From Betty O’Barley to Granny at The Garage: A year of Children’s Theatre

Posted by The Garage Monday 20 November 2017, 14:17
Joanna Brown as The Queen of Hearts

This year seems to have presented a string of opportunities for me to perform and create work predominantly for young audiences. I started the year in Wonderland as The Queen Of Hearts and shall be waving goodbye to 2017 as a snot-filled granny here at The Garage.

Joanna Brown as The Queen Of Hearts

I spent my spring and summer playing the wonderful Betty O’Barley in The Scarecrow’s Wedding for Scamp Theatre - setting off in March and touring the UK until mid August - and just to squeeze in a few extra weeks of excitement, I flew out to Florence to direct a version of Mary Poppins with 80 Italian teenagers.

It has most certainly been a magical 12 months. Being given the time and space to explore the creations that are offered in children’s fiction is such a special gift - as adults, it’s not very often that we are allocated time to simply explore, enjoy and invest in these weird and wonderful worlds. I am so grateful that my job enables me to keep my ‘inner child’ very much alive; there are times, I’m sure, where those closest to me may argue that I am a living Peter Pan & perhaps simply never quite ‘grew up’!

There is, of course, a level of intellect and focus required from those working together on sharing stories with children. As enjoyable as it is, the job is not all frivolous fun! Many authors touch on some quite dark or dangerous topics within their writing and bringing those stories to life on stage can require some careful consideration. Children are extremely good at letting you know how they are feeling, which brings wonderful joy to a room when a young audience are engaged and enjoying themselves.. I’ve found the key to a successful production is finding those moments of shared joy and maintaining them for as long as possible.

Due to the nature of performing for such an honest audience, each and every show I have done this year has differed. Audience reaction varies drastically from one day to the next, which certainly keeps you on your toes! I’ve received some wonderful gifts over the months too which I shall treasure for years to come: daisy chains, homemade cards, origami flowers, beaded angels..  the imagination instigated in the performance space seems to inspire creativity for weeks to come! It’s amazing to hear from schools and groups that have used the performance as stimulus for an entire week’s study too - I always feel very privileged to have been part of such a special way of learning. 

The Scarecrow’s Wedding card

Having a great time rehearsing for My First Panto at The Garage. The show will be the first I’ve done which allows to me to be very much in the space alongside the children, so I’m already very excited to get going with live audiences.

Here’s to a Christmas full of magic in the woods. See you there!

Jo

Joanna Brown Headshot

 

My First Panto: Little Red Riding Hood's Violet & Granny

My First Panto: Little Red Riding Hood is a family friendly experience, in a relaxed setting for your little ones to participate in theatre for the first time; babies can be fed and children play along with the action. Click here to find out more about the show and get tickets.