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Little Angel puppet theatre reopens for indoor shows with inspirational tale of first African-American in space

PUBLISHED: 15:24 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:24 23 September 2020

Reach For The Stars will be developed by the Little Angel Puppet Theatre in Islington inspired by the first African American woman in space

Reach For The Stars will be developed by the Little Angel Puppet Theatre in Islington inspired by the first African American woman in space

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Reach for the Stars is inspired by NASA astronaut Mae Jemison and will tour to schools in November with live family shows at Little Angel Studios on weekends

Grumpy Mr Gobble is the latest digital story to be released by the Little Angel's YouTube channelGrumpy Mr Gobble is the latest digital story to be released by the Little Angel's YouTube channel

After keeping children entertained through lockdown with outdoor ‘puppet picnics’ and virtual storytelling sessions, the Little Angel puppet theatre has announced its first indoor live shows.

Reach for the Stars will tour to schools in November while running at the Little Angel Studios over the weekends.

It is inspired by Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space who in 1992 served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Jemison has urged children to ‘never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations,’ and the heartwarming story of Nat, who overcomes her fears to achieve her ambition to fly, is now in development as part of a scheme to create work for black female performers.

The Arts Council funded project - in collaboration with The Albany and Arts Bridge Charity - offers six actors a week’s paid training in puppetry with designer and puppet director Oliver Hymans, and actor Amanda Wright, who directs Reach for the Stars.

They will be guaranteed work at the Little Angel, including two who will be cast in the tour of Reach for the Stars.

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Artistic Director Samantha Lane said: “After six long months I’m delighted to announce we are opening our doors and heading out on the road again with this fantastic new offer and I am even more thrilled that we are providing training for black female actors, an underrepresented group in the puppetry industry. We can’t wait to start reconnecting with families and schools.”

Since they were forced to close their doors on March 17, the Little Angel has been releasing digital stories and puppetry shows online which have been watched by more than 350,000 people. The latest instalment of their digital puppetry Sofa Series, Mr Gobble’s Garden, is broadcast on Sunday, September 27 for free with viewers encouraged to make a donation to support the theatre.

Written by Jon Barton, it’s a follow up to June’s broadcast Scoop’s Space about The Junk Lady who recycles everyday items that are thrown away, and uses them to tell stories

One is the tale of Mr Gobble, the grumpiest man you could ever meet, who takes pride and joy in the fruit and flowers in his garden. He’s growing an orchid to enter a competition but a mischievous mole who comes digging forces Mr Gobble to learn about kindness sharing and friendship. The set and props by Emma Tompkins are all made from every day objects and recycled materials.

Lane said: “I’m excited to be working with Jon to create the next Scoop’s Space story. During lockdown we were inundated with children sending us photos and videos of the puppets they had made with simple recycled materials they had found at home. I hope this production inspires them to get writing and performing and to see the magic in everyday items people throw away.”

Tickets for the Covid secure performances of Reach For The Stars are due to go on sale soon and the show will be performed by one actor, who will be temperature checked and Covid tested regularly.

Little Angel managers pledge to use their experience of touring to hospitals with high-risk young patients to ensure safety on the schools tour, which will incorporate workshops exercises on the solar system, positive role models and striving for goals. The run for families on weekends throughout November will be socially distanced with reduced capacity and additional safety measures at Little Angel Studios, Sebbon Stret. N1.

Mr Gobble’s Garden is available to watch free from 11am on September 27 on Little Angel’s YouTube channel. Make a donation or find further details at littleangeltheatre.com


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