Sunday, 19 November 2017

BBC Music's Ten Pieces III Announced - and the full set of videos to watch

I've written before about Culturebaby's brilliant experience of the 2016 Ten Pieces II Prom at the Royal Albert Hall: There's nothing quite like seeing your daughter falling in love with music; magnificent, passionate music that paints pictures and pins a 4 year old to their seat, gripped and inspired, and leaves them reminiscing, singing and dancing for weeks.

The Ten Pieces initiative aims to open up the world of classical music to 7-14 year-olds across the UK and inspire them to develop their own creative responses to music. The initiative launched in 2014 and has so far reached over four million people. Ten Pieces II was aimed at early secondary school children, combining dance, animation and a plethora of musical offerings.  However it was pitched, it suited the pre-schooler just as well. Culturebaby has declared that she loves 'big' music. She watched open mouthed in the Albert Hall as the organ thundered out its Fugue and the enormous choir of children perform the epic Day of Judgement from Verdi's Requiem.

I was therefore delighted to hear that this academic year's Ten Pieces III has been announced this week, and even better, school children across the country were treated to a 'live lesson' inspired by the Royal Opera House's production of the Nutcracker last Monday. In partnership with the Royal Opera House and The Royal Ballet School, the 30-minute Live Lesson from BBC Learning was presented by CBBC’s Naomi Wilkinson and Karim Zeroual and live-streamed to schools nationwide. BBC Music and BBC Learning have also produced a continuing programme of activity for Ten Pieces III for this academic year. By the end of the project, students and teachers will have the basic tools to choreograph their own original dances to any piece of music. There is a wide range of free Ten Pieces resources available, including a set of short films which accompany the new repertoire and support students in their explorations of the pieces, and six-weeks’ worth of lesson plans devised for each piece. There's also a series of Ten Pieces Schools Concerts planned for 2018. The details are set out below.

I'm really excited that we have been invited to host the new Ten Pieces III teaching videos on our blog. There are some absolutely fantastic pieces in this year's line up from a journey through The Nutcracker to the thundering darkly emotive Orff's O Fortuna. In each video, the children are introduced to the piece, the composer, and context, as well as looking at the instruments used. They also examine certain parts of the piece and the feelings they might evoke. At just over 6 minutes each, these bite-sized videos are pitched really well. I can't wait to show them to the girls.

1.     Kerry Andrew No Place Like - Commission for a cappella voices

2.     Mason Bates Anthology of Fantastic Zoology – Sprite; A Bao A Qu

3.     Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges Symphony No. 1 in G major – Allegro (1st mvt) 

4.     Aaron Copland Rodeo – Hoe-Down 

5.     Antonín Dvořák Symphony No. 9 in E minor, 'From the New World’ – Largo (2nd mvt)

6.     Edward Elgar ‘Enigma’ Variations – Theme (‘Enigma’), variations 11, 6 & 7

7.     Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker – Waltz of the Flowers; Russian Dance

8.     Carl Orff Carmina burana – ‘O fortuna’ 

9.     Henry Purcell Abdelazer – Rondeau

10.  Jean Sibelius Finlandia

BBC Ten Pieces 2018 Schools and Family Concerts

  • Wednesday 7 February: Ten Pieces Schools Concert - City Halls, Glasgow (BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra) • Thursday 8 February: Ten Pieces Schools Concert – Perth Concert Hall (BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra) • Sunday 11 February: Ten Pieces Family Concert – His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen (BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra) • Tuesday 27 February: Ten Pieces Schools Concert – Watford Colosseum (BBC Concert Orchestra) • Wednesday 28 February: Ten Pieces Schools Concert – The Embassy Theatre, Skegness (BBC Concert Orchestra) • Saturday 3 March: Family Concert - Sir Thomas Picton School, Haverfordwest (BBC National Orchestra of Wales) • Sunday 18 March: Family Concert - Venue Cymru, Llandudno (BBC National Orchestra of Wales) • Sunday 13 May: Family Concert - St David’s Hall, Cardiff (BBC National Orchestra of Wales) • Tuesday 15 May: Ten Pieces Schools Concert - MediaCityUK, Salford (BBC Philharmonic) • Wednesday 16 May: Ten Pieces Schools Concert - MediaCityUK, Salford (BBC Philharmonic) • Saturday 26 May: Family Concert – The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (BBC Philharmonic)  • Thursday 21 June: Ten Pieces Schools Concert, Royal and Derngate, Northampton (BBC Symphony Orchestra) • Friday 22 June: Ten Pieces Schools Concert – Barbican, London (BBC Symphony Orchestra)

