Middle Child aims to engage a new generation of theatre-makers
The future is looking extremely bright for Middle Child, whilst Hull’s theatre scene is set to flourish with the company's latest plans to inspire.
In this age of ultrafast internet, online gaming and box set streaming you could be forgiven for thinking that olde worlde fairy tales don’t have much to teach the youngsters of today.
But thanks to Hull-based theatre group Spin Off Productions some classic fairy tale characters are entering the online world to teach schoolchildren about internet safety.
The Three Little Pigs, the Ugly Ducking and Little Red Riding Hood are the subject of three Click Clever Tales, created by Spin Off, to help inform school children about the dangers of being online.
Using puppets to retell the fairy tales with a modern slant, actors address issues such as cyber bullying and online grooming in an easy to understand way for primary school-aged youngsters.
Spin Off founder Honor Pallant said the show, which is heading out on tour to 18 schools across East Yorkshire this month, was vitally important in the digital age - especially as the nation marks Safer Internet Day on Tuesday, February 7, with activities across the UK to make youngsters aware of the potential pitfalls of surfing the net.
She said: “We’ve done shows for older children before but we decided a production for five to eight-year-olds would be a good idea as children are becoming more internet savvy at an earlier age.
“We use the puppets to tell traditional stories but there are messages within those stories that are still relevant for the modern age.
“Little Red Riding Hood talks to the Wolf, who’s a stranger, and tells him where she’s going – to Granny’s. The Little Pigs also tell the Wolf where they live and look what happens to their houses.
“It enables us to give the message about being careful who you talk to and who you give your personal details to.
“A story like The Ugly Duckling also give us the chance to talk about cyber bullying in a way that youngsters can relate to.”
The two-man touring production is visiting 18 primary school across the East Riding during February with the show, which has been sponsored by KCOM to make it affordable to head teachers facing tight budgets.
Honor said: “KCOM have been fantastic right from the start and their financial support has made it possible to take the show out to so many schools. They really have faith in the message we are sending out about keeping our children safe online.”
Hull-born star Debra Stephenson, who was taught by Honor in her youth and is a patron for Spin Off Productions, said it is vitally important that children are made aware of both the good and bad sides of using the internet.
Debra, who is bringing her one woman show - Night of 1,000 Voices - to Hull City Hall on Friday, 17thMarch, said: “Having two children myself, I'm well aware of the dangers of the Internet.
“I feel that parents in this day and age have it harder than ever before. With technology enabling children access to the Internet it's very difficult to know what they are doing online.
“Most of us wouldn't dream of allowing our young children to roam the streets without supervision yet we inevitably end up in a situation where we don't know whereabouts they are in cyberspace.
“Protecting children from the Internet is probably the toughest challenge we have as parents and we need all the help we can get from schools and other outside influences such as the media.
“Unfortunately when they are simply told by teachers and parents kids often see that as being just another set of rules being imposed on them and are more focussed on what they want to do in the present, so they miss the gravity of what is been said.
“Putting this essential information and advice into short plays amid familiar children's stories is a truly fantastic way to get children to really engage with these very important issues without scaring the children or robbing them of their innocence. There is obviously such a thing as too much information!
“Spinoff Theatre provides accessible information and education that children can relate to and that really is a godsend for parents of children who must navigate the dangerous minefield that is the Internet. “