A-Tissue, A-Tissue #Issue 3

Last week at Southway Library we had a really fun workshop session exploring sound and music. Along with Helen and myself, our Sound Designer Daisy Higman came along to play some of the songs she has been writing for our piece and help us explore the imaginative world of music. The children were enthralled by Daisy’s music and rather enjoyed joining in with silly sounds and actions. We also looked at making the sounds which we associate with different locations and environments, working together to create a City, a beach and a park. They particularly enjoyed playing with instruments: shakers, bells and pitched percussion tubes.
Following on from this penultimate workshop in the series, Helen & I have just spent 3 days working in The Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Lab space devising what will become ‘A Tissue, A Tissue.’ drawing on our previous training at the Little Angel Theatre from Rene Barker and Joy Haynes, we started by playing with objects and materials to see what imaginative worlds we could create using only a handful of props, some boxes and some magician’s scarves. It’s been great to go back to basics on this project and draw on everything we’ve learned over the past few years as a company.
Out of these devising days we have come up with a short sample of interactive performance to try out in Southway this week during our final workshop session with this group. After this we will spend some more time in the studio before bringing the ‘theatrical encounter’ to other libraries across Devon. During our final session we will also be accompanied by our Set designer, Chloe Benbow who is currently crafting away to make the world of our imaginations come to life.

A-Tissue, A-Tissue #issue2

We’ve been having a really great time getting to know everyone over the last few weeks at our
workshop series at Southway Library with Plymouth Libraries. There’s a good regular crowd along with new comers each week
and it’s been thrilling to see what they can create. Last week we looked at creating and engaging with
different environments: the city, the coast, and the jungle. We even built a pretend rockpool full of
card cut-out marine creatures which the children helped us to fish out and discover.
This week’s session was a bit more crafty. Inspired by our Under the Sea theme, we helped our tiny tots
to make jelly fish puppets out of paper plates, ribbon and wool. It was lovely to see how they chose to
decorate and embellish these puppets, each with their own unique style. Then, using chalk and a long
piece of black paper we tried to create an underwater world full of creatures and plantlife. All together
we were then able to make a short performance piece about the daily life of a jelly fish drifting around
the ocean.
Working with this age group continues to be so rewarding. All the feedback we’ve received so far
suggests that our participants are enjoying the sessions, but so are we! It’s amazing to see a group of
children (some as young as 2!) Engaging with their imaginations and expressing themselves without filter – even if that sometimes means out workshop plan takes a detour.
So far we have explored narrative, environment and craft and next up is sound! After next week’s
session we will start to reflect on what activities and tasks have worked best across this sessions and
begin to formulate the finished interactive show for early years audiences. It will be great to bring the
show back to the audiences who have helped us make it and we can’t wait to get into the rehearsal
room and start making!

A-Tissue, A-Tissue #issue one

Last Wednesday (17th April) we began a project which has been almost a year in the making. For several years, Helen and I have wanted to create a new interactive show for the under 5s which expands the idea of story and uses all the senses to create art.
The first stage of this project is a series of workshops at Southway library in Plymouth, in collaboration with Plymouth Libraries. We started the session- after enthusiastically saying hello of course – by finding animal characters hidden around the room and using them to tell two well-known fables: the lion and the mouse, and the tortoise and the hare. We explored the physical and vocal characteristics of these creatures before telling the stories in an interactive way with games including pin the tale on the mouse and lots of input from our little helpers (and their parents!). It was a really fun season and everyone was really engaged with the stories and characters. And it’s certainly fired our imaginations. Having mostly worked with slightly older children in the past, it was with some trepidation that we embarked on this project, not knowing exactly which of our idea would work with such a young audience. However with this first week completed Helen and I feel really excited for the weeks ahead and can’t wait to see just much much we can achieve for this show. Once the series of five workshops is over we shall spend some time in the rehearsal room to consolidate everything we’ve learned and form a finished piece which will tour to libraries and community settings later on the summer (stay tuned for more details).
A-Tissue, A-Tissue looks set to be a very exciting show and we’re all really excited to see where it can go.
We’re collaborating with set designer Chloe Benbow And musician/sound designer Daisy Higman. To enhance the final show and this project has been supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Stay tuned for next weeks blog post, follow us on facebook, and if you’d like to attend any of the up coming workshops at Southway library, they’ll be every Wednesday at 10.45am for the next 3 weeks!

