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Rehearsal Photos: Modest

By | Shows

Distinguished guests of the Royal Academy summer exhibition, welcome to the rehearsal room of Modest *doffs hat* 🎩

Our drag king cabaret-inspired play with Milk Presents about Victorian artist, Elizabeth Thompson, is deep into rehearsals ahead of opening at
Hull Truck Theatre 23-27 May.

This week the cast have been focusing on choreography with Tamar and Jo, as well as finessing Rachel Barnes’ musical numbers.

We have one more week of rehearsals in our space in Hull’s old town, before we move into the studio at Hull Truck to bring together lighting, sound, set and costume. Then everything shifts into the main auditorium for our first performance on Tuesday 23 May.

Book tickets now through the Hull Truck Theatre box office, or see our other tour dates.

Photos by Jessica Zschorn.

A woman in vivid pink Victorian dress stands confident and cocksure with her hand on her hip, surrounded by four drag kings in tail coats. Two of the drag kings wear top hats, another has Afro hair style and another a long flowing mullet. The four drag kings variously hold paintbrushes, an empty picture frame and messy paint palettes.

Step into character with the cast of Modest

By | Shows

Music hall, theatre and drag king swagger collide as Modest brings you Elizabeth Thompson – megastar of the Victorian art scene.

Meet the cast as they step into character for the first time for a new photoshoot to promote the show.

Elizabeth Thompson

Emer Dineen in Modest

Emer Dineen is Elizabeth Thompson, the artist who shook up Victorian Britain with her war paintings and fell two votes short of becoming the first woman elected to the Royal Academy in 1879.

Millais

Jacqui Bardelang in Modest

Jacqui Bardelang is Royal Academician (RA), Millais. He’s fond of the thought of Elizabeth Thompson joining the Academy, and even more fond of himself. Jacqui also plays the role of Cora, an artist friend of Elizabeth’s.

RA One

LJ Parkinson in Modest

LJ Parkinson is RA One and gives pure mutton chop, animal magnetism. LJ also plays the role of Elizabeth’s friend, Mary.

RA Two

Fizz Sinclair in Modest

Fizz Sinclair plays RA Two and Elizabeth’s sister, suffragist poet, Alice. RA Two puts the “vituperative” in Victorian and shudders at the thought of a woman in the Academy.

RA Three

Isabel Adomakoh Young in Modest

Isabel Adomakoh Young is RA Three and Elizabeth’s friend, Frances. RA Three is the archetype Victorian nepo-baby himbo bad boy. He doesn’t know why he’s in the Academy, and nor do we.

Bessie

Libra Teejay in Modest

Libra Teejay is Bessie, a teenage fan of Elizabeth, who has saved and scrimped every ha’penny they earn in the factory to see her work in the summer exhibition. Libra also plays the role of Queen Victoria.

The stunning new photos were shot by Jessica Zschorn of Studio Blue Creative at Whites Hire Studio, with costumes by Modest costume designer Terry Herfield and associate costume designer Sian Thomas.

Art direction is by Middle Child audience development manager Jamie Potter, with support from Erin Anderson and Luke Skilbeck.

A portrait of a Victorian woman with a red punk newsprint effect overlaid with black and white mismatched letters which spell Modest

Modest, a new show about Elizabeth Thompson

By | News, Shows

Hold tight, Hull – we’re back at Hull Truck Theatre in 2023 with a brand new show, produced in collaboration with the wonderful Milk Presents.

Music hall, theatre and drag king cabaret erupt as Modest brings you Elizabeth Thompson – megastar of the Victorian art scene.

In 1874 Elizabeth stuns the Royal Academy with her painting, Roll Call. Five years later, she falls two votes short of becoming the first woman elected to the academy.

In between, she must shoulder the hopes and dreams of women across the country, while fighting for her place at a table full of top hats, ties and mutton chop beards.

Performed by a cast of actor-musicians, this punk-spirited show will break your heart and start a revolution.

Written by Ellen Brammar (I Hate Alone) with music by Rachel Barnes, Modest is a good night out co-directed by Leo Skilbeck (Milk Presents) and Paul Smith (Middle Child), heading to Hull and then out on tour.

It features movement direction by Tamar and Jo, set design by QianEr Jin, costume design by Terry Herfield, sound design by Eliyana Evans and lighting design by Jessie Addinall.

Modest is a collaboration with Milk Presents, developed with the support of the National Theatre’s Generate programme.

Dates for our run at Hull Truck Theatre will be announced soon, while tickets are now on-sale for performances at the New Wolsey theatre in Ipswich from 16-17 June 2023.

Show photos from There Should Be Unicorns

By | News, Shows

Our brand new, hip hop family musical There Should Be Unicorns premiered to a sold out audience at Stage @TheDock in Hull this weekend.

The Stage described it as “a vibrant, colourful celebration of imagination”, and the inclusion of BSL-interpretation and audio description as “not just admirable – it makes its shows better”.

