NEWS: Theatre-Rites set for stage return with The Global Playground

The children’s theatre company celebrate their 25th anniversary this year

Acclaimed children’s theatre company Theatre-Rites are set to return to the state this July with The Global Playground, which will premiere at the Manchester International Festival and online. 

Amplifying diverse voices from a team of international collaborators, The Global Playground follows a group of dancers who meet to make a film with their nervous and chaotic director but things get wonderfully weird when the camera takes on a life of its own. Mixing dance, music, theatre and puppetry, The Global Playground examines how a  camera’s gaze often reveals more than we bargained for. It will be presented both in person and online, with digital viewers gaining a unique insight as the camera itself becomes a character on  stage.  

Throughout lockdown, human relationships have both grown and become more disjointed  through digital connections. We can now connect with anyone in person and on screen – but is the camera our friend, our playmate, or something else entirely? The Global Playground  explores the magic of our first encounters and is perfect for children and families. Audiences are invited to celebrate who we are and who we cherish, reflecting on a society where our digital  and real selves coexist in discord or cohesion.The cast is comprised of acclaimed dancers Jahmarley Bachelor (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, ZooNation, Mariposa: A Transgender Tragedy, Denada Dance), Annie Edwards (A Kate Prince Company; ZooNation), Kennedy Junior Muntanga (Phoenix Dance Theatre; Chotto Xenos,  Akram Khan Company) and Charmene Pang (Iceland Dance Company; Isadora Now: A Triple Bill,  The Barbican). They are joined by puppeteer and actor Sean Garratt (A Christmas Carol,  National Theatre of Scotland; The Table, Blind Summit Theatre) and renowned percussionist Merlin Jones (Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; Opera North). 

The Global Playground cast. From left to right: Jahmarley Bachelor (credit: Peter Raf), Annie Edwards (credit: Chris Nash), Kennedy Junior Muntanga, Sean Garratt (credit: Aslam Husain), Merlin Jones (credit: David Hinga) and Charmene Pang (credit: Omra Harding)

“As a company we have always been driven by the child’s needs and we know that young people’s futures will be a fluid experience of online and  real adventures.”  

Sue Buckmaster, Director

Following the sell-out success of The Welcoming Party at Manchester International Festival  2017, The Global Playground will be directed by Theatre-Rites’ Artistic Director, Sue Buckmaster  (The Welcoming Party; Chotto Desh, Akram Khan Company) with choreography from acclaimed  South African dancer Gregory Maqoma (Vuyani Dance Theatre). Designing the production is  renowned scenographer and artist Ingrid Hu (A Slightly Annoying Elephant, Little Angel Theatre; Curiouser, Flexer & Sandiland with dybwikdanss, UK and Norway tour). 

Composer Ayanna Witter-Johnson (London Symphony Orchestra; The Hip-Hop Shakespeare  Company) will be joined by sound designer Nick Sagar (Palace of Light, Noor Festival; Horrible  Histories ‘Tudors & Egyptians’, UK tour) to bring the musical elements of this exciting production  to life. Completing the production team are renowned lighting designer Guy Hoare (Sea Wall/A  Life, Broadway; Chotto Xenos, Akram Khan Company) and Martin Riley (The Great Staycation – Dot’s Farm, BBC One; Emmeline Pankhurst: The Making of a Militant, BBC One) who will manage  the digital film and production. The Global Playground is co-produced with Manchester International Festival. 

To mark their 25th anniversary, Theatre-Rites will be publishing a book celebrating the company and the incredible artists they have worked with. The book will also tell the fascinating story of  Artistic Director Sue Buckmaster, who lives with ME, and her puppeteer father who inspired her  work. The book will be published on 29th July and has been co-written with Dr Liam Jarvis,  Theatre-Rites board member and lecturer at Essex University.