Arts festival in Norwich homes in on the family
PUBLISHED: 13:00 12 October 2014
Darren Bell Photography
Colourful puppet shows for little ones, lively musicals for older children and interesting workshops where everyone can spend time together.
The Family Arts Festival begins on Friday, October 17, and runs until Sunday, November 2, with an exciting programme of events lined up for Norfolk and north Suffolk.
Norwich venues the Theatre Royal, Playhouse, Puppet Theatre and Garage are joining Seachange Arts in Great Yarmouth to promote the arts among families in the area.
The Family Arts Festival is part of the Family Arts Campaign, supported by public funding from the National Lottery, through Arts Council England, with the aim of developing the range of arts events and activities available to families. Former children’s laureate and best-selling author of War Horse, Michael Morpurgo, is national patron for this year’s Family Arts Festival.
The Garage has a series of other interesting events scheduled.
These include theatre production the Muddy Choir, on Monday, October 20, which is aimed at families with children aged 13 and over. Set in 1917 and with the third battle of Ypres lurching towards its bloody conclusion, young soldiers Will, Robbie and Jumbo are thrust into a landscape starkly different to their Sunderland home. When the trio’s singing causes a disturbance up the line they start to face unwelcome attention.
Education and inclusion manager at the Garage, Toni Bentley, says the Garage has long focused on young people; now the aim is to reach out more to families as a whole.
“It is interesting for us to be involved in a festival like this and to see whether there is demand for events that families can come to as a unit,” she says. “We will be holding a family fun day on Tuesday, October 28, with family drama games, mini-street pop and family circus, which will be suitable for those with children aged three and over.”
Also being held at the Garage as part of the festival will be: Free, the story of two teenagers, brought together through the dynamic discipline of free-running; Once in a Blue Moon, a dance theatre piece for children aged three to six and their parents, and Gatecrash, a ground-breaking production aimed at families with children aged 14 plus, where the audience finds itself at the centre of the action.
Mark Hazell, marketing director at the Theatre Royal, where hit stage musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat forms part of the Family Arts Festival, says he believes family theatre has come a long way in recent years.
“There has been a big expansion in family and children’s shows in general,” he says. “Families now have much higher expectations and, as a result, much better productions are being staged and, there is so much more choice.”
As part of the festival, Norwich Playhouse will be setting sail with Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, from Friday, October 24, to Sunday, October 26. Suitable for those aged three and above, and based on the award-winning book by Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto, it tells the story of Flinn, who discovers a pirate hiding in the school supply cupboard.
On the Friday and Saturday, a free interactive workshop based on the production will be held (email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01603 612580 to book).
Also in Norwich, the Puppet Theatre has an exciting line-up. This includes a Little Tots Big Boat creative play session on Wednesday, October 22, and an Arts Award Explore Day, on Saturday, October 25, for those aged seven and over, where they watch a performance of Thumbelina, meet the performers and make their own puppets.
Thumbelina itself, which is suitable for those aged two and above, will be staged the same day. Then, on Tuesday, October 28, it’s Shoe Kangaroo and the Big bad Boot and on Thursday, October 30, and Friday, October 31, Pinocchio (both suitable for over-fours), and on Saturday, November 1, the Magic Porridge Pot and Other Tasty Tales, which is ideal for children aged three to nine.
Kerry Leathley, marketing officer at the Puppet Theatre, says: “Children’s and family entertainment is what we specialise in, so we are very excited to be involved in a festival like this – and we are very pleased to see an increasing number of shows and workshops being programmed for families across the region.”
For full listings of all the Family Arts Festival productions, workshops and other events in Norwich and elsewhere in Norfolk – and for more information on times, tickets and booking – visit www.familyartsfestival.com