Likely Story Theatre - creators of “mashed up stories, sideways thinking and visual play” (John McGrath, National Theatre Wales) - have launched a Kickstarter campaign to build a unique self-contained set for their brand new family theatre project Almost Always Muddy. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1744639957/almost-always-muddy-immersive-playful-family-theat
Alarmed by the trend to remove all aspects of risk from children’s lives, LIkely Story Theatre have created a show that instead attempts to design risk back in - to invite children, their parents, and even the performers themselves to take risks in a creative, improvised, build-your-own-set performance.
The audience - in the company of a cast of improvisers, musicians and puppeteers - is invited to face what seem like “really dangerous risks” and then conquer them. It might be asking someone to help build something, lifting something bigger than anything they have lifted before, using new tools, or offering an idea to a performer to use in the story.
The show is being taken on tour in September 2017, and is prioritising visiting disadvantaged communities with limited access to the arts. The money raised will mean the team can build a self-contained set, letting them perform anywhere in the country, without needing an existing arts venue or even much infrastructure.
Rewards for backers include family tickets to the show, the chance to see rehearsals in progress and the set being built, tickets to an after-show party with the cast and crew, a kit to build your own adventurous puppet, posters, mugs - and the team’s very favourite brownie recipe.
Hazel Anderson, co-founder, said “Seeing children's faces light up when they're given the chance to build their own landscape and then see it turned into a real live adventure is just extraordinary. Working with such a skilled maker who's improvising as we go is incredibly exciting, and we can't wait to take this on tour and introduce families to our beloved Paper Bag Girl.”
Almost Always Muddy are also receiving funding from Arts Council England towards this project.
Notes for editors
Downloadable high-res images: https://www.almostalwaysmuddy.com/press-pack
The team behind Almost Always Muddy is Hazel Anderson and Kirsty Harris.
Hazel Anderson trained at Mountview and East 15 Acting School. A natural clown from a very early age, Hazel tours internationally with her solo show ‘Able Mable’. www.ablemable.org.uk. She co-founded the successful family theatre company Likely Story, which has been touring work for family audiences since 2006: www.likelystory.org.uk
Kirsty Harris is an artist and maker, specialising in installation and performative works. She works in found environments, landscapes and theatres, and has made work for babies aged 6 months and all the ages that come after. She has worked for companies including Wildworks, Kneehigh, Punchdrunk, Shunt, Chichester Festival Theatre, The Young Vic, DreamThinkSpeak, Kensington Palace and Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) on a freelance basis and has been commissioned to make her own work for BAC, Southbank Centre, The Discover Centre, National Theatre Wales, The Museum of London, The National Trust and other organisations.
The world beyond the front door is increasingly viewed as one that is hostile to children. A report written for the UK National Trust contained evidence that the area where children are permitted to range unsupervised around their homes has shrunk by 90% since the 1970s. A fear culture leads to parents making decisions based on an exaggerated perception of risk.
As a consequence, children’s opportunities to engage in outdoor and risky play have been further impeded and many urban playgrounds are invariably neat and tidy, supplying playful options that are neither challenging or exciting.
All these changes have been made in the name of child safety and protection, but are in fact exposing children to negative outcomes in terms of development and learning. Risky play is needed to form a foundation for the development of healthy self-esteem, self-reliance and resilience in the face of life’s stresses.
Sandseter, E.B.H., 2009b, ‘Children’s expressions of exhilaration and fear in risky play.’ Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 10(2), 92-106) (Little, H., & Eager, D., 2010, ‘Risk, challenge and safety: Implications for play quality and playground design.’ European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 18(4), 497-513).