With the Edinburgh Festival Fringe just round the corner, now seems to be a good time to have a look back at what’s happened since the last one.
It really only seems like a few weeks ago that we were loading a van with the sets, costumes and props for three different shows for Edinburgh. Arabian Nights was returning to the Fringe after an award-winning run in 2014. Alongside it were our two new shows, A Pocketful of Grimms and Storyteller, Storyteller.
Our Grimms show is another hour of storytelling fun and loveliness and had a successful run at the Gilded Balloon as did Arabian Nights.
Our third show, Storyteller, Storyteller is a bit of a departure. We asked the question, what would happen if the Storyteller from Arabian Nights met his counterpart from Grimms? Well, we didn’t know. So we got them together in a room and didn’t let them out for a few days and the result is the funniest 40 minutes of silliness you’d ever wish to see. Since Edinburgh, Storyteller has played festivals in Leeds, Cheshire and Brighton delighting anyone with a funny bone in their body.
In 2014 Arabian Nights won the Primary Times Children’s Choice award at the Fringe and in 2015 A Pocketful of Grimms was runner-up in what was apparently a very close contest. We had a lovely surprise in the last week of the Fringe when ThreeWeeks, one of the biggest publications at the Fringe presented us with their Editors’ Choice Award for our “outstanding” work in children’s theatre.
So a good Fringe 2015 should lead to a deserved rest, shouldn’t it? Not for Story Pocket. Within a few weeks of Edinburgh, we were packing again, this time leaving the Edinburgh jumpers, jeans and jackets behind and replacing them with shorts and t-shirts as we headed for a week of Arabian Nights in Dubai. What a very strange mix of worlds Dubai is but that’s another blog. We had a brilliant week at the beautiful DUCTAC theatre and had lovely audiences. Oh, and Dubai is very hot!
In October we played A Pocketful of Grimms at the Royal Albert Hall. Yes, THE Royal Albert Hall – the really big round building where they do the Proms. And we sold out two shows in one day. Okay it wasn’t the 7,000 seat main hall, we were in the Elgar Room, which is lovely and holds around 190. But it’s still the Royal Albert Hall!
And before you know it, along comes Christmas and The Nutcracker is in Clapham for two weeks, Guildford for a few days and then a week in Southend playing to full-houses of festive friends. Oh, and Arabian Nights went on a short Christmas outing to Yorkshire.
Surely time for a rest? Nope, back into rehearsal for Arabian Nights and a new cast. Luke Pitman and Yasmin Goodwin had finally bowed out from the show after being utterly brilliant for nearly two years (with Sarita Plowman and Tilly-Jane Wilson in noble occasional support). William Forde stayed on and was joined by Chris Gunter and Adeline Waby as they prepared for a two-week run in Geneva. Yes THE Geneva – the big city by the lake in SWITZERLAND.
Back home and Arabian Nights and Grimms joined forces for a lovely three days as part of the StoryStock festival at the Bush Theatre in London. Then a spring/summer tour for A Pocketful of Grimms which took us from as far north as Settle in Yorkshire to the far south of Folkestone in Kent. Oh, and Arabian Nights had a sold-out two-show day at the Royal Albert Hall, yes, that one.
And while all this was going on, Adam was writing a new script for Edinburgh – we have exclusive permission to adapt Michael Morpurgo’s novel Arthur: High King of Britain.
So, to Edinburgh 2016 and Story Pocket Theatre will be there for a month with not one, not two, not even three but FOUR shows. A Pocketful of Grimms returns along with Storyteller, Storyteller, Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur is in the wonderful new venue at the National Museum of Scotland. And the fourth show? Adam woke up in the middle of a bizarre game-show dream, wrote a few notes, had a chat with the Gilded Balloon folk and that strange dream became Pub Quiz for Kids with Patrick Monahan and will be at the venue all month.
And so we prepare for Edinburgh with one of the UK’s favourite comedians, the man who killed Braveheart (David Gant, star of King Arthur) and a company of actors and technicians of the richest talents. We know, we know: four shows at Edinburgh is madness! But we can’t wait.