Illustration of a white bride with blonde hair, in a white veil and dark smuged eye make-up. She is holding a glass while male hands pour champagne into the glasses, which is overflowing. The bride is also wearing a navy blue man's wedding jacket.

Baby, He Loves You comes to Hull from 19-28 April

By | News, Shows, Uncategorised

Details including dates and cast revealed for our big 2024 show: Baby, He Loves You, by Maureen Lennon

Illustration of a white bride with blonde hair, in a white veil and dark smuged eye make-up. She is holding a glass while male hands pour champagne into the glasses, which is overflowing. The bride is also wearing a navy blue man's wedding jacket.

How well do we know those who love us the most?

Bride-to-be Jodie is enjoying a rollercoaster of engagement parties and hen dos as her big day approaches. But when skeletons begin to tumble out of the closet, she must finally question what it means to love your family, no matter what.

Baby, He Loves You is a new play by Hull writer, Maureen Lennon, that weaves together original music, aerial acrobatics and storytelling under the intense gaze of a wedding party on Stage@TheDock.

A good night out

Dig out your favourite glad rags and join a hundred other guests in a decked-out marquee by the Humber for a wedding unlike any other.

Baby, He Loves You features original music by Ysabelle Wombwell, direction by Paul Smith, with choreography by Danielle Clements (Late Night Circus) and set design by Bethany Wells (Us Against Whatever; All We Ever Wanted Was Everything).

Many of the creative team behind 2023 hit, Modest, return with lighting design by Jessie Addinall, sound design by Tom Smith, costume design by Siân Thomas and dramaturgy by Middle Child literary manager, Matthew May.

Local cast

Hull actor Laura Meredith (Hullraisers, Coronation Street, Emmerdale) plays Jodie, alongside fellow locals Elle Ideson as best friend Lucy and Dan McGarry as dad, Phil.

University of Hull graduate Madeleine MacMahon (A Super Happy Story: About Feeling Super Sad) plays mum, Alison, while Jonathan Raggett plays fiancé, Mike.

Baby, He Loves You will run for 13 performances from 19-28 April, including four afternoon shows on Saturdays and Sundays.

Both performances on Saturday 27 April will include BSL interpretation by Sarah Cox.

Tickets go on-sale at noon, Tuesday 27 February, through the Middle Child website, at a suggested price of £20 but available from £15.

Baby, He Loves You is funded by Arts Council England and Hull City Council, with support from Wykeland and Stage@TheDock.

Visit our listing page for more details, including the full creative and production team credits.

A fat white woman with red hair in bunches dressed as Red Riding Hood dances with arms outstretched. In the background a panto dame plays guitar.

Red Riding Hood rides again with Back to Ours

By | News, Panto, Uncategorised

That’s right: our panto will return for four-days only in the February half-term, as we embark on a mini-tour of Hull with Back to Ours. Awooooo!

Red Riding Hood, Pattie Breadcake and the gang will visit community centres around Southcoates, Hessle Road, Orchard Park and Marfleet, with the family-version of the show on the following dates:

  • Wed 14 Feb – St Aiden’s Church, Southcoats Ave
  • Thu 15 Feb – Edinburgh Community Centre, Woodcock St
  • Fri 16 Feb – St Michael’s Church Hall, Orchard Park Rd
  • Sat 17 Feb – St Stevens Neighbourhood Centre, Annandale Rd

Performances will be at 2pm and 7pm at all venues on all dates.

This is the first time we’ve toured our panto and we can’t thank Back to Ours enough for the opportunity to head out of the city centre with our daft little show.

Tickets are on-sale now through the Back to Ours website.

Panto Vote

Choose our 2024 panto

By | News, Panto

Red Riding Hood opens in just one week, almost a year after you chose it in our audience vote at Robin Hood.

This Christmas we once again invite you, our panto audience, to choose next year’s show. Let’s meet your candidates.


An absolute classic, which we last performed in 2017 at Fruit. Pattie Breadcake would have to be one of the two sisters, but who could be the second?

Jack and the Beanstalk

You trade the family cow for some magic beans and grow a beanstalk in the backyard that leads to a sky castle inhabited by a giant. We’ve all done it!

Treasure Island

We know you love a curveball when it comes to panto and if anybody can out-Muppet the Muppets, it’s Middle Child.

Dick Whittington

The one where the jokes write themselves, last performed by us in 2016. Dick, Puss in Boots and one of the best panto villains in King (or Queen) Rat.


Everybody who attends Red Riding Hood at Social this Christmas can vote at the Buns of Steel polling station, by the bar.

Remember: it’s one panto pal, one vote, but whatever you choose, we’ll perform next year!

Godspeed, and may democracy prevail.