Helen and George x


Ugly Duckling & Other Tales- Tour 2017 Round-up

The Ugly Duckling in Hibernation

Whilst real ducks do not have a long winter sleep, our Ugly Duckling is have a well earned rest for the festive season.

We had a great time touring The Ugly Duckling & Other Tales beginning at the Brighton Fringe Festival back at the end of May right through to our final performance at Victoria Hall in Radstock. Although as a result of the tour the team have reassembled for workshops and schools performances right through the Autumn term.

This has been the first major tour for Above Bounds and we’ve certainly learnt a lot which will help us grow for the future. As our work to date has been primarily based in Devon, we were thrilled to see such strong support from our Exeter audiences with two sell-out performances at The Unpacked Family Theatre Festival and several well attended workshops across Libraries with support form Exeter City Council.

Whenever you take a show out on the road there is a degree of trepidation about how it will be received. We were overwhelmed with some of the responses from our audiences, and it certainly helped to bolster moral over what became a rather sprawling tour. Thank you to everyone who stopped to speak to us at the end of a show or contacted us over facebook, your comments mean so much to us and help us to continue making new shows. Yet there are always lessons to be learned. I think our approach to making shows will adapt as a result of the tour and certainly we’ll be making a few alterations to The Ugly Duckling & Other Tales before it waddles off on the road again. We’ve built some very loyal audiences over the past few years and its important for us that they get to see something new as well as developing our work for newcomers to Above Bounds.

It’s been an exciting few months for the team as well. Helen was selected for the Emerging Producers Programme at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival; George completed his Masters Degree in Playwriting; and Nina Raines who designed the set for Ugly Duckling has embarked on a new journey, beginning her Masters degree in Scenic Art at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

We’ve also got some exciting news that our new show, The Elves & The Shoemaker will be premiering at Libraries across Devon this Christmas. You can book tickets here: www.ticketsource.co.uk/abovebounds

One of our Exeter shows has sold out with limited availability on the second, so to has our performance at Pinhoe Library, but you can still catch us at Plympton and Plymstock libraries on the 16th December and Kingsteignton Community Hall on the 21st. We have now signed up to the Family Arts Standards- so you can be rest assured we will provide an event suitable for all of the family!

Thanks once again to everyone who has supported our show and please stay tuned for more exciting updates in 2018.

Helen & George x

Here are some photographs from our FREE performances at Kingsteignton Town Hall-

The Ugly Duckling’s Big Waddle

What a fantastic summer we have been having here at Above Bounds, as our Ugly Duckling has been waddling his way across the UK on our first UK tour of our work! Thanks to support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Exeter City Council and Kingsteignton Town Council, we have been taking our show ‘The Ugly Duckling & Other Tales’ and workshop to some fantastic venues across the UK.


We began back in July, after a week of R&D at the Bike Shed Theatre’s Unit Space, working with Becky Dobson, a fantastic addition to the Above Bounds Team playing Emily Snee’s music. Our first performance with performance at Midsummer Dreams Festival at Dartington Hall, a fabulous children’s theatre festival set in the gorgeous estate. The performance was really well attended and we were ready to hit the road.

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Next stop was the Unpacked Children’s Theatre Festival at the Exeter Phoenix, curated by Paddleboat Theatre. Here, we received our BRAND NEW set by Nina Raines and we were so excited to start working with it. Both of our shows were SOLD OUT and we were so pleased to return to the festival (you might remember we previewed our shadow puppetry workshops at the festival last summer).

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After a fantastic festival, it was off to Suffolk with 2 shows and a workshop at The Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft. George’s family live in Lowestoft and as a company, we are keen to make connections in both the East and West. This was our first performance in the South East and it was a lovely one. Our audiences loved meeting our Ugly Duckling and singing along to the music. We also had a Company trip to the beach- a must when visiting Lowestoft.