Booking details for the Ten Pieces School and Family Concerts will be available via the BBC Ten Pieces website shortly.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Big Music for Little People: A Concert for Every Season

The girls have been lucky to attend some fabulous large-scale concerts over the last year. We love our small and intimate venues with their brilliant children's programming (see here for a selection of some wonderful regular ones) but there is something utterly awe-inspiring in the huge concerts with their booming organs or Wagnerian choruses, or the giant cinematic experiences with favoured films brought alive by an orchestra. As I've written before, there's nothing quite like seeing your daughters falling in love with music; magnificent, passionate music that paints pictures and pins a 4 year old to their seat, gripped and inspired, and leaves them reminiscing, singing and dancing for weeks. For me it was racing to safety behind a sofa as the stone door to the Hall of the Mountain King swung shut, beating an imagined hammer to the Anvil Chorus and dashing through the snow on a horse drawn sledge with Lt Kije to Prokoviev's Troika. For Culturebaby it has also been The Nutcracker and now the swift-winged Valkyries. I've been immensely grateful for the BBC's fabulous series Melody, which animates a piece of music for children in each episode, and Disney's Fantasia.
With the school year coming round swiftly again, keep an eye out for these utterly inspiring family experiences.


Autumn brings the Albert Hall's Great Orchestral Adventure, which ran again this half term. Due to an unmovable work meeting we had to miss it and so I was delighted to see that there will be another running in the Spring, this time with a space theme. Last year's performance was interactive, educational and engaging. Around 8000 young people and their families descended on the venue to help conductor Tim find his magic conducting baton. Using 11 classical masterpieces, the orchestra took us on an atmospheric journey through forests, mountains and to kingdoms under the sea. We even travelled into space to the Sanskrit echoes of Star Wars' Duel of the Fates. We encountered perils such as tricky mermaids, and the ferocious troll living in the Hall of the Mountain King (I still recall racing to safety behind a sofa as a child before the stone door to the Hall swung shut). The finale of the performance featured a full narrated performance of Michael Rosen classic We're Going on a Bear Hunt. The intention of these entertaining productions is to introduce even the youngest children to the orchestra and the idea of a concert, and they achieve this so effectively. We met the conductor and explored the various parts of the orchestra. To the audience's delight, we were invited to vote on the way our adventure might proceed: which way to go? Vote red or green. One particularly lucky young lady was invited to come and take the place of the conductor as he nipped away. We were given a glimpse of quite how tricky the experience of controlling an orchestra can be but what a glorious experience when it all comes together. The audience danced and sang and remained utterly enthralled. The accompanying activity book and programme was also very well designed, introducing the concept of how music can conjure up a plethora of emotions from happiness to fear and sadness; how a piece can conjure adventure or drag us from peril to calm safety in a matter of moments.

Listen again to the My Great Orchestral Adventure soundtrack
McKenzie Life’s a Happy Song
Rossini William Tell Overture
Grieg Asa’s Death, from Peer Gynt
Tchaikovsky Swan Lake
Grieg Hall of the Mountain King, from Peer Gynt
Mozart Dies Irae
Wagner Ride of the Valkyries
Williams Duel of the Fates
Stephen We’re Going On A Bear Hunt
Williams Flight to Neverland
Mahler Symphony no. 4


Then as the nights roll in and the carols begin, nothing says nearly Christmas like The Snowman. Over the last few years we have particularly loved the Amadeus Orchestra and Mozart Symphony Orchestra's family concerts at both Cadogan Hall and King's Place. I've written about these in more depth here and here (complete with follow on activity ideas). This winning formula featuring a double-bill of two of our most loved orchestral works in one sitting never fails to enchant.

Prokofiev's Peter and The Wolf is, without a doubt, the best classical piece I've found to demonstrate the power of musical storytelling without the aid of film. Written in 1936 by Prokofiev for the Moscow Theatre for Children, the work was intended to be, and was commissioned as, a guide to the instruments of the orchestra. 

