Wednesday, July 6

Children’s theatre makes a socially distanced return to Leeds

Leeds theatre-makers tutti frutti, Wrongsemble, Unlimited Theatre, 154 Collective, Blah Blah Blahs, Alive & Kicking, Interplay, Fidget Theatre and Slung Low joined forces to bring live theatre back to children across the city.

Coming together under the Live Little Stories for Leeds they perform socially distanced theatre shows for free to pre-invited families and children at six locations in Leeds.

This unique the collective was pulled together by tutti frutti as a pilot and all performances during Live Little Stories for Leeds took place outdoors to small audiences following strict social distancing guidelines. Other adaptations new to theatre makers included the provision of PPE equipment on site, one-way systems into locations and safety measures being incorporated in a fun way to each performance.

At Shine in Harehills, tutti frutti productions’ Hue Boy, an adaptation of the Smarties Prize winning book by Rita Phillips Mitchell and illustrated by Caroline Binch, transported children to a Caribbean village with performer Stewart Thomas telling the story of Hue Boy under a brightly coloured parasol.

tutti frutti productions and Wrongsemble told the story of Rapunzel, staging Mike Kenny’s bright adaptation of the adventure with Riana Duce playing the curious girl who yearns to explore the world beyond her tower.

How I Hacked My Way Into Space saw Unlimited Theatre bringing the Space Shed to Slung Low’s The Holbeck outdoor space, with Jon Spooner performing his inspirational one-man show, telling the story of how he accidentally set up a space agency and sent an astronaut to space. The performance was digitally livestreamed across Facebook and YouTube and is available until 27th August.

At three sites of Leeds Little Free Libraries in Crossgreen, Middleton and Headingly, children were treated to Molly’s Marvellous Moustache and Bird’s Nest Billy: The Boy with Three Wishes by Fidget Theatre; Icarus Bly from The Museum Of Untold Stories, Jinny Greenteeth: The Boggart In The Cupboard and Frederick the Fisherman from File by Alive and Kicking. These imaginative tales were performed by Natalie Bellingham, Richard Priestley, Luke Dickson, Martin Riley, John Mee and Kathleen Yore.

At Interplay in Armley, The Adventures of Walter Lemon Face by 154 Collective presented children with a magical mix of live animation, music and storytelling, and was accompanied by Mustacha’s Apprentice Storytelling Workshop by Blah Blah Blahs.

“When lockdown happened and we cancelled most of our tours, I went back to look at tutti frutti’s key values and asked myself how we can still deliver on these?” says Wendy Harris, artistic director of tutti frutti.

“Bringing together the new collective, we asked how we could do something extraordinary for the children of Leeds, by making live events safely. It was incredible and very moving to see families and children gathering in safe way for Live Little Stories for Leeds, seeing them laugh and join in with the stories.

“I want theatre to be part of how we can help our children overcome the challenges of COVID-19 – with support, artists and companies can engage with children to help their confidence, wellbeing and be part of their recovery. It’s vital for companies and artists at this time to pull together, think creatively and come up with new ideas to create work opportunities; there was real team work from the partner organisations who delivered Live Little Stories for Leeds.”