Upon returning from Lowestoft, we ran a series of workshops supported by Exeter City Council and taking place at Exeter Libraries. We visited Exeter Central Library, Pinhoe Library and St Thomas Library, engaging with local residents and encouraging little ones (and big ones) alike to make shadow puppets. We have been so inspired by these workshops, often the participants make better puppets than ours! We are hoping to return to the Libraries at Christmas, so keep a look out for more information soon!

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Our next performances were at The Plough in Torrington and The Poly in Falmouth. We gained a brand new banner to advertise these performances and even did some singing on the street in Falmouth! It’s been fantastic to visit these lovely areas on tour and to perform to audiences who haven’t previously engaged with our work. Here’s a picture of our technician Nathan setting up in the Plough:

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Next up, we are at the Tacchi-Morris on Saturday 16th September, Crediton Arts Centre on Saturday 23rd September, Tiverton Community Arts Theatre on Saturday 30th September and Victoria Hall Radstock on Sunday 8th October. Tickets are on sale NOW take a look and buy yours now- tickets available via the link on our homepage.


We’ll be back with another blog soon! Please do share your photos from the show with us, we love to see them.

Helen & George

Above Bounds X

The Ugly Duckling Grows

Hi Everyone,

Wow, our Ugly Duckling has certainly developed since we began devising the piece in August 2015. Before we take our Ugly Duckling on tour this summer, let’s look back on how far we’ve come over the last year.

Firstly, we completed a successful R&D of the project last summer using public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and working with Clare Willcocks to illustrate our artwork, and India Isaac, Brixington Primary School, Sam Worboys, Emily Snee and the Bike Shed to develop the piece. Then we worked with Luke Jeffery to create our fabulous trailer!

After one week on the Theatre Farm Retreat in Suffolk, and one week  at the Bike shed Unit Space in Exeter, we’d made the piece, which we performed at Exmouth Library to an excited crowd.

From here, we took the piece to Outpost festival at the Royal William Yard in Plymouth. Being part of this Pop-Up theatre was an amazing experience and we played the show to 2 fabulous audiences.

With a little bit of redevelopment, the piece has then gone on to tour to the From Devon with Love Festival at the Bike Shed Theatre in January, the Doorstep Arts Festival in Torbay at Easter and the Brighton Fringe 2017, where we performed 5 shows in the Warren: Studio 3! Thanks go out to our fabulous composer Emily Snee, and our stand-in musician John Archer who helped us out for our performances in Torbay.

Photo by Doorstep Arts, April 2017.

We are now excited to announce that our Summer 2017 has been supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Exeter City Council and Kingsteignton Town Council, with project partnership from Worboys Productions and the Bike Shed Theatre. With their help, we are taking our Duckling on the road all across the South West (and even Suffolk!) We’ll be performing in Dartington, Exeter, Lowestoft, Falmouth, Torrington, Taunton, Crediton, Tiverton and Radstock! You can view our full tour dates and buy tickets HERE! We can’t wait for you to meet our Ugly Duck, watch the piece and even have a go at making your own Shadow Puppets with our Library Tour in collaboration with Exeter Libraries.

So, as George and I look back on the last year, we can certainly say it’s been a good one!

Thanks so much for all of your support and we look forward to welcoming you along to the show soon!

First up is Midsummer Dreams Festival on July 23rd. Our show is on at 11.30am and you can make your own shadow puppet from 10.30am- see you there!


Outpost Festival

Hello everyone!
You may have noticed that we haven’t posted for a while because we have a brand new website (thanks to Luke over at Wandering Tiger Productions) we hope you like it!
Since our development in the summer, we put our Ugly Duckling to rest for a few weeks before performing at New Model Theatre’s Outpost Season of Pop-Up work at the Royal William Yard in Plymouth. We performed on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th October as part of the family programme. The festival is fantastic, taking place over three weeks in October in Ocean Studios at the historic Royal William Yard and bringing work from all over the Country down to Devon. This year, there was also a special twist, with an Outpost REP company performing three different pieces across the festival- an Ibsen, Mark Ravenhill and a new play written by Artistic Director Tom Nicholas. Last year, I volunteered as part of the festival and it was such a lovely experience to bring the Ugly Duckling there this year. We were so pleased to see how well received the piece was, as we are hoping to still develop it for two further weeks next year. We had a brilliant turn out, so thank you so much for coming along!
Next up is Travellers’ Tales at St Anne’s Arts Centre in Barnstaple on Sunday November 27th. Tickets are now available via the North Devon Theatres Website. We hope to see you there!
Photo below by the fabulous Gemma Ward Photography:

