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Panto Dame Name Generator

What’s your panto dame name?

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Panto Dame Name Generator

Ever wondered how we came up with the name of our panto dame, Pattie Breadcake? With our patented Panto Dame Name Generator!

Simply take the title from the month you were born in, alongside two names from the lists below and voila! Instant panto celeb-dom.

Birth month

January-March: Lady
April-June: Queen
July-September: Dame
October-December: Our

The first letter of your first name

AB: Pattie
CD: Marina
EF: Ferry
GH: Welly
IJ: Fishy
KL: Larkin’
MN: Tiger
OP: Chippy
QR: Mafting
ST: Tenfoot
UV: Croggy
WX: Gravy
YZ: Humber

The first letter of your last name

AB: Breadcake
CD: Turbine
EF: Gristle
GH: Codhead
IJ: Foreshore
KL: Trawler
MN: Headscarf
OP: Oss Wash
QR: Ave a Skeg
ST: Spiders
UV: Big Wheel
WX: Chip Spice
YZ: Dead Bod

Am I a writer? – Retrospective thoughts from Tom Wells’ writer’s group from Jenni

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There’s something humbling about reading the words on a page you had just madly written down minutes prior during a 2-minute freewriting exercise. I can still hear my voice tripping over the phrases and my cheeks burning. I was so confident of the short story of a man driving home from his sister’s Christmas meal and facing the consequences of what he had done that morning when marking it on paper that I hadn’t steadied myself for an entire room of people to hear it. It was terrifying.

I’ve been forced to ask myself, am I a writer?

This was a question I was asking myself the entire time I was contemplating applying for Tom Well’s writing group with Middle Child. When I had first heard of the opportunity, I didn’t think too deeply into it honestly, I just knew I wanted to be involved, but when I read the application, imposter syndrome smacked me in the face.

To backtrack, anyone who reads my experience with writing would be confused as to why I wouldn’t consider myself a writer. I’ve written about uncountable short-stories, poetry pieces, short-film scripts, articles, blogs, reviews, lyrics, essays for my short-lived YouTube career, alongside copywriting for social media and various company websites, and I’ve probably overlooked many other examples, but most of these surprisingly isn’t for the sake of writing.

Despite myself, I applied and I got in. Over the course of the weeks we met in a room, I poured my brain onto the page for the first time and when reading that first piece, I panicked. Everyone else was so funny, so quick, so clever, and I felt I was wading through a clumsy chunk of an idea. After I had read out loud, I analysed the room and the reactions, and honestly, there could have been a million positive comments, but they would never have shined through a twitch in a mouth corner which I had translated into shame.

a woman writes in an A5 notebook with a silver mechanical pencil on a wooden desk

Creative writing, an idea from your brain, is very personal. Compared to well-researched essays, reports or even an album review, for me, it feels like a world away. I can spend hours of energy constructing an incredibly insightful piece for a company blog and happily stand in front of a crowd of hundreds and confidently read aloud. My heart is safely tucked behind my ribcage and nowhere near my sleeve. But then I reach into myself and pull out something fictional, explorative, use my imagination, my knees give way at the idea of letting another person see.

The thing about practice, surprisingly, is that the thing you practice generally gets easier. Over the weeks sat in that room with the brilliant group of writers, sharing our ideas and our work throughout Tom’s exercises, something clicked. I wasn’t consistently confident, but I noticed that feedback that was constructive and useful no longer felt like an attack on my soul. You’ll be happy to hear, by the last week, I was volunteering to go first in sharing my ideas, and with a smile on my face, I shared my thoughts around where I wanted to take my final piece. I feel I am prepared to hear my own writing performed by another on stage in front of an audience, not only that, I think I’m thrilled by the concept.

As most of the past attendees of Tom’s writing group will say: If you have any consideration of trying out the writer’s group, then bloody well apply.

Jenni Harrison, Events/Media Producer and Manager (and writer)

New merch: 10 Years of Middle Child poster by Joseph Cox

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Fresh new merch line just dropped.

To celebrate a decade of making a noise, we commissioned Hull designer Joseph Cox to create a print featuring illustrations of 15 shows from the first ten years of Middle Child.

