With just over a week to go before bOing! international Family Festival 2017, we caught up with Andy Manley, whom we have commissioned this year to create a brand new piece for families, A Little Wilder.
How did you begin creating work for families?
When I was at drama school I was really interested in visual/ physical theatre, so much so, that at one stage I was seriously considering retraining as a dancer. When I left college Tony Reekie (formerly of the Scottish international Children’s Festival) suggested to a group of us that we should start a children’s theatre company. We began Visible Fictions Theatre Company and made a show called Bill’s New Frock based on the Anne Fine novel. I realised children’s theatre gave me a chance to create highly visual shows and I haven’t looked back.
A Little Wilder is a new commission for bOing! 2017, how did you get the idea for the piece?
I wanted to create a show that started with me in a space responding to different materials rather than starting with a story. I was quite taken with the possibilities of playing with every day objects, especially lolly sticks! Now as the show has developed a small story has emerged but I didn’t go in trying to make a story, which has been quite liberating.
Tell us about A Little Wilder
A Little Wilder is a non-verbal piece. I’m the only performer in it. My character is innocent and curious of the world he is in. He tests the boundaries of his world trying to find a way through it and he makes an unconventional friend (well…friends) along the way. There is lots of music and sounds in the show that complement the performance and discoveries that the character makes.
What can families expect?
Hopefully families will find it engaging and fun for everyone. It always makes me chuckle when parents sound surprised that they enjoy a show for children. It seems odd to me that when making a show that I would forget half of the audience. Regardless of your age, a good piece of theatre can and should be both fun engaging for everyone in the audience.
What does it mean to you to come to bOing! ?
I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve known about the festival since it started and I know Liz (Gulbenkian’s Director) from her time in Scotland – she was instrumental in the early stages of my career so it’s nice to be part of her new venue and the bOing! Festival. Also I have a few friends and colleagues who are presenting work at the festival too namely Shona Reppe and Oily Cart so I am looking forward to seeing them as well as the rest of the programme, which looks great.
At the bOing! 2017 Symposium (Child’s Play?) we are discussing creating work for Early Years, what was the first piece of art/performance you experienced? Why do you think access to the arts by children & young people is important?
The first piece of work I saw for an early years audience was a show I saw at the Scottish Children’s Festival by a maker called Laurent Dupont. We had heard that he was going to do a show for babies (a crazy idea at the time) I watched as did the babies and was mesmerised by the 25 minute piece. It was fascinating to see their connection and enjoyment of this experience. I think that is the fundamental importance of theatre for younger audiences. In a world where we increasingly do things in isolation we need collective experiences which help us understand what it is to be in the world and further comprehend the world in which we live.
The theme for this year’s bOing is fabulous beasties – can you describe, draw or creatively show us a fabulous beastie?
I use a lot of tape in the show and at one point we thought this might be a kind of alien or monster but it didn’t quite work. However I am still in rehearsals so it may still make an appearance. Here it is in all it’s fabulous film noir glory.
Find out more about A Little Wilder