Slava’s Snowshow in photos! One week to go!

It’s only one week until Slava’s Snowshow returns to Royal Festival Hall by popular demand. Here’s a sneak peek of the snowstorm set to take over Southbank Centre this Christmas!


Slava's Snowshow 10Slava-Snowshow 12Slava-Snowshow 16Slava-Snowshow 18Slava-Snowshow 29Slava-Snowshow Boat-V_-Vial Copy-of-Blue-Canary-2-green-1-yellow-A_Lopez Slava's Snowshow Snowing-on-Crowd


Catch Slava’s Snowshow at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, London,  from 17 December – 7 January 2012. Get tickets here. 

Bee Detective – Interview with writer and performer Sophie Woolley

Bee Detective, part of Unlimited, is a honeybee murder mystery for Deaf and hearing children aged 6+. Here, writer and performer Sophie Woolley gives us some background about the making of Bee Detective.

Would you be able to tell me a little bit about why you created The Bee Detective?
I wrote a funny play about environmental issues for BBC Radio 4. I loved doing the research and then trying to present stuff people don’t already know in a comedic way. I realised people like learning stuff from plays, as well as seeing their own concerns and absurdities reflected.  So I wanted to try and do the same for a younger audience and everyone is bee mad at the moment so I wanted to dig deeper and see what the situation is for British bees. Me and Gemma (director Gemma Fairlie) wanted to lift the lid on the secret world of bees, make the show we’d want to go to as kids. On tour adults have told us they loved learning new stuff about bees from the play. It’s not an educational play per se but we have woven interesting weird facts about bee life into the plot.

The bees in the play are wiped out by a virus transmitted by varroa mites. It was in the news this summer. Check out my blog for links to the press releases. People know about pesticides but when we started the tour hardly anyone knew about this varroa scourge.

Why did you choose to write for children now?
Unlimited commissions were about stretching the artist beyond their usual practice. I know I can write and perform for adults so I thought I’d try something new and difficult.  It’s also the first show that I would have signed in, but then I broke my shoulder and had to step aside. I also wanted to work with James Merry who is a brilliant Deaf animator who did our fab trailer and all the amazing animations.

I don’t think you have your own children and I think you began to lose your hearing at the age of 18, but were you inspired by any Deaf children you know? Nieces or nephews or friend’s children?
It’s not personal no. I have done quite a few workshops for deaf school children and I can see how starved they are of what hearing kids take for granted. And now the austerity policy cuts are hitting Deaf services for children and deaf education very hard. It’s pretty tragic. The effects are already beginning to be felt by children and their parents. This is the only kids show in the Unlimited commissions.

I wanted to write about bees and kids really love bees, they learn about them in school and like wearing bee costumes etc. Bees are all the rage and I jumped on the beewagon.

Did you look back on your experience as an audience member before you began to lose your hearing and compare it with your experience as an audience member now and feel that you should provide theatre for Deaf children?

I don’t look back. There was a gap where I stopped going to theatre. Then theatre subtitles were invented.

It’s cool to make the show accessible if the money is there. It’s my utopian vision of how a show should be. I like subtitled shows, big subtitles, creatively designed, that are in the middle of the set not shunted off to the side in the corner. Subtitles can be beautiful. I’m trying to show people how modern subtitles should look. I think the company is ahead of its time, I hope one day the  whole world will be subtitled, not just TV.

Catch Bee Detective as part of Unlimited at Southbank Centre from Friday 31 August – Sunday 2 September. Get tickets here. 

Watch the trailer for our half-term show for families!

2 – 8 June
by The Ark & Theatre Lovett

‘Riotously inventive.’ ★★★★ (The Scotsman)

‘Tremendously entertaining.’ ★★★★ (The Guardian)

‘Delightfully imaginative.’ (Irish Mail on Sunday)

‘Chock full with playfulness and rich ideas… Lovett makes the experience seem as natural and interactive as a warm hug.’ (The Irish Times)

Catch The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly by The Ark & Theatre Lovett at Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room from 2- 8 June 2012. Get tickets here. 

Forkbeard Fantasy’s Theatre of Animation – Free Exhibition

To celebrate the 37-year-long history of groundbreaking theatre company, Forkbeard Fantasy, Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival is proud to present a free exhibition – Theatre of Animation. Enter a magical world of interactive fun for young and old, with  mechanical gizmos, films and cartoons. Ride a magical unicorn, meet a teenage brontosaurus skeleton and operate life-size puppets.


Catch the Theatre of Animation at Southbank Centre’s Spirit Level until Sunday 8 January 2012. Free entry between 10am – 10pm. More info here.



The art of puppetry – not just for children?