The artwork features imagery from shows such as The Canary and the Crow, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything and Weekend Rockstars and is available as an A3 giclee-printed poster.

The poster is available to buy now through our online store and can be either collected from our rehearsal space in Hull, or delivered via Royal Mail.

The Canary and the Crow - Roundabout 2019 - The Other Richard

Stream The Canary and the Crow from 25-31 October

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The Canary and the Crow - Roundabout 2019 - The Other Richard

As part of our 10th birthday celebrations we are thrilled to be able to share a digital recording of our award-winning production of The Canary and the Crow.

Written by Daniel Ward, the semi-autobiographical play about a working class Black kid accepted into a grammar school earned Daniel the George Devine Award, for most promising playwright, and a Writers’ Guild Award, for best play for young audiences.

The Canary and the Crow features a hip hop, grime and classical soundtrack by Prez 96 and James Frewer and also earned two Off West End awards for its run at London’s Arcola Theatre in 2020.

The show premiered at Hull Truck Theatre in 2019 and went on to wow the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, before touring with the Paines Plough Roundabout that autumn, where this 360° video recording was captured.

The video, shot by LIVR in the Roundabout at Theatre Royal Stratford East in 2019, will be available on our website, from 25-31 October.

You can decide whether to pay £5, £10 and £15, depending on how many people watch with you. Or how generous you feel!

No pre-booking is necessary – simply return to the listing on our website when the stream is available to access the video.

  • Catch the cast of The Canary and the Crow reunite to play songs and scenes from the show in our 10th Birthday Party, at Social on Humber Street in Hull, on Thursday 4 November.
10th Birthday Party artwork

Celebrating 10 years of making a noise

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10th Birthday Party artwork

Middle Child turned 10 years old on Wednesday 6 October.

That’s a full decade of making a noise from our home in Hull, since a group of University of Hull graduates decided to return to the city in 2011 and start a company.

To celebrate the landmark anniversary, we’re doing what we do best – putting on a good night out, with a big old birthday party down at Social on Humber Street in Hull.

Performers from past shows, including The Canary and the Crow, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything and Us Against Whatever, will reunite to play scratch-style songs and scenes from previous performances.

There will also be a fundraising raffle, the obligatory speeches and sets from the Make Noise Collective DJs.

Doors open at 7pm and the entertainment kicks off at 7.30pm, running until late.

Tickets cost £15 and are on-sale now.

Michelle stands pointing off camera, standing behind a screen during our Recover, Restart and Reimagine project

Paradox, permission and play – a reflection by Michelle Dee

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by Michelle Dee (she/her) – writer and performer

This piece was written in June 2021 as a reflection on our Recover, Restart and Reimagine programme

As I look back on the past three weeks participating on Middle Child Theatre’s unique Recover, Restart and Reimagine programme, an initiative unique to this city and perhaps to the sector, that recognised the precarity of being a freelancer not just here and now in 2021 as we try to emerge from a global pandemic, but at any point in a career, and decided to do something real and meaningful about it.

Picturing the twelve artists in a space – an empty shop unit in the city centre – some known to each other, others not so, I am struck by the paradoxical nature of having a bespoke place to play, indeed the emphasis on play was one of the things that prompted me to apply back in May, but not to interact in a pre-pandemic way.

Within RRR we felt like family one day, comrades the next, freedom fighters the third. Somewhat shielded from the reality of the outside world we were given time dedicated to the important things like thinking, dreaming, planning, growing. Within our bubble of creative sparks and personal revelations and breakthroughs we felt completely safe, freed from the pressures of everyday processing of the impact of the pandemic, despite the four-day covid testing regime; strict adherence to social distancing; mask-wearing while moving in the space, and the ubiquitous hand sanitising.

Over time all these behaviours become normalised. What never does though nor should it, is the lack of human touch, the desperate feeling of wanting to reach out knowing that you cannot, when the person beside you needs a hand to hold, or a supportive shoulder: crossing your wrists over your chest like some bemused cartoon superhero doesn’t cut it.

During one of the yoga sessions, I remember the accompanying music took on a Lynchian quality think Twin Peaks ‘Roadhouse Singer’ Julee Cruise, as the moment and the music moved me, transported me I lay quietly sobbing, at the beauty of the music and at the sudden and rapid decline of my body over the last two years as it succumbs to the rigours of rheumatoid arthritis. I lay there weeping for all the things I wanted to do post-pandemic but now seemingly will not. And little did I know in the immediate future I would experience a flare-up in my left hip that would leave me struggling to walk, to sit, to do anything really: so it hasn’t all been a jolly old time.

When people ask me what it was like I will say that it has been tough, for myriad reasons, but that I am so grateful to Middle Child for inviting me to take part. Needless to say the theatre company’s response to seeing my struggle was to offer every support they physically could, and warm genuine words of support… I have never met a more caring organisation, I’m not sure if one could even exist.

Likewise, my RRR family offered support to, lifting and carrying for me during the peak of the episode.

One more thing on Middle Child’s approach to working: never have I been invited to share my pronouns quite so much as I have done in the last three weeks. Middle Child do this as a matter of course, not to jump on a gender identity bandwagon, but just as a matter of course, as a sign of respect, to show that they actually care about who they are talking to, working and interacting with.

It hasn’t been all heavy sessions reflecting on traumas and pain pandemic related or not, there was much joy in the room and laughter, lots of it coupled with a luminous spirit of sharing and openness, not in a wanky way but in the way everyone had the opportunity to be heard – some more than others, being shut in your flat for a year will do that to a person – and how each speaker, workshop deliverer gave of their knowledge and insight so generously. We all have a little bible now filled with notes to reflect upon in the coming weeks as we search for clues, answers and solutions to better deal with the challenges to come.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the shutter’s starring role during Zoom sessions and the bemused look on the screen, as they try to work where the hell we are, announcing they have never done Zoom when the ‘audience’ are all together in the one-room: neither had any of us up until three weeks ago.

Before I leave you with a few notes to scroll through below from my now bible, that will hopefully lend an insight into the experience. I’d like to call on all disciplines, not just theatre, but dance and music and visual arts who work with freelancers to learn from Middle Child, and devise a programme that shows you recognise and value the work they do to keep your sector alive.

Michelle stands pointing off camera, standing behind a screen during our Recover, Restart and Reimagine project
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

A Free Writing Response to ‘Misty’

By | Artist Development, Blog, Uncategorised

Each week as part of Recover, Restart and Reimagine, there is a set play text to read, which is then discussed at length in a session led by Middle Child’s Matthew May. During the second week of Restart the group had the spoken word play Misty by British playwright and actor Arinzé Kene to unpick and respond to. Michelle, one of the spoken word artists on the project, felt inspired to respond with this creative free writing response to the work.    

 

Misty by Arinzé Kene a creative response by Michelle Dee  

 It’s a play about race but it is not a black play 

cos the stuff that goes on is due to poverty 

and lack of opportunity it is not speaking 

about the black experience per se but the 

crisis in masculinity in the UK a lack of role 

models the scales tipped against success 

he says some things about gentrification 

fitting in adapting throughout the work 

Arinzé is told he should be changing his 

words how he couldn’t tell this story 

because it predicated a stereotype he 

tells it in patois in yardie speak dutty 

lingo in a ‘featre’ he paints a dangerous 

dynamic picture his world is full of characters 

who challenge his views like an argument 

on a social news feed echo chamber 

baiting the base scoring hit points on 

how society should think about race 

it is not Arinzé’s responsibility not to to 

offend there’s a great line maybe the best 

line page 56 ‘If the audience aint ready to 

be challenged maybe they shouldn’t come 

to the theatre…’ then there is a the Sixth 

Sense Fight Club return seats to the upright 

position moment and I’ve not mentioned the 

virus and blood cell ting I wonder how much 

struggle he really has had with the Rebecca’s 

and the Producers in this world to make  

this show happen: it begs the question.  

Two women walk and chat

Working Better Together

By | Artist Development, Blog, Uncategorised

Last week, the Recover, Restart and Reimagine group joined Steve O’Smotherly to learn about a useful tool for teams to more openly communicate about getting the best out of each other.

Most of us have worked with people who, despite all the will in the world, we feel we struggle to mesh with. I’ve worked with many teams, adapting to various working environments and systems, and I can pinpoint where it’s been a breeze or where I have had to exert a lot of energy to be at my peak. Interestingly, until listening in on Recover, Restart and Reimagine’s Four Season Profiling session, I had considered this to be a ‘me’ problem. Turns out that often where things don’t mesh can be related to the personalities in the room, and with reflection and communication, barriers can become significantly smaller. 

Four Seasons profiling encourages reflection on the impact we may have on the people around us. Based on traits and preferences at work, we fit into four different categories: Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn. Each season has an opposite (Spring/Autumn and Winter/Summer) to how they naturally engage with the task at hand, with strengths and weaknesses in all. The model encourages a team to communicate their preferences and what they need from other seasons to get the best out of them. 

For me, the biggest lightbulb moment in this session was the concept that the better the day an individual is having, the more they lean into their season tendencies, which can naturally have a negative impact on their opposite seasons. Look at it like this: as a Spring, I am a ‘blue skies thinking’, big ideas person with an enthusiasm for new projects, problem-solving as we move, but this ‘go with the flow’ mentality is the foil of an Autumn. Autumns prefer a cautious approach, moving with purpose to avoid errors. They prepare, research and analyse, carefully planning every move until a project is complete. So if I’ve got a big idea, I’m moving existing projects and meetings around, raring to go THAT DAY on a shiny new passion project, so an Autumn is going to get hella frustrated with me. Equally, an empathetic people-oriented Summer, who prefers consensus and considering others to alleviate stress, is going to clash with an efficiency-focused Winter who wants quick and effective results – very ‘work now, feelings later’. 

Two women walk and chat

Our Recover, Restart and Reimagine group were made up of mostly Summers (9 people) with the remainder being Springs (4 people). With being only a small sample, this figures when we compare this to a typical organisation or groups of cultural leaders.

From the group, actor and writer Angelo Irving is a Summer. He had the opportunity to discuss various points with other Summers around strengths, weaknesses and preferences. The Summer group identified themselves as friendly, stable, laid back and authentic, being good sources of morale through comedy and understanding, although admitted that where they may negatively impact other seasons is resistance to getting stuck into a task and struggling to focus, finding themselves juggling a lot at once. Facilitator Steve encouraged the groups to communicate openly and honestly, giving prompt questions for each group of seasons to explore, something that comes naturally to Summers but other seasons may have had more difficulty with. 

The biggest take away from this session is that with good communication and clarity, polar opposites do not mean that there is chaos in a room when put together on a project. Rather, knowing your seasons and acknowledging your preferences can help start a preparation to better communicate an effective way of working with each other with understanding. And it works! In the past, I have been in a two-person team with an Autumn before, and as we had brilliant communication of what we both needed to be effective on the project, we played into our strengths with consideration of what we both needed from each other. 

If you’d like to explore the following season descriptions and think about which one you most identify with, then use the prompts at the bottom to think deeper into how we can better work with others. 

Spring – Is a preference for blue-skies ideas, creativity and spontaneity. A Spring is resilient under stress, being an adaptable ‘go with the flow’ personality. Seen as ‘fire starters’ they are enthusiastic about new projects and enjoy change, but certainly aren’t completer-finishers, causing other seasons stress by changing goal-posts and shifting focus often. With their passion, they are emotionally driven resourceful members of a team and offer much value through harnessing their wide network and skill base. 

Autumn – The opposite of a Spring, Autumns are evidence-based thinkers and act cautiously with purpose to avoid errors. Rarely taking things at face value (‘Don’t tell me you’re funny, make me laugh’-types), they prefer to establish the facts, looking for clarity and information. Autumns are perfectionists and use a thoughtful approach to work, enthusiastically research and analyse. With being detail-oriented, they can get bogged down and over-analyse, and can be very sensitive to feedback because of the energy they put into a project. 

Summer – Being the largest represented season according to Steve’s research (49% of thousands of participants across various sectors), Summers are people-oriented. They lead through consensus, promoting harmony and balanced, often talking of the collective success of a team (“We” achieved X, rather than “I”). Warm and easy-going, they have a calm approach to stress, putting others first thinking of the impact on the team, but often become stress-sponges putting other’s problems on their shoulders. A Summer can have a lack of self-belief and undervalue themselves, struggling to take positive feedback, with an approach of ‘I am just doing my job’. 

