Children’s theatre company iTheatre is reno]wned for its energy andimagination. Every year, it entertains and educates thousands of children with fun-filled productions that also provide some lessons in life. We asked writer and director Brian Seward about its forthcoming production.
Tell us about The Little Red Hen.
The Little Red Hen is purely an iTheatre creation. The cast and creative team, the composer and choreographer are all Singaporean, and they’re all full-time professionals. We did, however, borrow some cute puppets made by our friends in the UK Blunderbus Theatre Company.
What is special about this story?
This production was adapted after carefully examining 16 different versions of the folk tale. We chose the characters that we felt would most appropriately reflect our audience. These include Eglantine the little red hen, and her friends Charmaine Cheeseworthy the mouse, ZeboKool, Esmée Chukkabutti the goose and Farmer Greenhill.
It is interactive, involving the audience in helping The Little Red Hen achieve her goals, and sometimes in putting right her proud, scatterbrained or vain friends. They will also find out about how bread is made as each step is revealed, culminating in baking day.
You have been producing and writing children’s theatre for many years. What would you say are the essential elements?
Fun, honesty, quality, energy, the right cast of professional performers, the right story, an element of surprise, an intelligent plot and top quality materials as well as props, costumes, puppets and the set. Never under-estimate or patronise your audience members, and never assume that because they are young they are not intelligent or discerning!
How do you know when you have succeeded?
When the audience goes out of the theatre buzzing, excited, laughing, repeating the jokes and singing the songs. When adults come to me saying they still remember how they enjoyed a show they watched ten years ago as a child. And when parents tell me they loved the show as much as their children did.
How has the theatre scene changed since you moved here?
Eighteen years ago, there was only a scattering of theatre companies, mostly semi-professional or amateur. Quality was not always strong, and the content was unpredictable. Now, there are quite a few professional and even international-standard companies producing top quality material.
More international companies are visiting now. They see there is an audience, built up by the long hard work of local companies! But local productions can now easily stand up against the best international offerings. When we started iTheatre, we would get audiences of 1,000 to 2,000. Now we attract audiences of 16,000 to 18,000 for our shows. The audiences are definitely growing.
The early bird 10-percent discount offer ends 24 January. Check the Sistic website for more discounts.
The Little Red Hen runs from 28 February to 16 March at the Drama Centre Theatre, National Library.
Tickets from Sistic.