Hull Is This, in their review, said There Should Be Unicorns is “an absolute joy to watch” and “unapologetically optimistic and imaginative”.

The show, inspired by the work of Beats Bus founder Steve Arnott, heads on a tour of English festivals this summer, before returning to Hull in August for Freedom Festival.

Thank you to photographer Tom Arran for capturing the energy and joy of the show in the pictures below.

There Should Be Unicorns is supported by Wykeland Group, Without Walls, Freedom Festival Arts Trust, Hull City Council, Foyle Foundation and Garfield Weston.

A white woman with long dark hair, in lilac dungarees, yellow jumper, gold party hat and pink cape makes a superhero pose, against blue background with white clouds and text that says "There Should Be Unicorns"

There Should Be Unicorns to open in Hull

By | Events, News, Shows, Uncategorised
A white woman with long dark hair, in lilac dungarees, yellow jumper, gold party hat and pink cape makes a superhero pose, against blue background with white clouds and text that says

Flutter your capes and zhuzh up your rainbows – we have a new show coming to town!

There Should Be Unicorns is a hip hop family musical coming to Stage @ The Dock in Hull from 7-8 May, made in association with Beats Bus.

Join 11-year-old Jasmine on an adventure to make the world a better place, powered only by her imagination and a belief in unicorns.

Come dressed as the superhero version of yourself and help Jasmine take on the bullies, villains and ideas that shape the world around her.

There Should Be Unicorns is inspired by the story of Beats Bus co-founder, Steve Arnott, who was the subject of Sean McAllister’s 2018 documentary, A Northern Soul.

Steve stars as Jasmine’s dad, alongside Beats Bus co-founder Kobby Taylor, who you may also recognise from The Canary and the Crow and The Little Mermaid.

In the show Jasmine’s dad inspires her to rebel against the pressure to conform and put herself first as she gets ready to move to senior school.

We’d love to see families from across Hull turn out in fancy dress to support Jasmine in her quest and free face painting will be available all weekend, from Fantastic Faces.

A Black man applauds a white boy on a microphone. In the background lots of children watch.

Kobby Taylor leading a Beats Bus workshop

Free tickets, available 30 March

Free tickets have been made possible thanks to the support of Wykeland Group, Without Walls and Freedom Festival Arts Trust.

They go on-sale through the Middle Child website at 12 noon, Wednesday 30 March.

For the first time at a Middle Child show we are providing integrated audio description in all performances, alongside BSL interpretation on Sunday 8 May.

The venue also opens an hour before the show and you’re welcome to bring in food from the many independent shops and cafes around the Fruit Market.

There Should Be Unicorns premieres in Hull, before heading on a national tour of outdoor festivals, including a return to Freedom Festival, so come join us for a kick-ass opening weekend!

There Should Be Unicorns is supported by Wykeland Group, Without Walls, Freedom Festival Arts Trust, Hull City Council, Foyle Foundation and Garfield Weston.

Fantastic Faces logo

How to create a superhero version of yourself

By | Shows
A white woman with long dark hair, in lilac dungarees, yellow jumper holds a pink cape

Pick a name, choose a superpower and make a costume to light up the skies at There Should Be Unicorns in May.

There Should Be Unicorns is all about using your imagination to make the world a better place and our hero, 11-year-old Jasmine, wants to see you use yours.

In the show, Jasmine transforms into the superhero version of herself – Unicorn Girl – to take on the bullies, villains and ideas that rule her world.

Jasmine would love to see you come along, dressed as superhero versions of yourselves too.

But where to begin?

Well, Jasmine has two simple steps to follow.

Step One – Your Name

First, take the thing that you like the most -it might be an animal, or an object, or something you like doing, like climbing or cooking – and then you mix it with something you’re really good at.

Jasmine LOVES unicorns, hence why she is Unicorn Girl.

Step Two – Your Power

A unicorn’s alicorn makes them weird and not like horses – but it’s also what makes them special, because they don’t care what anyone thinks of them.

So Jasmine, as Unicorn Girl, inspires people to stop being ashamed of who they are.

What would your special superpower be?

Bonus Step – Costume

Every superhero needs a costume to disguise themselves. And look good changing the world.

Below are some videos to give you inspiration on how to make your own outfit, including capes and masks.

We’ll be capturing photographs at Stage @ The Dock, 7-8 May, so Jasmine can remember how amazing everybody looked.

We’ll also have free facepainting all weekend, from Fantastic Faces.

Let us know how you get on with your costumes and alter egos by tagging us in your photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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.
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
Collage of eight headshots of the cast

Meet the cast and writers for “we used to be closer than this”

By | News, Shows

After 18 months away from the stage, the cast of we used to be closer than this have started rehearsals today, for our first in-person performance since covid-19 struck the UK.