Fresh Ink Hull Playwriting Festival at the Fruit Market

Revealed: Fresh Ink, a new Hull playwriting festival

By | Artist Development, Fresh Ink, News

A new playwriting festival is coming to Hull next summer, supported with funding from founding partners Wykeland and J F Brignall Charitable Trust

Fresh Ink will support writers from Hull to create and develop new plays in the city, while giving audiences a glimpse behind-the-scenes of how theatre is made.

Inspired by ‘scratch’ nights, the festival will stage script-in-hand performances of early-draft plays over one weekend in July 2024.

Performances will take place at venues across the Fruit Market, including the outdoor Stage @TheDock.

Six new plays of varying lengths will be commissioned for the festival, with applications now open to writers.

A company of actors will perform the plays and be made available to other theatre makers who have work they’d like to share with an audience.

This first festival will be a pilot, so Middle Child can learn what works best and improve on it for the following years.

Middle Child have launched the festival to address the numerous threats to new writing in theatre.

Artistic director, Paul Smith, said: “Edinburgh Fringe is becoming impossible for many companies, Vault Festival’s long-term future remains uncertain and challenges abound in finding financial deals for ‘risky new work’ that suits both touring companies and receiving venues.

“Theatre makers must also contend with rising costs, reduced audience numbers in the face of covid and competition for funding, while freelancers bear the brunt of low pay and fewer employment opportunities, especially in Hull.

“While these are massive, industry and country-wide challenges, we at Middle Child want to do everything we can to increase opportunity, employment and access for theatre workers in our small corner of the world.

“That is why we’re launching an annual new writing festival, to directly fund and support the grassroots development of new plays in Hull, bringing new ideas to the stage and inviting audience feedback on early work to shape its future.”

Collage of four images. Top left, a Black woman in orange sweat and purple shiny wig dances. Text says six new paid commissions. Top right, two young white actors perform with scripts. Text says script in hand performances. Bottom right, an outdoor wooden amphitheatre, set in an old dry dock, with an audience watching a show. Text says venues across the Fruit Market. Bottom left, a white non-binary person with curly mullet sits at a desk laughing. Text says give it a go workshops.

The six commissions up for grabs include two 15-minute pieces, two 30-minute plays and two more up to 70-minutes.

Writers with a connection to Hull are invited to apply for one of the commissions, with a new idea, before the deadline of Monday 8 January.

Chosen playwrights will then work with the Middle Child literary team to each write a new script, which will be performed at the summer festival.

Audiences will be able to enjoy the lo-fi sharings, then share their thoughts and feelings with the writers and creative teams.

Paul Smith added: “All of this is only possible thanks to the incredible support of founding partners Wykeland who are funding the first three years, and the J F Brignall Charitable Trust, who are funding the first two years of this exciting new event.

“Working with these brilliant local partners has already been incredibly liberating, as both demonstrate a genuine desire to make Hull a better place to live, work and play, and we thank them for their trust and support in making this dream a reality.”

Read more about the thinking behind the festival in artistic director Paul Smith’s blog post or find out all the details for the commissions on our commissions page.

The commissioned writers will be revealed at the Middle Child season launch in March 2024.

The full festival programme will be finalised, with tickets going on-sale, by June 2024.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or join our mailing list to stay up-to-date with plans for the festival, alongside our various other projects.

Paul Smith, a white man in his mid-thirties with short light brown hair, in a dark blue sweater arms folded

Fresh Ink: Our response to the crisis in new writing

By | Fresh Ink, News

Artistic director, Paul Smith, blogs about our launch of a new writing festival, coming to Hull in summer 2024

I’m not sure I’ve ever been this excited to write, and share, a blog post.

As we grow older and enter our 13th year as a company, we are more focused than ever before on what we can meaningfully contribute to the city we live in, the industry we work in and the art form we love.

At the heart of Middle Child’s work – from our productions and development programme through to our venue, complete with a writing room and theatre library – is a dedication to new writing.

New writing, however, is under immense threat. The broader theatre industry faces some of the biggest challenges we’ve known since forming Middle Child in 2011, with the warnings from key industry voices clear.

Lyn Gardner has commented that “new writing finds itself in a precarious place where pressures on funding, concern over audiences, pressures on in-house staff and cutbacks to programming all threaten a delicate ecology. Unless we take care, the writing is on the wall.”

Meanwhile David Eldridge notes that “we must act now to save the UK’s great playwriting culture”.

These warnings are palpable in the day-to-day planning of a theatre company too. Edinburgh Fringe is becoming impossible for many companies, the future remains uncertain for London’s Vault Festival and challenges abound in finding financial deals for ‘risky new work’ that suits both touring companies and regional venues.

Even as a member of the Arts Council’s National Portfolio, it is becoming harder to marry ambition with long-term sustainability, as we each contend with rising costs, reduced audience numbers in the face of covid and high competition for funds across the board.

