In anticipation for Little Angel Theatre’s production of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ at MAC from Sat 26 – Mon 28 October, we wanted to give you an insight from the creator of ‘Bear Hunt’ himself, Michael Rosen. This is his interview from 2006 when he first started working with Little Angel Theatre!
How did you become aware of Little Angel Theatre, and how would you describe it to someone who has never been?
The very first time I heard about the Little Angel came about because I shared a flat with a film editor. He was editing a film about the founder of the Little Angel, John Wright and a visit the company was making to Greece. The flat housed the place where the film was being made - an editing suite, in other words - and so I would wake up in the morning to the sound of Little Angel puppeteers talking about packing their van, or carving the figures.
A few years later I was taking my children to see shows there. It's hard to conjure up what kind of place it is. In one sense it's like being in a miniature or scaled-down theatre. The hall itself is small, it's often full of children and then the figures themselves are smaller than humans. But that said, when you focus in on the stage and start to follow the action, there's a way in which you keep finding yourself transported into some kind of mental space that is bigger and wider than ordinary theatre. I think that's because when you look at the figures and hear the voices and music you do a lot of what I'd call 'imagination-work'. In other words, you use what you hear and lend the figures a good deal of emotion and feeling.
Have you written for puppets before? What do you enjoy about working in this art form?
The only way I've written for puppets before is when I've written some little shows for what are known as 'paper' theatres. These are made of paper and cardboard, and you move the characters on the end of horizontal wires operated from the side. Traditionally these were made by a company called Pollocks and both Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson talked about loving them when they were children. The shows I wrote weren't for the public. They were for my children. I think what's enjoyable about writing for them, is the thought that the words will be contributing to a strange kind of magic. There is something so odd and amazing about the way humans are so willing to 'suspend disbelief' and enjoy this particular kind of spectacle. We know it's not real, we know we're looking at objects made of wood, paint, metal or whatever and yet, because we want to enjoy ourselves and give ourselves over tothe experience of wonder, we go along with it.
‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.Grab your tickets now from £10!