Deptford and Stockton commission children’s shows for 2021 and 2022

Published: 23 June 2020
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Wrongsemble's 2019 Christmas show, Hansel and Gretel
Kitchen Zoo's 2018 production of The Tin Foil Astronaut Credit: Von Fox Promotions

The Albany, Deptford, and ARC Stockton have co-commissioned two children’s shows for Christmas 2021 and 2022. The shows, from Leeds-based Wrongsemble and North East-based Kitchen Zoo, will play one year in London and one year in Stockton.

Wrongsemble will be creating a new version of The Snow Queen which will be underpinned by a fundamental message of sustainability, where the smallest of actions make a big difference, and the youngest voice speaks the loudest of truths. It will celebrate the sense of kindness and community the festive period represents.

Kitchen Zoo will revive its 2018 show The Tin Foil Astronaut, a play which shows its audience that being different, having different dreams from other people, is fine. It was devised and written by Kitchen Zoo founders Bob Nicholson and Hannah Goudie-Hunter, with musician Jeremy Bradfield and director Ruth Mary Johnson. Set against the backdrop of the 1969 moon landings, it tells how schoolgirl Alba beats the Russians and Americans to the moon with her tinfoil-powered spaceship (with a little help from the audience).

The Albany and ARC use their innovative commissioning approach to invite two companies to make new Christmas shows with their audiences specifically in mind. One company will be scheduled to perform its work in Stockton in 2021 before heading to Deptford in 2022, while the other will visit the Albany and then ARC.

This partnership has now successfully brought a number of seasonal productions to both venues including Pinocchio, The Ugly Duckling, The Man Who Wanted to Be a Penguin, and Humbug the Hedgehog, which have been enjoyed by audiences from schools, community groups and local families numbering in the tens of thousands.

“We're looking forward,” Kitchen Zoo tells us, “to returning to space and remaking the show on a grander scale, exploring the possibilities of a larger cast, a new venue and bigger audiences. Bob says he is most looking forward to being The Man in the Moon and guiding Alba Dinkley and the audience on a cosmic adventure and Hannah says she can't wait to build an even bigger and better rocket and Blast Off!”

“In this climate of huge uncertainty,” Wongsemble said, “it feels an incredible privilege to be able to plan something so hopeful for the future. We can't wait to work with the communities of ARC and the Albany as we create this show, which places young voices at the heart of its story—at a time when it feels more crucial than ever that these voices are heard.”

Annabel Turpin, Artistic Director of ARC, said, “these commissions have been a brilliant opportunity for us to look ahead as we think about the kind of work we want to share with our family audiences in the future. It’s fantastic to award this opportunity to two North-based companies, and to be able to build on our existing relationships with them to create new work for our audiences.”

“We have been co-commissioning Christmas shows with ARC for a number of years now,” Gavin Barlow, Artistic Director of the Albany added, “and we always look forward to seeing companies bringing shows designed specifically for our audiences to life. Kitchen Zoo and Wrongsemble have a record of creating work that excites and engages audiences, and have certainly captured our imaginations with their proposals for our 2021 and 2022 commissions.”