These challenges have a direct impact on the working lives of freelancers too, with average earnings for freelancers in the industry 17.5% below the UK national average salary, as per the Freelancers Make Theatre Work’s 2023 report.

The impact of the past few years are particularly stark when looking at our home city of Hull. According to the Hull Data Observatory, employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation has fallen by 55% since the pandemic, compared to 48.6% nationally.

While these are massive, industry and country-wide challenges, we at Middle Child want to do everything we can to increase opportunity, employment and access for theatre workers in our small corner of the world.

Fresh Ink Hull Playwriting Festival

That is why, along with founding partners Wykeland and J F Brignall Charitable Trust, we’re launching Fresh Ink, an annual new playwriting festival in Hull’s Fruit Market, starting with a pilot event in summer 2024.

Fresh Ink will directly fund and support the grassroots development of new plays in Hull, bringing new ideas to the stage and inviting audience feedback on early work to shape its future.

The initial focus of our festival will be on supporting the work of those with a genuine connection to the city of Hull. This new venture is not designed to be a replacement of the international behemoth that is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but instead asks if there are different ways new work can be supported within the UK theatre ecology, beyond the largest cities.

We do have major long-term ambitions to establish this festival as a permanent fixture, but are also aware that we must be clear and realistic with our aims in its infancy. Our hope and belief, then, is that investing meaningfully in both funding and developing new work in Hull will make it easier than ever before to find a home for new work in the city, and will also provide local artists with a platform from which they can more sustainably create work that can be taken to other places.

We know first-hand the impact established events such as Edinburgh Fringe can have on new work, while also recognising how much stronger and better equipped our work would have been for such stages had there been greater support structures along the way. Therefore, our hope is that Fresh Ink acts as a pathway for writers and artists of all experience levels to develop their craft and test out new ideas in a positive and nurturing environment.

All of this is only possible thanks to the incredible support of local partners Wykeland and the JF Brignall Charitable Trust who are funding the first few years of this exciting new event. Working with these brilliant partners has already been incredibly liberating as both demonstrate a genuine desire to make Hull a better place to live, work and play, and we thank them for their trust and support in making this dream a reality.

Launching a new writing festival is important to us because of our absolute belief in the power of stories, and our desire to continue fighting for writers and artists in Hull with stories that need to be heard. While we recognise theatre’s challenges go beyond just new writing, we feel that supporting new writing specifically is where Middle Child can have the most impact, in-line with our wider vision for a fair and equitable world where anyone’s story can be told and heard.

The question now becomes what type of festival we want to create.

There’s still lots to learn on this front, and we’ll be asking your help with that, but there are a few things we do know, which we are using as guiding principles to build from the ground up.

Our values

We know we want to create a festival that:

  • Gives meaningful opportunities to writers of all levels, from emerging to established, first-timers to fiftieth-timers;
  • Fosters a supportive community for writers, where they can take risks and enjoy a working environment conducive to great art;
  • Encourages people of all backgrounds to try new ideas, with free opportunities to learn and hone their craft, and creates meaningful ways for writers to receive feedback from audiences;
  • Tells unheard stories;
  • Embraces a ‘rough and ready’ energy, in a low-pressure environment that allows work to develop and grow without high expectations;
  • Gives space for people and organisations to meet each other, be it as collaborators, producers, audiences or critical friends;
  • Invites audiences behind the curtain to learn what goes into the creation of new work and gives them the chance to genuinely help shape its future;
  • Works for everyone, reducing the barriers to participation or attendance that are often associated with festivals;
  • Listens to what barriers people face and responds with meaningful action;
  • Is open to people from all walks of life, and has a direct, lasting impact on who is creating and engaging with art beyond simply who can afford to do so;
  • Pushes back against the idea that artists will be exploited or take the majority of financial risk when taking part in festivals;
  • Is not a vehicle created simply for the work of Middle Child;
  • Works in partnership with other organisations to create something special together;
  • Invites ideas from others and provides support and backing to make that happen as part of the festival. If you have an idea, a project or just a general interest in this Festival then please do reach out as outlined below and we’ll do all we can to find a way to work together.
An amphitheatre in a dry dock surrounded by new office buildings, with the set of There Should Be Unicorns in the middle

What Fresh Ink will look like

While the above hopefully gives an indication of how we want our festival to feel, we’re in no doubt that any such venture will be judged on its action and its impact. We will:

  • Commission plays for people of all experience levels. There will be at least six commissions in 2024, including two early stage 15-minute pieces, two 30-minute pieces and two commissions up to 70-minutes in length. These commissions will be performed at the festival at various stages of their development, with audiences invited to offer feedback. We know how hard it can be to secure a commission and think that first and foremost it’s vital our festival makes that more achievable.
  • Create a rep company of actors and stage managers to bring new plays to life, providing meaningful employment and involving theatre workers in the early development of new work.
  • Offer a series of micro-commissions to be performed at an evening cabaret, encouraging experimentation in form. This event will also feature an open-mic style event for artists to trial new work in a low-pressure environment.
  • Create space for low-pressure sharing of first-ever plays by young people, as well as participants on our Introduction to Playwriting Group led by Tom Wells.
  • Use the festival as an opportunity to discuss the state of new writing in the UK through a series of open discussions.
  • Offer a workshop programme as part of the festival to create a space for personal development.
  • Provide a platform, resource and infrastructure for other companies wanting to trial new work, reducing the cost of R&D’ing new plays and supporting the development of new ideas.
  • Welcome partnerships with other organisations, nationally and locally, helping to make new projects happen and providing a home for big ideas to be grown.