George Reflects…


We’re winding down the R&D of Ugly Duckling & Other Tales now, and so it is time to reflect on how far we have come in the last few weeks and what the future holds for the project. Yesterday saw the essential culmination of this phase of development with a  performance of our show given at Exmouth Library to a receptive and enthusiastic audience in the children’s section. This was our first opportunity to perform the whole piece as it stands to our target age group and so we were excited, though at least a little nervous to see how it would go.

We had spent much of the development process trying to make sure that the storytelling was clear, that the piece as a whole would engage and resonant with our target age group, and that it would stretch the linguistic and emotional skills of our audience. I’m glad to say that we have at the very least achieved those aims. The audience in Exmouth loved the telling of the story through shadow puppets and a host of imaginative characters on stage. The themes of body image, identity and self-confidence also seemed to resonate well with the young audience and their parents were equally moved by the tragic, rebirth narrative which we highlighted in our show. It was a pleasure to perform there and a perfect way to end this phase of work.


However, this is not the time to sit back and congratulate oneself. Oh no! There is much work still to be done. In the coming days, weeks and months we will be seeking to further refine and interrogate the material we have come up with and think of evermore imaginative ways to engage and interact with our audience. We will the planning he next phase of development and of course booking in performances. And above all else, I think we owe it to ourselves to take a leaf out of the Ugly Duckling’s book and live our own truths, proud of who we are, accepting of our faults, and wholly unprejudiced in our experience of life.

George x

Final Day at the Bike Shed Unit Space and the Unpacked Children’s Theatre Festival

We had a busy final day in the Bike Shed Unit space performing our work in progress showing of ‘The Ugly Duckling & Other Tales’. The showing was very well received and we are really pleased with what we have created over the last two weeks. After some feedback and filming of our work, we packed up from the Unit Space and prepared for our shadow puppetry workshop as part of the Unpacked Children’s Theatre Festival in Exeter (which was today). This festival is a new children’s theatre festival in Exeter, in collaboration with the Bike Shed Theatre, the Exeter Phoenix and Paddleboat Theatre Company. We were chuffed to be asked to hold a workshop as part of the festival and decided we would include it into our development process.  Today was a great chance for us to show a short preview of our work to our target audience and it was great to see how well-received it was. It was also great to try out our workshop, which we would love to offer to theatres as an option alongside performances. We have been developing an education pack since our workshops with Brixington School in Exmouth.

The children in our workshop today were fantastic budding performers and puppeteers who made some brilliant puppets! It was great to see their puppets come to life on the screen and to see how much they enjoyed the process.

We are nearing the end of our Research and Development process now, with a performance in Exmouth library tomorrow at 10.30am. The performance is free but early arrival is recommended to guarantee entry. We are excited to see how the full show goes in front of an audience and to see what the future holds for the full show…

Day 4 at The Unit, Exeter

Another highly successful day working at The Bike Shed Theatre’s Unit Space in Exeter. Today we recapped the work we began yesterday and completed two full runs of the piece, ironing out any sections which weren’t as clear as they could be. This included working on the Emperor’s New Clothes song which we developed yesterday. This is another fun, upbeat song which we feel will appeal to our target audience especially. We finished the day performing to Chloe Whipple from the Bike Shed Theatre. It’s been so useful to have feedback throughout the process as we’ve been able to constantly clarify and improve our work. Chloe gave us some really useful and specific notes which we will work on tomorrow morning before our showing at 2.30pm.

Here are some of the pictures from last week’s development up in Suffolk on the Worboys Productions theatre Farm Retreat- we hope you’re enjoying reading about our process and we look forward to updating you on our showing tomorrow evening!