Children’s arts opportunities put in the spotlight

From the regular visiting children’s theatre productions to the toys in its cafe area along with in house provisions such as the Diddy Disco, accessible changing facilities and a lovely warm welcome, the Lincoln Drill Hall has long been a favourite destination for young audience members.

And now the Free School Lane arts centre is making it even easier for those wanting to find out what’s on offer to enjoy alongside their children by launching a new family brochure.  Sales and communications manager Gavin Street explains why…

“Lincoln Drill Hall is a great place to introduce children to the arts.  The venue hosts a year-round programme of live shows, theatre groups, workshops and creative sessions specifically aimed at younger audiences – from tiny tots to teenagers – plus events the whole family can enjoy together.  And with the launch of a new seasonal family brochure, you can find it all in one place!

“So what’s coming up in the Spring?  Running through the season are the Happy Monday Club weekly creative play sessions for pre-schoolers, which includes sessions based on storytelling and drama, dance and movement, art and making and rhythm and music.  These sessions take place in the venue’s cafe bar on Monday mornings, 10.30am-11.30am.  On Wednesdays, the Drill Hall also hosts Hartbeeps, weekly musical adventure classes for newborns, babies and toddlers.

“Or for older children, why not Fishtank, the city’s alternative youth theatre, where the kids create their own original theatre pieces and then perform them in front of a real audience.  Drama skills, self-confidence, team-building and fun are guaranteed in these sessions for Tiddlers (ages 3-6), Juniors (ages 7-11) and Intermediates (ages 11-16).  Sessions run on Saturday mornings throughout the year.

“And rounding off the first half of the Spring, February half term is packed with events.  These include the first outing of the season of Diddy Disco (Tuesday 13 February), the venue’s hip dance club for under 7s and the interactive theatre adventure The Dead Sea (Wednesday 14 February), which follows a young marine biologist on an ecological rescue mission to the bottom of the ocean.  There’s also Rhubarb Theatre’s time-travelling Sidney’s Shed (Friday 16 February), which whisks young audiences on an exciting journey to dig up the past and weed out history’s bullies and Hiccup Theatre brings the classic story The Gingerbread Man (Saturday 17 February) to vivid life through amazing puppetry and fabulous live music.”

For more information about these and other events later in the season pick up a copy of the new Drill Hall Family brochure or read it online here.  For more about the venue visit www.lincolndrillhall.com (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).

And don’t forget there’s still the pantomime to enjoy before the end of this year.  To find out more about Jack and the Beanstalk, showing from December 8th to January 2nd, click here.

 

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Tale of Light Princess inspires little feet

For thousands of mini aspiring ballerinas it’s nice to be able to see where their weekly classes and donning of tutus could take them so I love that many ballet companies have been developing shows with a family audience in mind.

Earlier this year we treated the minis to a trip to Cast in Doncaster to see Northern Ballet perform Goldilocks & the Three Bears.  Despite mummy and daddy discussing at length (due to traffic jams) exactly how sensible it was to take longer to drive to and from somewhere than the event itself lasts (the show was about 40 minutes long), the minis had a fabulous time with Willow excitedly calling out “bear” every time one of the titular ursine characters took to the stage.

So I was very pleased when I found out that Lincoln’s LPAC was hosting Ballet Cymru’s The Light Princess last weekend and even more delighted to be guests of the arts centre for the family friendly 5pm performance.

The Light Princess by Ballet Cymru

Based on George MacDonald’s fairytale which was inspired by Sleeping Beauty, the new production is a full length ballet so the minis were required to sit for a lot longer which did see us finding a space to run around in during the interval to let some pent up energy out.

But, even though the tone for The Light Princess was much more melancholic and romantic than the three bears’ bumbling fun, the minis were quickly spellbound themselves by the spinning and leaping characters relating the magical tale of the floating heroine who finds her freedom under water and in true love.

IMG_5240I loved the atmospheric video projections that further enhanced the ethereal feel and the text captions/chapter heading storytelling elements interspersed throughout the show that also helped to transport the audience into their fairytale world.

(Although I am still waiting to see the aerial circus skills described in the promotional material – maybe it took place during our toilet trip?)

At the end of the show it became clear that the restless legs of the interval were actually simply inspired feet that had an undeniable desire to replicate what they were watching.

And this audience member was treated to a mini aftershow performance of pirouetting, kneeling, beautiful arm movements and leaping on and off the little stage in the foyer that only ended because the arts centre’s (very patient) staff really did need to be able to go home themselves too – a sure sign of the mini ones’ appreciation of the dancers of Ballet Cymru.

The LPAC has two winter shows suitable for a family audience coming soon – Winter in Sherwood and The Winter Whale.  Click here to find out more.

The Light Princess is still on tour.  Click here to see if it’s coming to a venue near you.

The Light Princess

STphoto-LP-AnnaUsing elements of circus and classical choreography, a new full length ballet taking the tale of Sleeping Beauty as its inspiration is being performed at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre this weekend.

Ballet Cymru’s The Light Princess tells the story of a princess afflicted by constant weightlessness, unable to get her feet on the ground, until she finds a love that brings her down to earth.

