Light and Lark is designer and producer Natalie Remington and performer and puppeteer Aimee Holmes. After working as practitioners individually for many years, with companies such as Hoodwink, The Natural Theatre Company, Bristol Old Vic, Salisbury Playhouse, and The Roses, Tewkesbury, Natalie and Aimee found a mutual affinity for quality work for children. This led to a decision to launch the company with early years piece Papillon, an original story that gently explores issues of bereavement through physical theatre, music, stunning visuals and animated sequences. Natalie and Aimee received a small investment grant from Creative Ecology Wiltshire and used the money for a week’s R&D, which helped compound the story, themes and potential methods. This was documented by filmmaker Owen Benson and some highlights can be seen in our video. Our blog is at www.theatrepapillon.tumblr.com and we are on Facebook and Twitter - @light_and_lark and @theatrepapillon
Papillon is targeted at children aged 3-6 and their families. It centres on a butterfly called Papillon who embarks on a journey to make the very best of his short life, making friends, touching lives and leaving memories behind. It is a simple and sweet tale, told non-verbally, with puppets, songs, an interactive set, versatile performers and many surprises. There are opportunities for audience participation and a short ‘stay and play’ workshop with the performers and puppets after the show.
We are using elements of animated film that will be projected onto a screen that is built into the set. We are recruiting an animator who will work collaboratively with us in the rehearsal room, to ensure the tone is correct, the visuals are cohesive and the story flows. These scenes will be non-verbal, easy to understand and bring another level of multisensory imagery to the production.
In order to ensure that we are developing the production to the right target audience in terms of age, subject and level of understanding, we are undertaking a number of research practices as part of our process. Initially we have been communicating with organisations and charities that deal with the subject of child bereavement, such as Child Bereavement UK and Winston’s Wish. Together with these charities’ support, and with consultation with a child psychologist, we will produce a booklet of supporting information that we will make available to anyone who is affected by the issues, or that requires extra support. This will include some degree of signposting back to the appropriate sources. We also hope to undertake training from these organisations, as well as training in Makaton signing as we plan to integrate this into the production.
We are committed to the work being accessible to all and are dedicated to ensuring ticket prices are low and that we build lasting relationships with young people, particularly those from lower-income families. We are working closely with Trowbridge Arts in particular, as the promoter that will be hosting our premiere, and building on existing databases of families within the local area. This will include local schools and children’s centres. We have planned a series of workshops with age groups 3-4 and 5-6. The purpose of this is twofold – to help the children develop an enjoyable and educational relationship with arts that will continue through life; and to form part of our research, ensuring that the work is targeted correctly.
The workshops will be free to attend; this is one of the things we are looking to fund as part of the process. We also hope to run a series of creative silk painting workshops in schools and hospices/hospitals. These draws on elements of Art Therapy, and the silks created by participants will be integrated in costumes and scenic elements for the production, giving participants a sense of ownership over the work.
The funding we seek at this stage is to produce the show ready for an initial 5 performance run over three venues; Trowbridge Town Hall, The Rondo Bath, and Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol. However, this is not the extent of the production’s legacy; the plan is to then mount a nationwide tour starting in Autumn 2015.
As part of this we are looking to tour hospices and hospitals, working with children who may be facing a loss, particularly that of siblings. We also plan to launch an intergenerational project, with a scaled-down version of the show visiting care homes so that residents can experience Papillon alongside local school groups, before participating in a workshop together. We feel that there is much value in intergenerational work, both for children and the participating adults.
Your donations will help us to undertake bereavement and Makaton training, fund materials and pay for performers, an animator and a designer for our first devising period in April 2015. We are also seeking funding from a variety of other sources to complete the project, including Arts Council England. Reaching our Kickstarter target will not only enable us to start devising, designing and producing the show, it will provide much needed leverage for further funding.
Aimee and Natalie are DBS checked and are joint directors of Light and Lark CIC. We are committed to creating quality work, accessible to all, that benefits as many people as possible. We hope that you have enjoyed reading about the production, and that you would like to play a part in Papillon's future.
Risks and challenges
As with any original piece of devised theatre, we do not know fully what form the work will take until we go properly into production. This can mean all manner of unforseen obstacles, from creative differences to unexpected financial considerations. In order to work collaboratively on this piece we hope to bring together the creative team for a week in late March, this should help us work out the story, methods of storytelling, visuals, music etc. After this will be the best time to problem-solve, and will come back to it armed with solutions in late June. Having already had a short R&D period we have already started to work through some issues, including making sure the tone is right for the age group. As a designer Natalie is used to overcoming all manner of practical problems, and Aimee is experienced in finding creative solutions. As we continue with our research over the next few months we look forward to finding the answers to making this piece work, as that is what creating theatre is all about.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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