We are fully aware of the scale of what we are proposing, and know we have a lot to learn along the way.

That’s why our first festival in 2024 will be a pilot. We know we will learn a lot from this and will constantly re-evaluate what we are offering and how we are working, to make sure we create a festival of value and one which can last long into the future.

Meeting a need in Hull

Initially, the focus is on investing in the development of grassroots artists and activity in Hull. We have already conducted a survey with artists in Hull to gauge the value of a festival, receiving 42 responses from within our artistic community, and the results are clear:

  • 92% of respondents agreed that “it would be useful to have audience input into the generation and development of new ideas”
  • 100% of respondents agreed that “performers, creatives and other theatre workers would benefit from the opportunity to be involved in the development of new work at an earlier stage”
  • 100% of responders agreed that “writers in Hull need more meaningful opportunities to develop new ideas and new plays” and “more opportunity to show what they can do”
  • 82% of responders disagreed that “there are enough work opportunities already in Hull for theatre workers”
  • 100% of responders agreed that “an annual new writing festival in the city would be a benefit to my career” and that “an annual new writing festival would be a benefit to the city”

We also surveyed Hull audiences to gauge their appetite for seeing work at early stages. Of 181 total responses, 58% of people agreed or strongly agreed that they would like to see a work-in-progress play. This rose to 75% when looking only at audiences who have attended some new writing work by Middle Child, This is also reflected in the audiences who have come to our last three scratch events with Silent Uproar: 72% of attendees do not work in the arts.

Hull is a festival city, already served brilliantly by such local institutions as Freedom Festival, Humber Street Sesh, Big Malarkey, Humber Mouth and Hull Jazz Festival. We’re excited to add another event to the social calendar and want to add to Hull’s reputation as a city where world-class art is made and showcased. As Fresh Ink grows and more partners come on board, we hope it will become an event of national renown, where local artists rub shoulders with those from further afield – sharing ideas, knowledge and skills.

Not just our festival

We want Fresh Ink to be a festival that listens to people and takes action accordingly. With this in mind, we have created various ways of getting in touch to feed into the festival and help us to create an event for all.

First, we’d love it if you would tell us what would make your dream new writing festival. It may be a suggestion for how we can ensure it is more inclusive or accessible, it could be something you’ve always wanted to see happen at a festival, or just an idea you think would be really fun. Whatever it is, we’d love it if you could share your dream festival ideas through this online form. We can’t promise we’ll do it all, but we can promise we’ll listen to and consider everything that comes in.

Second, we’re keen to hear from local artists and companies who have work in progress they would like to share with audiences as part of the festival programme, beyond our six new commissions. Again, not everything will be possible, but we’d love to hear your ideas and see what we can do.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. We hope to be inundated with suggestions and ideas. We’ll go quiet for a bit now while we put together the programme for the first year. You’ll hear more from us in March when we will reveal the commissioned writers, then plan to go on-sale in late June, with our first pilot festival in July 2024.

Writer applications are now open

My final message is to any writers, or potential writers, reading this. We’re working hard to create a festival that celebrates stories, people and ideas while reducing barriers to participation for all. Our commissions are now open and close on 8 January, but if you need any additional support before applying please reach out to literary manager Matt.

We’re all absolutely buzzing with excitement and can’t wait to get started on creating something which we believe can have a huge impact on new writing in Hull and the UK.

We’re sure there are lots more of you out there planning ways to make a difference, so if anything in this blogpost has resonated or if you’d like a more detailed chat about it and how you can get involved please get in touch with me on

Apply Now
Jay Mitra, a South Asian nonbinary person, is sat on the steps outside looking directly at the camera. They have black hair and are wearing a white t-shirt, a studded black and red leather jacket, and black leather trousers. The photographer Jeanie Jean is credited on the bottom right of the photo.

Jay Mitra: What I learned as a young trustee

By | News, Uncategorised

Outgoing trustee, Jay Mitra, shares a behind the scenes view of being a young trustee for Middle Child

Jay Mitra, a South Asian nonbinary person, is sat on the steps outside looking directly at the camera. They have black hair and are wearing a white t-shirt, a studded black and red leather jacket, and black leather trousers. The photographer Jeanie Jean is credited on the bottom right of the photo.

