Bellaray Bertrand-Webb, Hattie Callery, Tanya-Loretta Dee, Cole Green, Rachel Hogg, Harriet Johnson and Amber Wiles.

Seven new people join the Board of Trustees

By | News

Middle Child are delighted to welcome seven new faces to the Board of Trustees.

Bellaray Bertrand-Webb, Hattie Callery, Tanya-Loretta Dee, Cole Green, Rachel Hogg, Harriet Johnson and Amber Wiles.

Top: Bellaray Bertand-Webb, Hattie Callery and Tanya-Loretta Dee
Bottom: Rachel Hogg, Cole Green, Harriet Johnson and Amber Wiles

Bellaray Bertrand-Webb is a theatre maker from London. In 2023 she produced the Middle Child and Milk Presents show Modest, which toured around England and ran at the Kiln Theatre, London.

Hattie Callery is development manager at HOME in Manchester. Her previous roles include executive director (maternity cover) for Middle Child.

Tanya-Loretta Dee is a professional actor, writer and facilitator. She is also a trustee for Futures Theatre Company and has worked with Middle Child as an actor in past productions.

Rachel Hogg is production coordinator at Hull Truck Theatre and is also a writer, who participated in Middle Child’s Writers’ Group in 2022, as well as receiving writing commissions from both Hull Truck Theatre and Burn Bright.

Cole Green has a passion for theatre-making, heritage and Hull’s local history. As an active member of Hull Truck Theatre youth theatre and the University of York DramaSoc, Cole has dabbled in acting, directing and playwriting.

Harriet Johnson has been a supporter of Middle Child since our inception and credits us for her love of local theatre. She is head of partnership at Two Ridings Community Foundation and grower at a local flower farm.

Amber Wiles is a recent MA English graduate who worked with Middle Child last year in the role of artistic development assistant, as part of Hull University’s Internship Scheme. She has a passion for making accessible and relatable theatre and is currently writing her first full-length play.

Middle Child’s new trustees join existing board members Rozzy Knox, Magda Moses, Chris Tonge, John R Wilkinson, Jack Heaton and chair, Amanda Smethurst, while Jack has also become vice-chair.

Middle Child would also like say a huge thank you to outgoing board members Jay Mitra and Emma Tucker.

Dear Hull, our worries are existential

Dear Hull, our worries are existential

By | Artistic Director, Blog, News

Artistic director Paul Smith writes about the need to support arts and culture in Hull, ahead of the opening of Baby, He Loves You

The cast of Baby, He Loves You

Dear Hull,

A few weeks ago, we announced our new show Baby, He Loves You and shared with it an accompanying blog post, which outlined the challenges around making and selling theatre right now.

One of the things we try to do at Middle Child is be transparent and open about the difficulties we face day-to-day as a charity who exist to produce theatre in Hull.

So, here goes…

A few weeks have passed and unfortunately, one week before opening we are not where we hoped we’d be in terms of ticket sales. We’re at 32% of our target.

This makes for a significant and terrifying impact on the future of Middle Child, if we do not reach our financial target of £19,500 ticket income on this show.* However, no-one gets into the arts to write blogs about balancing the books, so I wanted to write to you for a different reason.

I am doing this, of course, as the artistic director and CEO of Middle Child and a founding member of the company. More importantly I’m writing to you as someone who has an unwavering belief in the power, importance and potential of live theatre.

I am so incredibly proud of this show.

I’m incredibly proud of what it means to put this show into the world right now. I’m incredibly proud that Baby, He Loves You is a world premiere of a brand-new play by a Hull writer, Maureen Lennon, with a brilliant local team, at a time where big-budget revivals and celebrity names dominate our industry and the box office.

It breaks my heart to think that, at present, many people in this great city will not see this brilliant play made with them in mind. I hate leaving a rehearsal full of excitement at what we’re creating here to check sales reports and be met with disappointment.

I’m aware that a big part of this is on us. Us as in Middle Child, us as in the theatre industry, us as in the arts sector. Money is tight right now: we’re having to prioritise getting by in this (awfully-named) cost-of-living crisis. Clearly, and for a variety of reasons, live theatre isn’t always high on that list. We exist to change that perception and are doing everything we can to make the case that art, theatre, culture enrich our lives.

Times are tough too for art, theatre, culture. Audiences simply haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. Funding is more competitive than ever. Costs are going up much faster than our income levels. You know it, we know it.

Running an arts organisation has never been harder than now. Our worries are existential, if not immediately so. As we have already seen with fallen friends in recent times, companies like Middle Child are not guaranteed to be around forever. Unless things change, we will lose brilliant art and brilliant arts workers. We will lose those magical moments that bring us out of our houses and into one space together to witness something that challenges the world around us.

None of this is new information. These conversations are happening daily behind closed doors. Theatres and theatre companies nationwide are struggling in similar ways. We often feel ashamed to admit it. But clearly, we are in the midst of a very real fight for a cultural future and we have to be honest about that.

I lay awake at night unable to sleep questioning how we crack this puzzle.

Last year, we decided to refocus our work more directly on reaching the people of Hull and better serving our local communities. We did this because we believe in Hull, love this city and want to help make a difference here. Money that would have previously been put towards touring the show or taking it to London has been put towards doing it in Hull. Help us justify this and keep doing it long into the future.

The thing I realised I haven’t done is “say the thing”. So here I am, saying the thing in the hope that it galvanises something.

I want to say that:

– Hull has grown one of the most exciting, talented and bold playwrights in the entire country in Maureen Lennon. Her incredible, authentic, Hull-centric writing stands-up against that of any other writer in the country – I’d put my house on it.

– Hull grows brilliant actors. We all know about Isy Suttie, Tom Courtenay and Mike Jibson but that’s not all. This show alone includes three outstanding local talents, from Dan McGarry who grew up on Chanterlands Avenue and is now into his 25th year as an actor, to the fantastic Laura Meredith who I first met through Hull Truck Youth Theatre and Elle Ideson, a former Archbishop Sentamu student, who is exploding onto the professional scene as Lucy. These actors are the product of Hull and to see them perform on its stages is not only a joy, but also exactly what makes regional theatre so special. These actors know these streets, they know this city and some of them probably know you. Come and support their incredible craft, which was developed in the schools, colleges, playgrounds and after-school detentions of this city. Showing your support sends a signal to Hull’s young people with similar aspirations that their dreams are possible, that the city will help them to get there and come and clap and cheer for them when they come true.

– Hull knows how to put on a show. Most of our brilliant creative team live here and are having successful careers from within its borders. Careers are built here and have no limits. Your support shows the incredible people who already live here that they should stay, and that others should join them.

– We know there is an audience out there. You sell out our panto every year and we love you for that. We shed a tear every year when so many of you tell us how our silly little pantos have become a staple of your family Christmases. Take a chance on us. Live theatre and new writing can be as good a night out as panto, albeit with fewer knob gags. These shows are made by the same team, with the same amount of love, hard work and Hull spirit. We know loads of you already come but we’d love to look out and see even more our panto pals smiling back at us, though maybe with fewer boos.

– Funding to the arts is being cut across the country. We must show that this can’t happen here and that we value our art and our artists. New work is harder to justify than ever. While Shakespeare adaptations, syllabus plays and celebrity casting all have their place, we cannot allow them to become the only theatre that is viable to produce. What would then happen to stories about places like Hull, with people from places like Hull in them? If you don’t come, they won’t happen. Please show us that new work has value to you and that stories about your lives, where you live now, matter.

– I’m sorry. I’m sorry it’s come to this. That Middle Child, theatre and the arts haven’t made the case well enough for you to buy a ticket to our show yet. That the world is so tough right now that many of us are having to choose between essentials and things like theatre tickets. I really don’t want to write this blog and ask you so directly to come and see Baby, He Loves You; I’m only doing so because I believe so strongly in what we’re creating and know, deep in my soul, that if you come and see it then it will have an impact and prove our worth.

Hull proudly and rightly speaks of itself as a cultural city.

I implore you to come and support us, see this thing we made for you and I promise, you won’t regret it. The feedback we receive from our audiences is always gorgeous and we want to impact more people with our work.

The fact we have regular support from Hull City Council – who are huge supporters of the arts – and the Arts Council means we can exist at all. I’m also aware that I’m writing this at the same time we’re launching our incredibly exciting new playwriting festival, Fresh Ink. I just wanted to take a moment to say that is only possible thanks to major funding and wider support from our founding partners Wykeland, investment from the brilliant J F Brignall Trust, as well as trusts and foundations like the I Am Fund and Garrick Charitable Trust, who are directly supporting the commissioning of new plays.

This shows how we can and are thinking outside of the usual system to keep supporting the creation of new work, but we do also need to talk about ticket sales.

