The Flanagan Collective presents Polly and William, York Theatre Royal, June 5 and 6 (From York Press)
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The Flanagan Collective presents Polly and William, York Theatre Royal, June 5 and 6
THE Flanagan Collective was set up last year by Belt Up Theatre’s co-artistic director, Alexander Wright, to “actively seek and aim to create opportunities for artists”.
Since then, the York collective has worked with almost 50 artists and companies on work spanning musicals, devised collaborations, community productions, storytelling, events and one-off experiences, not least at the Little Festival Of Everything last November at the Fauconberg Arms, Coxwold.
Now the company will perform at York Theatre Royal for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the Kids Festival in the TakeOver Festival 2012.
Their TakeOver shows, William and its new sister piece, Polly, fall into the storytelling category, and are written by Alexander and presented by partner Veronica Hare.
“William and Polly are part of a wider group of five or six twisting tales I’m writing that have their roots in the traditions and myths of English folklore,” says Alexander.
First performed by Veronica at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer, William aims to “create a new mythology, taking us through the beginning, middle and end of all things in a tale fit for anyone with a pinch of imagination still in them”.
Like Alexander – who could spot if his parents had left out part of a favourite bedtime story being read to himself and sister Abbigail – William loves books. One day he sneaks away from his parents and finds himself in a magical bookshop, where he has to step back into his own adventure that will take him to the end of the world.
In the second tale, Polly loves all things magical and wonderful but the problem for Polly is that she shouldn’t do so. No one should even know Polly is there and certainly not that she loves her mystical stories. So, when an angel falls through the ceiling into Polly’s secret attic, she is happy to be swept up into her own adventure in a magical world.
William and Polly are stories for children and their families that ask their audiences to be at the heart of the making and building of the adventures.
“We tried out a little bit of Polly at the Little Festival of Everything and it will start its full life on Tuesday,” says Alexander.
“Potentially there are three or four more stories for me still to write. At the moment, they’re all stories that aren’t written down, just stories that I know and Veronica knows, so they’re in the oral tradition of storytelling – unless someone offers me a publishing deal, for which I’d definitely write them down!”
Each performance relies on the audience working with Veronica. “It all happens very naturally that way,” she says. “Alex has given me the rough stories for both pieces and we go from there.”
“Each show, the children and families get to help to create the characters, the world and the storyline,” says Alexander.
Alexander savours the unpredictable nature of the shows, from the children’s suggestions of what adventures they would like to experience, to the way they behave in a theatre setting.
“I love it when they don’t obey the rules of theatre-watching,” he says. “I believe there should always be the option of being able to get involved, rather than sit there silently.”
• The Flanagan Collective presents Polly on Tuesday and Wednesday at 11am and William at 1.45pm on the same days in the Keregan Room, York Theatre Royal, as part of TakeOver Festival 2012. Polly is suitable for age three upwards; William for age four upwards.