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Rapunz'ull Covid Measures

A message for our panto audience about Covid-19

By | News, Panto

Panto season is almost upon us and, after cancelling last year’s live show due to covid, we’re chomping at the bit to get back on-stage in front of an audience.

The pandemic is still here though and it’s something we are taking seriously in our preparations for Rapunz’ull, which also happens to be our 10th anniversary panto.

We want to make sure the show goes ahead, but most importantly that our audiences and company are kept as safe as possible.

We’re certain you feel the same too. Middle Child fans are a warm and wonderful bunch of people who care for each other and show off the best of Hull.

That’s why so many of you have already bought solidarity tickets, so that people who otherwise wouldn’t get to experience a festive show can enjoy Rapunz’ull this Christmas.

So, in that same spirit of solidarity and community, we’d like to make a pact with our audiences this year: to look out for each other over the next few weeks, so that the show may go on and we can have a banging Christmas night out together.

We will do what we can to protect the cast, crew and show itself. In return, we’d like you to do a few things to help us out.

Take a test

First, we’d like you to take a lateral flow test before attending the show, for peace of mind that you are unlikely to be infected.

We won’t be asking for you to prove these tests on the door, though. We’re all adults and we trust that you will do the right thing by yourself and other people.

If you can’t attend Rapunz’ull because of a positive test, please contact the box office at Hull Truck Theatre, who are managing ticket sales, to discuss options, including transferring your tickets to an alternative performance.

Please do so at least an hour before the performance begins and note that, for evening performances, the box office at Hull Truck closes at 5pm.

Wear a mask

Second, we’re encouraging our audiences to wear masks throughout the performance and we will have spares available at the box office as you enter Social.

The magic of panto is in the audience interaction, which we can still enjoy with a little piece of cloth over our faces.

The bar will also remain open to serve drinks, alongside the delicious Neapolitan-style pizza from Costanza’s, making for the usual panto experience.

How about Middle Child?

Our performers and production team will take lateral flow tests every day from the start of rehearsals to the end of the run and will act responsibly in any social situations throughout.

We have an understudy – an additional performer who learns other people’s roles – who will be kept separate to the cast, ready to step-in should a performer fall ill.

Middle Child and Social will also provide hand sanitiser throughout the venue and maintain a high-level of cleanliness during the run, while the building itself is also fitted with a ventilation system.

Should the worst happen and shows be cancelled, audiences will be refunded for their tickets, as per our refund policy.

As we blogged before, our pantomime isn’t subsidised, unlike our other work, which makes it a financial risk at the best of times.

That’s why we need to take extra care in this of all years, to ensure Rapunz’ull goes ahead without a hiccup and we keep people as safe as possible.

We are also monitoring the situation with the new variant closely and will respond accordingly should the government introduce any further measures.

We’re sure you agree and will understand.

As always, we love to hear from our audiences about the work we’re doing and if there’s anything we can do differently.

Please do get in touch through social media or by email if you have any other questions or suggestions.

Rehearsals start tomorrow and the whole team is excited to get in the room again after two years away. We can’t wait to see you all soon!

Middle Child x

Headshots of the eight performers of Rapunz'ull

Meet the cast of Rapunz’ull

By | News, Panto, Shows

We swear it’s still September, but the calendar don’t lie and rehearsals for this year’s panto, Rapunz’ull, start a week today. Ye gads!

In which case, we better introduce the talented performers who will be taking to the stage at Social this Christmas, from 16-24 December.

Alice Beaumont returns to panto to play the lead role and hero with the magic hair, Rapunzel.

Alice’s previous work with Middle Child includes pantomimes, The Little Mermaid and Cinderella, as well as All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.

Jack Chamberlain will be tapping those toms and slapping those snares in musician’s corner, as well as getting up to mischief on the stage itself as Dogbreath.

Jack has appeared in numerous Middle Child Christmas shows, including as the Mirror in last year’s animated panto.

The multi-instrumentalist Alex Turner aspires to be, James Frewer will lead musical proceedings as Piano James and the show’s musical director.

Frew, as he likes to be known, has written music for Middle Child since the beginning on various shows, including All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, Us Against Whatever and The Canary and the Crow.

Marc Graham returns as Pattie Breadcake, Hull’s favourite guitar-shredding, husband-shedding panto dame.

Marc won a Stage Award for Excellence for his turn as the MC in All We Ever Wanted Was Everything and has handled more hecklers than Social has been called Fruit.

