At 30 years young, TakeOff Festival is doing what it always has: proving productions for young audiences are profound, unpredictable, hilarious and exciting. Puppet musicals with singing books can be incredibly witty, whilst digging deep into the grieving process. Performing an 8-minute version of Macbeth with cutlery can be a lot of fun, but also explore the relationship between audience and actor. A 40-minute wordless show can still say a lot about shared space, male friendship, and resilience. A classic Victorian text can be reimagined as a contemporary modern tale touching on some of the most pressing issues of our time: child trafficking, the refugee crisis and the conflict in Syria.
Not that this is news to the delegates: TakeOff gathers together a group of people who get what children’s theatre is all about. As well as seeing a diverse range of work, the first 24 hours of the delegate programme also included some vital discussion: Mike Kenny and Gez Casey’s conversation about the role of the playwright in the creation of new work for young audiences sparked an energetic debate about the challenges facing the sector. Accompanying this was a scratch performance of extracts from Mike Kenny’s new work The Vulture’s Song, a compelling account of the Partition of India in 1947 told by a chorus of vultures who have gorged themselves on so much flesh they are too full to fly.
It’s both refreshing and revitalizing to be in a supportive space which takes children’s theatre seriously, isn’t afraid to ask tough questions, inspires important conversations and encourages rigorous reflection. And the best part is, there’s still two days left!
Children’s Theatre Reviews exists to help plug the gap in criticism and writing about theatre for young audiences. It is run entirely voluntarily, and needs support to continue covering and supporting the sector. For more information and to help give children’s theatre the voice it deserves, please visit our Patreon page.