Finding the Fun

When the kids go back to school it really feels like summer is over. It’s time to get back into the swing of the school run, after school clubs and daily habits. As we look towards Autumn, we know our Christmas show isn’t too far off, either. We are always planning and looking for the next project, working out where we can find the fun in everything we do.

Fun Palace – How to make one

This year we have partnered up with Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust to bring you a Fun Palace. Fun Palaces is a free nationwide annual event that celebrates culture in the community by using arts, science, craft, tech, heritage and sports activities. 

Anyone can make one and it’s all about local people coming together, having fun and celebrating in anyway they choose. There’s a genius in all of us, so why not share it? Want to know more about Fun Palaces? Click here.

If you fancy popping into our Fun Palace to enjoy a free fun creative activity or two then come along anytime.
The Pump Room, Buxton
(Opposite the Crescent)
Sunday 2nd October
from 11am -4pm.

ITS FREE!

If you want to get involved, have a skill to share or volunteer your time to lend a hand, then email me tara@babblingvagabonds.co.uk it would be lovely to hear from you.

Four photos showing people joining in with various creative activites

Wagon Of Wonder

We are hitting the road with our Wagon of Wonder in 2023. If you would like this at your school, venue or festival then please get in touch and I can send you our touring brouchure.
 Just email me, tara@babblingvagabonds.co.uk

Two male performers dressed as sales assistants stand in front of a yellow cart. One holds a bif pair of blue starry pants the other, a ukelele

Chin Up!

I’m not going to paint a picture all rosy and wonderful. But this feels like it’s been a hard first half of the year. I feel like our to do list has never been longer, yet our pockets are feeling emptier. This month we have had covid again, which has meant losing a week of rehearsals and now we have been given notice on our storage unit. 

But, keep our chin up, we must, and as like my good old Gran used to say, “When one door closes, another one opens.” 

Photograph of a woodland scene with the sun going down behind the trees

Adventure Shack

As we plough on with our new production, and change rehearsals schedules as Mark has covid, we continue to make wonderful discoveries in our storyline. This show will have our usual magic and there are enough moments where Phil and Mark are up to their shenanigans.

Two male performers dressed as sales assistants stand in front of a yellow cart. One holds a silver teapot towards the camera

The Future for Adventure Shack

Our aim for this production is to tour it to schools in September, October 2022 and then January, February 2023. We will develop it for night light experiences too, so there’s lots to get excited about.

So if you know someone who might be interested in either of these experiences then get them to contact me tara@babblingvagabonds.co.uk and I can send them more information.

We will turn up with the wagon of wonder and share some of the most magical stories that Madam Moo Moo has collected over the years.

Two male actors perform outside to school children. They are dressed in blue and there is a yellow wooden cart parked infron of leafy green trees

Charity Status Gets Closer

We have submitted the application to the Charities Commission, so we wait excitedly to see if they will accept our proposal. We really hope that it will enable us to provide more activities and creative opportunities for people in our local area.

A view of 5 animal shadow puppets that children are holding up

Set For An Adventure

As the dusky bluebells fade in our local woods, we get ready to put plan b into action. We are getting pretty good at implementing a plan b these days. Perhaps that’s called resilience? We didn’t get our funding for our exciting summer production, so instead we have come up with another idea.

Often it feels like we have so many ideas and when I look back I wonder how we got to the end result? Creativity is like a seed. Give it enough love and attention and something will eventually bloom. So, as we look forward to the next few months, what will you give your time and effort in order for something to grow?

Blubells fill the bottom of the photo as they sit amongst the trees. A dappled light gives the bluebells a smokey look

Adventure Shack

Dusting ourselves down and picking ourselves up from a funding bid rejection means we become even more resourceful. After flexing those little creative brain cells, we are proud to bring an outdoor experience for families this summer called “The Adventure Shack”

Escape the crowds, stray from the busy paths and discover the eighth wonder of the world:

Madam MooMoo’s Marvellous Magical Market Stall!

The Adventure Shack! 

The wondrous one-stop pop-up shop for all your adventure needs! 

Except today, of all days, Madam MooMoo is unwell, and so it’s up to her loyal assistants to look after her shop. Join Prentice and Dogsbury as they unpack the unusual items from her barrow of the bizarre and discover the fantastic stories each item has to tell. 

Epic tales of adventure, mystery, magic and derring-do guaranteed to heebie your jeebies and bump your goose. If you want to follow the progress of this fun experience, then follow us on the usual social channels. If you need no more tempting? Then you can book your tickets now by clicking on the venue details below.