Making his panto debut under the lights at Social, as villain Mayor Gothel, is Angelo Irving.

You may recognise Angelo from his Black Boris viral videos, as well as Netflix’s Death to 2020, for which he also has a writing credit.

Angelo also reviews theatre for the likes of Exeunt and The Stage, after participating in our New Critics Programme in 2019, and also wrote for our summer cabaret, we used to be closer than this.

Anna Mitchelson joins the cast as understudy, part of our Covid-19 precautions to ensure the show can go on, ready to step-in should a performer fall ill.

Anna starred in our 2019 production of One Life Stand and also appeared in our comeback cabaret earlier this year, we used to be closer than this.

Panto regular Josie Morley stars as Ace Ladd, the Hull botanist in search of his radical roots who wants to start a revolution.

As well as appearing in countless Middle Child pantomimes, Josie also performed in our karaoke cabaret, Us Against Whatever and starred in The Roaring Girls’ Beach Body Ready.

The man whose face launched a thousand squeaks during Cinderella, Andrew Ross is the deadpan extraordinaire bar none.

Andrew will double-up stage management and clowning duties as Baron von Stagehand and has previously appeared as Pattie’s sister, Chips, in The Little Mermaid.

And joining us on Saturday 18 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 wizardry behind the scenes is our amazing production team.

Natalie Young is the brains behind our set, props and costume design, bringing Hull Fair to Social, with special thanks to the University of Hull drama department for building the set.

Adam Foley is working wonders with the lights to capture the neon atmosphere of the fair on the usual modest budget.

Danielle Harris joins the rehearsal room as deputy stage manager and will run the show from the tech desk in the venue.

Paul Smith, Middle Child’s artistic director, has not only penned the script but will once again direct the show.

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

  • Tickets for Rapunz’ull are on-sale now, available from £10.50-£16.50.
Rapunzull Hull Panto

BSL-interpreted performances at Rapunz’ull

By | News, Panto

This year’s panto, Rapunz’ull, will include three BSL-interpreted performances on Saturday 18 December.

Interpreter Dave Wycherley will be on-stage for the family shows at 3pm and 6pm, plus the late-night, adult-only version at 9pm.

Discounted tickets for BSL-users are available for £10.50 for children and £13.50 for adults, with no additional booking fees.

Book now through the Middle Child website for the family shows or the late-night version.

Solidarity tickets available for Rapunz’ull

By | News, Panto

Every year at our rock’n’roll Hull panto we make over 200 solidarity tickets available to local community groups and charities, so that people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy a Christmas show can attend one of our performances for free.

These are subsidised by our audience members, who are forever generous with our bucket collection after each show.

Now this year, for the first time, you can contribute to these solidarity tickets when you purchase your own online, by adding extra tickets worth £5 each when prompted online, or by asking to make a contribution when ordering over the phone.

If you choose to add solidarity tickets to your order, Middle Child will gift them to local community and charity groups in Hull to attend Rapunz’ull this year.

With your help, theatre can be made even more accessible and you can change who gets to participate in the arts – something Middle Child have been striving to do since our founding in 2011.

  • Book now for Rapunz’ull, at Social on Humber Street from 16-24 December.
Production shot from The Little Mermaid - Hull Panto

Save £5 on panto tickets with our Friends and Family offer

By | News, Panto

For one week only, we are offering a £5 discount on groups of four tickets for our rock’n’roll Hull panto, Rapunz’ull.

Available from 11-17 October, buy any combination of tickets – including at least one adult and one children’s ticket – for our Christmas show at Social on Humber Street and save £5.

This includes our BSL-interpreted performances at 3pm and 6pm on Saturday 18 December.

This special offer is limited to four tickets per person. Any additional tickets will be charged at the usual rate.

The Friends and Family offer will be available from 9am on Monday 11 October and end at 11.59pm on Sunday 17 October.

Ticket sales for Rapunz’ull are managed by Hull Truck Theatre. For help buying tickets, please contact Hull Truck Theatre directly on 01482 323638 or boxoffice@hulltruck.co.uk.

For any other enquiries about Rapunz’ull, please contact us on email: office@middlechildtheatre.co.uk.

The Little Mermaid - Hull Pantomime

Where have the panto family tickets gone?

By | News, Panto

Audience development manager, Jamie Potter, writes about the pressures of putting a pantomime on-sale – and what it means for our family tickets.