Following the interval, the concert hall was transformed into a cinema and we were presented with the full film of the Snowman in cinematic scale, but with a live orchestra and a choirboy performing the classic Walking in the Air in the place of the soundtrack. As I wrote recently, a Christmas viewing of the Snowman is like a rite of passage, a ritual through which the joy of childhood is kept alive. Fully versed and note-perfect, surrounded by family and strangers alike, we re-enter annually this intimate tale of belief, living life to the full and dealing with loss. As far as cinematic experiences for children go, this is hard to beat. This fantastic series of Christmas concerts varies each year a little but retains many of its most magical components. They've since added an out of London concert in Cheltenham too.
Father Christmas and Peter and the Wolf
This year Cadogan Hall and the Mozart Symphony Orchestra are running a two day series with:

Wednesday 20 December 2017, 1.30pm and 4.30pm - The Snowman and Carnival of the Animals
with the Mozart Symphony Orchestra

Thursday 21 December 2017, 1.30pm and 4.30pm -Father Christmas and Peter and the Wolf

King's Place is running The Snowman and Carnival of the Animals
on Tuesday, 19 December 2017 at 1.30 and 4.30pm with the Amadeus Orchestra.


Every year spring sees the fantastic Imagine Children's Festival at the Southbank Centre. This brilliant two week festival for kids, run by kids offers everything from immersive theatre to storytelling, dancing, art and experimentation with instruments. I'm going to write about this event in more depth shortly in the run up to this Spring's event, but a huge highlight from last year's programme was a cinematic showing of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom with full orchestral accompaniment. Frankly cinema will never be the same again. We particularly loved how the audience was taught about the detail of what they would be hearing in advance. We met the instruments that would create some of the signature noises of certain characters, and we were helped to look out for sounds and ways of creating them that we see in the films. The Southbank Centre also runs interactive Funharmonics concerts throughout the year. Recently we had the huge excitement of watching The Gruffalo's Child with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Keep an eye on their events here. As we mentioned above, there will also be the next installation of the Great Orchestra Adventure at the Royal Albert Hall (see here).


Summer brings the BBC Proms, and as we have experienced, you can never be too young to feel involved in them. In Summer 2016 Culturebaby and I attended the amazing Ten Pieces II Prom; a fantastic celebration of a set of iconic classical pieces performed for and with school children. Building on 2015's huge 10 Pieces success, this year's Ten Pieces II was aimed at early secondary school children, combining dance, animation and a plethora of musical offerings.  However it was pitched, it suited the pre-schooler just as well and Culturebaby was completely bowled over from the moment the huge organ began with Bach's (slightly unnerving) Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. She watched open mouthed the organ thundering out its Fugue, and the enormous choir of children performing the epic Day of Judgement from Verdi's Requiem. However, since the concert it is the Ride of the Valkyries that has been requested over and over again, even a year on, by both children. (You can read my full review here).

Combined with the thunderously joyful CBeebies Prom towards the end of the summer, we couldn't have hoped for a better introduction to the Proms for the girls. Hugely accessible, and perhaps appealling to a much wider demographic than the Proms might traditionally expect, the CBeebies Prom was hosted by and featured a gaggle of presenters and characters from the BBC channel. Drummers moved through the audience and Clangers took a turn at conducting.
 Along with Andy Day, Mr Bloom, Swashbuckling Pirates and other familiar household names for children everywhere, the young audience was taken on an adventure through space and time, weaving storytelling through a selection of classical favourites. We encountered (of course) dinosaurs and met Will Shakespeare. Short and hugely accessible the whole experience was an excellent idea - we were even treated to the bagpipes. It was, however, the Proms Extra in the nearby Imprerial College Union that provided the icing on this theatrical cake and turned the whole event into an immersive family day out. The children had the opportunity to meet Clangers and Muppets, create home-made musical instruments, do craft activities and best of all, take part in a dance class for all the family. If this perfomance features again in this year's Proms programme I'd thoroughly recommend it to even the youngest of toddlers.

In no way do I exaggerate when I call these concert experiences life changing. They exist for long periods in little memories and conversations and provide no end of play ideas, and although we have already glimpsed their creative legacy, I have no doubt that their ultimate impact will be enduring.

Disclamer: We received tickets to each of the performances for the purposes of review. The photographs for the Great Orchestral adventure were courtesy of the Albert Hall and the CBeebies Proms photographs were courtesy of the BBC and Guy Levy (copyright).