STphoto-LP-Beth RobbieFeaturing video projections and a new score by Welsh harpist, composer and recording artist Catrin Finch, The Light Princess was produced in collaboration with The Riverfront Theatre in Newport and continues Ballet Cymru’s work using powerful and timeless stories to challenge its dancers to interpret some of the finest characters in literature.

The Light Princess will be performed by Ballet Cymru at the LPAC in Lincoln on Sunday, November 19th at 5pm. Click here to find out more.

The BFG, Mr Men and a gecko’s echo…

Newark Book Festival 2017

Formerly known as Books in the Castle, this year’s Newark Book Festival (July 15th and 16th) was rebranded, revamped and a resounding success.

With a last minute change to the mini ones weekend schedule we headed to Newark on Saturday instead of Sunday as planned and, with many of the events already sold out, we were very glad there were also street theatre acts to enjoy and drop-in workshops to join in too.

On arriving in the Nottinghamshire town, we located the festival’s stall in the market place and were just in time to enjoy a performance by The Smallest Theatre in the World.

The humorous take on Hound of the Baskervilles (in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication) involved audience participation and hijinks that captivated Willow who got especially excited whenever a character popped up on top of the theatre’s roof.

NBF3We then took time to listen to Doctor Rhyme reading us a poem describing the problems of trying to write a poem when your tin of alphabetti spaghetti turns out to be spaghetti hoops and requested a poem to be written in celebration of Luke starting school this year.

A quick chase of the BFG around the market place, who we were quite happy to wave at but not quite brave enough to high five, and a short stop to refuel and then we set off to join in the Make and Create: Mr Men session at Millgate Community Centre.

Cardboard templates, scrunched up newspaper, kitchen roll liners, tissue paper coloured squares, facial features and accessory add ons plus some liberally applied glue and sticky tape and Luke had his own Mr Tickle and Willow a Mr Man all of her own creation.

The Roger Hargreaves characters are staple reading in the minis’ library and it was a well thought out craft that the smallest of hands could join with, that could be similarly recreated at home with a rummage through your recycling and which it wasn’t too difficult to get a recognisable finished artwork from.

There was more even crafting to be done afterwards as we headed to Newark Library where there was also dancing and stories to listen to as children’s author Lucy Rowland introduced young readers to her titles The Birthday Invitation and Gecko’s Echo alongside the library launching its Summer Reading Challenge.  Luke was suitably impressed, requesting to buy a copy of Gecko’s Echo to take home with us which he was able to watch the author sign for him and his sisters.

Before it was time to go back to the car we stopped to explore Newark Library’s lovely children’s area with it’s inventive seating and bookshelves that are also tunnels, it’s play kitchen and dolls’ house.  Willow had clearly got the message that books are good as she helped herself to a huge pile of different titles to have mini excerpts read to her from.

And, back at home, bedtime reading requests involved several renditions of Gecko’s Echo (and who wouldn’t appreciate a story featuring a strong mother?) with a couple of the Mr Men stories to follow.

I used to love attending literary festivals before I had children and, whilst it may be in a slightly different way, it can be even more fun with them.  Definitely one for the diary for 2018, hopefully with a little more planning involved too.

Sunday Sevens #5

#SundaySevens is a blog series started by Natalie from Threads and Bobbins.  Here’s my fifth entry into the series looking at a few of the little things that have happened in the mini ones’ lives this week…

HowTimeFlies1. How Time Flies

Christopher Nibble wasn’t our only theatrical experience this week as I braved taking all the minis on my own to see How Time Flies at the Lincoln Drill Hall on Monday.  Billed as interactive, it was testament to how engaging the show was that both Luke and Willow were fully focused on the archaeologists’ investigations into ancient skeleton Skelebob’s possible origins and endings whilst I had to walk an unsettled Faith around at the back of the auditorium several times.  Eccentric characters, melodramatic speculation, interesting facts – did you know the largest fossilised poo ever found is seven inches of Viking excrement? – repetitive sing-along musical interludes, a camel that added to the toilet humour and the chance to move, touch, discover, build and be involved in the narrative meant that the minis weren’t the only ones fascinated by the unfolding mystery.  To find out where Handmade Theatre are taking Skelebob next click here.

ChickenHat22. Seasonal storytelling

Less ardent tractor fans who made it past the line of vintage agricultural vehicles quicker than we did at Countryside Lincs last week may have made it to one of Rhubarb Theatre’s interactive storytelling sessions.  Willow obviously knew she’d have a second chance to enjoy one of the company’s theatrical tales as we were booked in to Lindum Books’s monthly storytime on Tuesday.  In honour of the Easter holidays the session was based on The Little Red Hen and saw us decorating and donning flapping chicken hats which Willow was eager to share with daddy later that evening too.  We missed March’s interpretation of Jack and the Flumflum Tree as it was fully booked before we thought to enquire so don’t forget to give them a call to reserve your place if you’d like to take a mini one along in May.  To find out more about the uphill store’s calendar of events click here.

