Over the last two months, our Young Company have joined forces with our Elders’ Company to create FLICKER AND THE FLYING BOOKS; a new show for children aged 3 – 8 and their grown-ups as part of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival.
With less than two week to go before the first performance, the Young Communicators interviewed director, Andrew Barry, to find out more about the show…
Where did the idea for the play come from?
Having made THE GREAT STORY THEFT for the Manchester Children’s Book Festival last year, I knew I wanted to create a different piece of work, but obviously still wanted it to link to books and stories. Last year’s piece was a promenade adventure around the Royal Exchange hall ending in the module – a great place for storytelling. This year we wanted to create a piece that could tour elsewhere. The Central Library seemed the like the perfect choice. I started thinking about books and libraries and knew that I wanted to explore a group of characters who for whatever reason had been neglecting the books and that a magical character would change that. I wanted to create a piece that was full of energy and played with chaos and anarchy so the character of FLICKER was born. However, the nuts and bolts of the story really have been worked out in the rehearsal room with the actors.
What’s the rehearsal process been like?
The rehearsal process has been very playful and exploratory. We’ve played a lot of games and had fun. Some games and exercises have been very physical and vocal like throwing sounds and movements around or manipulating objects to transform them into other things, while other games have been more language based like playing with tongue twisters or one word stories. We’ve worked very physically – so lots of trying out ideas, making shapes and tableaux while alongside that thinking about the shape of the story and the characters.
What’s it like working with the Young Company and Elders Company together?
It’s brilliant! We really have become one ensemble making the work together. As both groups have been working independently in the building they already have a shared focus and theatrical language in their approach to making work, which means the rehearsal room feels very professional. They are getting on socially too in the breaks and it’s great to see them finding out what they have in common and also what they can learn from each other. As with any group, each individual has different skills and experiences to bring to the collective. By bringing the two groups together we have broadened and diversified that skill and experience knowledge base even more widely which makes for a great ensemble to devise work with.
Why did you choose to put the two groups together?
We wanted to find a project that would bring our two community companies together. Making a piece for the Manchester Children’s Book Festival was an exciting prospect to us. We thought it would be a great idea to bring a range of generations together as audiences and performers. The acting company spans 15-81 and the audience might be made up of children as young as 3. Stories and storytelling are a very natural way to bring people together, whether that’s reading a story to our own children, our nieces or nephews or our grandchildren. This project is also part of our Truth about Youth (TaY) programme which is about creating opportunities for young people to train and develop skills as well as create opportunities to challenge and change negative perceptions about young people. We hope that by bringing different generations together they will not only learn from each other, but also have the opportunity to learn more about each other and change the way they see and experience one another. We’ve done some work intergenerationally before on other projects but this is the first time that the Elders’ and Young Companies have worked together to create a piece of theatre.
Why should people come and see Flicker?
I think FLICKER AND THE FLYING BOOKS will be a fun and joyful experience. Audiences will see a strong ensemble working together tightly to transform a space in interesting and surprising ways. I think for young children there will be lots of familiar elements in terms of stories and books they might have already been introduced to but presented in an exciting way with live music, movement, sounds and language and the odd chance to join in too.