Markeaton Park, Derby July 20-24

Grin Low Woods (Pooles Cavern and Country Park) Buxton July 27-31

We know how hard things are for some families right now so we have made Friday afternoon at Grin Low Woods, Buxton a pay what you can performance, but you still need to book a ticket. (it’s a numbers thing!)

A cart with a jumble of objects all piled up around it. Old suitcases, lampshades, kitchenware make up the arranged items

Happenings

We are thinking of hosting skills exchange workshops. We have learnt so much over the years we thought people might be interested in attending some days/weekends/evenings where we explore some techniques we use when we create our work.
This is still a seedling of an idea, but you can help shape it. What would you like to learn? If you are up for getting creative together, then hit reply to this email and let us know your thoughts.

A sketch book with a lightbulb drawn on a page with the word "Idea" written at the top of the page

New Year, New Adventures

As we start the new year things still feel a bit tentative. We are waiting on funding bids for projects to take flight so find ourselves with enough time to take stock and find focus. We strive to build partnerships, seek out new ones and make new friendships along the way. So although the start to this year looks quiet we will look to the horizon with hopeful hearts and find ways to conjure stories and share spine tingling new adventures with you all.

View of the hills looking out towards the leek road from Solomen's temple

Adventure Shack

Now this seedling of an idea has been brewing and bubbling for way too long so we hope that this year will give us the opportunity to unleash a story of epic proportion. We have funding bids in and on the side lines to help realise our ideas. We are hoping for good fortune and if all goes to plan we can make this production our summer offer. So keep an eye on our social channels and keep opening our newsletters to see the developments that are taking place.

Female circus performer hangs in a crucifix position from red silks

Christmas: Plan B

It was always a risk. As covid cases soared in November and December we saw our ticket sales drop dramatically. We weren’t even sure if we would end up finishing the run of “The Hungry Troll’s Christmas Dinner” but our determination to provide a heart warming production for families shone through. That was no more apparent than when one of our actors tested positive on Christmas Eve. We are a small company and often don’t have a stage manager let alone an understudy, but this year we knew we needed a Plan B. I decided to step into the role of stage manager and as a last resort the understudy.  (You might have seen my posts on social media “Day in the life of a Stage Manager”) After performing in the last 8 shows of the run I can confirm that I definately know where I feel most comfortable. At the side of the stage and not on it!

If you came to see us in Derby thank you for trusting us to create a fun show for your family. We will continue to do our best to create memory making moments for all.

The hungry troll is disgusted when they taste sausages

Warm Festive Wishes

As I write this, productions up and down the country are being cancelled due to performers and crew coming down Covid. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? We are just praying we get to finish our run with DerbyLive and we all stay fit and healthy so we can bring some festive cheer to families.

So although there still feels great uncertainty in what lies ahead we are choosing to stay positive and find gratitude in the small things, like a sunrise on the commute to Derby. 

If we pause for a moment of reflection and look back at 2021 we can see marvellous achievements. We have managed to create and perform 6 different theatre shows this year, work through an R&D project during the covid restrictions and platform a digital projection, so we definitely feel like there’s a reason to celebrate.  

Our audiences, partners and funders make all of what we do possible, so it we want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and wish you and your families  a very merry Christmas.

The Warmest  of Festive Wishes,
Tara, Mark and Phil

 A sunrise through trees along the A515 to Ashbourne

Our Hungry Troll Serves Up a Festive Treat

It’s been a joy to share this story with our audiences. What a privilege it’s been to be asked back by DerbyLive for another year of festive fun. The #DerbyLovesYou venue in the market place feels airy and spacious for  our story of The Hungry Troll’s Christmas Dinner.

We have had such great feedback from everyone attending and hearing the reactions from some members during the show makes our hearts sings and affirms this is what it is all about. Sharing a heart warming story that then becomes a positive lasting family memory. 

Photo taken from behind the set. Looking through the window of the oven door we see two actors making beany banger bonanza!

Festive Beginnings

As we see out November and feel a cold chill in the air, we have one more treat in store to share.

Light switch ons, Christmas markets, may get us in the christmassy mood, but surely nothing says Christmas like a trip to the theatre to see our latest festive creation. The kitchen table has been covered for weeks as we design, make and craft the costumes and props for “The Hungry Trolls Christmas Dinner”… we’ve even got the kids involved!

The Hungry Trolls Christmas Dinner

Come and see us this Christmas in Derby Market Place. In a purpose built indoor theatre space we will share with you a heart warming story for all the family to remember. A tale of trolls, dinner ladies, and  yummy scrummy food. 

When a strange new dinner lady turns up to school the kids are going to get served up more than a plateful of trouble. Wait until they discover what’s really on the menu for their school Christmas dinner!

