The ACE centre in Nelson was such a wonderful space. It felt very much the hub of the community and we had such a welcoming experience performing there. The audience were on the younger side of our advised age range (2-6 years old) and sometimes a bit more vocal than we were used to, however this did not mean the children were not engaged. They really enjoyed the show and one parent said to us that it was the first performance that her child had ever sat through. The children were very interested in the set and we played with various items for quite a while after the performance.
A younger audience can sometimes be a bit more physical and vocal which sometimes feels hard when performing but we trust that they are with us and I know this helps me as a performer to carry on telling out story even when it seems the children's attention is elsewhere. It was a smaller audience in Nelson and the following day at King George's Hall was quite a contrast. The audience was around 50 members, the children were quite hesitant and shy when coming in to the space. I did my best to make them and their parents feel welcome, gently chatting to the parents and informing them about certain aspects of the show. I try not to approach any child singularly as this tends to be too much. If I busy myself with a prop or fiddle with a part of my costume they generally become interested and I invite them in to talking to me this way. The show was very high energy on this occasion and I think that it was because the audience were very quiet in the first half of the show, the normal giggles weren't happening so we seemed to heighten our performance and suddenly they were with us! As the show reached the match strikes the children were exploring the space and becoming very vocal. We had a few health and safety warnings from one child when lighting the matches 'You can't light sparklers inside, you have to go out! It's dangerous.' We gave him a cheeky grin to let him know it was OK and we were safe. Eloise also went and spoke to him after the show to make sure he was satisfied, she told him how the set was flame proof and these sparklers were specifically made to be used inside. After every show we always get a few teary parents chatting to us about the original story of the little match girl.I think one of my favourite aspects of the show is the memories that the little girl has of her grandma because everyone has memories. Whether they be of lovedones who have passed, or fond times, a lot of this show is about looking back at really great times and I think that is quite special.Next week we are in Manchester and I'm very much looking forward to settling in to our run in Cheltenham at Christmas time!