The show, an outdoor cabaret celebrating connection and togetherness, is written by Natasha Brown, Angelo Irving, Tabby Lamb, Jay Mitra, RashDash, Leo Skilbeck, Kobby Taylor and Tom Wells, with original live music by James Frewer.

It will be performed in Queen’s Gardens from 16-18 July, as part of Absolutely Cultured’s Creative Hull festival.

The cast includes Lauren Azania, Rachel Barnes, Tommi Bryson, Jack Chamberlain, James Frewer, Marc Graham, Anna Mitchelson and Kobby Taylor, with BSL interpreter Stephanie Raper joining the company for both performances on Saturday 17 July.

The writers

A montage of headshots of the eight writers

Top, left-right: Natasha Brown, Angelo Irving, Tabby Lamb and Jay Mitra
Bottom, left-right: RashDash, Leo Skilbeck, Kobby Taylor and Tom Wells

Natasha Brown is a writer, performer, theatre maker and facilitator based in London. Her work interrogates power, identity and community. Natasha is an associate writer of Middle Child.

Angelo Irving is a writer and actor whose career started because of covid. He loves to learn and build with others and wants to be a difference maker.

Tabby Lamb is a non-binary trans femme writer whose work focuses on moments of queer joy and gender euphoria. Tabby is an associate writer of Middle Child.

Jay Mitra is a non-binary British Indian punk poet, writer and artist based in Hull and Manchester.

RashDash are about dancing, making space to be yourself, cultural change and radical pleasure.

Leo Skilbeck is the artistic director for Milk Presents. They write, direct, make short films, and run workshops and training.

Kobby Taylor is an actor, composer and youth worker, who is passionate about all three.

Tom Wells is a Hull-based playwright and associate artist of Middle Child.

The cast

Collage of eight headshots of the cast

Top, left-right: Lauren Azania, Rachel Barnes, Tommi Bryson and Jack Chamberlain
Bottom, left-right: James Frewer, Marc Graham, Anna Mitchelson and Stephanie Raper

Lauren Azania is a British-Caribbean Motown/Disco singer, actress and dancer, based in London.

Rachel Barnes has previously appeared in The Canary and the Crow and I Hate Alone for Middle Child.

Tommi Bryson is Sheffield-born-bred-and-based performer, writer, producer and facilitator; best known for her vibrant comedy music and her varied work at Sheffield’s own Crucible Theatre.

Jack Chamberlain is an actor, director, producer and co-artistic director of Brick By Brick. He has appeared in multiple pantomimes for Middle Child.

James Frewer is a composer and musical director, who has worked on multiple Middle Child shows, including The Canary and the Crow, Us Against Whatever and All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.

Marc Graham is an actor from Hull and a founding member of Middle Child. In 2017 he won The Stage Excellence Award for his performance in All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.

Anna Mitchelson is a performer from Hull who has previously appeared in One Life Stand and multiple pantomimes for Middle Child.

Stephanie Raper is a BSL interpreter from Lincolnshire who works across live music, theatre and performance.

Kobby Taylor, as well as being a writer on the show, is a performer who has previously appeared in The Canary and the Crow and The Little Mermaid for Middle Child.

we used to be closer than this is directed by Paul Smith and the production team also includes: Belle Streeton (assistant director), Natalie Young (designer), Jess Addinall and Adam Foley (lighting designers), Jay Hirst (technical stage manager) and Oliver Strong (assistant stage manager).

  • Pay what you can tickets are on sale now, through Absolutely Cultured.

Dates

Fri 16 – Sun 18 July
Queen’s Gardens, Hull
Pay What You Can

Book Tickets
Surrealist collage of two female burlesque characters sat amongst blue and turquoise flowers, butterflies and dragonflies

Middle Child return to the stage with a summer cabaret in Hull

By | Events, News, Shows
Surrealist collage of two female burlesque characters sat amongst blue and turquoise flowers, butterflies and dragonflies

After more than a year away from the stage we make our long-awaited return with a brand new cabaret, celebrating connection and togetherness, as part of Absolutely Cultured’s Creative Hull festival in July.

we used to be closer than this features songs by writers Natasha Brown, Angelo Irving, Tabby Lamb, Jay Mitra, RashDash, Leo Skilbeck, Kobby Taylor and Tom Wells, with original live music by James Frewer.

Performed outdoors under the sun in Queen’s Gardens, audiences will be seated cabaret style, around socially distanced tables of four people, with a limited capacity of 100 per show.

we used to be closer than this runs from 16-18 July and pay what you can tickets, for all performances, are now on sale through Absolutely Cultured.

Alongside our first live performance in 18 months, budding songwriters can also take part in our free Writing Songs for the Stage workshops, on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 July, as part of the festival.

Bring along a piece of writing – be it a play, a piece of poetry, or anything in between – and work with our musicians and composers to create an original song, that will be set to live music.

  • See the Absolutely Cultured website for more information about Creative Hull.

we used to be closer than this is supported by Absolutely Cultured, Arts Council England and the Cultural Recovery Fund.