Category

News

Artistic director Paul Smith wins Olwen Wymark Award

By | Artistic Director, Awards, News

Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith, has today been recognised for his “exceptional encouragement of theatre writing” with an Olwen Wymark Award.

The gongs are handed out every year by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB), with the winners nominated by WGGB members.

Long-time Middle Child collaborator Luke Barnes, who has written All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, Weekend Rockstars and Ten Storey Love Song, nominated Paul.

Luke said: ”Paul Smith is the best thing to happen to me as a writer.

“When I was young Paul and I met, in Newcastle, and we talked about John McGrath and he mooted the idea of making work that talked about the biggest ideas as a good night out of theatre.

“This was the starting place for me finding my voice, my art, and my purpose.

“Paul is the most generous person I know in theatre”

“Not only has Paul shaped the way that I see the world and how I see theatre, he has also pushed me to think bigger than I ever would have given myself permission to.

“He has given me the self belief to know that, no matter what privileges I exercise, I can be useful to the communities and audiences I serve.

“He has taught me that the audience and the people that our buildings, organisations, and art, serve are bigger than us.

“He has given me confidence, activism, and artistry and continues to every time we collaborate.

“Paul is the most generous person I know in theatre, to artists, to communities, to audiences; and people like Paul go unnoticed and it’s my privilege to nominate him for this award and to see him win it.

“I hope he carries on inspiring writers for work for audiences and communities for decades to come and that as many people as possible benefit from knowing him like I have.”

“Working with writers to develop new plays is one of the best parts of my job”

The Olwen Wymark Awards are the brainchild of playwrights Mark Ravenhill and David James.

They were set up to give WGGB members the opportunity to publicly thank individuals, rather than institutions, who had given them exception encouragement in theatre writing during the past year.

They are named in honour of playwright Olwen Wymark, passionate supporter of WGGB and former chair of the WGGB Theatre Committee, who died in 2013.

Paul Smith said: “I’m really delighted to win this award as working with writers to develop new plays is one of the best parts of my job.

“Middle Child, a company I co-founded in 2011, exists to support, champion and showcase the work of brilliant playwrights.

“In my work as both a dramaturg and director I aim to put processes and practices in place to support writers to tell the best version of their story, and Luke’s nomination for this award feels like recognition of that approach.

“It’s been brilliant working with Luke to create good nights out with big ideas and his work has massively informed my own over the years.

“He is an incredible writer, person and friend and I simply wouldn’t be where I am in my career without him.

“I’d also like to express solidarity with all freelance writers in our industry at this difficult time, and can’t wait to get back to working collaboratively to bring plays to life soon.”

An actor sits on the floor holding a mic. Text says "Recover Restart Reimagine"

Recover, Restart and Reimagine in 2021

By | Artist Development, News, Uncategorised
An actor sits on the floor holding a mic. Text says

The start of this week saw restrictions on the toughest lockdown yet ease for the first time in months, coinciding with a spell of unseasonal warm weather. For the first time in a long time, it feels like we’re heading towards something that might look like life after the pandemic. Touch wood.

As a theatre company that has been working from home for the past year and exclusively online, we could come out of one of the most challenging years of our lives full tilt. However, from speaking with many of the freelancers who are part of the extended Middle Child family, such as at our recent Imagine the Future discussion, it’s clear that not everybody has the energy just yet.

People have varying degrees of confidence about the months ahead: some people are chomping at the bit, while others may have reservations. Let’s not forget that the pandemic isn’t actually over yet. For others, spending a year or more within the same few walls has worn away at mental health and the ability to be creative. There’s a lot of mental and physical muscle memory to start flexing again and it’s going to take time.

So what are Middle Child going to do about it?

On Tuesday we learned that we’ve received £76,065 from the second round of the Cultural Recovery Fund. It’s a huge sum of money and we take seriously our responsibility to use it to benefit our wider theatre community – both artists and audiences – here in Hull, an already deprived city that has been especially badly hit by the pandemic.

Given all of the above, it’s clear that many theatre makers in Hull need the time, money and resource to Recover, Restart and Reimagine. So that’s what we’re going to do over the coming months, with a bespoke programme of work aimed at supporting our workforce and local freelancers to re-adjust at their own speed, in a way that is safe and sustainable.

That includes putting money into freelancers’ pockets to attend and benefit from workshops, residencies and sharings, as part of our largest ever artist development programme. There is also a programme of work that will see us return to the stage in 2021, which will employ theatre makers as well as once again provide audiences with unforgettable live experiences.