As a writer from Hull, applying for a position on the board of Middle Child was an easy decision. Middle Child played a monumental part in my own career as a writer – of course I’d want to give back in any way I could.

It was in 2019, when I had just lost the Hull heat of the prestigious Roundhouse poetry slam, that I first encountered Middle Child. They reached out to me in a moment of defeat.

Little did I know, the artistic director of Middle Child was in the audience that night and saw something in my poetry. Paul Smith requested my contact details from the organisers and then emailed me with a paid writing retreat opportunity.

Why am I telling you this? Because it speaks to where Middle Child’s heart is—with the underdogs. The people who don’t necessarily succeed first time around. The person whose voice trembles on stage. The performance poet who may still have to read from the page. Those who have something important to say and just need a little help saying it.

If you are interested in theatre, writing, and most importantly, the development of people, why wouldn’t you want to be a small part of a theatre company that actively makes a positive difference to their local city?

Anti-Racist, queer-friendly and compassion driven: Middle Child has made waves in Hull and inspired many budding playwrights, poets, and writers — me included.

But what does it mean to take on the responsibility of Young Trustee?

As a young trustee, you are a part of the board of Middle Child – a charity and Arts Council England national portfolio organisation (NPO).

It is an unpaid position, but you will be offered free tickets to incredible shows, food and drink will be provided on board meeting days and your travel will be reimbursed too.

All they want from you is a few hours every few months to attend board meetings, which you can do virtually if need be, and your insight, both professional and personal. They will give you board meeting dates several months in advance so you can book time off work if need be.

The only reason I am stepping down from this position is because I am starting my career in teaching, so will be unavailable during school hours in the work week and thus less able to make it to board meetings.

This is something to keep in mind before applying for the trustee position—the board meetings are where important decisions are made in running the company, so make sure your job and work/life balance is flexible enough to attend.

What if I don’t have much to contribute? I’m just a student!

If I’m honest, as a young trustee, I was mildly intimidated at my first board meeting. I felt I didn’t have a huge amount of industry knowledge to make a massive difference to the proceedings and discussions.

If you’re a young person who is relatively new to theatre, this may well be one of the reasons who are putting off applying for the position. To that I say: do it anyways! Apply! Especially if you come from a marginalised background like me!

Even though I didn’t have a lot of knowledge around accounting or avenues of fundraising, I did have my lived experience around being a disabled, brown, queer person. A diverse board is important and can help an NPO like Middle Child reach demographics it might not have.

I distinctly remember having a conversation about the problematic term ‘BAME’ and the move towards discussing the inclusion of alternative terms like ‘Global Majority’. It’s a small thing, but an important conversation to have.

Similarly, as a transmasculine person, playing a small part in the production of a show like Modest — which showcased some of the UK’s best drag kings — was incredibly inspiring and exposed me to new possibilities for queer theatre.

Everyone on the board is friendly and understanding — they are not expecting you to be an expert on all things theatre and business; they just want you to be present and contribute any way you can, even if it’s in a small way.

The benefits of learning the mechanics of it all

I was never all that clued up on what goes on behind the scenes of running a theatre company — spoiler alert: a lot! However the board offered me valuable insight into fundraising targets, operating reserves, and the importance of spreadsheets.

I learnt about the way funding has changed over the years, the intricacies of applying for Arts Council applications and how to deal with deficits and surpluses.

As a Middle Child trustee, you begin to have a much deeper understanding around the dips and troughs of finances in the theatre scene and how to navigate alternative avenues of investment.

I learnt about efficient fundraising and how it is much more difficult to secure money from trusts and foundations, as opposed to working alongside your local city council.

In the board meetings, you also get clear insight into budget breakdowns and you can have a say in how much is set aside in productions, salaries, artist development.

You see the steps the company is taking in terms of inclusivity, for example, how they have contacted transport organisations to sponsor and provide travel to shows, or creating an Acting Gym that gives actors a space to try out new material and exercise their skills.

The trustee position allows you exclusive access to the behind the scenes of Middle Child and if you are still young and don’t have lots of experience in creative industries, it’s certainly a good one for the CV.

Being on a board exposes you to different areas of expertise and allows you to build your network with various industry professionals—all of whom you can learn immense amounts from.

  • See the recruitment page for Middle Child trustees. Applications close on Tuesday 7 November.
Hull Audience Survey

2023 Hull Audience Survey results

By | News, Uncategorised

Audience development manager, Jamie Potter, shares some of the headline results from our recent Hull audience survey and what it means for Middle Child as a company

A few weeks ago we invited Hull audiences to take a survey about our work and theatre in general, to help us plan for future activity. We hoped that 100 people would respond and you smashed that, with 181 responses.

We have some headline insights to share below, but first of all thank you to everybody who took the time to complete a survey.