Friday, 20 October 2017

Around the World in 80 Days

The girls and I see quite a bit of children's theatre and we enjoy much of it, but it is rarer to encounter a family show quite so excellently devised and executed as The New Vic Theatre’s celebrated production of Jules Verne’s Around The World in Eighty Days. At our performance children and adults alike became so thoroughly engaged with this interactive show that they chuckled, booed, sang and delivered standing ovations for the brilliant cast. It was a rip-roaring, genuinely funny, adventure with some clever use of props and an exceedingly dextrous set of performers, not least the simply brilliant Michael Hugo as Passepartout. My three year old has been talking about him all day.

This story is known to many of us, possibly through the eyes of the fabulous 1980s cartoon featuring Willy Fogg and his troupe of animated animals marching round the globe to an ear-worm inducing sound track. I've bought the DVD for the girls and we've been indulging together. We also have the Usborne young reading series adaptation, which is abridged in a really accessible way and illustrated throughout. I'm pretty certain my children have learned more world geography from the travels of Fogg than from any other source.

So we begin our journey in Victorian London with the rather OCD but fabulously wealthy Phileas Fogg who spends his days in a well ordered routine of (rather tedious) newspaper-reading and whist-playing opulence. Then in a fit of frivolous abandon, he wagers his life’s fortune on the idea that he can circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days. Passepartout, his talented valet, and Fogg voyage from London through Europe and Egypt, to India and the Far East, and on to the Wild West in a race against the clock. They manage to rescue a princess from the clutches of death along the way, and are chased rather incompetently by an inspector with a poor attention to criminal detail who is convinced that Fogg is fleeing with the spoils of a robbery of the Bank of England. This story has it all.

Reviews note that an ensemble cast of just 8 "play over 125 characters in an imaginative and physically inventive high-spirited escapade including six trains, five boats, four fights, three dances, two circus acts and an elephant!" Performers morph from British to French to Italian and Indian travellers, clearly recognisable through the simple and clever use of props and gestures. They dance and perform acrobatics, transport us on tempestuous seas and through the jungle using simple and effective techniques. The sets are lovely and the joy was contagious. It was obvious that the performers were having quite as much fun with each other as we were watching them. We simply couldn't recommend this one more.

Adapted by Laura Eason and directed by Theresa Heskins, the show first premiered at the New Vic Theatre in 2013 followed by a successful season at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester in 2014. It has been nominated for the UK Theatre Awards ‘Best New Production’ and the Manchester Theatre Awards ‘Best Show for Children and Families’. Whilst the show recommends the performance (probably due to its length and some scenes of jeopardy) to over 7 year olds, my almost four and just six year olds adored it.

Around The World in Eighty Days will be at the Rose Theatre Kingston from Tue 17 Oct – Sun 22 Oct. Tickets cost from £15 and are available online,, by phone, 020 8174 0090, or from the Box Office. It will then be touring other locations around the country - see here for listings.

Disclaimer: We received press tickets in exchange for an honest review from the Rose Theatre in Kingston. All views as always are our own. Covering this show was an absolute pleasure. We are also very grateful to Robert Day who took these excellent photographs and made them available for the purposes of review.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Swallows and Amazons Forever

Five years ago I wrote about the experience of taking a baby to the Lake District. We go annually and some years the hills and meres are flooded with glorious light. Some years they are simply flooded. At present we tend to holiday in England, and whilst we've loved recent trips to Dorset, Norfolk and Kent, it is to the Lake District with its tempestuous weather and gloriously vibrant natural highs and lows that our spirits belong. Rightly, this summer it was inscribed as a world heritage site. There is no place like it. And it is here that we come closest to our dream of offering our little ladies the sort of authentic childhood that will allow them to feel truly free. The old-school, dam-building, boat-sailing, hill-climbing, nature-loving, camp-building natural education.

Culture-Grandad's favourite childhood book was Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons, set around Coniston. I loved the '70's film as a child too and from the age of two Culturetot in particular fell completely and, perhaps unexpectedly for her age, in love with it. Likewise, with the advent of the new film, Culturebaby (now of course no longer that - a rapidly growing nearly six year old) has busily been trying to institute a Wildcat Island in her own school playground. This morning, bleary eyed, she arrived in our bedroom clutching Ransome's sequel Swallowdale. I fear I shall be bulk-buying the DVD as birthday gifts for her classmates.

