The biennial FAMILY THEATRE FESTIVAL returns to the Theatre Royal Bath this month offering two weeks of inspirational theatre from the UK, Spain, France, the Netherlands and Germany for family audiences across three auditoria – the egg theatre, the Ustinov Studio and the Main House – from Saturday 9 February to Saturday 23 February.
During the Festival’s first weekend, The Big Day In offers a range of free day-time events on Sunday 10 February between 11am – 4pm across all three auditoria, including backstage tours with some rather unusual ushers, opportunities to get creative in the egg café, a taster of new work created by the Young People’s Theatre and a ‘bedtime stories’ tent for parents at the egg.
The Queen’s Knickers receives its World premiere at the Ustinov Studio from Monday 11 to Saturday 16 February. Based on the much-loved children’s book by Nicholas Allan, this new theatrical adaption, for children aged 3 years and over, is being staged by the egg’s own production team in association with London’s Southbank Centre. A favourite with young children and parents since its publication 20 years ago, the comical story of The Queen’s Knickers will be performed by Heather Saunders and Kate Copeland, who play a host of characters.
Dilys, the Queen’s dedicated maid, is the royal custodian of her Majesty’s smalls, which she guards as if they were the crown jewels. But one day the knickers go missing causing a national state of emergency. Young Lucy, one of the Queen’s biggest fans, is desperate to meet her heroine. In a surprising turn of events she finally gets her chance, but can Lucy also avert a diplomatic incident of catastrophic proportions and save both the Queen and her maid, Dilys.
The egg’s has joined forces with London’s Southbank Centre to produce this rip-roaring production, adapted by regular egg theatre collaborators, Oliver Birch, from en masse theatre company, and John Biddle, who has memorably starred in many of the egg’s Christmas shows. The show is directed by Lee Lyford, whose numerous credits include Heidi A Goat’s Tale at the egg in 2012, and The Nutcracker in the Main House during the 2011 Family Theatre Festival.
In the Theatre Royal’s Main House, the UK premiere of Prime appears on Sunday 10 February. This hit play by Theater Artemis, one of the Netherlands’ leading theatre companies, is highly recommended for both teenagers and adults. When a cataclysmic event occurs at a teenage gathering it changes the lives of the young party guests forever. A huge success all over Europe, this bittersweet, moving production, takes audiences on a rollercoaster journey from the sometimes naïve world of early teens to the hindsight of later teenage years. Funny and entertaining, from its surprising and funny start, to its cutting finale, Prime is full of detailed observation, humanity and hope, accompanied by a nostalgic dose of The Carpenters, Bryan Adams, Mariah Carey and The Bangles. Featuring scenes of ‘teenage’ behaviour, Prime is not recommended for under 10s.
Enchanting storytelling takes centre stage at the egg theatre with There’s A Rabbit In The Moon presented by Vélo Théâtre from Saturday 9 to Tuesday 12 February. Seated on a crescent moon, charismatic French actor Charlot Lemoine becomes Thomas Snout, the famous collector of nights. Snout has collected 3,845 nights – long and short, with or without moonlight, scary and silent nights, nights of his own, other people’s nights, as well as a few he’s borrowed. In a magical performance for ages 4 years and over, audience members are invited to wear a pair of pyjamas (which are provided) as they are transported into a magical world.
From Monday 11 to Wednesday 13 February, an intriguing theatre adaptation of The Incredible Book Eating Boy visits the egg theatre. Oliver Jeffers’s award-winning children’s book tells of Henry, a boy with a voracious appetite for books. But unlike everyone else, he loves to Eat books! Better still, he realises the more books he eats, the smarter he gets, but a book-eating diet isn’t the healthiest of habits, as Henry soon finds out. Recommended for ages 4 years and over, this theatrical dramatisation staged by Bootworks Theatre uses live performance, puppetry and projection to create a thrilling 5 minute performance – each exclusive to just one child and an accompanying adult at a time.
From Barcelona, Spanish Theatre Company Imaginart brings Sensacional to the egg theatre, on Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 February. This extraordinary interactive sound and light show allows toddlers to become participants. Presented on a white square at the egg theatre, the young audience members put on a white suit and become part of a digital world of ladybirds, shapes and squiggles that won’t keep still as they interact with a myriad of fascinating images and sounds. With a lively soundtrack and stunning visuals, Imaginart’s Sensacional is exactly that – an immersive experience of senses and sensations for theatregoers aged 18 months to 4 years.
For those who would like to turn their hand to something new, there are opportunities to participate in workshops ranging from stop motion animation to craft-making during the first week of the Festival. From Monday 11 February to Saturday 16 February, The Queen’s Knickers Workshops will be taking place daily prior to the 11am performances of The Queen’s Knickers. Children aged 3 years and over can get crafty with the egg’s Creative Learning Team to make a fabulous regal crown, some right-royal bunting or a cheeky undies flag.
On Tuesday 12 February, professional animator Claire Evans visits the egg theatre to lead the Small World Animations Workshop. Suitable for ages 8 to 12 years, this full day workshop will give participants the chance to create characters and stories using everyday objects brought to life through stop motion animation.
The Festival continues until Saturday 23rd February. Highlights during the second week at the egg theatre include a visit by Theater Mummpitz from Germany with The Terrific Adventures of Brave Joan Woodsword, a funny and poignant play for ages 9 years and over. Young people will also be performing when the Theatre Royal Bath’s Young People’s Theatre present a series of exciting, self-penned short plays unleashed for the first time during the Festival in Out Of Their Minds from Wednesday 20 to Saturday 23 February.
FAMILY THEATRE FESTIVAL 2013 takes place at the Theatre Royal Bath from 9 February to 23 February. For further details or to book tickets, contact the Theatre Royal Box Office on 01225 448844, the egg theatre on 01225 823 409 or visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk