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Local theatre sets the stage for children to take a role at half term

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The Merlin Theatre’s community programme for spring 2020 has sprung into action with a feast of events for all age groups but the venue’s director, Claudia Pepler, is particularly keen to ensure the children of the town get a warm welcome.

She says, “For many, a love of drama starts very young but for some people, the theatre might seem a grand or intimidating place.  That is the very last message we want to give so we offer as many opportunities to join in here as we do to sit and watch shows.  Joining in can mean stewarding or running the bar, set-building or helping backstage but for the youngest in the community, my favourite offerings are our workshops and activities. The joy of witnessing a child finding their love of play coming to life on stage is never-ending.”

Claudia, taking time away from the serious side of business budgets, scheduling and policy-writing,  will be running this half-term’s Play-In-A-Day workshop herself.  This one-off workshop gives children a chance to experience a drama-based class but without the ongoing commitment of a regular club. Participants join together at 10am, enjoying drama games and learning new theatre techniques, playing and delving into their imaginations to create their own piece of theatre.  The final outcome, of just a few hours of guided play, is shaped and rehearsed to perform for friends and family as an audience in the afternoon.  

Places for Play-In-A-Day are restricted, so it is essential to get in touch with the theatre first but, as Claudia explains, “Our fairly ambitious aim is to make the Merlin feel like home for everyone in Frome. If this is your first time joining in then please don’t worry, there will be many children who have never taken part and children who have been in shows already, but this workshop starts from scratch for everyone.  And above all it is fun – for me, too!”

The Merlin Theatre’s policy is to include and be involved with the Frome area community whenever possible.  December’s production of Cinderella introduced a very successful ‘relaxed performance’ where, in consultation with families experiencing sensory or behavioural challenges or additional needs, adjustments were made to the usual sound levels, lighting effects and standard auditorium etiquette to ensure a comfortable and welcoming environment could be enjoyed by those who sometimes find a visit to the theatre to be stressful or impractical.

In line with the need to also provide high quality professional, industry-recognised shows for audiences, the director and the board not only bring a vast selection of dance, acting and comedy to Frome but have achieved a number of ongoing relationships with some highly-respected professional companies who are, themselves, based and working in Frome.  Its ‘associate artists’ list includes such renowned companies as comedy theatre specialists New Old Friends, puppet masters Noisy Oyster, actor Pip Utton and the award-winning Mark Bruce Dance Company.

If your child would like to join Play-In-Day, taking place at the Merlin on 17th February, or if they would like to see this half term’s professional show for children, Lily and The Albatross,  being performed at 2pm on 18th February, then please get in touch via the website merlintheatre.co.uk or phone 01373 465949.

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