Furthermore we are excited to be able to return to Hull city centre with a new pop-up arts space in the summer, following the closure of our creative hub, Darley’s, last year, while we continue to locate a permanent home in the longer term.

We’re not quite ready to share all the details just yet – we’ll make a proper splash about all of that soon enough. However we are certain that this approach will have a huge impact on the long-term future of Hull, sharing skills and resources to build resilience and confidence in both our workforce and freelancers, acknowledging that we simply cannot be sustainable without you.

It’s an unprecedented situation and we’ll do our best to get this right and respond to any changes around us, putting people’s health and wellbeing first. We are committed to being open about our plans and acknowledging our shortcomings as well as shouting about our successes. Our door is always open and we welcome thoughts on how Recover, Restart and Reimagine, as well as our wider work, can better help people in Hull.

We also remain aware of the challenges our industry continues to face and wish to express solidarity with those organisations who did not receive funding this week. We will do all we can to share resources and support both individuals and organisations in the continued fight for survival. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to talk further.

The life after the pandemic that we mentioned at the top cannot look like the life many people lived before. We remain a company committed to creating greater equity in who makes and enjoys theatre and will use this investment to continue to work towards a more inclusive and representative industry.

We are also delighted to hear that our local partners Hull Truck Theatre, Hull Jazz Festival, Artlink, the John Godber Company, the Adelphi Club, Wrecking Ball Press, Northern Academy of Performing Arts, ITSL and HPSS were also successful in their applications to the Cultural Recovery Fund.

We look forward to sharing full details of what we have planned in the coming weeks.

With love and solidarity,

Middle Child x

The cast of The Canary and the Crow take their bow after a performance in the Paines Plough Roundabout

The Canary and the Crow wins two Offies

By | Awards, News
The cast of The Canary and the Crow take their bow after a performance in the Paines Plough Roundabout

Congratulations to the cast of The Canary and the Crow for their success at the Offies, awards which recognise work performed ‘off’ the West End in London.

Rachel Barnes, Laurie Jamieson, Nigel Taylor and Daniel Ward won the best performance ensemble award, for their performances at the Arcola Theatre in January 2020.

Writer, Daniel, also won the prize for best performance piece, adding to his already hefty haul of awards for the show over the past year.

These gongs are the latest in a long line of accolades for those involved in the show.

Daniel previously won a Writers’ Guild Award and the George Devine Award in 2020.

In 2019 the production also received the Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence, after its run at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Artistic director, Paul Smith, said: “Everyone at Middle Child is absolutely delighted to win two Off West Awards for The Canary and the Crow.

“The continued success of this show is testament to the dedication and hard work of the entire team.

“I’m thrilled to see the excellence of Dan’s play acknowledged once more, and couldn’t be happier for the recognition of the show’s incredible ensemble.

“Dan, Rachel, Laurie and Nigel are so talented, so driven, and so great to work with and they deserve every success.

“It’s also an incredible story for Nigel to receive an acting award for his first ever theatre performance.

“Thanks so much to everyone who has supported the show over the years, and to the Arcola for hosting us back in January 2020.”

A night-time light show projected on the Ferens Gallery in Hull, with blue text that says 'We Are Hull'

We’re hosting the City Arts Forum in February

By | Artist Development, Events, News
Join Hull City Council’s Arts Development Team for their next online City Arts Forum, hosted by Middle Child.

We’re hosting the next City Arts Forum on Thursday 4 February (2-4pm) and would love for artists in Hull to join us, with all of our core team in attendance.

Paul Holloway, arts and culture manager at Hull City Council, will chair the meeting, which is an opportunity for artists, arts organisations, and anyone interested in the arts in Hull, to share work, thoughts, ideas and updates.

It’s also an opportunity to ask any questions you may have, to the council and wider artistic community

Registration is free but you must book in advance via Eventbrite. A link to join the discussion will then be sent out 24 hours before the event.

If you would like to discuss an issue, please send your agenda items to cityartsenquiries@hullcc.gov.uk by Monday 1 February.

A snowy winter scene with a young person on a sled, another person in a wheelchair and a dog.

Christmas theatre in and from Hull

By | News, Panto, Uncategorised

We finally get to share Pattie Breadcake: Into the Pantoverse with you from tomorrow, but we’re not the only Hull-based company making work this Christmas. 

We’ve pulled together a round-up of all the excellent shows that theatre makers in the city have been working hard to bring to people over the holidays.

An invitation to watch Prince Charming on a snow background, with toy soldier figurines.

Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker
Hull Truck Theatre, 22 Dec-4 Jan

A festive fairy-tale adventure sprinkled with surprises, sparkle and a hint of magic, free to stream into your own home, thanks to the support of Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

This year, Prince Charming is once more throwing open the palace gates and invites you to attend his annual Christmas ball, the eagerly anticipated ‘Christmas Cracker’. The hottest ticket in town, it is a ‘do’ like you’ve never been to before, and the Prince certainly knows how to party!

From festive music to Karaoke, unexpected guests and lashings of humour, the Christmas Cracker has it all. But this year, everyone, especially Cinderella, is in for a big surprise! There is more to this Christmas Cracker than originally meets the eye.

More info
A snowy winter scene with a young person on a sled, another person in a wheelchair and a dog.

Winter Wonderland
Concrete Youth, 18 Dec

It’s winter: the days are shorter, the trees are looking bare and the temperatures have plummeted. But…there’s no snow! The Snow Machine in Winter Wonderland has broken and, if it can’t be fixed, winter will be ruined forever!

But all is not lost. Jack Frost and the Snow Queen have heard that you, the winterns at home, can help them.

Can you work out why it’s broken? Will you help Jack and Snow mend it and save winter? And does yellow snow really taste like chicken?

Following their 5-star, online production, Shebaa’s Adventure to Jopplety How, the multi-award winning, Concrete Youth, in partnership with Hull New Theatre, present a brand new, pre-recorded multi-sensory show for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities.

Packed full of frosty sensory moments and fun, Winter Wonderland is the perfect, snowy show to get you in the holiday mood.

More info
Photo of one of the Roaring Girls in Christmas pyjamas laughing and pointing at her laptop

The Roaring Girls Christmas Parties

Christmas is just around the corner and after a year of working from home and closed pubs, let The Roaring Girls into your Zoom waiting room for a fun-filled 90 minutes this December.

Say goodbye to overpriced drinks & overcrowded pubs. In 2020, let the party come to you. 

The Roaring Girls are waiting at the end of their internet connection to provide you with an evening of festive entertainment, perfect for staff parties or friends who are looking for something different.

Just remember – A Roaring Girl is for life, not just for Christmas!

To book your exclusive Roaring Girls Party, or to find out more, email Rachael on hello@theroaringgirls.co.uk.

Christmassy image that says 1Upstarts presents DeliveRudolph

DeliveRudolph
1Upstarts, 19 Dec

DeliveRudolph is 1Upstarts’ specially designed, socially distanced Santa visit service, created exclusively in response to the ongoing Covid crisis. 

The company understand that a lot of people will really struggle with a large proportion of Christmas services being disrupted by Coronavirus. As such they wanted to create a safe and simple way of keeping a timeheld Christmas tradition for a lot of people, visiting Santa.

Their exclusive service will see us bringing the Santa visit to you. 

Once you have booked, their professional Santa will make his way to your house on the day of your choice along with any additional giftbags you’ve purchased and give you and your family a five minute personalised visit.

What better way to maintain the magic of Christmas than having your very own Santa on your doorstep!

More info

Spirits of the Season
Smashing Mirrors, 23 Dec

“It’s Christmas time in Hull. Nearly Christmas Eve. And strange things can happen on Christmas Eve don’t you know…”

Smashing Mirrors Theatre have linked with Hull New Theatre to bring you real-life tales of hauntings in Hull. Settle down for classic local ghost stories over the festive period, with this brand new exclusive short film.

Supported by Hull City Council.

Facebook Live. 8pm. 23rd Dec

Marc Graham as Hull panto dame Pattie Breadcake, in a sparkly top and pink dress, with blonde wig and crown.

BBC Radio Humberside to broadcast our 2020 Christmas show

By | News, Panto, Shows
Marc Graham as Hull panto dame Pattie Breadcake, in a sparkly top and pink dress, with blonde wig and crown.

We are very excited to reveal that our panto-inspired show, Pattie Breadcake: Into the Pantoverse, will also be broadcast on BBC Radio Humberside in the run-up to Christmas. 

The story of our favourite dame’s quest to help four classic panto princesses retell their tales for a modern audience will be aired across four mini-episodes, from 20-24 December. 

The partnership with BBC Radio Humberside is part of Middle Child’s commitment to make our work as accessible as possible.

This includes making the original animated version free-to-watch on YouTube, as well as providing both English and Polish subtitles. 

Artistic director Paul Smith said: “We’re delighted to partner with BBC Radio Humberside, to broadcast the show as four mini-radio plays, ensuring that people without internet access can also enjoy some theatre this Christmas.”

