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Warwick Arts Centre

  • Image by Matt Austin

    Theatre Review: Kite – The Wrong Crowd at Warwick Arts Centre

    When I heard about The Wrong Crowd‘s production Kite, I loved the idea of a theatre show for children without words. Some of my favourite productions I’ve seen aimed at younger audiences have had little language – so I know the idea works well. Sadly, Pickle and I weren’t able to attend this particular run at Warwick Arts Centre, but my two foster brothers and my Dad were. They joined a varied audience ranging upwards from about four years old on Monday 18 February, and I caught up with them afterwards to hear all about it.

    My foster brothers are aged twelve and ten, and it sounds like they were completely won over by the performance. In typical pre-teen grumpiness, the youngest wasn’t sure what to expect and trudged into the Arts Centre determined that he wasn’t going to like it… but when I spoke to him about it afterwards, you’d have never have guessed he had any kind of reservations! read more

    Culture, Days Out, Parenting, Reviews
    / February 19, 2019
  • Children’s Theatre in the Midlands – February 2019

    We’re lucky to have a wealth of cultural venues surrounding us here in the West Midlands. Whether you are looking to stay as close to home as possible, or are willing to travel a little further, you can almost guarantee there will be something to suit all ages, tastes and budgets.

    I’ve had a look at some of my favourite venues to pick out the top theatre shows for children and families this February. The school half terms are always rich with cultural offerings, and this year is no different. read more

    Culture, Days Out, Parenting
    / February 1, 2019
  • Hush A Bye Audience

    Theatre Review: Hush-a-Bye – Oily Cart at Warwick Arts Centre

    This time last year, Pickle had his first experience of theatre: In a Pickle by Oily Cart. It absolutely blew me (and him) away, and was the best possible introduction to children’s theatre I could have asked for. They set the standard bar really high! And although we’ve seen some pretty brilliant theatre together since, nothing has quite matched that first production for me.

    It’s no surprise then, that I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my last day before going back to work than enjoying another Oily Cart theatre performance with Pickle, Hush-a-Bye. In fact, I delayed my start date by two days to make sure I wouldn’t miss it! I am delighted to say I was not disappointed. Not one bit. It was everything I was hoping it would be, and more.

    Nestle among branches and come touch, see, smell and meet the woodland neighbours in the
    brand new, immersive and enchanting tree-top world of Hush-A-Bye.

    Hush-A-Bye has three versions: a performance for babies and toddlers (6 months – 2 years), one for very young children (3 – 5 years) and a relaxed version for those aged 3 – 8 years. As Pickle is 20 months old, we went to the babies and toddler show, and this is what my review will focus on. I have no idea how different the shows aimed at different audiences are, but I can imagine there are some fundamental changes to each show to make sure it’s perfectly tailored to the target ages.

    Wonderfully, we began entering the world of the performance even before it started. Scattered around Warwick Arts Centre, and lining the long corridor to the studio, were lots of beautiful bird boxes. It was lovely to point them out to Pickle as we walked along, and I was really impressed with his curiosity at wanting to see what was inside. He loves looking and finding things (his favourite thing to say, and the only proper phrase he can say, is: there it is!), so this was right up his street!

    Upon entering the studio, I immediately knew we were in for a treat. In the middle of the studio was a carpeted oval, strewn with leaves, underneath a pretty canopy of clouds and leaves, whilst the most beautiful smells wafted around us and we were treated to the delicate sounds of the kora (an instrument a bit like a harp and lute hybrid). The children, and us parents, were welcomed in and invited to take a seat in little green floor seats atop the carpet, as part of the performance space rather than set apart from it – an important distinction. We were not there as observers. We were participants. We were part of that world. (Although… if any little ones weren’t feeling brave enough to be that immersed in the action, there were some benches set a little further back).

    Each child was given their own little nest, cushioned with brightly coloured soft feathery things, which became the home of their very own chick. This would be a fantastic production to see if you’re looking to introduce the idea of a baby sibling to your little one, as they spent the performance being encouraged to be as nurturing, loving and kind to this little chick as possible. Over the course of thirty minutes, we fed our chick, sheltered it from the rain, dried it off, gave it kisses and put it to sleep with a little blanket. Very, very cute.