Monitoring and evaluation, that wonderful term of jargon, is the least sexy part of theatre. It’s often laborious and usually a buzzkill for those on the receiving end, but it can also be invaluable.

Already, the results from this survey are helping to shape some of our plans, just as your response to our world cup survey last year gave us the confidence to shift the dates of our 2022 Christmas show. So again, thank you.

The results

Those 181 responses were across four ever-so-slightly different versions of the survey: one for people who have seen both our panto and new writing work; one for people who have only seen panto; one for people who have only seen our new writing and one for people who have never seen any of our work.

By new writing we mean a new script, that has never been produced. No Shakespeare or Churchill here. Not that there’s no place for that kind of work, it’s just not what we do as a company.

Now, onto the sexiest bit of the least sexy bit of theatre: what you said.


People are going out less frequently in the past 12 months compared to the previous year, especially our audiences who only come to panto. That’s unsurprising, given the ongoing cost-of-living (horrible phrase) crisis.1

As it happens, sales for Red Riding Hood continue at the same pace as Robin Hood did last year. While we may be cutting back on nights out elsewhere, people still want to celebrate those big occasions, like Christmas. It does however pose a challenge for theatre makers away from the draw of Pattie Breadcake.

Middle Child style

We were particularly keen to know what people who have seen our work before enjoy the most about our style. At this point we’d like to say thank you especially for all of the additional comments about your favourite Middle Child productions. These are really useful for us to understand exactly what makes a good night out for our audiences.

Back to the stats and for people who have only seen our panto, live music (93%), liveness (89%) and a local cast (86%) are the most appealing elements of our panto. When looking at respondents who have seen new writing, or new writing and panto, a majority consider “a new script” (68%) and “challenging subject matter” (52%) somewhat or very important. Similarly, 96% of new writing fans agree or strongly agree that they “like to take risks and would aim to see a play where the content or style is new to me.”

That’s validation of our mission to creating work not is not only a good night out, but which centres big ideas, working towards a world where anybody’s story can be told and heard. As theatre continues to adjust to the impact of covid, we will nail our new writing and good night out colours to the mast.

To our surprise, only 3% of people who have seen our new writing work consider large sets somewhat or very important, and only 9% consider large (six or more) casts somewhat or very important.

Our most recent shows, such as Modest and There Should Be Unicorns, were both “mid-scale”, featuring larger casts and more complicated sets. While these were huge successes for us and we are proud of what they achieved, mid-scale work is also expensive and complicated to make. Expensive mainly.

As Middle Child and the wider industry grapple with higher costs and overstretched budgets, it’s interesting that our audiences don’t see mid-scale work as vital to our identity as a company, despite loving the shows we have created at this level.


Firstly, I need to hold my hands up to making a pig’s ear of this question. The intention was to understand demand for certain offers, rather than the value people place on each. I also forgot to include wheelchair access, as we always ensure this as a given and have done for many years now. When we next run this survey, we’ll make sure to improve that question.

Despite that error we were still able to find out that performers using microphones was the offer most people thought somewhat or very important (46%), followed by afternoon shows (41%) and relaxed performances (37%).

We remain committed as a company to providing BSL interpretation (26% thought somewhat or very important) for all our pantomimes and major productions, while literary manager Matthew May has now undertaken training in audio description, which will be integrated at every pantomime performance this Christmas.

Reviews and feedback

Audiences place more value on positive feedback from other audience members, including those they don’t know, than four or five-star reviews.2

Whether there should be more reviews, to engage in critical debate around a show and to document work for future generations, is another question entirely.

Word of mouth is how most people hear about our work (so please shout about us)


Our email and Facebook page are the most popular channels that we manage, in terms of where people have heard about our activity in the past year. Meanwhile word of mouth and Facebook are the most popular non-Middle Child channels.3

Word of mouth is always by far the most popular in our post-show surveys too, reflecting the importance of feedback in the previous point. One of the best ways you can support our work as an audience member then is to tell anybody who will listen to come see our work.


£15-19 is the median ideal price for a standard ticket for a two-hour play, as chosen by 46% of respondents. This also happens to be what we charged for Modest back in May and for Red Riding Hood, coming up this Christmas.

Finding the balance between making theatre affordable and covering our costs is always tricky, so it’s reassuring to know that we are on the right lines with that.

We also continue to make performances financially accessible through things like pay what you decide shows, solidarity tickets and partnerships with local community groups and funders to offer free tickets.


There is a strong appetite to see work-in-progress theatre, especially among new writing audiences, where 92% agree or strongly agree they would like to see some.

This is already proving the case with our Out Loud scratch night: 75% of audiences who attended Casino and 67% who attended 1988 and Shit Life Crisis did not work in the arts.

What next?

