How to bring brilliant children’s theatre to the North

5 years. 15 venues. 170 shows. Over 130,000 people getting involved.

This year Z-arts hosted the first Big Imaginations Symposium. We shared what we’d learned over the last five years, including best practice, discussing brand new ideas, and enjoying some great art!

Chairing the Symposium Kate Cross, the inspirational director of the egg in Bath. With Kate at the helm, the egg has grown into one of the flagships of children’s theatre, challenging the ideas of what defines theatre for children and how art for young people is made and developed.

Among artists on the day were Benji Reid, Nina Hajiyianni and Sudha Bhuchar. Benji is a key figure in the Manchester arts scene and a major contributor to the Black Physical Theatre canon over the last 30 years. His Big Imaginations commission Pinocchio reset the classic tale in 70’s Moss Side and featured puppetry, animation, and amazing physical theatre.  Nina is the Artistic Director of Action Transport Theatre (ATT). ATT work with children as collaborators to make inspiring and risk-taking theatre for young audiences, and their show Happily Ever After switched up the traditional fairytale to see the handsome prince falling in love with another handsome prince. Suda is an award winning and acclaimed theatre maker, writer, and actor. She is the founder of Bhuchar Boulevard, making heartfelt, unforgettable theatre for multiple and diverse audiences. Her piece Child of the Divide is an emotionally-charged story of family, identity and belonging; marking the 70th anniversary of the partition of India.

Over the past 5 years, Big Imaginations has seen over 100,000 audiences and participants take part in theatre and arts activities. The Symposium will include long-table and round-table discussions about accessibility, diversity, quality, and audience development the day will focus on how theatre can be bigger, better and more affordable for children and families.

Attendees received a 20 page toolkit which shared some of the learning and resources from the brilliant venues across the Big Imagination network.

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