Press Hup

On Monday we were on the telly!

Here is a link to the clip on STV.

We have also been in the paper:

The Herald “They were a little upset when it ended, so RSNO violinist Liz Lloyd started playing again and the little ones resumed their awe-struck state.”

And our very own film maker Geraldine Heaney took this beautiful photo at the Williamson Family Centre. A huge thanks to everyone who came to our performance there for all your support with the cameras and interviews.

Hup Cast

Hup Cast


Time(lapse) capsule

It was our last Nickum play sessions next week, as we move into rehearsals. Next week we will be sharing a work in progress performance with our groups and saying goodbye. Our session in Ashgrove Childrens Centre was outside on the lawn, and I wanted to share a little timelaspe film which captures the feel of our time here. We were joined by cellist Andrew Huggan, and director Matt Addicott.

Hundreds and Thousands…

…of lovely things happened last week.

Firstly, we had a visitor at Ashgrove and Maisie’s, in the form of theatre maker Emily Magorrian.  Emily brought lots and lots of jars and pots and tubs filled with hundreds and thousands with her.  We had lots of fun drumming, shaking, stacking and jamming.  They not only made a great sound, but looked lovely too. Thanks for your ideas and fun Emily!

It was really lovely to share some of our residency with Emily at this late stage in the process.  As we are now so close to the show, it was great to re-focus on our sessions and take some time to think about how much fun we have had in both centres week after week.  Introducing Emily to all our friends at Ashgrove and Maisie’s, reflecting on some of the process with her, and hearing how much she enjoyed sharing in our sessions was a final reminder of how fortunate we have been to be in two such brilliant centres for the last six months. We have been hugely supported by parents and staff and are so grateful for that. We have also had delightful babies to explore with, create with, dance with, play with, jam with and chill with… such valuable experiences for us, and we hope for them too.

It has been lovely at Ashgrove over the last few weeks to meet so many new people as well.  We enjoyed a fun session with friends we have known for months…


and with those we have known for only a few weeks…



Time is nearly Hup


Would you like to know more about Elizabeth Lloyd the fantastic violinist who we have had the pleasure of working with on development for our show Hup? Including what she might bring to a desert island? Thought so. Here is a link to an interview with her on the RSNO website.

The team also includes cellist Andrew Huggan and theatre director Matt Addicott (as our dramaturg) and film maker Geraldine Heaney. At the end of an exciting development week I feel very lucky to be working with so many talented, passionate artists who are so generously taking great care over our project. The show feels very exciting, and the process so far has been really special. It feels both personally rewarding because of the connections we have made in Aberdeen with the children, parents and childcare staff, and artistically rewarding because of these established artists from very different backgrounds collaborating in new territory. Hearing Abi’s composition played by these incredible musicians for the first time, I couldn’t hold back the huge grin on my face, and it didn’t go away all week.

Below are some photos from the last session at Ashgrove, and as I was looking at them just now, I got very excited about this weeks session. All the little ideas we have been working on over the last 5 months are now forming into a show, and on Wednesday everyone in the team is getting on the train to Aberdeen so that we can share them, and then work with the response. Not long now…

IMG_6988 IMG_6924 IMG_6907  The beautiful photos in today’s blog were taken by Geraldine Heaney.

A Conversation about baby theatre

So, you’re making a show for babies?

 Yep. For 0-24 month olds and their parents or carers.

Oh, that’s different. How does that work?

Well, we have written a script, and cast performers, and we will rehearse it like any other show and then do a tour.

In theatres?

Actually, this time we are touring round nurseries, crèches and libraries.

 So it’s educational?

Well, that isn’t our starting point. We believe that everyone should have access to quality artistic experiences (which is in line with the Curriculum for Excellence) and we are interested to perform in non-theatre spaces. We’ve also been working in a nursery and a family centre to come up with ideas for this show so it makes sense to perform it in similar spaces. It’s been great to develop it with the children’s responses in mind and they have enjoyed hearing live music and exploring creative ideas each week- so it’s win-win!

Does that mean that these babies perform in the show?

No. Professional actors and musicians perform the show.

So, the babies are the audience then? Do they just sit and watch? I don’t think my baby would do that…

They are the audience, and some of them do want to sit, or lie, or have a cuddle; but some want to explore and we have designed the show with that in mind. So whatever the baby wants to do is great with us.

So even if they dribble on you? Or cry?

Ha ha! Yep, we have been drooled on in the past. Our aim is to create a relaxing, stress free, enjoyable experience. But, yeah, babies sometimes cry, we know that- please don’t worry about it!

So do you teach them nursery rhymes? Is it songs with actions?

Actually, we wanted to try something a bit different and for this project we have been lucky enough to work with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, so we’ve been using classical music. So there are two violins and a cello in the show, and no singing or actions.

So is it storytelling?

