Never underestimate anyone — no matter how small they appear to be.
The lesson, wrapped in song and rhyme, is one that will be dispensed at Ductac this weekend.
Emma Carroll takes on the guise of a tiny and clever creature, The Ladybird, in Kenny Wax’s stage adaptation of an edutainment classic, Julia Donaldson’s What The Ladybird Heard.
The 50-minute show, to be held on March 9, follows the cunning of the powerhouse as she foils over and over the plans of two robbers, Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len, who are aiming for a farmer’s prize cow.
Voice-over artist Carroll, whose theatre credits include roles in serious plays such as Hamlet, Molly in Robin Hood and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, has also found herself in shorts such as Dallus.
Ahead of her show in Dubai, the UK-based artist talks to Gulf News tabloid! about the important role theatre plays in the life of children and what young audiences like best about this play.
Tell us about the Ladybird. What is the most fun you have on stage with this part?
The Ladybird is the smallest and quietest creature on the farm, but she is also the smartest. She leads the animals and when they work together they foil the robbers plan to steal the fine prize cow. It shows you don’t need to be loud or big and tall to be valuable and important. The moment I love the most is when I get to play the beautiful Ladybird theme on the flute and she flies around the stage. It brings together lighting, design, music and performance to bring one of the illustrations to life.
Why do you think the story of the Ladybird resonates with children? Would you term it edutainment?
Structurally the story has lots of repetition, rhyming words and adjectives for animals — not forgetting all the sounds they make! So there is a lot of associated learning, not to mention the lessons about working together and that crime does not pay.
Why do you think children’s theatre is important? What is your favourite kids’ show?
Theatre and stories free our imagination, encouraging creativity and empathy — all of which are key skills for life. I believe every theatre visit is important as people have invested their time (and money) and it should resonate or stay with them as a great/interesting/thought-provoking/fun experience and drive them to see more. I loved His Dark Materials at the Royal National Theatre in London adapted from the books by Philip Pullman. I was working as an usher, saving up for drama school at the time and got to watch it several times. It was faithful to the books, epic and absolutely magical.
Kids’ responses — what’s been the best one?
I open the show and get to talk to the audience before the story truly begins. It’s a lovely moment and you can feel the excitement as the children realise it has started and I’m listening to them as well as them watching the stage. It breaks down the fourth wall immediately and encourages them to interact throughout. Just last week we asked the audience what we should do and a voice boomed out from the darkness “USE THE FLUTE!!”
Your portfolio is full of serious work — from Hamlet to Much Ado About Nothing. So why a child-centric story now?
I have played the flute, piano and sung since I was very young and been able to use those skills in various projects so I was attracted to this production because of the amount of music throughout. I also love touring… We are very excited to have some International touring and be able to visit other countries and have some adventures.
Do you prefer stints on TV, radio or live theatre?
My favourite time is always rehearsing for a play — I enjoy being in the rehearsal room, trying new things and getting to know the cast and creative team.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been working a series of six short two-hander scripts with another actor and director about the ridiculousness of London life and we’re hoping to get that into production at the end of 2018. We’re also developing a new adaptation/musical with our Ladybird director — the wonderful Graham Hubbard. On a personal note, I’m also keen to finally get my teaching certificate in yoga so that I can offer classes at drama schools. I think it’s invaluable for physical awareness and mental health, and would like to be able to support actors in training and on shows in the future.
Don’t miss it!
Tickets to the show, held on March 9, at 11.30am and 2.30pm, start at Dh155.