The Great Big Story Mix Up, the hit improvised play for families, has gone online – and coming to Oxford’s Playhouse. You choose the characters. You choose the costumes. And, by sending in your drawings, you can even design the set!
Children can watch in awe as their wild and wonderful ideas are brought to life in never-before-seen fairy tales.
“The Great Big Story Mix Up celebrates what children do best – coming up with daft ideas – and enables them to become creative collaborators in a wonderful world of silliness and story. It’s like nothing else,” Roustabout Theatre’s Shae Rooke explains.
“Besides, the recent months have been difficult for children in so many ways. Being away from school and friends has left little room for wild imagination and play.”
Instead, The Great Big Story Mix Up, the new, highly interactive, improvised family show puts children’s imaginations at the heart of the action in a completely original way.
“Imagine the thrill of young people’s art becoming the scenery for a play, while the actors perform inside your drawing,” Shae continues.
That’s exactly what Roustabout Theatre will do when they bring The Great Big Story Mix Up to Oxford Playhouse this month.
Because any drawing sent in before the show could feature in the performance. Roustabout Theatre can even animate them so that they move.
When the show is performed on stage, the company uses suggestions, interruptions, and wild ideas from its young audience to create never-before-seen fairy tales.
“With children in charge, we have to be prepared to be anyone, go anywhere, and do anything. We have no idea what we’re going to do in advance”
“We make up a brand-new story every time led entirely by the audience’s suggestions,” Shae adds.
It also means that the three performers, Robin Hemmings, Toby Hulse and Shae Rooke are surrounded by mountains of ridiculous costumes, piles of silly props, and an extraordinary number of wigs and beards.
At the other end their technical wizard (which he chooses to call himself) Will Monks is hunched behind an enormous bank of computers, screens, and wires that would surely put NASA to shame.
“All this technology means that we can see, hear and talk with the children as they give us their suggestions and ideas,” explains Toby.
“Imagine how exciting it is going to be to see your picture appear on the screen as a key part of the story”
“With children in charge, we have to be prepared to be anyone, to go anywhere, and to do anything. We have no idea what we are going to do in advance,” he adds.
“And, although the audience are sitting at home whilst we are in the theatre, we want them to be as involved as possible, just as much as if they were here with us.”
But what about all those wires and screens? What are they all for?
“We are performing The Great Big Story Mix Up live and online,” Will explains further. “I turn the drawings children send us into animated scenery for the actors. Imagine how exciting it is going to be to see your picture appear on the screen as a key part of the story. You won’t be able to believe your eyes!” he laughs.
“It puts children’s artistic creativity at the centre of what we are doing. They see the world in new and wonderfully unexpected ways so every show is completely unique,” Toby Hulse adds.
If you like your theatre silly, full of songs, and with plenty of opportunities to join in, then make sure to book. And don’t forget to send in a drawing – who knows, it may just end up being the star of the show…
The Great Big Story Mix Up is live and online via Oxford Playhouse from Saturday, October 24 to Wednesday, October 28 (11am & 2pm) for everyone aged 3+. Be sure to send in your pictures before the performance. Without your imaginations, the show can’t go on!