A Family Friendly Mayfest 2014: Interview with Kate Yedigaroff

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Today on Bristol Mum I am excited to feature an interview with the lovely Kate Yedigaroff, new mum and co-artistic director of MAYFEST 2014!

Mayfest 2014 is feast of contemporary theatre which runs from 15th – 25th May in our wonderful city of Bristol. This year’s Mayfest has a particular family focus and boasts some shows specifically for children and families.

So please read on and find out more about Mayfest 2014 from Kate and about which family friendly shows that she recommends that you bring your kids along to!

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Hi Kate, please can you tell me about your role in this year’s Mayfest?

I am the co-artistic director of Mayfest, which means that with Matthew Austin (the other Director), I am responsible for creating the Mayfest 2014 programme by seeking out and inviting the most exciting theatre from all around the country and beyond to come to Bristol. I’m also involved in all the nitty gritty of making Mayfest happen, and that’s across all areas, from fundraising to managing the team to – well just all of it really.

I notice that there is a particular family focus on the shows included in this year’s Mayfest. Why is this?

Well, for a few years now we have been asked whether we would consider introducing a strand of work for children and families – and independently of this nudging we had ourselves thought it would be lovely to present this sort of unusual, less mainstream work to people of all ages. We feel quite strongly that the ingredients we look for in theatre for adults translates excitingly to younger audiences too.

Theatre that feels playful, generous and communicates new ways of seeing the world. Theatre that is participatory in some way that acknowledges clearly that it exists in the same space as its audience. In our festival we want people to have fun and feel delighted and we reckon children are the experts at that anyway.

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On a more personal note I had my first child last year. He is one now, and at the risk of being an enormous cliché, the presence of this extraordinary young person in my life has awakened me as a programmer and producer to the huge possibilities in work for this age group. It also feels important that parents and carers can join in this delight what were looking for is theatre that appeals to both the child and their adult in some way.

What family-friendly shows have you got lined-up for Mayfest?

This is the first year weve introduced a strand of shows specifically for families, and so weve started gently with a few hand picked projects of different kinds. We wanted to offer a range of stuff and to begin to explore what our family audiences really might want from us.

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We have a wonderful show called Constellations (Sat 24 May) from a Spanish company called Aracaladanza. This will be in the Bristol Old Vic Theatre and is a big, beautiful piece of visual theatre based on the paintings of Jean Miro.

Its like being inside one of his paintings. There are dancers and fabulous costumes, and weird and wonderful shapes and pictures that fill the stage. It will be colourful, magical and full of wonder. Weve been aware of this company for a while and its a real treat to be able to bring it to Mayfest.

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Then we are working with an artist called Tim Spooner who combines performance and installations (The Assembly of Animals, Sat 24-Sun 25 May). This is the first time he has made something specifically for children and it will be a totally unique and unforgettable experience at BV Studios in Bedminster (opposite Windmill City Farm entrance).

Tim describes the piece as being puppetry, magic and scientific-demonstration,all of which combine into a kind of performed sculpture. Its for a smallish group at a time so I really recommend booking early for this one.


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We are also doing something called
The Blind Tiger Cub (Sat 17, Sun 18 and Sat 24 May), which is a version of our very popular open mic cabaret The Blind Tigerbut for children! So obviously there’s no booze, and it’s in the afternoon.

Itll be in Bristol Old Vic’s Basement which will be specially designed with a little stage and comfy seating and a bar for juice and things. The premise of The Blind Tiger Cub is that children can get up and do a turn whenever they want. It will be compered by an adult but everything else will be led by the kids. Its going to be great fun and a space where anything goes.

I notice that Mayfest have been working with Bristol Museum & Art Gallery for one of its shows?

Yes thats right, we are teaming up with Bristol Music Producers Qu Junktions to do a childrens disco at the City Museum and Art Gallery called Magickowpoodisco (Sat 17 May). Were very excited about this brilliantly bonkers notion.

Im particularly interested in projects that gently break the rules and I cant think of a more joyful way of doing this than inviting a crowd of children to have a big old dance in a museum with music chosen by them. I went with my son to one of these discos at Easton Community Centre. They were queues around the block. Fantastic stuff. Weve heard a rumour that there will also be animal masks involved. You can picture the scene.


If you could only hire a babysitter for one night of Mayfest, which show would you go to see?

Ah now heres a question. Obviously every night of the festival is totally unmissable but if I were forced to choose then I would probably say Saturday 24th May.

Id spend the day with my kid going to The Assembly of Animals, maybe popping into the Blind Tiger Cub & if there was time Constellationstoo. Id then pop them home into the care of a baby sitter and come out to see Search Partys My Son and Heir (Sat 24 May) at Bristol Old Vic’s Studio and then dash over to Millennium Square for possibly one of the largest & audacious site specific theatre shows Bristol has ever seen The Roof  (Thu 22-Sun 25 May).

And then after that Id mosey on back to Bristol Old Vic for a cocktail in the Blind Tiger (adult version) bar (Thu 15-Sun 26 May, 9:30pm onwards).

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What are the benefits of introducing children to the world of theatre?

There are so many answers to this.

I remember being taken to the theatre as a child and being utterly captivated. Here was this sensory world full of stories and adventures. It felt like magic – a way of seeing and feeling new things, seeing the world from different perspectives & learning new things. I didnt always understand what I was seeing, but I felt the thrill of it and I felt like the people I met in those spaces (conceptually) kept me company.

I think theatre (and art more broadly) has an unparalleled ability to inspire, educate and connect. Its a space of imagination. Of creativity and escape. How can starting this adventure early be anything but a good thing?

Read more about Mayfest 2014 Programme here

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The Mayfest 2014 programme runs from Thursday 15th – Sunday 25th May. Mayfest is also on Facebook and Twitter.

* Disclosure – This was a sponsored post.