Our October half-term show is the beautiful The Man Who Planted Trees from Puppet State Theatre Company. Although primarily aimed at children, The Man Who Planted Trees is also for adults. Traditionally, puppetry is seen as a medium for kids, but this is increasingly challenged in both theatre and advertising. We asked guest blogger Jake Orr, Marketing Officer at Little Angel Theatre, to give us an insight into the world of puppetry for all ages.

'Dog' from The Man Who Planted Trees

'Dog' from The Man Who Planted Trees

When people ask me what I do for work and I tell them that I work in a puppetry theatre doing marketing, a strange mix of responses seems to follow. Some are utterly delighted by the idea that there are such things as puppet theatres, others are more bemused by the whole notion. Yet one common occurrence is people repeatedly respond with ‘so the shows are for children?’ The answer is yes, but more often than not, it’s also no.

There seems to be a myth about puppetry, one that evades every auditorium when a puppetry show is to take place, and that is puppetry is just for children. At Little Angel Theatre where I work, the shows we have are often designed for children and their families, but we also have an increasing amount of work for adults. So much so, that our Artistic Director, Peter Glanville, has developed a festival of puppetry work that is solely for adults called SUSPENSE (28 October – 6 November)

So what is it about puppetry that makes everyone think it is just for children? I think the heart of the matter lies in our abilities to believe in magic. Puppetry is magical. From the fragments of materials that are sewn, stitched, glued or strung together, a whole breath and breadth of life can emerge. I have seen a pile of sheets and pillows turn into elephants, or a collection of gardening tools become humans. The transformation from everyday objects to something that appears to be a living and breathing organism is magical, there is no denying that. But can adults truly grasp the idea of magic compared to that of children?

As we grow older, we increasing become weary of having to act and behave in certain ways. We show respect to other people, we are civil and abide by the rules of society, but with this we loose our abilities to engage and play with the world around us. Puppetry invites its audience into the world of imagination, where you have to suspend your disbelief in order to appreciate the work that is being done in front of you. There is no point turning your nose up as a puppeteer as he works an object, it’s far better to surrender and revel in its beauty and magic.

Puppetry has that magical quality that stirs and excites. It has endless possibilities, and requires years of training and skill to be able to perfect in performance, but it also does more than just entertain. Whilst there has been growing uses of the arts as a method of healing and assisting in healthcare environments such as therapy, the use of applied puppetry has also increased.

As an art form puppetry tends to transcend boundaries of languages. It is a visual art form, that doesn’t require a language to dictate and narrate compared to that of a straight play. Figures, objects, or just images that move across the stage manipulated by puppeteers can easily be understood or have imagined narratives for its audience. There is at times something rather captivating about watching a show where the only language that is used is through the movement of a puppet, it’s like switching off the need to think, and instead seeing the magic of theatre and puppetry.

For adults, puppetry can be fun, exciting and adventurous, but it can also be dark and sinister. From our darkest nightmares, and worst situations, the use of puppets to reflect and portray these can be chilling. I’ve witnessed some of the most horrific images through puppetry which wouldn’t have been possible through that of using people. I have been repulsed, amazed and stunned.

We also tend to forget about how much puppetry is around us in films and television. Spitting Image, the satirical television show reflected what the nation was thinking at a time when we were going through great political unrest. There are epic films such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or The Labyrinth which have all utilised puppetry, whether this is mechanical or hand-held to entertain us. Let’s not forget the PG Tips Monkey, the Compare The Market Meercat or the Coco-Cola girls, all using puppetry in their advertising, and all aimed at adults.

Spitting Image

Spitting Image

The truth is, puppetry is just coming into its own. There are numerous adult puppetry shows that are popping up on our stages and televisions. At Little Angel we’re seeing adults coming along to our family shows on their own. Why? Because puppetry is cool, it’s got that magical quality that enchants and excites us. It has endless possibilities and can lead us to unexpected places. Too often people are too concerned to think that puppetry is just for children, well I say, get to your nearest puppet show and enjoy the experience, you won’t regret it.

Come along and see for yourself: catch Puppet State Theatre Company’s The Man Who Planted Trees at Southbank Centre 25 – 28 October. Get tickets here. 

Want to grow your own Christmas tree this year?

To help us celebrate our half-term show THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES, we’re giving away limited edition packets of Scots Pine seeds to our Facebook fans and inviting you and your families to grow your trees along with us . All you need to do is…

1. Be one of the first people to comment on our Facebook post here .
2. Take a photo of you planting your tree and upload it to our Facebook page.
3. Share photos with us over the coming months as your tree begins to grow.

We’ll add all your images to a photo album and create a forest of Pine trees on Facebook!

Fancy coming along to the show? Puppet State Theatre Company’s THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES is at Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room from 25 – 28 October. Get tickets here.