Our outdoor summer adventure feels like ages ago. The kids are back to school and we are now firmly back in the office, report writing, thinking about Christmas and making plans for next year.
We had such fun this summer meeting our audiences. Great to see so many new faces joining our Tribe and heartwarming to see those families who support us again and again. So many fun-filled moments at the various venues we performed at and so many delighted faces as the audience ventured from scene to scene. Just magic, so thank you.
We’ve decided to start blogging about how we create our work. It’s a new adventure so there will probably be a few stumbles along the way, but if you want to find out more about our process visit our website orclick here
This October half term we are with DerbyLIVE running workshops for kids 3-11 at Markeaton Park Craft Village. It’s a fun interactive workshop that will provide some rip-roaring fun for your little raptors! You can book tickets via DerbyLIVE
Writing a Story Babbling Vagabonds Style
Phil has written a blog post about how we write our stories if you fancy having a read.
So now we are starting to develop the story for our next family Christmas show, The Dinosaur who came for Christmas. As a company we devise our shows – which means that we don’t start with a script – we begin with an idea, actually, nowadays we begin with a title. So where do we start in writing a story? We have a ‘process’ for creating our work. This has evolved as we have over the past eighteen years and although I don’t think we have ‘rules’ as to how we do it, we have some guidelines.
Firstly – What’s it about?
Well, I find lots of the conversations we have at this stage start with me saying:
“At the moment… it’s about this kid who finds a dinosaur egg!”
There’s not too much in that sentence to commit ourselves to something that we might get rid of at a later stage. Maybe there’s just enough to trigger a sense of excitement and anticipation.
We’ve learnt a few things along the way particularly about story types. We start to chat about the type of story we think this might be. Is it a quest story? A transformation story? Journey and return? It’s nothing too detailed, we just let ideas play in our heads for a while. Hang about in our imaginations, think through a few ‘what ifs’ and ‘how about’. I tend to go for long walks on my own, that helps my process. From someone finding a dinosaur egg, and it hatching… well, what could happen? What would be fun to see? What trouble would that bring about? Where is that going to take the characters? ‘what if this happened?’
Let’s start at the beginning…or at the end…or in the middle!
Sometimes we think about ‘the end’, or a significant moment that might happen ten minutes into the story. It can be really fun to think, how could that happen?
We can plot out several storylines, and try those out. What is interesting to us might not be that interesting to a four-year-old, or a seventy-year-old.
We watch films, read books, look at pictures and paintings, listen to music. Adding ingredients to our collective stew. Whether they will end up in the final show, we don’t know yet but they might trigger something somewhere.
Eventually, we will arrive at a plot. Nine or ten chapter headings. These are the things that have to happen for the story to work. We call this our ‘Essences’. These are the things that have to happen for the story to progress.
Then we will storyboard ideas. Like a film. Sketch out ideas – how they might look onstage. Sometimes we will bring some actors in to play with rough ideas too. All the time shaping the story, defining characters and events. Adding the ‘groovy bits’. The pieces of the story that adds to the essences, bring the fun, the danger, the excitement.
All this will take place over the first few months of the year. We will share our ideas with the producers, they will pitch in ideas. Nobody ‘owns’ the story – we are all onboard adding suggestions to the journey.
It’s really fun. It helps create a very organic show, that grows and twists and turns with the additions brought by the collaborators.
How do we create outdoor theatre for families? There are a lot of things you have to think about, especially with a show that tours to lots of different places. A big one is the set, the backbone to any production is the scenery, but, with outdoor theatre, it needs to be able to adapt to its surroundings such as rocky terrain, or a hilly area. On top of all that, you have to create something that can survive the weather. So this job is left in the more than capable hands of Babbling Vagabonds Artistic team Tara and Mark who – in my opinion – have created something magical!
The Rehearsal Process
Now rehearsing the show, whilst it is hard work, is also bundles of fun! Creating children’s theatre is all about playing, so we start each rehearsal by playing a few games, having a laugh and helping unleash our creativity. Each individual character within the story is stripped down to the very basics. How do they walk? How do they talk? How do they move their body? This can be very challenging when most of us play more than one character in the show! The characters need to be completely different and larger than life.
Making sure that our characters are big is very important in an outdoor show, as you never know what will happen when you get into the space. You may have people who can’t see as much as others, you may have someone right next to you, or even behind you! So by creating these comically large and exaggerated characters, you’re ensuring every audience member has a good experience.
After we’ve spent some time developing our characters, we then leap right into the story. We take each scene at a time and create some freeze frames! These are little snapshots of what happens in the scene, they help us stay on track and have a good idea of what we need to accomplish by the end of the scene. From there we then start adding more detail, bit by bit, until we can start improvising. We’ll make up lines and do the scenes multiple times until we’re happy we have a decently structured scene.
In front of an Audience
What’s lovely about this show is that there is a lot of freedom to play. The show is highly interactive, so no two shows will be the same. We react to what the audience says and does which is why we don’t script the show too heavily. It’s much more fun to adapt the show to the audience we have (and we hope they find it fun too!) This way, I think everyone that comes to see us, will leave having had a completely unique experience.
That’s it for now, but I hope to see you at one of our venues this summer. Come and say hello, and make sure you stay for a photo after the show!
This month sees the start of our summer tour A Wild Walk – The Golden Thief. I’m sure you’ve heard all about it and some of you may have even booked your tickets. If you’re not organised your tickets I’ll make things easy…click here and know that you are going to enjoy spending time with Babbling Vagabonds this summer.
The King Loves GOLD!
As part of our summer tour of A Wild Walk – The Golden Thief, we want you to get creative. We want you to create your own Royal Rosette and bring it along to the show to catch the eye of the King. He just loves GOLD!
We’ve made a short “How To” Video. Get ready to be creative, it’s not just the kids that get to have fun…you can too.
A Meeting of Minds
The Buxton Pavilion project has now culminated in an exhibition called “A Meeting of Minds”. This has been a collaborative project between Architecture students from Derby University, Buxton Junior School, an architect and engineer from Spaces into Places and Babbling Vagabonds. The exhibition is of drawing and models by the students when they were asked to design a community pavilion for Buxton.
There are hopes that this is the first stepping stone in realising a community pavilion that can be built and used for next years Buxton International Festival…so watch this space for developments.
The Exhibition 6th-25th July
Open Daily 10am-4pm
The Mezzanine Gallery
As part of our summer tour of A Wild Walk – The Golden Thief, we want you to get creative. For anyone coming to see our show we want them to create their own Royal Rosette and bring it along to the show to catch the eye of the King. He just loves GOLD!
Not sure how to make one? Need some helpful hints? We are here to help!
We’ve made a short “How To” Video and posted it on youtube. Click on the photo below and get ready to be creative, it’s not just the kids that get to have fun…you can too.
A great family production for anyone brave enough to take a walk with a Prince who is trying to find The Golden Thief.
Sharing The Journey In Story Making
Ever wondered how we come up with our stories? Curious as to what techniques we use to get the best story ever written? Well, Phil, Joint Artistic Director will reveal all very soon in a blog post about how we create our story for Christmas. What goes into making up a story and what tools and tricks we use to create something exciting, heartwarming and fun.