The scripts will be adapted and performed for radio by the original cast, to be broadcast on the following dates: 

  • Episode 1: Sleeping Beauty by Ellen Brammar – Sunday 20 December, 2.30pm
  • Episode 2: Maid Marian by Hannah Scorer – Monday 21 December, 8.30pm
  • Episode 3: Evil Queen by Maureen Lennon – Wednesday 23 December, 8.30pm
  • Episode 4: Cinderella by Deborah Acheampong – Thursday 24 December, 8.30pm

The original animated version will be available to watch on demand, on YouTube via our website, between Saturday 19 and Thursday 31 December.

You can listen to BBC Radio Humberside on 95.9FM in the Humber region, online at the BBC website or on the move through the BBC Sounds app. 

A collage of the nine associate writers

Next Up: Meet our new associate writers

By | Artist Development, News, Uncategorised
A collage of the nine associate writers

In May 2020 we invited writers across the country to submit their scripts to us, so that we could meet writers we had no previous relationship with and get to know some of them better. 

We are now delighted to announce the nine writers who join us as our new associate writers for the next two years: Deborah Acheampong, Natasha Brown, Gillian Greer, Tabby Lamb, Eva Lily, Sarah Middleton, Jessy Roberts, Emilie Robson and Sid Sagar. 

Each writer will benefit from:

  • A £1,000 payment for the writers’ involvement in our Next Up programme, to support attendance at workshops and readings, geared around the development of a new idea.
  • Participation in a number of writing masterclasses, led by world-class playwrights.
  • A day working on a piece of their writing with a cast of actors and Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith, to hear it brought to life and to spend some time getting to know each other creatively. 
  • The possibility of writing a piece for Out Loud, our scratch night, in association with Silent Uproar.
  • Regular online meetings with the Middle Child artistic team and the other associated writers, to develop an idea to be considered for future programming.

Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith, said: “Championing new voices is a key part of what we do, from our writers’ group and scratch night, to our producing of new work, such as Daniel Ward’s George Devine Award-winning The Canary and the Crow

“This new programme will build meaningful relationships with even more artists and offer genuine support that we are confident will lead to full commissions in the future.

“For a long time we’ve been searching for a better way to get to know writers between first meeting and full commissions and we’re excited that this new programme represents a vital change for how we build lasting collaborations.

“I’m really excited that within our inaugural associate writers we have a really diverse and exciting range of artists, from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels, who will form a key part of our work for years to come. 

“The ongoing success of Daniel Ward’s brilliant first play, The Canary and the Crow, proves the importance of companies like ours for supporting new ideas and we can’t wait to get started creating the future with this incredible group of writers.”

Deborah Acheampong

“I’m totally looking forward to working as an associate writer for Middle Child, a company that’s edgy, bold and urgent. I love that! As a playwright, I’ve got a thing for stories that are deeply personal; angry, sad, happy, anxious, whatever it may be. Basically, things that grapple with what it means to be human. And in working with Middle Child, I hope that I’ll gain more confidence in exploring that; that I won’t feel afraid to express myself, to write something great or something terrible, all in the aim of becoming a better playwright.”

Deborah first got into theatre when she watched the most boring play ever. It was about the ups and downs in the life of an average couple, so, at first glance, she thought there couldn’t be anything truly remarkable in it. But after leaving, she realised that she had actually watched something that resonated with her, and with the audience, in a way that she hadn’t seen before. Soon she realised that what is most relatable is the most profound. So, she combined her love of the Big Topics; religion, sociology, feminism and politics, and realised that she could use the lives of average people as an accessible way of discussing those themes.

Deborah Acheampong

Natasha Brown

“I’m so excited to be an associated writer at Middle Child theatre. Having the opportunity to develop my practice as a theatremaker with a company that puts accessibility at the forefront of its mission is a privilege. I’m a huge fan of their work and the stories they tell. I can’t wait to skillshare with the other associated writers and to have a space to explore and play with some burning gig theatre ideas. After 2020, I’ve got quite a lot to scream and shout about!”  

Natasha Brown is an actor, writer, theatremaker and facilitator based in London. Her work interrogates power, identity and community. She has been part of the Soho Writers’ Lab, the Bush Theatre’s Emerging Writers’ Group and the Soho Accelerate programme. Her debut play I AM [NOT] KANYE WEST received rave reviews when it ran at the Bunker Theatre in March 2020. Her previous work also includes TORCH (Boundless Theatre) and Contradictions (Bush Theatre). As a facilitator, she has created workshops for schools, community groups, artists and young people, most recently working with the Yard Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East, the Donmar Warehouse and Clean Break. 

Gillian Greer

“It’s incredibly exciting to be joining the Middle Child family as an associate writer. I have such admiration for the company, their work and their spirit and I’m looking forward to being inspired by them and exploring how to integrate live music into my style and storytelling in particular.”

Gillian is a playwright and dramaturg from Dublin who has seen her work performed in the Abbey in Dublin, the Traverse in Edinburgh and all manner of London fringe venues. Her debut play Petals was nominated for the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best New Play in 2015, and a radio adaptation won the Celtic Media Award for Radio Drama in 2020. Her second play Meat ran at Theatre503 to critical acclaim in early 2020, just before the world ended. As a dramaturg, she has worked at the National Theatre, VAULT Festival, Clean Break Theatre Company, the Mercury Theatre and many more. She is currently the literary manager of the Soho Theatre.

Tabby Lamb

“I am so excited to be part of the Middle Child family, as their shows are always exactly what I look for in theatre: fun, loud and politically sound. I’m looking forward to learning more about how they collaborate interdisciplinarily, especially when it comes to music. At the start of 2020 I promised myself I wouldn’t make any work that centred queer trauma, and would focus on radical acts of queer joy, so I’m looking forward to working with Middle Child to create some fantastic, complex, but ultimately joyous Trans characters.”

Tabby Lamb is a non-binary writer and performer based in East London and a graduate of Dartington College of Arts. Equally inspired by Carly Rae Jepson and Tennessee Williams, they strive to tell stories that explore the intersections between popular culture and politics. Their debut solo show Since U Been Gone, which Tabby wrote and performed, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019, after previewing at the Gate Theatre. The show was spectacularly received by audiences and garnered a glowing 4* write up from the Guardian who called the play “bold, honest and swollen with love”. They were part of the Soho Theatre Writers Lab and the LGBTQ Arts Review #RaisingOurVoices scheme for queer and trans writers, and are currently one of Oxford Playhouse’s Playhouse Playmakers. Tabby is also  currently under commission at the Unicorn Theatre, The Place, 45North & Pentabus Theatre. Alongside their passion for writing, Tabby is a facilitator and runs creative arts projects for young people from the LGBTQ+ community.

Tabby Lamb

Eva Lily

“I am so thrilled and excited to be joining Middle Child’s writing programme. As well as being able to learn from some other fantastic artists and writers, I would like to use this opportunity and space to experiment more within my work and embrace more surreal elements and styles. Recently, I’ve been interested in the concept of ‘story ownership’, particularly in relation to female narratives and so I hope to expand on this further in the work I develop with Middle Child.”

Eva wrote her first play, Bright, while studying English at the University of Exeter. After graduating with a first, she was a member of the Royal Court’s Introduction to Playwriting Course. In 2018, Eva co-founded Eve & Sea Productions and co-wrote their debut show Salmon which has since enjoyed sell out successes and received 4- star reviews. Performances include: Poltimore Festival; Drayton Arms Theatre; Edinburgh Fringe Festival (2019); tour of the South West and a week at Vault Festival in February 2020. Eva’s other previous works include Of Love Letters and Suicide Notes (Exeter Phoenix and Waterloo East Theatre) and The Reply (White Bear Theatre). 

Sarah Middleton

“I’m so happy to be taking part in the programme, and feel really lucky to have been selected. As I’m at the beginning of my journey as a writer, I’m most looking forward to getting stuck into the craft of playwriting. Working alongside a company as dynamic as Middle Child is a dream come true – and I’m hoping to take the opportunity with both hands, whilst exploring female-led narratives about women on missions who talk a bit too much and love snacks. I’m particularly wanting to work on a new idea involving each of these features, plus darts, karaoke and mullets. Can’t wait.”

Sarah Middleton is a theatre-maker and writer originally from Derby. Since 2011 she has worked as an actor, including work at Hull Truck Theatre, Royal Exchange Manchester, Orange Tree and National Theatre. Since 2018 she has been writing alongside acting. Sarah’s writing so far centres around coming-of- age stories and has largely been for and with young audiences. She is particularly interested in writing stories that put women centre-stage, and characters who are adventurous, driven and funny. Sarah’s plays have involved a teenager entering the world hobby-horse championship, a puppet who wants to become a real boy, and two teenagers who take over a barn in the Peak District to stage an enormous climate change protest. In 2019 Sarah was commissioned by Nottingham Playhouse to write an adaptation of Pinocchio for children aged 3-8, which played in the Neville Studio and toured to local schools. Sarah is currently writing and co-producing SHEWOLVES – a new play for young people – along with director Hannah Stone. SHEWOLVES is currently being workshopped with young people in the midlands and will soon go into an R&D, kindly funded by Arts Council England.

Jessy Roberts

“I am over the moon to be working with Middle Child as an associate writer, it’s been such a break in the clouds in 2020. I can’t wait to meet everyone, get to know them and their work, and develop my writing whilst being supported by such a cool company. My work is collage-y and gig theatre-y and angr-y and explores contemporary feminist issues and big questions. I’m excited by the universe and our place within it, and how we can explore that on stage in a theatrical, magical, audience-centric way.” 

Jessy is a theatre maker, playwright and director. She studied Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance at the University of York, and is completing an MA in Directing at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She is the Artistic Director of Teastain Theatre, Intern Director for the Rondo Theatre, and a script reader for various organisations. Recent credits as a writer, director and assistant director include: When They Go Low (the egg/Bath Theatre Academy), Messy Eaters (Teastain Theatre/SLAP Festival/York Theatre Royal), Constellations (TakeOver Festival/York Theatre Royal), Wild Thyme and Heather (Teastain Theatre/TakeOver Festival/York Theatre Royal), Lovely Special Best and Most Important (TakeOver Festival/York Theatre Royal), Horseshoes for Hand Grenades (Eric Loren/East Riding Theatre) and One Giant Leap for June (Open Barn Productions).

Jessy Roberts

Emilie Robson

“I am absolutely elated to be invited to join Middle Child as an associate writer. I cannot wait to begin working alongside their accomplished team, developing my voice and style and elevating my practice through this program. My writing typically places women at the centre of the narrative and endeavours to explore ‘little’, everyday stories but hopefully, in a bold and unique way. I hope to write theatre that makes full use of the medium, bends its boundaries and allows the audience to see and hear themselves on stage.” 

Originally from South Shields, Emilie Robson has spent the last ten years in Scotland, writing and performing in a mix of both Geordie and Scots. In 2018 she received the Scottish Arts Club’s ‘Bright Spark’ Award for Moonlight on Leith, a Dylan Thomas inspired love letter to Leith, co-written by Laila Noble. The play went on to be named runner up at Theatre Uncut’s Political Playwriting Award ceremony in 2019. She recently received a masters with distinction in Theatre Studies from the University of Glasgow. 

Sid Sagar

“I’m so excited and grateful to be part of Middle Child’s inaugural associate writers scheme. As an emerging creative in an uncertain time, it means a lot when an organisation actively seeks to develop, enrich and empower new voices. I can’t wait to learn from and contribute to masterclasses, workshops and conversations with the artistic team. I’m passionate about celebrating the comedy, drama and complexity of marginalised voices, and the associated writers scheme is the ideal platform from which to build on my interests and find new ways to make theatre truly accessible and relevant for all.” 

Sid is a London-based actor, writer and facilitator. He grew up abroad and has lived in England since the age of eight. He studied at the University of Bristol and trained with the National Youth Theatre, Identity School of Acting and the Writers’ Lab at Soho Theatre. As an actor, he regularly works on stage and screen. As a writer, his short plays have been produced at various venues in London, including Southwark Playhouse, Theatre503 and Rich Mix. His short play, Disruption, was commissioned by Small Truth Theatre for the Kensington Karavan Festival in 2019. His first full length play, Dark Faces in the Night, was shortlisted for the Finborough Theatre’s ETPEP Award and was one of the winners of Rose Theatre Kingston’s inaugural New Writing Festival. He was selected for The Mono Box’s PLAYSTART scheme in 2018 and his short play, Papa, was published by Oberon Books. He’s currently developing an ACE-funded audio drama, a commission for The Mono Box’s Reset the Stage series, a monologue for London Bubble’s Young Theatre Makers Programme, and a co-written sitcom with SLAM Films.

Sid Sagar
Daniel Ward in The Canary and the Crow

Daniel Ward wins the 2020 George Devine Award for The Canary and the Crow

By | Artist Development, Awards, News, Shows
Daniel Ward in The Canary and the Crow

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Daniel Ward has won this year’s George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright, for his play, The Canary and the Crow

BBC Radio 4’s Front Row revealed Daniel as the winner on air last night. He also takes home £15,000 in prize money. 

It’s been a big year for Daniel, with success at the Writers’ Guild Awards in January, where he won Best Play for Young Audiences with the same play. 