Sort of, but acted out- with no words- if that makes sense. You have to come and see for yourself!

Music to Our Ears

Let me introduce you to Beth, one of the lovely staff members at Maisie Munro.


In a discussion about creativity at our first CPD session at Maisie Munro, Beth told us that she had been learning to play the guitar.  It just so happened that I had my guitar in Maisie’s for our session on the sea this week…. and with a little light persuasion Beth showed us her skills, along with her absolutely beautiful singing voice.  It was amazing!  She had the full attention of the whole room as the children stopped in their tracks and watched on with eyes wide – it seems like they loved her performance just as much as we did.  Thanks Beth!

Another interesting musical experience today was sharing some of the show music with the children.  Hazel and I have been working hard on the script and the music for the show over the past few weeks, and the music is almost ready.  To test it out we made a CD of a few of the tracks, which seemed to go down well in the nursery today.  The children listened really carefully and we saw some lovely responses.  An exciting moment as everything comes together!

Moonlight, music, love and Aberdeen

A 2 year old at our Ashgrove sessions specifically likes:

1)    Moons

2)    Tractors

3)    Triangles


So this week we chose to think about moons, but not night (as it isn’t uncommon at this time of year to see a moon in daylight.) And we have ventured out of the theatre; swapping spotlights and lighting gels for the natural light of Aberdeen, the dramatic nature of which I intend to illustrate below:

Aberdeen rainbow Aberdeen beach Aberdeen ride Aberdeen sunset Aberdeen hut Aberdeen sea

As you can see, I’m getting to know bonny Aberdeen now, after 16 visits (that’s about 80 hours on the train altogether.) I love how a residency gives you the opportunity to properly connect with a place as well as with new people. People like the inspiring staff at Maisie Munro who we were lucky enough to spend a twilight session with this week. We asked everyone to share a story/ object/ idea that inspires them and the responses were heartfelt and varied:

1)    Watching a sunflower grow

2)    Dr Seuss

3)    Working with children

4)    People who are proud to be an individual

5)    The Gruffalo in Scots

6)    A story which they read with their daughter every night

On Saturday at the Starcatchers Creative Skills Launch in Aberdeen, storyteller Andy Cannon said you should never tell a story which you don’t love. Well that shouldn’t be a problem here!

In Case…

It has been so nice to have some new families along at Ashgrove over the last few weeks.  There is always space for more on a Wednesday afternoon, so just in case anyone is looking for the details:

We are running a weekly drop-in group at Ashgrove Children’s Centre for 0-2 year olds and their grown-ups.  Sessions take place on Wednesday afternoons, and run from 1 – 2.30pm.  We are very relaxed so do not worry if you are late, feel free to drop-in whenever you can.  Everyone is welcome – we would love to see you there!

This week, at Ashgrove and Maisie Munro we played with musical instrument cases.  You may assume that the instrument inside might be of more interest, but one boy in particular at Maisie Munro just loves my violin case.  He zips it up and carries it around the room with him every week.  The other children also like to open it up, feel the velvet inside and often I find little presents left inside when I go to put my violin away.  So we thought we would explore this further and have been very kindly gifted some cases to play with and use in the show.

One of our favourite things we found inside the cases this week were lily pads made from old sheet music.  A little musical frog appeared out of a case, hopped between the lily pads, and hopped onto our heads, croaking as he went.  The room was silent, in anticipation of his hop and his croak – a lovely moment of stillness and engagement.

We wonder if this little frog might make an appearance in our show.  Over many weeks we have been exploring the idea of trees, the woods and the creatures who live there, and these ideas are continuing to take form in our script.  We have been inspired by a beautiful book called ‘The Heart of the Wood’ by Marguerite W. Davol, in which a tree is transformed into a musical instrument.  I thought I would leave you with some words from this book as a small taster of some inspiration for the show.

‘This is the music, now high, now low,

made by the fiddler with fingers and bow,

playing the fiddle created to find

the song in the heart of the wood’

‘The Heart of the Wood’, Marguerite W. Davol

In Tux


tuxed upTo celebrate the start of a new year Abi and I dressed in our recently acquired vintage Tuxedo tailcoats. “Are you conductors today?” asked the staff at Maisie Munro. Perfect, yes we are! We brought a beautiful picture book called the Conductor by Laëticia Devernay and our session was inspired by the illustrations of trees and birds in this story.

the conductor

a tree

We brought the lovely wooden xylophone with us to work on a cheeky raccoon theme for the show and even experimented with some tailcoat magic tricks.chilling in the xylaphoneThis week we have been writing a script for the show. It will be a play without words but we are recording the moments, collecting our ideas and crafting a narrative. It is a tricky business- sorting through the possibilities. We were relieved to realise how much work we have done already; the discoveries we have made over the past three months, the flashes of inspiration and spontaneous compositions all seemed to conspire together to form the outline of a piece that we are both excited about.