Winter – The opposite of a Summer, a Winter leads through compliance. They like efficiency and focus and are extremely hard working with a preference for action, competition, achievement and results. They have high levels of self-belief and confidence, and some may define this season as the typical ‘Alpha work culture’ stereotype. Often seen to handle stress well, they may perceive a pressured work environment as an ideal which can result in a lack of empathy for others. Their output and work ethic is exemplary but can struggle to know when to stop at the cost of their own personal needs. A Winter won’t use 25 words if 5 is enough, and with that can be impatient, seeing their way as the only way. sometimes coming across as insensitive. 

  1. What do you bring to the workplace?
  2. What do you struggle with? 
  3. How do you like to communicate? 
  4. What does someone with a different season need to do to get the best out of you? 
A white woman in white vest and black leggings, and orange scarf, sat in a chair with her right arm held up

Invitation of Structure and the Stress Bucket

By | Artist Development, Blog, Uncategorised

Michelle Dee, writer and performer, is one of our participants for the Recover, Restart and Reimagine programme and she has taken some time to reflect on thoughts after the group’s first week, with a focus on recovering.

When you’ve spent the last 16 months on and off with your doorstep as your full stop, the invitation of structure is either just what you need or maybe tempting fate. The line ‘invitation of structure’ came from one of the other participants in the programme but it resonated with me, it landed in my lap like a warning.

During the three lockdowns, I quickly fell into a routine of getting up each day, eating breakfast switching on or avoiding the news depending on my mood. I moved around my flat like a robot from one space to the other, finding different ways to pass the time. I found I couldn’t bring myself to focus on reading an entire book, so read bits of poetry, articles online, the minute details of how to shield that fell through my letterbox on a regular basis.

The Recover, Restart and Reimagine programme demanded the attendance of each candidate 9am to 6pm, four days a week. That has come as quite a challenge but so far so good. I have got through the first week and not been late.

As a freelancer in the before times I didn’t have regular hours, that’s not to say I didn’t work hard, but it would be at irregular hours, forever changing and some weeks would be intense, whereas others would stretch out: empty as my bank balance.

We artists have to be able to adapt to different situations, some projects demand more from us than others, sometimes this is dependent on whatever fee we have managed to negotiate. With the Recover, Restart and Reimagine project the fee is set, the rules have been negotiated by each one of us, we all understand. I wasn’t prepared for how it would feel to be in a space, day on day with the same group, each one passionate about their work, each wondering how they can ever get back to how they expressed themselves creatively before. It has felt quite overwhelming at times and emotional. I have come to recognise how much I need this is in my life, the chance to connect with new and familiar faces, talking, laughing the ebb and flow of conversation, without a screen between us.

Another idea introduced by a participant on Recover, Restart and Reimagine programme was the idea of a Stress Bucket. They described how we all have a stress bucket and how it might contain a manageable level of stress-inducing things. With the lockdowns and Covid paralysing many of our lives, the levels of stress have increased. They talked about each of us having a background stress level before Covid, and how new stresses wouldn’t necessarily tip the balance. With Covid and all the different ways that has impacted and changed our every day the background stress levels have increased significantly so that a seemingly insignificant incident or issue can now fill the stress bucket so it overflows much more than it ever would before.

Recover, Restart and Reimagine has been designed not to add to that stress bucket but to try to understand and find new ways to counter the stress feelings, to lower the background stress levels to a manageable level. It does this in a number of ways, one of which is the introduction of Yoga sessions every morning. I have found I have had to adapt some of the moves to meet my own abilities, while some are in downward dog others are in tabletop or when warrior pose is called for I’m managing waving at seagulls.

The necessity of taking time out to breathe has never been more important or rewarding. I have been reminded once again that I have spent the last forty years breathing incorrectly, instead of filling the belly with air when breathing in, I have always pulled the stomach in creating a hollow, then releasing the breath. After these sessions, there is a wonderful sense of calm in the room, that before I might have disregarded as new age nonsense, but now I think there might just be something in it after all.

A white woman in white vest and black leggings, and orange scarf, sat in a chair with her right arm held up
EN PL