Created by Philippa Herrick (composer, musical director and deviser) and Amelia Bird (director, designer and master puppet-maker) The Boy Who Never Grew Up is the brand new production being created for The Old Market this Christmas. We joined these two expert make believers in their puppet making workshop to talk about Neverland, magic and creating a new kind of Christmas show…
So first off, why Neverland?
It’s got everything that’s cool in a story – pirates, fairies, flying, dens, adventures and a setting where you are encouraged to break the rules.
How do you create the whole of Neverland with just two people?
Good question! Neverland is a place that is created from imagination, and so we decided to use ours to portray the best and most exciting bits rather than try and get everything on stage at once. We have some help of course, from a lot of puppets, bits of set and a musical score that will fill the space and give the impression of even more of a world than you might be able to see.
When creating a show from scratch – especially one with so many elements – where do you start?
We start with what we want the audience to feel and experience from the show. So for this one we knew we wanted everyone to have fun, with plenty of surprises, a little bit of magic and leave with a feeling of child-like wonder, whatever their age. Then using that focus we found a story that would let us create al these things.
Is there anyone else involved in the process or just you two?
We are testing out on some friends, and some children. And actually currently there is a family of woodlice involved as we have sourced the majority of our wood from natural sources! (We hope to have found them a new home before the show starts) But in general it is just the two of us making and performing.
“we wanted everyone to have fun, with plenty of surprises, a little bit of magic and leave with a feeling of child-like wonder, whatever their age. “
What shows did you see as a child, and how is this influenced by, or different from them?
We talked about this because we were making a show at Christmas time and remembered that we both loved the event of going to a pantomime at Christmas, however it was also a bit overwhelming and has a lot of slightly odd traditions that are hard to understand as a child. We wanted to make something which was a little more theatrically rich, and special for everyone. The shows we enjoyed most as children made you feel like the story was just being told to you.
What characters can we expect to see?
Peter Pan does make an appearance, and of course Captain Hook. We have missed out the Darling children from the original story, but in their place the audience gets to take part in the adventures.
Are you using only the original story lines or creating new ones?
We have mixed in some elements of the original story and themes, but the way we are telling it is quite different. Some people might not have heard the story before, so we wanted everyone to visit Neverland with fresh eyes and get more involved in the adventure.
How do the puppets interact with you during the show?
We’ve got a lot of different types of puppets of various sizes and styles. They help us go back in time, and show the more fantastical scenes as well as helping some of the characters appear larger than life.
What can the kids expect from the show?
We want everyone to have a great time so there is plenty for people who like to get involved, and for those who prefer to sit back and watch we bring the adventure to them. Check out our video on how to come prepared for adventure!
What about the Parents?
Exactly the same as the children, because in Neverland there are no grown-ups!
Is there something for all ages?
Yes and as much as possible it’s about everyone enjoying the same things together.
Why is this different from your average Christmas show?
It’s set on a tropical island… which is pretty different. We didn’t want to lose the sense of magic in Christmas shows, but this will be less spangly and more creative.
The Boy Who Never Grew Up: Sunday 28 December – Friday 02 January (Excluding 01 January), 11am & 2pm, Ideal for ages 4+.
Tickets: £8, Groups of 6+ £6