Ahead of the arrival of the Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie at the start of August, we caught up with Director James Seager from Les Enfants Terribles to tell us who Dr Longitude is, and why children and adults alike are falling in love with the show.
When making children’s theatre, how do you keep your adult audiences as engaged as the kids?
We tend to make theatre that we would want to see ourselves, so we don’t really tailor anything for a specific audience. I think the show succeeds in not patronising kids, which is important. It doesn’t talk down to them, and I believe that this is one of the reasons why it has a huge fun appeal and a real joy about it which adult audiences respond to.
How does your artistic approach vary when creating children’s theatre compared to Les Enfants other works for older audiences?
We never set out to make “a kids show” so I don’t think we ever think about that really. We always set out to make the best, most enjoyable, fun show imaginable and one that we would also want to see. I think that this approach is important as if you start thinking of making something for a particular audience it can sometimes feel contrived.
Obviously when creating a show as fun as this one its going to be different from our approach when making more serious plays like our last outing, which was about the First World War. But for me Menagerie is for all ages – it makes grown ups feel like kids again and makes kids laugh and get lost in the adventure. Our approach is always the same with using puppets, physical theatre, music but all to tell a story.
Who is Dr Longitude?
He is a crazy adventurer obsessed with filling his menagerie with wild and exotic beasts, oh and with a cow that looks like Brian May.
The show has previously been performed across the UK, including a run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. What’s that been like?
It’s been great taking this show all over the UK and Ireland and the response has been incredible. We only thought we would tour it for 1 year and here we are 3 years later with a huge demand from audiences wanting to see it again and again! The best thing about the show is how all ages have loved it and that’s great to achieve a piece that can play to a teenage audience at the Reading Festival, to theatre going audience at places like Latitude and Winchester, and to all types of society like we did performing it open air on the streets of Dublin and London.
The show includes incredibly visual elements; can you tell us more about this?
Sam Wyer is the puppet maker and designer and he is incredible. He’s also someone we have worked with for years so he knows how we work and vice versa. His aesthetic perfectly suits the show and it’s such a joy to see people’s reactions to the giant puppets – they are breath taking and very funny!
Join this exciting piece of outdoor theatre for all the family when the show comes to the Maltings on Thursday 06 August with performances at 1pm & 3pm.