Puppetry, dance and music set to bring African children’s story to life on community tour
Utopia Theatre also covering transport costs to open access to pre-school and primary school children
A much-loved children’s book being brought to the stage by a Sheffield-based African theatre company is set to tour community venues across the Yorkshire region to break down barriers to the arts.
Anna Hibiscus' Song by Atinuke, co-produced by Utopia Theatre and Sheffield Theatres, will first be performed at the Tanya Moiseiwitsch Playhouse in Sheffield from Friday 7-Saturday 15 July.
It will then embark on a run of 11 show dates in Yorkshire community venues from Tuesday 18-Sunday 30 July. These performances, seating up to 50 people each, will be ‘pay as you can’ to make sure the theatre performance is accessible and inclusive for as many families as possible.
Schools across the region are also being invited to travel to The Playhouse for free. Utopia Theatre is offering to cover transport costs so children of pre-school and primary school age can attend.
Told through music, dance, puppetry and traditional African storytelling, Anna Hibiscus’ Song is a theatrical adaptation of Atinuke’s popular children's book which promises to have audiences beaming from ear to ear. Suitable for children aged 3+ and their families, the performances will be interactive and colourful throughout to bring the stage and story to life.
Althea Burey will play the roles of Narrator, Angel, Mama. Althea has multiple children’s productions stage credits to her name including The Smeds and the Smoos, The Gruffalo’s Child and Paw Patrol Live.
Meanwhile Malick Bojang, who has starred in Loki and Jungle, will be Grandfather, Chocolate, Papa. Saskia Rose joins the cast as Anna Hibiscus, her recent professional credits include touring educational productions of Shakespeare’s works with The Globe Players. Maya Thompson will play the roles of Auntie Jolie and Narrator. Dorthea Darby will play the role of Grandmother, Ben, Uncle Tunde. The on-stage musician will be Julius Obende, who has collaborated with British Council Nigeria and Goethe Institut.
Community venues hosting the performances will be The Montgomery, Terry Wright Community Hall, Stannington Community Centre and Zest Centre in Sheffield, Riverside Library and Neighbourhood Hub in Rotherham and Leeds Central Library.
Founded by CEO and artistic director Mojisola Kareem-Elufowoju, Utopia Theatre aims to open up access to the arts by empowering and engaging communities, supporting emerging artists and inspiring the next generation. Utopia Theatre uses African theatre as part of storytelling in schools and communities and hosts digital theatre.
Kareem-Elufowoju, Utopia Theatre CEO and artistic director, said: “This performance promises to be an energetic stage adaptation which will light up imaginations and provide fun for families and school groups. Our cast are excited about being able to take the show to smaller venues to delight new and existing audience members after our run at The Playhouse.
“We are committed to making sure that theatre is inclusive and affordable. Introducing children to theatre and arts in this way really is magical and a privilege for us to be able to organise.”
Sheffield Theatres, Playhouse: Friday 7 – Saturday 15 July
The Montgomery, Sheffield: Tuesday 18 & Wednesday 19 July
Terry Wright Community Hall, Gleadless, Sheffield: Thursday 20 July
Stannington Community Centre, Sheffield: Friday 21 & Saturday 22 July
Riverside Library & Neighbourhood Hub, Rotherham: Monday 24 & Tuesday 25 July
Leeds Central Library: Thursday 27 & Friday 28 July
Zest Centre & Sports Hall, Upperthorpe, Sheffield: Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 July