Last year we hired a boat and channelled Swallow. This year we tracked down a holy grail for Ransome Fans -  Bank Ground Farm - the farmhouse where the children first plotted their adventures and from whose boathouse Swallow was first launched in the 1970s adaptation.
We also visited Blackwell near Bowness (the town featuring as Rio for the eagle eyed). Selfishly I adore this exquisite arts and crafts building and visit annually, but this year we were all delighted to discover that it was running an exhibition about Swallows and Amazons featuring props from the latest film and objects from the Ransome archive (borrowed from Blackwell’s sister museum, the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry in Kendal), a semaphore trail and themed arts and crafts activities. A friend also took part this year in a Wild Cat Island Adventure. This is definitely one for next year's list.

In addition to our specific Ransome-themed adventures we've also been taking the time to live more like the children whilst we've been in the Lakes. We've donned our wellies and explored in all weathers, bathed in rivers (ok not me but the rest of the rabble did), set out on long walks, swung on rope swings, built dams and dens and generally taken the time to stop and look at nature.

Three walks I'd particularly recommend with little ones no longer in back packs are:

1. Walk from Elterwater to Ambleside (or vice versa) and do the return trip on the bus. It is around 4.2 miles and with some short exceptions, it is predominantly flat. The girls had the additional incentive of a trip to the lovely cinema in Ambleside as a reward for their efforts. The route takes you past Elterwater, a waterfall on the River Brathay and near a Roman Fort outside of Ambleside.

2. Pick up a Windermere Cruises Walkers' Ticket and follow a part-cruise and part-walking route from Ambleside. Depending which way you choose, this begins with a ferry ride across to Wray Castle, run by the National Trust. This Victorian mock-gothic building, complete with fake arrowslits, has been set up as a playground for children (of all ages) with dressing-up and games, a Peter Rabbit imaginative play experience, castle building and a great outdoor adventure playground. The Castle also has stunning views over Windermere and a much needed tea shop for this side of the Lake.

From here you walk the 4 miles to the Ferry House. This is a pretty gentle stroll and many also follow a similar route with bicycles. You can hire bikes and trailers from Lower Wray Campsite. We did this last year and it was an enduring enjoyable memory for the girls.

3. A favourite ramble is the walking route up the Langdale Pikes. The walk is quite hard work, with sections that need to be scrambled up, but both children managed it well. Compared to some of the more lengthy walks, this one has a clear target (the tarn), which kept them motivated. This walk really has it all - a river and sections of waterfall, a good climb, stunning views all the way up, and a tarn half way up the mountain which transports you right to Middleearth (you half expect to stumble across the door to the mines of Moria round the corner). For the pre-history buffs amongst you it is also a hugely important heritage site: the Langdale Axe Factory. In the Neolithic period, the 'new stone age' (from 10,000 years ago), people were beginning to learn to farm and stone tools were needed to exploit the land or clear areas of forest. Early Cumbrians mined the hard greenstone in the remote volcanic rocks of Langdale to produce axes, and the evidence can still be found today (though despite being an archaeologist I have sadly never yet spotted an axe as I've treked the pikes). It is unclear whether these particular axes were used for work or whether they had a more ritual significance (they seem at least to have been exported out of Cumbria), but if the latter, it does make sense to me. You can clearly see as you gaze from the mountains across the panorama of the heart of the Lakes below, that this is truly an extraordinary, even other-worldy place. The climb back down always seems a little longer, but there's the promise of a cuppa or icecream at the bottom. The National Trust owns The Sticklebarn pub at the base of the pikes. It's friendly and you know your money goes towards caring for the local environment.

This year we prepared for the Lakes with a back-pack of relevant reading material. We read some Beatrix Potter and about the Stone Age before we went, and took Ransome's Swallows and Amazons with us for bedtime. However, for our walks we wanted to observe as we went and took an explorers kits, complete with binoculars, torch, insect observation pot, tape measure and set of interactive books. For the last couple of years Culturebaby has loved the Usborne spotter guides. We have a couple of vintage ones and some of their new series. We included Wild Flowers, Country Walks and an Insect Sticker Book in our pack, along with a guide to trees. Both Nosy Crow and The National Trust, and Walker Books, have each brought out their own guides to help children learn, experience and really look at nature around them. First up is the excellent accompanying book for the National Trust's initiative to get children to have a more outdoorsy natural childhood: 50 Things to Do Before You're 11 3/4. This is a brilliant idea and the accompanying book allows children to work out what sort of explorer they are (and meet associated characters that journey with them - which is always a winning formula). For each activity achieved from blackberry picking to cycling, climbing a tree to growing butterflies, the child has a space to record the date, any notes and gain a sticker. This was the most used of our guides this year as it can be easily completed on the go. Recently published to accompany this is the Go Wild in the Woods adventure guide. With great illustrations and full of facts it details how to get along in nature. The children are particularly taken with the sections on which vegetation makes good toilet paper and how to determine which animal has been in the area from their tracks and poo. They also received an Out and About Night Explorer set with torch, backpack, measuring equipment and book which covers everything from nocturnal animals and plants to spot to star charts. It's an exciting package and makes an excellent present.