If you already have a ticket and are reading this, then I’d love you to think about how else you can support this hard-working team. Is there a friend who you know would love live theatre, but hasn’t tried it? Do you have a family member who is a huge advocate of the people of Hull and their unlimited potential? Do you know someone rich who can pay for all of the tickets so anyone in Hull can come for free? (A boy can dream). If so, please take 30 seconds to share this blog, talk about the show, share the booking link.

Thank you for reading. I write this not as a plea, but as a statement of unwavering confidence in what we are building and how it relates to Hull. I believe wholeheartedly in what we are doing, and I care passionately about fighting for the value of arts in Hull and further afield. I’ve dedicated my life, my career, my work to lessening the barriers to theatre I felt as a young working class kid in Essex and which have only widened in the 18 years since I moved to and fell in love with Hull.

Join us on this adventure. Let’s pack this show out and show that work by incredible artists from Hull such as Maureen Lennon have as much audience appeal as a bloke from Stratford who died many moons ago, or that fella from that Marvel thing.

*I should say a bit here about that money bit at the top. We have a £19,500 target for Baby, He Loves You, a £40,000 fundraising target and a £38,000 panto target this year alone. Failure in one or more of those things puts us in genuine and immediate risk, as it does for all arts organisations. Please, support local art.

UPDATE (17 April): We have been blown away by the response since this blog post went live. While there is still a way to go, sales have rocketed from 32% to 69%. We have also received a number of one-off donations, including from anonymous donors wishing to buy tickets for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to go. Thank you so much for your support, and to everyone who shared, bought tickets and donated so others can see the show for free. Thank you for supporting live theatre.

Fresh Ink Writers 2024

Writers revealed for first Fresh Ink: Hull Playwriting Festival

By | Fresh Ink, News

Middle Child are pleased to announce the six writers commissioned for Fresh Ink, a new annual playwriting festival coming to Hull’s Fruit Market in July.

Rosie Race, Hannah Scorer, Grace Waga Glevey, Marc Graham, Prince Kundai and Andrew Houghton were selected from 130 entrants, who responded to an open call for writers with “a meaningful connection to Hull”.

Rosie Race and Hannah Scorer will each write a 70-minute play, Grace Waga Glevey and Marc Graham a 30-minute piece and Prince Kundai and Andrew Houghton a 15-minute excerpt of a larger idea.

They will work with Middle Child to develop two drafts of their respective scripts, to be performed in rehearsed readings at a pop-up venue in Hull’s Fruit Market quarter.

The Fresh Ink festival programme will also feature a series of workshops, talks and social events over the weekend of 20-21 July.

Fresh Ink Writers 2024

Meet the writers

Rosie Race is an actor and writer from Hull, who is now based in Plymouth.

She works as a movement director and is associate artist at Theatre Royal Plymouth, where her first full length show Us Against The World opened in February 2024.

Her play No Woman Is An Island is a perversely funny, absurd and moving portrayal of a pregnant woman on the brink of insanity.

Rosie said: “I’m super chuffed to be offered one of the writing commissions.

“I am both excited and a tad emotional about immersing myself in the place I grew up and returned to for the birth of my child and the first year of her life.

“Hull is so much a part of me but I’ve been away a while, and writing this play which has my hometown at its very heart feels like the perfect way to reconnect.”

Hannah Scorer is a writer from Hull, who first took part in Middle Child’s Writers’ Group in 2019 and last year shared a script at Out Loud, Middle Child’s scratch night with Silent Uproar. This is her first full-length commission.

Can We Be Friends? follows a single parent and her daughter as they both discover family doesn’t always look the way we’re told.

Hannah said: “Because I reached my mid-30s without ever writing creatively, I didn’t think it was something I’d ever do.

“The Middle Child Writers’ Group is where this story started, as a 10-minute monologue, so it’s incredibly exciting to have this chance to tell the whole story.”

Grace Waga Glevey is a theatre and television maker from Scunthorpe, who recently founded Hani Projects, a not-for-profit theatre and arts production company committed to developing and attracting new work in and to Humberside.

She has trained with the Old Vic as a young theatre maker and in Sheffield Theatres’ New Dramaturgs Group.

Her play Jack & Gill depicts an unexpected friendship between two octogenarians, from vastly different walks of life, who wind up in the same crumbling Yorkshire care home.

Grace said: “I’m so excited to work with Middle Child on my debut play. It feels like my play has found its natural home here, with a company that champions new work in the area in which it is set.

