just a very small selection from a huge and active online community, but it’s a great start for anyone of any age who loves theatre.

Remember – good theatre for children is good theatre for everyone!

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Follow Flossie for the best London shows this Christmas

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If you live in London then there’s plenty of really great children’s theatre to see this Christmas – Flossie Waite lists what to see on her website. Here she writes:

Set your Satnav to the second star on the right and grab garments a Pantomime Dame would be proud of! ‘Tis the season to be jolly, which is also the most popular season for taking children to the theatre. Here’s a round-up of some of the best productions in London this Christmas.

Scrunch
Anyone who has spent Christmas with a baby knows that for them, it’s all about wrapping paper – when I was little, my mum just wrapped up random objects because I enjoyed ripping off the paper so much. Scrunch is a sensory production for 6-18 months exploring the best bits of Christmas when you’re really little.

Unicorn Theatre, 9th December – 4th January 2015
https://www.unicorntheatre.com/whatson/62/scrunch

Cindermouse
Fairytales are a favourite during the festive season, and Little Angel Theatre provides their own version of Cinderella. Suitable for 3-8 years, Cindermouse uses glove and rod puppets to tell the classic story with mice!

Little Angel Theatre, 20th November – 1st February
http://www.littleangeltheatre.com/whats-on/cindermouse/

Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas
Raymond Briggs’ has become synonymous with Christmas – it’s hard to imagine a winter world without Walking in the Air, or his grumpy take on St Nicholas. If you’ve ever wondered how Father Christmas copes with his busiest night of the year, this production for children under 6 is for you.

Lyric Hammersmith, 14th November – 31st December
http://www.lyric.co.uk/whats-on/production/raymond-briggs-father-christmas/

Peter Pan
The boy who never grew up first flew onto the stage during Christmas 1904. 110 years later, Peter Pan is still a popular choice at this time of year, injecting magic and adventure into the theatre. For ages 6+, Polka Theatre’s production promises all the swashbuckling pirates and tick-tocking crocodiles of the classic story, with the help of puppetry and original songs.

Polka Theatre, 21st November – 14th January
http://www.polkatheatre.com/whats-on/peter-pan

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
The ballet The Nutcracker is another Christmas tradition, but the Unicorn’s magical production uncovers the original story for audiences aged 8+.

Unicorn Theatre, 21st November – 4th January
https://www.unicorntheatre.com/whatson/69/the-nutcracker-and-the-mouse-king

Beegu
Based on the much-loved children’s book by Alexis Deacon, Beegu is the tale of a friendly creature whose spaceship crashes into a planet. Audiences of 3-8 years old will watch as Beegu explores the curious place she has discovered: Earth.

Arts Depot, 3rd – 13th December
https://www.artsdepot.co.uk/family-christmas/beegu

One Snowy Night
Percy the Park Keeper finds squirrel, fox, badger and hedgehog shivering on his doorstep one snowy winter night. Audiences of 3-6 years are invited into his hut as he helps the animals stay warm and get to sleep. This production celebrates the 25th anniversary of Nick Butterworth’s best-selling picturebook.

Discover Children’s Story Centre, 28th November – 24th December
http://www.discover.org.uk/whatson/event/one-snowy-night1

The Fourth Wise Man
You’ve heard of the three wise men, but did you know there was a fourth? And he struggled to come up with a good enough gift? And worried about what to wear? For ages 4+, this is a funny story about one man and his camel on a momentous journey.

Unicorn Theatre, 30th November – 4th January 2015
https://www.unicorntheatre.com/whatson/66/the-fourth-wise-man

There Was An Old Woman
Leading children’s theatre company Oily Cart present a new production for children aged 3 – 5. There Was An Old Woman is a multi-sensory journey through a world of shoes that keep getting mixed up.

Southbank Centre, 13th December – 4th January 2015
http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/there-was-an-old-woman-who-85523

A Christmas Carol
If you want a Christmas production with a difference, why not see a show on a boat? Puppet Theatre Barge presents A Christmas Carol, the classic story of miserly Scrooge being visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Suitable for children aged 4+.

Puppet Theatre Barge, November 29th January 11th 2015
http://www.puppetbarge.com/Temporrarynotice.htm

The Night Before Christmas
It was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. Except Eddie, a little mouse with a big wish to celebrate Christmas, and Emily, a little girl who can’t wait for Christmas Day. This production for 3-7 year olds promises to get everyone in the Christmas spirit!

Watermans Theatre, 11th – 23rd December
http://watermans.ticketsolve.com/shows/873520886/events?show_id=873520886

Follow Flossie on Twitter @ctheatrereviews or see her website at http://childrenstheatrereviews.com/

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