Archives for the month of: March, 2013

PINK! logo

After many months of planning and preparation, Pink! the Musical set off on a 12-week tour around Scottish primary schools at the beginning of March. The yellow Hopscotch Theatre van is now zipping across the land, perhaps to park up in a playground near you!

Hopscotch yellow van

There are three delightful actors who play all the parts in the show. Craig Anthony-Ralston plays Patrick, the central character who is very upset when he wakes up one morning to discover he has turned pink. Craig has a lot of songs to sing, and he always wows the audience when he walks across the stage on his hands! (Or should I say flippers?)

happy Patrick

photo © Deirdre Hannon http://www.nofussphotography.com

Patrick’s Mum is played by Louise Montgomery, who sings a sweet lullabye to send Patrick to sleep. You can see in the picture below she is singing about the stars twinkling up high in the sky. Louise also plays Patrick’s best friend Arthur who tries to comfort Patrick about his terrible predicament.

louise lullabye

Lucy Avison has to be three different penguins! She plays Patrick’s Dad, his other best friend Lulu and Doctor Black who can’t figure out how to fix Patrick’s mysterious pinkness. To show the difference between all of Lucy’s characters, the designer Socks Rolland looked at the illustrations of Pink! by Margaret Chamberlain and chose some simple props to give each one. So the Dad has big round glasses, a bow tie and a newspaper, the doctor has 1950s glasses and a stethoscope, and Lulu wears a bright yellow bow on her head and carries a school satchel.

photo © Deirdre Hannon www.nofussphotography.com

photo © Deirdre Hannon http://www.nofussphotography.com

Here is Lucy as the Dad. You can see how simply the character can be changed with just a few little adjustments. Here she is again as Doctor Black, tending to poor worried Patrick:

photo © Deirdre Hannon www.nofussphotography.com

photo © Deirdre Hannon http://www.nofussphotography.com

The other challenge for Socks the designer was how to create a flock of flamingos. With only three actors to work with, this would prove rather tricky… Because he is pink, Patrick decides to swim to the southern tip of Africa where he thinks he might fit in better with other pink birds. The flamingos are perfectly polite, but poor Patrick struggles to do anything they can do.

meeting flamingos

Here is Patrick meeting the flamingos for the first time. Socks has made their long necks and curvy beaks beautifully, and they look very much like the illustrations in the book. The little pink tutus give an impression of the flamingos’ bodies, and Lucy and Louise move the heads around as though there are four birds talking to Patrick.

flamingo dance

As you can see, Patrick is very frustrated that he can’t do anything flamingos can do, so he decides to leave Africa behind and swim back home again. His friends are delighted to see him, and he gets to tell the whole class about his adventures.

Pink finale

In the end, Patrick discovers that being different is okay, and that his friends love him no matter what. The three penguins lead the children in a final rendition of the Fun to be a Penguin song with actions. Most schools are able to listen to the song in advance so that the children already know it when the show comes to their school.

song with actions

At today’s performance at Bearsden Primary School the children really enjoyed singing along and waving their arms with Patrick and his friends. After every show, the schools fill in feedback forms to help us make improvements and identify our strong points. Here are some of the comments we’ve had so far:

Just a few of the brilliant comments we've had so far!

Just a few of the brilliant comments we’ve had so far!

Each school that books the show also receives a Pink Resource Box with lots of goodies inside. These include a copy of Pink!, a CD of all the songs with the lyrics, fifteen resource sheets for classroom activities on a diversity theme, and a little beanbag fish to use in Circle Time as the “speaking toy.”

Pink cover blog

speaking fish

Click HERE to go to the Hopscotch Theatre website where you can download the Pink Resources and listen to the Fun to be a Penguin song. There is also a short video about the show produced by actor and filmmaker David Goodall, which you can see HERE.

Finally, I must thank Creative Scotland for the generous grant that made Pink! the Musical possible, as well as Sense Over Sectarianism and the Robertson Trust who have each funded an extra four weeks of touring to bring the musical to thousands more children this spring. The Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust has also funded performances in ten primary schools in Inverclyde. With all this support we are reaching out to children across the country to help them learn to respect difference and celebrate diversity. I hope one day we can make bullying of all kinds a thing of the past.

photo © Deirdre Hannon www.nofussphotography.com

photo © Deirdre Hannon http://www.nofussphotography.com

rainbow puffin

After receiving 48 lovely letters inviting me to visit their school, I had a wonderful day with the P2 children at St Matthew’s Primary in Bishopbriggs. From the moment I arrived I was surrounded by eager faces, and their teachers Mrs Hannah and Miss Lochhead were warm and welcoming. I felt like a pop star!

Once I was in my chair-of-honour and the children were all sitting around me, Mrs Hannah picked up her guitar and led them in a spirited sing-song about the circus! They all sang gustily about The Girl on the Flying Trapeze and The Funny Circus Clown, and I was very impressed indeed. They sang beautifully and Mrs Hannah was a real expert on the guitar! Next to us on one wall was a huge audience made up of very individual characters:

Circus audience

When the songs were done, all eyes turned to me. I had brought several of my picture books to share with the children, and they had lots of questions for me as we went along. We talked about crazy pets and fussy eaters, and because they had spent so much time working with Lewis Clowns Around in class, they were especially keen to hear the new story all about Lewis’s brother, Harris the Hero.

Mrs Hannah showed me around her very colourful classroom, and I must say the children’s work was quite amazing! They had used Lewis Clowns Around to make circus programmes, circus drawings and circus poems, and they even had a Lewis counting wall!

circus programmes

The programmes were all very different, and inside they listed all the events happening at the circus and their starting times. I liked the way they were displayed on the wall at a jaunty angle. Very stylish!

Lewis counting wall

The Lewis counting wall helped the children learn the different combinations of numbers adding up to 5 or 7 or 9 and so on. The number 7 Lewis was juggling balls that read 0/7, 1/6, 2/5 and 3/4. What a clever way to make maths colourful and fun!

letter to Lynne

On another wall I spotted a letter addressed to me from Alyssa. It said, “Dear Lynne – If I was in the circus I would like to be a clown because they play tricks on people. Yours sincerely, Alyssa.” I thought she might like to keep the letter up on the wall at school rather than give it to me, so I took a picture of it instead.

Lewis reading corner

Later the children sat in their reading corner with copies of Lewis Clowns Around. You can see them all reading very intently! I think they all love the beautiful illustrations by Gabby Grant (and so do I!) I can’t wait for Harris the Hero to come out so I can send them a special signed copy.

Harris the Hero cover

At the end of my visit the class presented me with a big bag of goodies! They had looked on my website to learn all about me and find out what I like. At the bottom of my About Me page I mention the fact that I love crunchy carrots, Bramley apple crumble and very dark chocolate. And look what they gave me!

thoughtful gift

Visiting St Matthew’s was an absolute joy, and I was so impressed by Mrs Hannah and all the P2 children. I hope they are reading this: THANK YOU, EVERYONE!