    All of this was facilitated by the performers, familiar faces to me from last year’s In a Pickle, who were wonderfully engaging, managing to communicate and express themselves clearly without the need for words (much like a certain toddler I know!). They shepherded us through the performance, weaving their voices beautifully with the ethereal music (which I’ve been listening to all evening on Spotify – we even had it playing during Pickle’s bathtime before bed). I couldn’t keep my eyes off their costumes – brightly coloured, and beautifully made. Some serious sewing goals, right there!

    In fact, everything about the show is crafted expertly. Not only are the costumes dazzling, but the set is too. Every element is carefully thought out with every prop blending in perfectly and the overall effect is of a picture book brought to life.

    There is absolutely nothing I would criticise or anything I can offer as an improvement to this production. For me, Hush-a-Bye ticked all the boxes: a glorious example of how children’s theatre should always be. A delight for all of the senses – quite literally, and one I will treasure the memories of for a long time to come. There is only a limited availability left for the rest of the run at Warwick Arts Centre (until Sunday 11th February) before the show has a sold out run at Polka Theatre in Wimbledon. I, for one, will be eagerly awaiting news of whatever the next Oily Cart tour will be, and will be the first one poised to book tickets again – long may Oily Cart productions continue to be the theatrical highlight of the year for us.

    I’d love every family to go and see theatre together. I wish it was as normal to step inside a studio or auditorium as it is to pop to the cinema or order a pizza. But if you’re reading this as a parent who doesn’t have a clue where to begin, who is struggling to justify the expense and wonders whether it’s really worth it… I implore you to try an Oily Cart performance. Follow them on Twitter or Facebook, and book tickets for whenever they tour a production to a venue near you. Arrive with an open mind, leave the rest of the world outside the studio doors, and just soak it all in with your little one. Because I promise you, within five minutes of seeing the performance through the eyes of your child, you will be filled with wonder, joy and a little bit of magic. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll shed a happy tear or two as well. Thank you, Oily Cart. For another perfect performance.

    Disclaimer: we were offered press tickets to attend this performance, but all opinions and views remain my own. 

    Culture, Days Out, Parenting, Reviews
    / February 8, 2018
  • Snow Mouse sat drinking with a thermos

    Theatre Review: Snow Mouse – Travelling Light at Warwick Arts Centre

    Going to the theatre means different things to different people. For me? I like to be charmed. I like productions that are warm, and charismatic, that have me falling in love with characters, places, stories or, well, anything. I like to feel like I’m stepping into a different world – where anything is possible. When Pickle and I walked into the Helen Martin Studio at Warwick Arts Centre on Friday for their festive offering of Snow Mouse, I immediately had a good feeling about the show – the studio is completely decked out as a snowy wonderland, with white pom-pom trees, speckled with hints of pink and blue, fairy lights, soft plush cushions and even long white snow-like benches. It must have been really breath-taking as it completely stopped Pickle mid-cry after a bit of a tantrum sparked by having to leave his wellies outside. Boy, does this kid love his wellies.

    Culture, Parenting
    / December 2, 2017
  • Snow Mouse Warwick Arts Centre

    What’s On: Christmas Theatre for Children in the West Midlands

    After getting my tickets sorted for The Snowman at Coventry Cathedral, I’ve scoured the programmes from other West Midlands arts venues to see what Christmas shows/events are not to missed this winter. What better way to get into the festive spirit than enjoying a bit of culture and allow yourself to get wrapped up in the magic? I’ve picked my favourites featuring shows from mac Birmingham, Warwick Arts Centre, and Artrix.

    Culture, Parenting
    / October 24, 2017
  • Leaf Children's Theatre Artrix Bromsgrove Half Term

    Children’s Culture Highlights for October Half Term (West Midlands)

    If you’re looking for something a bit different to do this coming half term, and fancy injecting a little culture in your little one’s holiday adventures, here’s something for you – a few of my favourite events happening across the West Midlands later this month. There’s shows and workshops to suit all ages, so get your fingers ready as you’ll want to book some of these before they sell out!

    / October 4, 2017