Xmas and Family Shows<< Back to Productions Overview

Xmas and outdoor shows have given me a chance to play to an audience that may not usually see theatre.

I prefer to trust that this audience can take surprises. Without surprise, theatre is just a ritual of fixed rules and shared preconceptions and I think Christmas Shows are a perfect time to change a few rituals.

When working on shows such as Pinocchio, where the audience may have a fixed idea of the story, usually supplied by Walt Disney, I concentrate on bringing out elements of the story that may have been forgotten or ignored in versions that are keen to dilute the uncomfortable elements of the original. For instance the heart of the Pinocchio story is that of the relationship of a father and son, something I observed in reading the story to my children.

It's a relationship that can be very moving because it is not particularly sentimental. Pinocchio is a story of poverty and dreams wrapped in a wild plot of cruelty and mischief. It is not filtered kids stuff. Very few children's classics are, in the original.

Scene from "Dorothey’s Progress"


For me there has to be a backbone to fantasy. My interest in the Snow Queen was the courage of Gerda, her journey and her strength to stand up to the cruelty of the Snow Queen. The Pied Piper was about lying and legends. The Owl and the Pussy Cat was about the glory of nonsense from Edward Lear through to the Marx Bothers and on to Sgt. Pepper. The Ugly Duckling was about young bullied girl, who was locked on a rubbish tip, where the creatures of the night struggle for control of the dump. "Some Like it Hot" was the biggest influence on this show.

Many popular myths, stories, and even comic routines contain age old contradictions between lies and truths and these can touch parents and children at the same time. Things do not have to be underlined in red, heavy handed didactic theatre is no friend of mine, but if we miss the elemental middle of a story there is no life on stage, no matter how many attention grabbing tricks we use.

Dorothey's Progress
A mixture of the Wizard of Oz and Pilgrims progress. Outdoors and indoors set on a giant circular stage. Live musicians.
English touring indoors and out doors.

Flyer from "Pinchio"

Merseyside community tour, Wilde Theatre Xmas Show, Green Room Manchester.
The Ugly Duckling
Wilde Theatre Xmas Show, Green Room Manchester.
1988 The Snow Queen
Wilde Theatre Xmas Show.
1995 Hansel and Gretel
Four Nominations for Manchester Evening News Awards including Best Production.
The Contact Xmas Show Manchester
2000 The Pied Piper
Green Room and Edinburgh
2001 The Owl and the Pussycat
The Bolton Octagon
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