We continue to dig into the results further and bear them in mind as we start work on Red Riding Hood and our big show for next year Baby, He Loves You, as well as longer-term thinking. This includes future big show commissions and an exciting new writing programme coming next summer, which we’ll have more details about next month.

We are confident that as that work unfolds, you will be able to join the dots between this survey and the shows we stage in the future, so thank you once again for sharing your feedback.

  1. 46% of all respondents said they are going out less frequently to some degree, compared with 28% going out about the same amount and 25% going out more frequently to some degree. For people who’ve only attended panto, the figure going out less frequently to some degree is 51%.
  2. 32% of all respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I am more likely to want to see a Middle Child show if I read a four or five-star review of it first”; whereas 70% of all respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I am more likely to want to see a Middle Child show if I read/hear a positive response to it from another audience member that I know.”
  3. 70% of respondents who have seen our work have heard about us through our email and 68% through our Facebook page. 57% of respondents who have seen our work have heard about us through word of mouth and 52% through other Facebook sources.

Meet the cast of Red Riding Hood

By | News, Panto, Shows

The harvest moon is a-rising and trouble is on the way… in the shape of our fabulous panto cast!

Meet the gang who will bring Red Riding Hood to the stage at Social this Christmas, in our anarchic take on the classic fairytale.

Chosen by you in a public vote last year, our rock’n’roll panto features a gnarly werewolf, live music and the chance to make as much noise as you possibly can.

There’s some Hull faces who are familiar to panto fans, as well as a few new ones, who we’re sure you will welcome with open arms.

So without further ado, let’s introduce you to…

Alice Beaumont channelled Rik Mayall to play the Sheriff of Cottingham in Robin Hood last year to much acclaim.

This Christmas her character inspiration takes a sinister turn, as she injects the spirit of Margaret Thatcher into Baroness Scrimp, the politician out to destroy Red Riding Hood and Pattie Breadcake’s bakery.

Drummer extraordinaire Jack Chamberlain, who played King John in Robin Hood, sticks to the dark side this year, as hunter Colonel Montgomery Blowhard.

Blowhard by name, blowhard by nature, this khaki-clad nuisance is Scrimp’s right-hand man but more bark than bite.

Marc Graham returns as dame Pattie Breadcake, who has kicked the habit following last year’s spiritual sortie as Sister Skeg.

This year business is booming at the Buns of Steel bakery, where Pattie has her fingers in all the pies. The only thing missing is a fella to fix her soggy bottoms.

Long-time panto star Josie Morley resumes the role of audience friend, this time playing Jack Lumber.

He’s a lumberjack (geddit?) and so was his dad, and his dad before him, and his dad before him, and his dad before him. But his dad before him was an estate agent and we don’t talk about that.

Making her panto debut is Sarah Penney, of Beach Body Ready and Fast Food Megaverse fame.

Fun fact: Sarah’s skeleton is composed entirely of funny bones, so bring a mop because an accidental wee is 100% guaranteed.

Your favourite reluctant stage manager, Andy Ross, will once again appear with all the vim and vigour we’ve come to expect from them.

And after a star-turn as a moon in Robin Hood, we’ve managed to craft an entire extra character out of the same joke. Who says the arts are underfunded?

Oliver Strong returns as understudy, ready to step-in should a performer fall ill, as he did with great aplomb last Christmas.

You may also recognise Oliver from Faustus, by From Below at Stage at the Dock and as the Dungeon Master in Silent Uproar’s Dungeons and Dragons.

Beats Bus hero Kobby Taylor makes his first panto appearance since playing Flounder in The Little Mermaid.

This time Kobby, who also appeared in There Should Be Unicorns, plays Rupert Scaremonger, the roving reporter sowing seeds of fear among the people of Hull.

New behind the keys at Social this Christmas is Natalie Walker, who will lead the band in our rock’n’roll takes on various pop songs. Her most recent work includes Beverley Does Broadway and The Pirates of Christmas Island with She Productions.

And joining us on Saturday 23 December as BSL interpreter for three performances, including family and late-night shows, is Dave Wycherley.

Dave has interpreted our pantomimes every year since 2017 and we are delighted to have him join us again this Christmas.

Production team

Working their panto magic behind the scenes is our amazing production team.

Natalie Young is the evergreen brains behind our set, props and costume design and Katie Price, who turned up on our doorstep with a portfolio of costume work, is now our very first panto costume maker, bringing Natalie’s designs to life.

Adam Foley is our veteran lighting designer, tasked with glowing up the Buns of Steel bakery, Anlaby Woods and other scenery.

Jay Hirst joins the rehearsal room as deputy stage manager and will run the show from the tech desk in the venue, alongside sound engineer Tom Smith, while Anja Bryan-Smith joins panto for the first time as stage manager, after working on our Gipsyville project, This One’s For Us.

Jon Beney also enters the fray for the first time as choreographer.