Back in early 2020, before the pandemic upturned everything, we were evaluating The Little Mermaid and how well it had gone. In particular, we had some questions about our family ticket offer, which gives people a discount when they buy two standard and two children’s tickets.

We learned from audience feedback that while the offer was very popular, not all families have two parents and two children. Single parents – especially single mothers – are excluded from any kind of discount and some people simply don’t have families.

That didn’t sit well with us, so we spoke about it, a lot.

We were aware how much that discount was appreciated, especially when, despite our best efforts to keep prices low, £16.50 for an adult is still an expensive ticket in a place like Hull.

But we were also uncomfortable with providing a discount that favours one particular social group to the exclusion of others.

And there was no other way to provide discounts to different family types, other than by keeping prices low across the board.

So that’s what we decided to do: keep our ticket prices as low as possible and discontinue the family offer, as the most equitable way forward.

Production shot from The Little Mermaid - Hull Panto

The Little Mermaid (2019)

Before we could go on-sale however, Covid-19 struck and in 2020 our panto went online, for free.

Fast forward eighteen months and we’re able to announce a new production, Rapunz’ull, on an actual stage, in front of a fleshy, bony audience, back in our spiritual home on Humber Street.

First though, we had to go through hours, days, weeks even, of planning and forecasting to try and make the budget work. And it still looks tight. Like, really tight.

Aware of the financial pressures people are under right now, we revisited our family ticket discussion. However, we worked out that if we reinstated the offer, the discount would roughly double our expected loss in our best-case sales forecast.

That’s not a typo. We were already expecting to make a loss on panto.

Even if we sell every ticket this year, to a total audience size similar to previous years, but amid the uncertainty of Covid-19, we will still not cover production costs.

This is where the hard reality of panto finance crashes the Christmas party: making theatre is expensive and our panto is no exception.

Production shot from The Little Mermaid - Hull Panto - Photo by Sarah Beth

The Little Mermaid (2019)

Unlike the rest of our work, we receive no additional funding to stage panto, now in its tenth year, so it must always wash its own face through box office income.

Whereas in large venues Christmas shows often subsidise work the rest of the year, for Middle Child it’s the other way round.

That puts us in perennial conflict between balancing production costs with the price of tickets.

What we’ve done then is trim the budget the best we can, while still paying people properly, and made the show as small as we’re comfortable to take it without losing its essence of a messy, anarchic, musical night out.

We’ve also applied to the third round of the Culture Recovery Fund, to cover against any potential losses from Rapunz’ull.

Success here would make a huge difference, but we still need to make a workable budget in-case we are turned down, and all the while remembering we will face the same puzzle in 2022.

Despite our work on the budget, we are still forecast to make a loss, though it’s one we’ve managed to reduce to a figure we can absorb. Nonetheless, it’s still a risk.

Production shot from The Little Mermaid - Hull Panto - Photo by Sarah Beth

The Little Mermaid (2019)

Every year there is at least one moment, in planning, when we ask the dreaded question: “Should we even do panto anymore?”

But the answer is always yes. Because Middle Child is panto.

It’s our most popular show, with our largest audience, who return year-after-year.

Panto is an entry point to theatre for so many people and it encapsulates our entire approach to form: the spirit of panto – loud, fun, audience-centric – runs through our work all year round, not just at Christmas.

Why are we telling you this?

To be honest and open about the realities of making theatre, especially a production that is so loved by audiences in Hull, as well as by the dedicated people who make it.

The Middle Child panto is incredibly rewarding for all involved, but it’s a thin and wobbly tightrope that we must walk to ensure it can happen. Hence the transparency about the decisions we make.

Through all of this we are still very aware that 2021 has been and continues to be very difficult for many financially.

That’s why, before we discontinue the family ticket, we’re going to make one last revised offer – a Friends and Family offer – available for one week only. This will give you a fiver off any four tickets bought together, when you buy at least one adult and one children’s ticket.

It’s a little compromise we’ve decided to make, as we balance on that tricky tightrope during a year that the entire theatre world has found difficult to navigate.

Beyond all the budget chin-stroking, we’re enormously excited to be back on-stage with panto, after two years away thanks to lockdown.

And this year it’s not any old stage – we’re also back in the warehouse, albeit with a different name and a lick of paint or two, where it all began in 2011.

Social on Humber Street is our spiritual home, not just for panto, but for countless Middle Child shows over the past ten years.