Last month he was also shortlisted for the 2020 Alfred Fagon Award, the leading prize for Black British playwrights. The winner will be announced online this Thursday (26 November).

Daniel said: “To sum up what it means to win this award is so, so difficult. I am honoured, delighted, humbled and feel incredibly unworthy to have my name sit alongside the prestigious list of previous George Devine winners. 

“I am thankful to everyone that has contributed to the creation of this piece, too numerous to mention, so please excuse me for not going into an expansive list. Please know that I hold everyone in my heart.

“In a year when the arts and theatre has faced such turmoil, I am thankful to the artists who continue to bring such creativity, light and inspiration to the world. I pray that light continues to shine into next year and beyond. 

“There are writers who made the shortlist for the George Devine award who have personally inspired me, so thank you.”

The Canary and the Crow is a semi-autobiographical piece of grime-inspired gig theatre that tells the story of a working class black kid accepted to a prestigious grammar school.

Daniel added: “I am a black man. The Canary and the Crow is a story that centres the lived experience of a black man. 

“In 2020 what that means has taken on much greater significance. I wrote this play to highlight the often difficult to articulate experiences of black people navigating society. 

“When it was staged the response was far more positive than I could have ever imagined, but what was particularly special was the black and brown people who approached me, telling me how much it resonated with them and thanking me for championing their stories. 

“Honestly, I felt that was reward enough. The George Devine award is a very welcome, but very unexpected bonus.

“I humbly accept this award not only for myself but also on behalf of those black and brown people who have been often overlooked and undervalued. Simply put, winning this award, in this year, for this story, means everything.”

“We’re honoured to be associated with such a brilliant piece of work”

Originally written in 2014, Daniel developed the script with Middle Child during a week-long residency in 2018.

Middle Child then produced and premiered the show at Hull Truck Theatre in 2019.

It went on to great success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, winning a number of awards and rave reviews, before transferring to London’s Arcola Theatre in January 2020.

Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith, said: “From the first time I read Dan’s play it was clear that this was a story that had to be told. Its subsequent success is testament to Dan’s hard work and ability as a writer.  

“His play is a vital and searing dissection of racism and classism, a stunning call to arms which demands change. We’re honoured to be associated with such a brilliant piece of work and can’t wait to see what Dan goes on to do next.”

Previous winners of the George Devine Award include Richard Bean, Mike Leigh, Laura Wade, Lucy Prebble and Middle Child associate artist, Tom Wells

Above: Daniel Ward in The Canary and the Crow. Photo by The Other Richard.

The Little Mermaid - Hull Pantomime - Sarah Beth

Christmas, coronavirus and… panto in Hull?

By | Artistic Director, Blog, News, Panto
The Little Mermaid - Hull Pantomime

By Paul Smith, artistic director and joint-CEO

Somehow it’s already that time of year. You know the one? Where we dust off the rat puppets, cobble together an under-rehearsed yet well intentioned finale and let our dame, Marc Graham, run wild on Hull audiences. But it’s not quite the same this year, is it?

Nothing’s quite the same. Instead of excitedly planning this year’s family Christmases or work parties we’re sat wondering what’s going to be left

It’s just Christmas” some people say, but really it’s about more than that isn’t it?

It’s about seeing family and friends. About seeing kids’ faces light up. About belting out some Wizzard with strangers on Whitefriargate, while dressed as a Christmas pudding. And for us at Middle Child it’s about panto. Usually it is, anyway. But not this year. This year we haven’t said a word about panto.

Panto.

That much loved tradition that is, frankly, a bit odd, but a lot special. Where else in this stressful, anxiety-inducing world do adults and children alike come together to share in such unbridled joy? To cheer and boo, laugh and cry, hope and dream together, all while watching a dame dressed as a milk bottle tearfully sing to two actors bent double in a cow costume? 

We love panto. 

For us it’s what all theatre should be: totally devoted to its audience, woven into the fabric of local communities and able to magically transport us away from the real world, into one of magic and wonder. 

But this year it is the very nature of panto that makes it so challenging to realise. The things we love about it have become a barrier to it happening at all: being together in a space with loved ones and strangers, being noisy, being close, singing along, dancing together, avoiding the dame’s eye contact, being dragged up on stage, flashing our wands, rustling our sweets, elbowing granny to wake her up and reliving our favourite moments together in the interval.

It’s about connecting with other human beings through a story that is ridiculous and silly and soppy, but full of searing hope and belief.

It’s everything we’re already missing.