The origins of this tale comes from the ideas of school children. We held a workshop several years ago and one class came up with such a good story we knew that we had to retell it some day. We had to tame down some of the ideas as they were far too gruesome, but if you can make it to the show, you can sit and watch knowing that the seeds of ideas came from a bunch of nine year olds.

Flyer image for the show of a cartoon drawing of a Troll in a kitchen setting

The Lost Tales Of Grinlow Woods

What a fabulous time we had in Grin Low Woods. We delighted audiences and gave hearts a warm glow with our three stories. The glorious colours of the changing leaves gave an dramatic backdrop to our performances. The idea of following little tree sprites and discovering fairy doors along the pathways to find the next story have given inspiration to our friends at BCA. They are now talking about making an ever changing route around the woods for children to seek out.

Three characters dressed in hats and clothing with a woodland theme stand together and smile at the camera

Bogtastic!

Two fairies fly above a peaty bog character while 2 chiclren walk above them on a moorland

Thank You

We know some of you couldn’t make it for numerous reasons but it means a lot when families show an interest in our work.

We had a fabulous four days presenting our story and we know the weather was a bit of a shocker at times but we were bowled over by everyone’s enthusiasm come rain or shine. It was a pleasure to work alongside Moors For The Future Partnership in creating this informative piece on the important role our moorlands play in fighting climate change.

The photo is taken behind the audience. There is bunting a stage and a backdrop of greenleafed trees

Make a Bog Fairy

Don’t forget to visit our YouTube channel so you can see how to make your very own bog fairy.

If you want another resource head to our website and download a fun booklet that has been designed by Moors For The Future Partnership that gets you all thinking about the themes within our production.

Bilberry the bog fairy shows Cottongrass her family as little puppets
Bilberry the bog fairy sits next to a giant big eyed puppet called Peat

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

For a long time now We’ve all been yearning for a summer adventure. We have been adapting and making ourselves flexible to deal with changing restrictions and adjusting to different working patterns and this month has been no exception. I write this newsletter in isolation as my children have tested positive for Covid. (6 days apart!) Luckily no one is very ill, and for that, I am very grateful.

We should be reworking “Here Be Dragons”, instead it is line runs over video calls and getting Phil to drop off various materials in our front garden. Distractions are plenty and focus is difficult but there are deadlines to meet and you just adapt to another way of working like everyone else. So I raise a glass of homemade lemonade to all of you and celebrate the coming of a new summer adventure.

A glass jug of homemade lemonade

Here Be Dragons

Come and seek out Mark and Phil at Markeaton Park on Wed 21-Sun 25 July. Brighten their day and spark your family’s first summer adventure. Check out DerbyLIVE’s website for times and book your tickets here. 

Join the brave zoologists, the ‘Monster Menders’ as they take care of strange and peculiar creatures. 

If you have a big imagination and are brave enough to take a step into the unknown, then this wild walk is just what your family needs. Every time you find the Monster Menders a different story is made, each tale a unique experience.

Phil and Mark dressed as the monster menders holding a suitcase which has the words "useful Stuff" written on it

Rosie Red Boots at Buxton Opera House

This has turned into such a lovely story and has been a very fun project to be involved in. Mark has been putting together the audio for this and it’s been fun recording with our kids too as they have taken on some of the voices of the characters. We had a rehearsal in June and got to grips with the soundtrack and shadows so now we can’t wait to share it with you.

Workshop : Aug 12 at 1.30pm & 3pm
Want to know how we create the magical shadow puppets in our productions? Get up close and explore behind the screen and find out exactly how we create the visual effects. Book your FREE tickets here

Performance: Aug 13 at 10.30, 1pm, 2pm
Is Rosie brave enough to save the day? Can she help her forest friends and bring calm once more to her home? With a little help from her cat, Rosie sets off on an adventure where she discovers that even when you are small you can make a big difference. 

Join us on this mini shadow play summer adventure. Watch in wonder as shadows dance across a specially created screen to a captivating audio soundtrack. Book your FREE tickets here 

a black and white image of Mark  behind a table operating shadows and lights

A Real Awakening For Students

We are always grateful for new opportunities, and none more so than working with students at Sheffield Hallam University. It was an intense 2-week process called “Awakenings” whereby a show would be presented at the end of it. A tall order considering everything students have been through these past 18 months. Using an old folktale as a starting point we transformed the Old Post Office courtyard into a theatre space. 

In a high walled courtyard, performers dressed in black carry boxes as an audience watch on

They didn’t disappoint and showed us just how willing they were to undertake the challenge. Working with students from various courses across the university they came together and devised a script, composed music, made masks, sculpted a huge puppet, and performed in it too.