Walker Books' version is similar in intent but different and complementary in execution. The books are based on the classic We're Going on A Bear Hunt, and they include a beautifully illustrated guide to what you may find in nature (this is great and covers topics as wide as the water cycle and weather to rock composition) and a project book based on each of the challenges the children in the classic book face. Little scientists are invited to measure rainfall and observe cloud formations, and there are activities for every season. One parent wondered whether the connection to the childhood classic alongside more advanced scientific content might put off a school child, but I think it would depend on the individual. Culturebaby is rather nostalgic and the theme and well known characters actually captured her interest.

I've found having little ones, rather than proving restrictive, has immersed me in nature more than I may have otherwise been. They want to splash in puddles and ride their bikes in the rain, snow is something to be sought out, autumn leaves are a joy and the first flowers of spring are anticipated and observed. They want to know the names of plants and I've had to reacquaint myself with the long forgotten names of scents. And everywhere I must slow down to the pace of miniature wellington boots. I need these guides as much as the children and the bonding activities they contain will hopefully provide for the children treasured memories like my own, of a childhood spent under the elements.

Disclaimer: We received copies of the new Walker and Nosy Crow books for review purposes. All other materials are our own, as are all opinions.

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Night Pirates

 We've recently been invited to review a range of children's performances at one of our local theatres - The Rose in Kingston. It's a lovely child-friendly theatre with a children's area, cafe and programme packed full of family performances. Founded by Sir Peter Hall, and modelled on the original Elizabethan Rose Theatre on London’s Bankside, Rose Theatre Kingston is the largest producing theatre in South West London.We feel very lucky to live so near.

Last weekend the girls and I headed over to see The Night Pirates, based on the children's picture book by Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright.

Surprisingly for a family of bookworms, this isn't a story we had encountered, but for a pair of little ladies living every day in their imaginations on board the Swallow, battling the Amazons for Wildcat Island, this was a perfect choice. Delightfully it was not only a jolly good piratey story, complete with an excellent message for little women and for the boys around them, but it was also a energetic and engaging musical adventure. The girls declared it a triumph. Still chatting about it two days later, three year old Culturetot and I wrote up her own review in her Today Book:

The girls were particularly pleased that Tom, the little boy hero of the piece, was invited to join a gang of little girl pirates on their adventure across the high seas. Delightfully inclusive, the crew didn't question his gender but only his sense of adventure and justice. Determined to set the world to rights, recapture stolen treasure from a rabble of silly grown-up pirates, and return it to Tom's home town, the crew set off to an island across the seas on a ship shaped like a house. Using energy and wits (of course) they save the day.

As Charlotte Cooper, a cast member and one of the little girl pirates herself noted in an interview, "The fact that it is noteworthy that these pirates are girls, proves we have a long way to go before gender equality is truly realised. I think it is superb that the pirates in this story are female. They are the sort of rolemodels I would have loved as a child- strong, fun, adventurous AND female! The significance should only be in that they are a reminder that gender should not be a barrier to anything." Absolutely.

Particularly satisfying was the encouragement at the end of the tale for the every child in the audience to become author and storyteller of their own adventures. The story never need end as we exit the theatre, or remain static while we close the book, but it can continue in our own imaginations. Each child was invited to write the sequel at home - where might Tom's next adventure with his new friends take him?

Touring Dates of The Night Pirates can be found here.

Family Show listings at the Rose in Kingston are here. We'll be covering more in the coming weeks.

For some inspiring reading for your little girl pirates (as well as the boys in the crew) see our post here on an essential library for mighty girls. And frankly there's also no better place to start than Arthur Ransome's classic Swallows and Amazons and its TV and Film adaptations.

Disclaimer: We are delighted to be local reviewers for the Rose Theatre, and do so in exchange for the chance to view the performances. All reviews and views are entirely our own. Performance photographs were provided by the Rose Theatre. Child's review was by Culturetot.
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