Paul Smith, Middle Child’s artistic director, has once again written the script after it was selected by last year’s audience. He will also direct the show.

And finally the Middle Child core team will produce, production manage, dramaturg and market the show.

  • Tickets for Red Riding Hood are on-sale now, available from £13.50-19.50
Theatre For All

Get into theatre with Middle Child in 2023

By | Artist Development, News

We may be in the thick of our London run of Modest, but we’re not forgetting you, Hull.

With our big show of the year firmly on its feet, we can now turn our attention to our development programme, which is about to step-up a gear over the summer.

Read on for a lowdown of all the ways you can get involved in the world of theatre making over the next few months.

Writers’ Group

Our annual introduction to playwriting scheme, led by Tom Wells, kicks off with the first of five weekly evening workshops on Tuesday 5 September.

Applications are now open for anybody in Hull who has always wanted to have a go at writing a play and close on Tuesday 8 August.

1:1 Script Support

Literary manager Matthew May has another bunch of one-hour meetings up for grabs for writers, unaligned with any other project, to receive free dramaturgical support on a script you’re developing.

Out Loud

Our scratch night, in association with Silent Uproar, returns 28-29 July with a double-header, featuring Shit Life Crisis by Olivia Hannah and 1988 by Hannah Scorer.

Pay what you decide tickets are now available through Silent Uproar, while another edition in October will feature Cuckoo by Chris Pearson.

Acting Gym

Our always popular playground for performers to flex their acting muscles between work is also back, with a focus this year on monologues for auditions. Applications open Tuesday 8 August.

Take Your Seat

Fancy a free ticket to see a piece of new writing, along with a free drink, at Hull Truck Theatre? Our series of group trips to see new plays has been running since April and is a great way to enjoy a night out at the theatre in the company of others.

Our next trip is to see Better Days on Saturday 23 September and tickets are dished out through a lottery system. Keep an eye on our social media and mailing list for news on when you chuck your name in the hat.

Book Club and Library Talks

Two new features of our Theatre Library launch in August with our Library Talks and Book Club, taking place on the same Friday each month.

Book Club, our much-anticipated script-reading group, starts with a discussion of Tabby Lamb’s Happy Meal on Friday 4 August. Copies of Tabby’s script are now available to borrow from the library, to read in advance.

Meanwhile Library Talks are an invitation into our space to discuss some of the hot topics affecting the theatre world and wider society.

The first, also on Friday 4 August, will cover the online actors’ network, Spotlight and how you can make the most of it, led by artistic director Paul Smith.

Theatre Library

Our collection of over 2,000 plays and theatre reference books is free-to-use and open every Tuesday morning and Friday afternoon. Alternatively you can arrange an appointment to come by another day by emailing literary manager, Matthew.

Our Play Prescriptions service also continues, where you can ask us for recommendations of texts to read if you’re stuck for a starting place.

  • See our Theatre Library page for more information, including a link to view our entire collection.

Use our space

Finally, a reminder that Bond 31, our space in Hull’s Old Town is not just ours to use, but also yours. Our rehearsal room, writing room and hot desks are all free to book, subject to availability. Rehearsal room bookings are filling-up fast and info about all available spaces, including how to request a booking, is on our website.

We also recently benefitted from a £5,000 grant award from the Equity Charitable Trust to improve our space for actors. Read more about how we plan to use the money, with people already starting work to develop library reading lists.


Out Loud scratch night returns with double-bill

By | Artist Development, News, Shows

Tickets are now on-sale for our second edition of Out Loud, a scratch night in Hull for new writing, produced in collaboration with Silent Uproar.

Following last year’s sharing of Casino by Larner Wallace-Taylor, we’re back with a double-header over two nights – Friday 28 and Saturday 29 July – at our rehearsal space on High Street.

1988 by Hannah Scorer

In 1988 two young women fall in love with each other and the idea of changing the world. Motivated by the horrors of Section 28, they find themselves pushed apart as one tries to fight the system by becoming part of it and the other takes an increasingly radical route.

Shit Life Crisis by Olivia Hannah

Grace has beaten cancer, but she doesn’t feel like a winner. As she holds a memorial for her best friend, Abbie, who helped her through the illness, Grace reveals all the ways in which chemo saved her life by tearing it apart, and questions whether what’s left was worth saving at all.

Hannah Scorer came through the Middle Child Writers’ Group, while Olivia Hannah has come through Silent Uproar’s Making Trouble programme.

A further edition of Out Loud will take place in October, featuring Cuckoo by Chris Pearson, another writer from the Middle Child Writers’ Group.

Out Loud is a showcase for new writers to see early drafts of their plays performed for the first time, in front of a friendly audience.

Tickets are available on a pay what you decide basis, meaning you reserve your seat for free, then pay on the evening after the performance, with sharings at 7pm on both Friday 28 July and Saturday 29 July.