The script is hilarious, the cast and creative team are super talented and the tunes we will cover are some proper bops, so we can’t wait to see you there at Christmas.

Is there anything else – apart from buying tickets, of course – that you can do to help?

Become a Middle Child Mate. This is our monthly pay what you can supporters’ scheme, in which you receive a free tote bag, pin badge and exclusive bi-monthly newsletter from the team, plus other occasional perks.

Sponsor us. We have a number of reasonable packages available for local businesses, with a series of benefits including shout outs on social media, inclusion on print and thank yous in our 20 shows. Contact Hattie for more information.

Buy a Solidarity Ticket. Every year we give away tickets to charity and community groups working with people in Hull, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to see a Christmas show. These are funded by a post-show collection on the door and this year we are now able to accept donations when you buy a ticket online.

Cross your fingers. And your toes, that we’re successful with our application to the Culture Recovery Fund.

Rapunz’ull runs from 16-24 December 2021, at Social on Humber Street, Hull

Vacancy: Trustees

By | News

We are looking for up to five people to join our Board of Trustees, to help us make decisions about our work and check we’re not doing things that we shouldn’t be doing.

Fancy it?

We are especially keen to hear from people from backgrounds or characteristics underrepresented in the arts and on theatre boards – and you don’t need to have been a trustee before to apply.

In particular we are looking for people with experience of:

  • Financial management
  • Business management
  • Fundraising
  • HR and legal
  • Arts marketing and communications
  • Community engagement and participation

Sound like you? Or somebody you know? Then we’d love to hear from you!

Applications are now open and close at 12 noon on Tuesday 26 October.

For more information about our trustee roles and how to apply, see our full listing, including recruitment pack.

The front of a Victorian brick warehouse, called Bond 31

Middle Child move into Bond 31

By | News
The front of a Victorian brick warehouse, called Bond 31

We have a new moonbase: Bond 31.

One year after we left Darley’s, our home of nine years, and set-up shop on our various sofas throughout lockdown, Middle Child have moved into a new space in Hull city centre.

We’ve taken over the ground floor of the old Bond 31 warehouse at 42-43 High Street, which backs onto the river Hull.

The suite will house an accessible rehearsal space, theatre library and office, as well as a new writing room, hot desking space and kitchen facilities.

Middle Child HQ isn’t open to the public just yet, as we are still decorating, but will be soon.

We’re working with Resolve, who recycle and refurbish commercial spaces, to prepare it to meet our needs and those of theatre workers in Hull.

As with Darley’s, we will open-up our new home for others to use.

Once again, we’d like to thank those freelancers who took part in our Imagine the Future day, earlier this year, and fed back what you need from a space in Hull.

We’ll soon have more information available about Bond 31 and its facilities.

In the meantime, our core team is working from here Tuesday to Friday every week, as we settle in and make it our home.

Do give us a knock on the big window if you pass by!

Thank you to Wykeland and the Cultural Recovery Fund for their support. 

A brown door set into Victorian brickwork

Main entrance

Books on wooden shelves

Theatre library

An office inside an old warehouse building covered in dustsheets

Office

A white room with grey beams

Rehearsal room

Vacancy: Chair of the Board of Trustees

By | News

After three fantastic years as chair of the Middle Child Board of Trustees, Martin Green CBE is stepping down to focus on his role at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

That means we are now seeking a new chair to play a key role in the next stage of Middle Child’s journey, as we bounce back from a pandemic that brought into sharper focus than ever before the fight for equality and the importance of the arts.

This will be at the heart of our next application to continue as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

Applications are now open, with a deadline of 9am on Monday 20 September.

See our recruitment page for a pack with full details about the role and how to apply.

A montage of headshots of the eight writers

Behind the writing – “we used to be closer than this”

By | News, Shows, Uncategorised
A montage of headshots of the eight writers

If you’ve been keeping up with us, you’ll know that we are celebrating togetherness by being back on the stage Friday 16th – Sunday 18th July with a live audience with ‘we used to be closer than this’, a cabaret of songs written by 8 talented writers from Hull and across the UK.

Not too long ago, we sent a brief to writers asking them to respond to the idea of coming together again through writing a music-led piece of writing which is celebratory, hopeful and challenging in equal measure. But what can you expect from each piece? We’ve asked our writers to tell us more about their song:

Use the arrows to scroll through all of our writer’s stories-behind-the-songs
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