Making Toy Theatre Work in the U.K. – Hansel & Gretel at childrens parties and other settings

Hello everyone, you may have noticed that the last blog I did was a review and that I have not said anything about all the things I got up to before Christmas.  So here’s a post to rectify the situation.

I had been finding it very difficult to sell the Hansel & Gretel Toy Theatre show in this country, despite it going down so well at the Vischmarkt Papierentheater Festival in Harderwijk, The Netherlands.

This was firstly because Toy Theatre is not as well known and popular in this country as it is on the continent.  Secondly, you are limited to a small audience and many people wish to squeeze as many audience members as they can in to a venue when they have booked a show.

I solved the first problem by creating a video trailer for the show.  You can now see this on our website, (CLICK HERE FOR SHOW PAGE).  This means that anyone with no experience of Toy Theatre (and our particular take on it) can now get a good idea of what the show is like.

It appears that the second problem has also been solved simply by using the show in places where a small audience is an advantage.  The show is perfect for small scale venues or smaller groups, such as Children’s parties and Pupil Referral Units, (where children who are struggling in mainstream education for whatever reason are taken out to be taught in smaller groups.  They get more individual attention and staff are trained to deal with their needs and difficulties).

We were booked by a family who we did a Pirate Party for earlier in the year, (for their son Henry) to do something for their daughter’s birthday and the “Hansel & Gretel” show immediately came to mind.  The show kept 15 wriggly energetic kids of a wide variety of ages, (mostly between 4 and 6) absorbed, quiet and still for a full 30 minutes and the adults seemed to really love it too.  We then filled the rest of the time with various musical songs and games.

Similarly spellbound were the children at Bradley PRU, who stayed still throughout, though they did react to and interact with the story.  Afterwards we had lots of unprompted positive feedback both from the children and the staff, as well as a lot of questions about how we made the show and so on.  One of the staff said that it was the quietest they’d ever seen them.  After a brief break, the children made their own individual shoe-box toy theatres like I did for Buxton Puppet Festival in 2011, (CLICK HERE FOR BUXTON POST).  The children did excellent work, were very absorbed by the task and seemed to enjoy themselves very much.

The family who we did the party for mentioned the idea of getting us back again this year for their son’s birthday again.  With this in mind, we need to think of some new party formats.  This year we are going to be updating our main website, (www.roughmagictheatre.co.uk) and one of the things we intend to include is all of the different sorts of parties that we can do.

I have had suggestions already of puppet making parties, but would like more feedback on the sorts of themes and activities that people think would be popular.  Please leave your suggestions in the comments box at the bottom, (you have to click on the title of the blog post for the comments box to appear).

The “where you can see me” page has been updated and will continue to be updated as I get confirmation of more performances so watch this space 🙂

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