Spotlites Producer asks cast & crew about their latest show ‘Sleeping Beauty & the Time Lords’

We spent TIME with Spotlites Technical Director Colin, and actors James, Kieron and Zac; here’s what they had to say:

So what makes ‘Sleeping Beauty and the Time Lords’ unique?

CK: It is a play which totally immerses the audience, it is an hour and a bit of fantasy science fiction (Space Opera is the official style) It’s a wonderful way to be a hero and save the day without the exclusion of being plugged into a Playstation oblivious to anyone in the outside world. It is sociable, the audience all have to work together.  The story is a fantastic twist on the classic Sleeping Beauty story, intertwining a parody of Dr Who and allowing the audience to be victorious. The play teaches right from wrong without preaching and shows that even the side-kick thief can turn out to be a good guy after all. Without the kids joining in and learning the Sonic Screwdriver techniques Aurora is doomed, so come join in and save her!

What’s the best thing about working in interactive children’s theatre?

JC: It’s very rewarding work. The effect is almost immediate; it’s delightful to see a parent playing with their child and being caught in their sense of wonderment. Inspiring that feeling and knowing that you’ve helped facilitate a family moment is incredibly fulfilling.

Why should someone bring their family to watch ‘Sleeping Beauty and the Time Lords’?

CK: It is a fun show that really gets the kids drawn into the world of the play, the adventure we all go on is ‘real’ for them. They desperately want to go onstage and help, they want to help the heroes defeat the evil characters in the play, they even cheer when the heroes win. It’s a magical experience and parents really enjoy watching their kids get so involved with the show.

 

What’s your favourite thing that a child has said to you after the show?

KR: I loved it when the robot shot him! Tyler, aged 5.

James, what are you most looking forward to about playing The Doctor?

JC: His inherent sense of mania is always fun to portray. His moral compass is also fascinating; its wonderful to discover which side of ethics he’ll fall down on. He is, in essence, alien. Neither greatly good nor greatly bad, but different. It gives a lot of personality and character avenues to explore.

Kieron, you play more than one character in the play, how do you swop between them?

KR: Swapping character relies on knowing each character’s story inside out. The physical and vocal changes happen only with a lot of practice jumping between one and the other. Costume helps a bit, but that too takes practice when costume changes are less than 10 seconds!

Zac, you’re a newcomer – what’s the best thing about playing Fighter Fairy Guardian F8?

ZM: Learning about wand use and being able to combat using it, for example fighting and using the wand to control Kieron’s character, F-12.

Colin, you create the sci-fi special effects and props – what’s your favourite one?

CK: My favourite prop is the Temporal Chronogram that children from the audience go onstage to build. The design is something the children have drawn earlier in the show and the actors use their diagrams to create the Temporal Chronogram using lots of different electronic bits which are all over the stage which the kids have to find. Obviously I’ve added lots of LEDs and wires to them and made them look more space age.

A Time Lord in @spotlites show

Timelord in Spotlites latest play ‘Sleeping Beauty & the Time Lords’

 

When films can do so much with CGI how can theatre keep up?

CK: By keeping it simple but real and suggestive – I love CGI in films (I’m a sci-fi nut) as it can fully immerse you into the world of the film, but with theatre I try to use the children’s own imagination to create the scenes in the play. So any special effect must be not only impressive but also able to fit into people’s imagination easily which means less crafted detail but with a strong image. For example the spiral copper pipe that is the gold spinning machine in the show. It is simple but also suggestive and really looks the part when Aurora pricks her finger on it. It also is instantly removable by the actors who ‘scavenge’ it during their criminal pursuits. Everyone in the audience knows it is the spinning wheel, even though it looks nothing like a real one, this means they are concentrating on worrying about Aurora and what the Cyberwitch is about to do. A real Grotowski prop!

What’s your favourite part of ‘Sleeping Beauty and the Time Lords’?

JC: It’s a wonderful story; it’s well-crafted, enjoyable and cathartic. As you’re performing the show, you can see the audiences fall into the story and become enthralled by it. There’s something for everyone: good versus evil; a beautiful princess and dashing prince; scientific concepts and apparatus; revenge; retribution; redemption; it’s funny; charming; endearing; and above all a great family adventure at Spotlites!

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Director’s Blog – Is there such a thing as a grown up?

It’s December: month of theatrical madness! It’s behind you, before you and all around you… Panto is often people’s first introduction to live theatre and it’s important that it does a good job and creates enough magic that they want a second visit to the theatre.

But it’s also important to stress that there is great children’s theatre around which is not panto.

Our company, Spotlites, specialises in children’s theatre all year round and we do not do panto. Ever!

Why? Because panto, although a valid genre in itself, isn’t children’s theatre- it’s often over long, over sentimental, risqué and out-dated. Which isn’t to say that the best panto isn’t wonderful. It can be and sometimes it is. But it is also often overly commercial, under rehearsed and shamelessly overpriced.

At Spotlites we believe children’s theatre should be just that: theatre for children and that it should be accessible to all children- we are very proud that our Family Ticket for 4 people costs the same as one ticket for the local pantos. We are also proud that children are on the edge of their seats all the way through our shows, literally too engaged to sit down sometimes and that they don’t get bored, need the loo constantly or want to go home.

So if panto sounds a bit like hard work, how about taking the children to see some original children’s theatre this Christmas? No it’s not for adults specifically, it’s for the children, but you know what – seeing adults relax, watch their children interact and become engrossed in a story which they’re living as it happens, reminds me that adults are only grown up kids and Spotlites is an amazing place to spend time with the children.

Is there such a thing as a grown up?

 

Spotlites Lilipop

Spotlites Technical Manager reveals what he packs in his Edinburgh suitcase

I am about to go to Edinburgh to build 3 theatre spaces in our own edfringe venue Spotlites @ The Merchants’ Hall and was thinking what is the most important thing to pack.

spotlites suitcase packed

packed full of gaffa tape?

Well, we spend about 3 months in technical preparation for the Edinburgh festival – this includes things like pat testing thousands of metres of cables, lights, fans, sound desks and all the electrical equipment we need. We also maintain all the equipment from simple changing gels in a light up to soldering pcbs (printed circuit boards) on a sound desk. But it is way more than that, for example we have to run in lots of cables for the lights in the theatre and we have to calculate the length of the cable – no point taking five 3 metre cables when you only need one 15 meter one and different things need different connectors. The sound desk uses jacks and xlrs, the lights need 15 amp connectors, the intelligent lights need 16amp and dmx connectors, laptops need rj45 connectors, printers use usb connectors, the dimmers use 63amp connectors on three phases – it is a logistical rollercoaster of interconnectivity.

 

spotlites cable connectors cheap

which ones goes where?

So how do we ensure it all works as it should – simple – we build the venue before we take it to Edinburgh. No, not actually get brick layers and plumbers involved, we set up the lights with their dimmers and the lighting console with all the cables, power, gels, dmx addresses, hanging ironmongery, we plug all the sound equipment into everything and test if everything all works. This may sound a bit like we over do things but we are restricted by the amount of actual time we have on site in Edinburgh. Then we spend ages labelling everything with how it links together.

 

spotlites cheap pat test label free

pass or fail

So back to the original question, what tools do we take – well not many as everything should just plug and play – although we do take our general tool box for repairs and maintenance. And I do sneak into one of the trucks our welding gear when no one is looking. So the most important thing I take with me is my spotlites schedule of fit-up and technical drawings – which is all on my laptop and printed out as a backup as well of course.

 

Spotlites technical cad drawing help

Technical Drawing of something