To celebrate their 10th anniversary, The Wardrobe Ensemble are running an exciting new theatre festival in Bristol from August to October. Theatre on the Downs is now up and running, and promises an eclectic and unmissable selection of family theatre, with new shows announced recently.
This is the perfect festival for all the family with brilliant works by leading children’s companies. The festival kicked off this week with Bicycle Boy (11 to 15 August), an outdoor pedal-powered eco-musical, packed with humour which is perfect for children aged 6-10 and their families to explore ideas of sustainability. We saw this a few years ago (back before we started blogging) at Greenwich and Docklands International Festival and absolutely loved it.
Coming up next week is the revival of The Wardrobe Ensemble’s out-of-this-world show The Star Seekers (18 to 21 August) which was last seen at the National Theatre in 2018. (This is another excellent show that we saw pre-blogging days – Mrs Mummy remembers it as one of her favourite family shows of all time!) Inspired by our childhood wonder at the limitless universe, this unique show delves into one of greatest unanswered questions of the universe: what do astronauts really have for dinner?!
Also on next week is Two, Four, Six, Eight (18 to 22 August), a funny and charming journey into the world of numbers for 3-8 year olds and their families by Shoofly Theatre, from Bristol theatre-makers Craig Edwards and Katie Sykes.
The very youngest of audiences are also catered for with WILDERBEAST’s Beach Baby (27 to 29 August). This enchanting new summer show for ages 0-3 explores the sights, sounds and textures of the beach in a playful sensory exploration.
The fun keeps on going after the summer holidays with Silly Squirrel (4 to 5 September). Pull up a picnic blanket and join Above Bounds for this playful new story for ages 0-7, written in 2020 for the Summer Reading Challenge and now created into a show for 2021, with puppets, gentle interaction and lots of laughs!
You can also catch Roustabout Theatre in The Great Big Story Mix Up (11 September), a live and interactive improvised storytelling show for ages 3+ which puts the audience at the centre of the action. We saw the online version of this show last year so you can read all about it in our review. Make a weekend of it and stick around for Coppice Theatre’s Science Adventures: The Power Pickle (12 September), s a fantastical show for ages 5+ that explores the wonders of science.
Finally, follow Mismatch Theatre into an immersive explosion of the topsy-turvy-turbulent world of TooRaLooRum and Other Colourful Tales (19 September). Suitable for ages 5+, it explores the importance of imagination and how bravery can come from even the smallest of places.
The Great Big Story Mix Up
There are also some exciting looking shows for older members of the family, including The Wardrobe Ensemble’s* Winners (10 to 28 August, suitable for ages 12+), Full Rogue’s Wild Swimming (31 August to 4 September, suitable for ages 14+) and Living Spit’s Disney-defying version of Beauty and the Beast (14 to 18 September, suitable for ages 12+) which is described as containing “strong language, innuendo and general filth”!
The Theatre on the Downs is kindly supported by The Wardrobe Theatre*, Arts Council England, Backstage Trust and WECA. Ticketing in association with Bristol Old Vic.
Find out more and book at https://bristololdvic.org.uk/whats-on.
*Not to be confused with the Wardrobe Ensemble! The Wardrobe Ensemble is a producing theatre company, running The Theatre on the Downs; The Wardrobe Theatre is a venue in Old Market. The two organisations are good friends and have produced several shows together including The Great Gatsby and The Seekers Trilogy, but they are separate organisations.