A close up of a student sculpting a clay face which has over the top features of a large nose and wrinkly forehead

Adhering to the Covid restrictions meant we couldn’t have a large audience but the piece definitely bought smiles to everyone’s faces. (especially the young child on the front row who shouted out after the performance “That show was awesome!”)

A close up of a giant blue water dragon puppet behind a sea of blue fabric

Tough Decisions on a Wobbly Road

Things are certainly getting busy for us. May has been full of meetings, funding applications, webinars, and getting creative in an actual rehearsal space.

As we look to those warmer months we have been forced into making tough decisions about how we program our summer. Tentative steps on a wobbly road map should mean we can take huge strides later in the year and find hope at the end of the rainbow.

Double rainbow over buxton buildings

Rosie Red Boots

The date has been set for sharing our shadow show of Rosie Red Boots. The wonderful story that we created with our online community will premiere on August Friday 13th in the Studio at Buxton Opera House. We are so looking forward to presenting it and we will let you know how to book your tickets nearer the time. 

It’s been fun designing the characters for the story. We always fill pages of a sketchbook and can often draw a character many times before we are happy with the result. It’s incredibly time-consuming and often takes longer to work out the mechanics of a puppet than the design. Sometimes you need multiple puppets of the same character as they need to do different actions. 

Shadow characters of a girl, a cat and an ostrich

Getting Back And It Feels Good

So this month we found ourselves able to get in a rehearsal space for a few days to explore circus skills with actual people! A project that has been trying to emerge since 2018 and with various set backs along the way it felt so good to realise some of the ideas surrounding this project.

We were looking into ways to combine storytelling and circus and learnt so much in a few days from our wonderful artists. So a big thank you to Claire Crook, Owen Gaynor and Alex Anderson for their patience and adaptability. There’s a good few milestones still yet to go but we hope to be able to explore this story for an adventure next summer.

A circus performer in a cross position hanging from red silks

Newsletter #13

Here Be Dragons!

We are so excited to be performing at a brand new venue this summer. We are setting our Here Be Dragons family outdoor experience against the incredible backdrop of Heage Windmill near Belper. This unique historic building is the only working six-sailed stone tower windmill in England. Be sure to check out their website to find out about some of the events they put on there and the guided tours around the windmill itself via this link.

Heage Windmill
Heage Windmill

We’d love to see you this summer and share more memory making moments with you and your family. To get your tickets click on the links below. Hope you can make it. Tell your friends too. The tickets for these events are very limited as we wan to keep it intimate and personal, so do book ahead.

Seek us out in Grin Low Woods (Pooles Cavern), as part of Buxton Fringe, from Sat 20- Wed 24 July.  Tickets on sale from 1st June
Set sail with us at Heage Windmill Tue 30 July & Thur 1-2 Aug Book Now
Find us in Markeaton Park Craft Village with DerbyLIVE Mon 5- Sat 10  Aug. Book Now

Here Be dragons

Carnival of the Animals

This month sees us working with year 5 pupils across Buxton schools to create carnival inspired animals for the annual parade in Buxton on the 13th July.

Working in partnership with Buxton International Festival and Buxton Fringe Festival and using Saint-Sans as inspiration we hope to turn some heads this summer.

Don’t forget to follow us on the usual social media channels to see more of what we are up too. Facebook has changed their algorithms for business pages so be sure to click on our page as we might not be showing in your news feed.

Turtle made using willow and painted fabric
Turtle

Mask Making

Buxton International Festival would like as many families as possible to come dressed up for their Carnival of Animals performance on Saturday 20th July. If you fancy having a go at making a mask follow this “How To” video. They’d love to see your creations.

Head to our YouTube Channel and you will find videos to make a simple lion mask and bird mask. Happy dabbling!

"How to" mask making tutorial
“How to” mask making tutorial

Our Creative Process

New blog posts in the pipeline! I will let you know via our newsletter of the developments.
Ever wondered how we create our work. Head to our website and read our blogs.  Under the heading, ‘ Our Process’ there are posts about how we write the story, design for the stage, puppet making and songwriting.

Fun Finds This Month

Fleet Arts

A community arts charity delivering visual arts and music projects.
Check out the events they hold at their venue in Belper.

Fleet Arts logo

The Artful Parent

A great resource for creative ideas to make and do with your children.

The Artful Parent

Missing Link

A charming and beautiful stop-motion animated adventure film

Missing link

Spread the Word

Know anyone who would enjoy reading about our work, please feel free to forward on our newsletter and invite them to join the Tribe.