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Greenwich Children's Theatre Festival gets ready to kick off
THE next generation is set to be lured into the theatre world as an exciting programme of shows opens in south-east London this month.
The sixth Greenwich Children’s Theatre Festival is starting next week and will feature a host of opportunities for children and families to get involved.
The festival runs between March 29 and April 14 and kicks off with the worldwide premiere of Nicobobinus, the adaptation of the children’s book by Monty Python star Terry Jones.
News Shopper caught up with the production’s adapter and director, John Ward, who went to the prestigious Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance based in Sidcup.
He said: “Nicobobinus was the first book my dad ever read to me.
“I’m hoping a lot of parents will want to bring their children to this because it’s based on a book written by one of the Pythons.
“It’s important to get young people into the theatre and good theatre is so difficult to pull off.
“Theatre is like reading in that you have to engage people early – if you do, they’re interested for life whereas otherwise it’s hard to get them into it.”
The Lewisham resident added: “There are some really interesting things going on in the south east London theatre scene.
“I live in Deptford and I love it, the market, the shops and the fact you can walk straight to Greenwich.”
The excitement is building throughout the borough as venues prepare for the “best type of audience” according to Greenwich Theatre’s artistic and executive director James Haddrell.
He said: “We love this time of year. As adults we all sit there nicely even if we don’t like the show and clap at the end and we do exactly the same if we think it’s brilliant.
“Not with kids - they let you know what they think pretty quickly, whether it’s good or bad.
“I’m looking forward to The Big Workshop Day on April 13 which includes free events all over the Greenwich so kids can have a go at things like circus skills, stage fighting and puppetry.”
Another show that is sure to create a buzz is paint-by-numbers production Splat where children will create the set themselves.
Splat director Helen Eastman first realised she wanted to work in theatre when The Times published a review of her student production at the Edinburgh Festival on her 21st birthday.
She said: “I’m often nostalgic for my younger days – when you’re free and liberated and haven’t placed restrictions on yourself.
“I was interested in theatre at school but never thought you could actually go into acting, I thought you had to go into sensible jobs like being a lawyer or teacher.”
Helen is keen to make theatre as exciting and accessible as possible for youngsters.
She explained: “The play focuses on paintings which have had their colour stolen – so it’s encouraging children to colour in a black and white world.
“We also get to introduce masterpieces like The Scream and Banksy’s work and get the kids to respond to them so they can start to appreciate what art is.
“I hope the children go away with an appreciation for telling stories and want to be involved in the theatre - and I hope they will go away and want to start telling their own stories.”
Helen has some tips for young people who want to go into the theatrical world.
She said: “See as much work as you can and as wide a range of productions you can. Read as many plays as you can. Think about what you like and why.
“Write to people and ask if you can help them out because then you can get a chance to see the rehearsal process which is really valuable.
“And then get a group together and start creating things.”
Ultimately the director is realistic about how to attract hoards of youngsters into a show.
She said: “Splat should contain a warning: this show will contain mess.”
The Greenwich Children's Theatre Festival is taking place between March 29 and April 14.
For more information, call 020 8858 7755 or visit greenwichtheatre.org.uk