So why haven’t we said anything about panto? Why haven’t we been bombarding you with posters and trailers and ticket offers?

Nigel Taylor dressed in yellow with a blue baseball jacket and fish hat with his hands on his hips

I guess you know why.

In every good panto there’s a moment where all looks lost and we have to dig deep to believe we’ll get to the ending we’re all hoping for. 

We’ve been stuck on that plot point for a while now, hence the silence. Honestly? We didn’t want to say it out loud. That panto can’t happen for us how it usually happens and has happened for the last eight years, from our beloved Fruit to the last two brilliant years at Jubilee Central. 

We’ve had an inkling for a while now.

The nature of our show is proudly intimate. It matters that you (yes, you) are there with us. If you shout out we will hear you. We will respond. Your voice matters. You being in that chair matters. So, frankly, right now a live panto simply isn’t an option for our humble show. The production usually ‘pays for itself’ and without your support, there is no panto. We don’t use celebrity casting to bring in audiences. We rely on word-of-mouth. We rely on the hard work of our incredible local cast and crew. We rely on you, coming together and having a great night out. 

So I guess this is us saying it out loud. 

Panto can’t happen for us how it usually happens.


But that’s not the end of the story. Like all good panto heroes we’re refusing to accept defeat when the odds seem stacked insurmountably against us. We’re trying to find a way up the beanstalk, to the ball, through the enchanted forest. But there are challenges lying in wait and the ending is truly uncertain.

So what we want to do at this point is be honest with you. Tell you how it really is.

We aren’t going to be able to bring people together in a space to do panto this year.
We’re really sad about that.
Like, really sad.

But, we’re trying to do something else. Something digital.
Which, as I’ve said before, isn’t what we do, so we’re linking up with some brilliant people who do.

It’s something that we think could be really special.
It won’t be the same.
But we really do think it could be really special.

Thing is, we’ve never done anything like it before.
And we’re excited about that, but we’re also a bit scared.
Will it work? Will you like it? Will the internet be able to handle Pattie Breadcake?

Marc Graham as Hull panto dame Pattie Breadcake, in a sparkly top and pink dress, with blonde wig and crown.

And then there’s the virus, which is making it even more difficult.
Giving us even more to overcome.
Causing unpredictable twists and turns at every stage and in every detail.
Making us ask what happens if we tell you what we’re trying to do but then, for whatever unforeseeable reason, it can’t happen like we hope it can happen.

So this is where we are. 

We would like to make three promises to you:

1/ We are trying really hard to bring you something special this year to combat the gloom. Something you can enjoy for free from the comfort of your own home which will help us celebrate Christmas together again.

2/ We are doing all we can to make it happen, even if we don’t know what is around the corner. 

3/ As soon as we can, we will tell you more.

All we ask, is that you keep the faith and don’t give up hope. In us, in panto and in being together again.

This story isn’t over yet.

Big love and stay safe.

Paul x

Cut outs of performers from past Middle Child shows on a 90s style yellow and pink background. Text: Join the Squad, become a Middle Child Mate (supporters scheme)

No tiers, just perks: our new pay what you can supporters scheme

By | News
Cut outs of performers from past Middle Child shows on a 90s style yellow and pink background. Text: Join the Squad, become a Middle Child Mate (supporters scheme)

Today we launch Middle Child Mates, our new supporters scheme for fans to back our work to bring people together for a good night out with big ideas.

As a registered charity we rely on the generosity of our supporters, and whether you’re donating £2 or £200 a month, you’ll become an official part of our squad and receive the following perks:

  • exclusive bi-monthly supporter newsletter from the Middle Child team, featuring company updates, what we’re loving and our personal recs;
  • a shout-out on our website and social media;
  • a Middle Child tote bag;
  • a limited edition Middle Child enamel pin badge.

We know that at the best of times spare money can be hard to come by, let alone in the middle of a pandemic, which is why we won’t rank your support based on how much money you have.

Instead, we value every contribution, meaning each of our supporters will receive the same perks, regardless of how much you pledge.

The support we received from the Cultural Recovery Fund is an incredible opportunity to get back to doing what we do best – creating award-winning theatre and supporting artists in Hull and beyond – but there’s still a way to go.

We’ve never reached out for donations like this before, so we’re really excited to share this new scheme and invite you to be part of something special.

We are all set to accept donations as of now and, if you’re one of our first round of supporters, you’ll be forever known as an original BFF.

Find out more about how your donations, no matter how little or large, can help support us in our work and sign up now, on the Middle Child Mates page.

EN PL