Dot Wood on....One Little WordDate: 9 December 2010
Rochdale's M6 Theatre Company is acknowledged as one of Britain’s leading theatre companies specialising in creating and delivering dynamic, high quality and relevant productions for young audiences. Founded in 1977, the company are striving to stand out in a market filled with TV show and film spin off stage shows. Dot Wood has overall responsibility for developing and leading M6’s creative theatre programme, including commissioning and developing new work. We caught up with her to find out more about their new play, One Little Word and the work of this innovative children's theatre company.
One Little Word is quite unique. Tell us about it.
It's is a play without language – well almost! It’s accessibility, therefore, is universal. The story is deceptively simple yet resonates for any age group. It tells a story that is at the heart of all drama – conflict. It is set in a context which relates to young children but the status and power struggles are elements we all wrestle with – whatever our age. The play takes its audience on a journey of friendship involving a whole range of emotions – carefully woven to provide a unique experience where children can engage with the fun challenges and resolution explored through the story. The achievement of this piece is its ability to catch all of this with no dialogue except for one very small but very important little word.
Is the aim to get children into being lifelong theatregoers?
One of our aims is certainly to share a passion for theatre as a very special medium for understanding more about the world and ourselves. Underpinning all our work is a desire to make theatre which touches the hearts and minds of our audiences. A great deal of thought, planning, creativity and energy goes into each element of our productions to ensure our work is accessible, inspirational and emotionally truthful.
For many of our very young audiences, it is often their first experience of live performance. The thrill of being drawn into the multi-sensory world of a story acted out live just for the people there at that time is a very special thing - very different from a book or television – it creates a magical shared experience for all involved. I think there is something very precious and memorable in that experience.
In a world driven by computers, what makes the show appealing to the target audience?
One Little Word is so appealing for the very fact that it is so far away from the technological world – or a world driven by computers. The play is about play. Children need very little apparatus or stimulus to actually play. Theatre involves what children naturally do everyday – to make believe? It is a world that children enter into so easily. Playing is fun and the audience see this in One Little Word. But even play has its parameters and in our play we witness the struggles and consequences when different needs collide.
What does M6 hope to achieve over the next few years?
We have far reaching plans making different scales of dynamic theatre for many different age groups in many different contexts. Key productions currently staged include include Talking Heads for Teenagers and Sunflowers and Sheds for family audiences plus an exciting new writing competition. Check out our website for new productions on the horizon – all developed with young people at the heart.
How does One Little Word stand out in a crowded children’s show market?
With One Little Word especially I think it is a very deceptively simple story. Although the play is aimed at 3-6 year olds - children up to their teenage years are captivated by the story. We’ve also had many parents approach us after the performance to tell us they enjoyed it as much as their children. Although we assist teachers, parents, arts venues on a ‘target’ age group, our multi-layered work can be viewed at different levels, enabling all generations to find meaning and connection with the production. For a child it is most probably a story about two friends on a pretend boat. On a more metaphorical level it could be a play about conflicts in any close relationship or even between nations! Compromise is very hard work and something we struggle with all our lives.
Dot Wood was speaking to Glenn Meads
One Little Word is at the Lowry from 9 - 10 April, 2011
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