“The story is inspired by Scunthorpe, and my family’s working heritage; particularly my mum, a generous and devoted carer her entire working life, and my uncle, a gifted sheet metal worker.”

Marc Graham is an actor from Hull, who also took part in Middle Child’s 2019 Writers’ Group. This is his first commission as a writer.

Isabelle tells the story of a family coming together at Christmas for the first time in ten years, bringing not only themselves but unwelcome remnants of their past lives.

Marc said: “I think a lot of people have the feeling that they’ve been sitting on a play for years, but don’t know how to uncover that. I feel incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity to attempt to do just that.

“I don’t have it all planned out ready to go, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m excited to figure it out.”

Hull-born Andrew Houghton is a co-founder of Pink Milk Theatre, who most recently toured their solo show, Naughty. This is their first commission as a writer.

Phobia depicts a father and their child on their annual trip to Hull Fair. When a ride malfunction leaves the pair stranded high in the air, a very panicked dad requires constant conversation to keep his nerves under control.

Andrew said: “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to work with Middle Child and debut my first professional writing commission in my home city.

“Spotlighting queer experiences I didn’t have the words for growing up, in the city I grew up in, is such a personal triumph.”

Prince Kundai is a Hull-raised creative who made his acting debut in the critically-acclaimed production of Bootycandy at the Gate Theatre London.

Fresh Ink marks Prince Kundai’s first venture in writing, with an African coming of age story about a young girl and the dynamics between her, her small family and the world around them.

Prince said: “To be commissioned for the first time is quite the feeling. A new journey along a road many have taken before you and to have your first step be upon a milestone? A first commission? Well, that really is quite something.

“Hull is a cornerstone of my identity and to be working here is both an honour and a privilege.”

A new festival to support Hull theatre making

The six writers were selected by a festival steering group that included representatives from Wykeland Group, Hull Truck Theatre, Back to Ours, freelance artists and local business people.

Fresh Ink: Hull Playwriting Festival will become an annual platform for Hull writers to create and develop new plays in the city.

Middle Child artistic director and chief executive, Paul Smith, said: “When Wykeland first approached Middle Child to explore an idea to support creative skills development in Hull, we knew there was huge potential to build something which could meet genuine need and last long into the future.

“The 130 submissions we received as part of Fresh Ink’s first open call are evidence of this, going far beyond our wildest dreams and proving that exceptional writing talent exists in Hull and needs a platform to match its undoubted potential.

“We were blown away by the creativity, confidence and craft of the local writers who applied this time around and it is no exaggeration to say that we could have commissioned enough plays to fill the festival ten times over.

“We are delighted to announce these six commissions and cannot wait to bring these exceptional ideas to life. Each one is full of the heart, humour and hope that echoes around this city, and we are sure they will resonate with the people of Hull.”

Middle Child hope the festival will attract producers, venues and critics from outside of Hull to experience theatre by artists who may go unnoticed in the current climate.

Paul Smith added: “We are particularly proud to work alongside our founding partners Wykeland and initial funders Wykeland and J F Brignall Charitable Trust to support the development of new writing at a time of great risk.

“Opportunities for freelance artists are becoming scarcer, with institutions such as the Vault Festival closing due to the challenging economic climate.

“We must continue advocating for the power and importance of untold stories from unheard voices, and the wider importance of culture in a thriving society.

“I am in no doubt that our first Fresh Ink festival will once again demonstrate the transformative power of culture and showcase what is possible when art made by local people is meaningfully supported.”

The 2024 event will be run as a pilot, so Middle Child can learn what works best and improve on it for the following years.

Dominic Gibbons, managing director of Wykeland Group, said: “Wykeland are delighted to be the co-founders and sponsors of the new Fresh Ink: Hull Playwriting Festival.

“We approached Middle Child following their highly successful There Should Be Unicorns production, which we sponsored and they performed at Stage@TheDock in the summer of 2022, to see if we could work together to create something that would have a deep cultural impact on the city and the people in it.

“Fresh Ink gives the opportunity for writers of all levels to expand their skill set and have their work performed at Stage@TheDock, a venue we opened in 2016 with the aim of it being used as a platform to develop new and exciting work.”

The full festival programme will be announced in June, with tickets for performances and workshops on-sale thereafter.

  • Read more about the writer selection process, in a blog post from Middle Child literary manager, Matthew May
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.

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.