I love stories like that. I love revisiting them. Ray and I have got dozens of little anecdotes and inside jokes stretching more than two decades. And even more 'cry-laugh' moments since 'AndOn Theatre started. We love 'em, stories. 'And even more than that, we love to share them.
This summer sees the premiere of our fourth project and our second piece of family theatre. Fairly Tales is a new and adventurous challenge for us, in many ways. But at it's core, this fairytale adaptation is another chance for us to tell stories to our audiences, both of our own imagining and from the minds of those whose tales have become an inherent part of our culture. It's an area of common ground, isn't it? We can all relate to the bed-time story, to the heroes and the villains, to the little pigs and the big bad wolves. Fairly Tales has already proved to be the most wonderful bridge (troll-less or otherwise) between us adults and a new generation.
We have been and are due to continue developing this show with the help of the children to whom these narratives are brand new. Still fresh and exciting. It's been so exhilarating for us to see such old fables told to us afresh, without the tiredness or bored over-familiarity one can so easily slip into. 'And that's so important if you want to make a piece of theatre something great.
Fairly Tales sees us combining devised theatre with live illustration, for a show that (we hope) really encapsulates the magic of storytelling in its simplest form. Right back to basics.
Our second aim with the project, with the grateful help of Arts Council England, is to launch a Young Artists Programme, offering skills and techniques in both theatre and art, to show our youngest and most vulnerable that they have a right to express who they are and what they enjoy through the arts, and help those lacking the confidence or extroversion the same creative opportunities as others. With Ray and I heading up the theatre and our amazing Fairly Tales (and Bits & Box) artist Lucie Arnoux taking illustration, we are so excited to see what this programme might achieve. 'And that's just the beginning. You start thinking about dance, or music, creative writing, or sculpture and soon realise how much this country needs its artists. How much those of us lucky enough to work in the arts have benefited in countless ways from doing so. We'll keep working on those first two, but we'd love to hear your thoughts on what we're doing, why we're doing it, and how you might want to lend a hand or an idea.
We can't wait for this summer (and beyond!) and really hope that that fresh-eyed view of age-old tales isn't just from the children in the audience.
Stories make us who we are, and who we are is worth telling stories about. So send us your story. Pass on the magic, and revisit those funny little memories knocking about in the back of your mind. Just because you've heard the story before, doesn't make it any less special. Like a flying sprout at the Kids Christmas dinner table.
For us, the magic never went anywhere. Sometimes it just needs dusting off a little.