IMG_43933. Celebrity posing

Christopher Nibble wasn’t the only star that Willow was able to pose for the camera with this week.  Despite thinking we’d somehow managed to avoid the Frozen phenomenon we discovered a few weeks back that, whilst we haven’t seen the film all the way through, the minis have with their grandparents.  And Willow seemed to definitely know who Elsa and Anna were when they put in an appearance at Holly Tree soft play centre this weekend and was eager to skip to the front of the queue to get her photo taken with them.

4. Hard graft

Whilst most parents were planning egg hunts and Easter crafts for the bank holiday weekend, the minis’ parents took them to a workhouse instead!  Fortunately for them The Workhouse in Southwell is now a National Trust property and provides exploration and dressing-up opportunities for its visitors instead of hard labour.  And we can confirm that the tasty treats in the cafe are a lot more delicious than the original menu of gruel sounds too.

IMG_44115. Hill Holt Wood

We did have plans to go egg hunting as well though and braved today’s weather forecast to head to Hill Holt Wood to join in their organised search.  We’re going to put our lack of success down to following another group of searchers too closely rather than simply being completely inept at finding any.  Having accumulated a tally of zero, we took a “not ‘appy” Luke and his sisters into the craft room where Easter crowns were decorated and cake devoured in the adjoining cafe.  Luke and Willow were also very privileged to have the hard won chocolatey prizes of friends’ children shared with them (when Luke allowed it as he didn’t think he should take it at first as he hadn’t found an egg).  Refuelled we then took another quick turn around the woods and were well rewarded in racing the raindrops as this time Luke found an egg, now “‘appy” we were allowed to return to the car.  Apparently 100 eggs were originally placed around the woodland, I wonder how many they’re still looking for now!

6. Eggscellent explorers

IMG_4416

Our home, very DIY, egg hunt was much more successful in volume though.  Whilst we had to relocate to indoors, Luke wasn’t satisfied with finding all the shiny-wrapped treats once.  Following their first quest, daddy and mummy were banished to the hall whilst he and Willow re-hid them all so we had to find them instead and then we all took turns to hide and find them over and over again for the next hour or so, albeit with a slightly decreasing supply each time.  It was very heart-warming that Luke, unprompted, was always keen to make sure Willow had as many in her basket as he did.  Although Willow had to be convinced that the prolonged search was a sensible plan of action at first.  She seemed to consider the find the chocolate, eat the chocolate way of playing the game more preferable but soon joined in enthusiastically too, remaining as excited at finding an egg in the same place for the tenth time as she was the first time.

7. Not just chocolate

Luke was given a mini bat signal as part of an Easter gift from grandmum.  Daddy and mummy may let him have his turn soon…

SundaySevens

Everything’s dandy in Dandeville

IMG_4399If you’re looking for a role model to help expand your picky eater’s palate then at first glance Christopher Nibble isn’t your guinea pig.

He, along with his friends and family and all the guinea pigs in Dandeville, love eating dandelion leaves – for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  At least they’re eating their greens, right?

They love eating them so much that Topsy Turvy Theatre have turned their munching and crunching into a song as part of their stage adaptation of Charlotte Middleton’s story.

Performing at the Terry O’Toole Theatre in North Hykeham today, the company combined cute puppets with musical numbers and an engaging narrative, along with the chance to join in a rain dance, to reenact the horticultural tale.

As well as enjoying a side lesson in the economics of demand and supply, the audience took a trip to the library with the curious cavy and learnt how to cultivate dandelions to ensure they didn’t disappear from the town – but they did also learn that eating a range of food was a good idea along the way too.

ChristopherNibble
Click on the poster to find out where Topsy Turvy Theatre are taking Christopher next.

Luke liked Mr Rosetti the cafe owner and the farmer trying to sell his cabbages, they both enthusiastically joined in the rain (and get dry) dance and Willow was very excited by the paper dandelion seeds released over the young audience memebers’ heads near the end.

We’ve long been fans of the tale of dandelion derring-do but didn’t realise there were sequels and, whilst Luke and Willow enjoyed a post-show meeting with the furry star, we added Christopher’s Bicycle and Christopher’s Caterpillars to their bedtime reading pile – signed copies too!

And just in case you can’t remember what you have to do – just pick your dandelion’s white head of seeds and 1, 2, 3… blow!

To keep up to date with the Terry O’Toole Theatre’s children’s theatre shows click here.

Topsy Turvy Theatre’s Christopher Nibble

ChristopherNibbleIf you’ve already had your fill of fluffy bunnies and cute chicks this Easter then why not try to turn your children’s attention to guinea pigs instead?

Topsy Turvy Theatre are proudly presenting Christopher Nibble at the Terry O’Toole Theatre in North Hykeham on Saturday, April 15th, at 3pm.

The musical play for children aged 2-7 is adapted from the book by Charlotte Middleton and follows the story of the dandelion-loving cavy as he learns how to save the delicious delicacy from disappearing.

Add in energetic storytelling, handmade puppets and stunning scenery and Christopher Nibble’s tale of derring-do is sure to be as uplifting as any chocolate-fuelled sugar rush in your children’s Easter break.

Click here to find out more about the show. There is also a BEE A Garden Super Hero family workshop at the venue at 1pm celebrating National Garden Week.

Call the theatre on 01522 883311.