Little Team

Rehearsing Little Tim and The Brave Sea Captain

Ahoy there sailors! Greetings from S.S. Bubbletub!
(I’ve just noted it’s CHILDREN’S DAY — so this blog feels rather fitting.)

6 years ago The Wardrobe Ensemble formed through piloting the first Made In Bristol project at Bristol Old Vic. This year we are making their studio younger years Christmas show. Now that is a dreamy thing that we couldn’t be more excited to undertake.

4 years ago I was introduced to the world of children’s theatre making by the super-duper wonderful Toby Hulse. It was totally and utterly joyous and rewarding. An audience of under 10s is the most challenging, honest audience you will ever get. When they are having a good time they laugh out loud and sing along, when they’re in awe their eyes widen and their jaws drop open, and when they are bored or confused they wriggle around on their seats and shout ‘I WANT TO GO HOME’ very loudly! For the majority it is probably one of their first trips to the theatre. Now that is something very special. And important.

This show came about from a drive to make work for young audiences with the same integrity and substance as you would for anyone else; creating an experience that all ages, big and small, can enjoy and share together.

These past two rehearsal weeks I have felt fortunate to be working on such a positive piece of art. The rehearsal room has felt like a real antithesis to the scary realities of our uncertain world — we have been pumping out the tunes to accompany our morning yoga and dancing extra hard when we’ve needed to. It feels good to be putting our energies into something that we hope will bring people joy.

Ruby Spencer Pugh’s fab costume designs | Prepared for anything, Helena is staying afloat in her Directing Chair

Making a younger years show means constantly pulling yourself into the mind-frame of a child — would a 7 year old find this engaging? Would a 1 year old find this too scary? (0–7 years is a broad age-range to cater for!) Helena is normally a good gauge for this, embracing her inner child in her Director armbands. But there is nothing like the feeling of first performing your children’s show to actual children — so it was great to perform it to group of Year 2s at St Werburgh’s Primary School this week! Even with minimal props and set, it was integral to the process to have little faces to perform to… and we got some super positive and very useful feedback from them! It was heartwarming and hugely relieving to see the reactions and interactions we had hoped for actually work. Phew! It was also exhausting, with a sudden realisation that we have to perform this twice a day for a month!

“So you mean we are the first people in the entire world to see this play. We are SO lucky!”
“It was fiiine. But maybe you could put a bit of cardboard up so we can’t see you changing costume” Noted.
The crew on deck — photos by Jack Offord

So we’re full steam ahead and nearly there! We’ve created a Tim who’s full of beans, a boatman with a funny beard, a cook who has magical ingredients and a Captain who loves a good boogie. All inspired by Edward Ardizzone’s fantastic book of course! We’ve made some very catchy songs. We’ve created some very silly sailors. We’ve got bum wiggling, burping-on-demand, an epic rescue scene and a lot of audience participation. Although we did just cut the moment of anarchy when 180 fish get thrown on to the stage! We have definitely stayed true to our previous younger years show, ‘The Star Seekers’, in which the audience are fully immersed into the world of the show. So whether you’re sat at the Portside, Starboard or Bow , be prepared to come along on the adventure, help Tim out when sailing life gets tough, and maybe even earn your own sea legs. All aboard!

Jesse x

P.S: Tickets ‘ere —

**Massive thanks to our fab creative team, the Desperate Men, and Vicky Meadows for her endless supply of percussion. And solidarity to the terrific teams in rehearsal rooms elsewhere across the globe, whose festive shows go up imminently. May your experience be warm, magical and snot-free.