A newly-adapted interactive stage show told through puppetry, dance and song has proved popular with Sheffield audiences and is now starting a ‘pay as you can’ community tour as part of a mission to open up theatre to more people.
Performances of Anna Hibiscus' Song, co-produced by Utopia Theatre and Sheffield Theatres, attracted more than 1,000 children and their families at the Tanya Moiseiwitsch Playhouse last week.
It is now embarking on a run of shows in Yorkshire community venues from Tuesday 18 - Sunday 30 July. These performances will be ‘pay as you can’, meaning audiences can choose to pay as little as £3 a ticket. Utopia Theatre’s mission is to widen participation in the arts and inspire the next generation.
Mojisola Kareem-Elufowoju, Utopia Theatre CEO and artistic director, said: “Our cast has brought to life a joyful story of happiness, and it’s been fantastic to see audiences interacting with every element of the story at The Playhouse. People of all ages have been able to come along and get involved and it’s brilliant to see them leaving the show with huge smiles on their faces.
“We are very excited about starting our tour in Yorkshire. When I set up Utopia Theatre, it was my dream to take high quality theatre productions out to communities because so many people rarely get the chance to visit city theatres. It’s so important that children and families get these opportunities - you never know, we may even find a future performer or two! Anna Hibiscus’ Song will be a fantastic start to the school summer holidays for hundreds more children and we are so looking forward to it!”
It is the first stage adaptation of Anna Hibiscus’ Song - a popular children's book by Atinuke, which sees Anna go on a journey to tell her family and friends about her happiness. Set in Africa, the family show has seating which surrounds the interactive stage, enabling children to move throughout.
Outside of the performance area, there is also a breakout space with beanbags, colouring, storybooks and much more to extend the audience’s enjoyment. A resource pack for children to learn even more about Anna Hibiscus’ Song has also been created and can be downloaded.
In the last few days, Lauren Tobia, illustrator of the book, has watched the play herself. She said: “What a wonderful visit to see the joyful production, it captured Atinuke’s beautiful story of happiness that I had the pleasure of illustrating.”
The Montgomery, Sheffield: Tuesday 18 & Wednesday 19 July
Terry Wright Community Hall, Gleadless, Sheffield: Thursday 20 July
Verdon Recreation Centre, Burngreave, Sheffield: Friday 21 July
Stannington Community Centre, Sheffield: Saturday 22 July
Riverside Library & Neighbourhood Hub, Rotherham: Monday 24 & Tuesday 25 July
Leeds Central Library: Thursday 27 & Friday 28 July
Zest Centre & Sports Hall, Upperthorpe, Sheffield: Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 July