This new version of the smash-hit stage show, based on the nation’s favourite picture book, is performed by a company of deaf and hearing actors, incorporating spoken English, visual storytelling, and British Sign Language.
Making a very welcome visit to Birmingham as one of only two UK tour venues, award-winning theatre company Tall Stories will bring their production of The Gruffalo to Birmingham Town Hall, a B:Music venue, from Tuesday 27 December to Sunday 15 January. Tall Stories is internationally acclaimed for its exciting blend of storytelling theatre, original music and lots of laughs. The company is delighted to be premiering its new, inclusive version of the famous Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler story, incorporating spoken English, visual storytelling and British Sign Language, ensuring the much-loved tale can be enjoyed by everyone.
Tall Stories has toured The Gruffalo around the UK and the world since its premiere at Chester Gateway Theatre in May 2001, just 18 months after the book was published. As well as London West End runs at the Lyric Theatre, Duchess Theatre, Vaudeville Theatre and Arts Theatre, the show has been to nearly every major regional theatre in the UK, plus fifteen other countries across five continents. It has been translated into five languages- German, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic and ixiXhosa.
In this musical and magical adaptation of the classic picture book, Tall Stories invites the audience to join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood. Searching for hazelnuts, Mouse meets the cunning Fox, the eccentric old Owl, and the high-spirited Snake. Will the story of the terrifying Gruffalo save Mouse from ending up as dinner for these hungry woodland creatures? After all, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo… is there?
This unique version of The Gruffalo is performed by a company of deaf and hearing actors who will bring the story to life. The exciting integrated show offers audiences the opportunity to enjoy all Julia Donaldson’s original words alongside songs, laughs and signs.
The character of Mouse will be performed by Mia Ward, a deaf performer whose use of sign language and visual storytelling seamlessly flows into the action, with others voicing her words. Fox, Owl and Snake will be performed by Katie Erich, a deaf performer who communicates through spoken English, singing and sign language. Adam Jay-Price, a hearing performer who uses spoken English, song and signs will portray the Gruffalo.
Director Toby Mitchell, who has been working alongside deaf Associate Director Emily Howlett, said, “It has been exciting working with deaf and hearing actors to reimagine our production of The Gruffalo. I am looking forward to seeing the new life and joy that this process will breathe into the existing, much-loved show. I’m so pleased that the show will reach as wide an audience as possible- it really will be for everyone.”
Associate Director Emily Howlett added, “It’s been really lovely to see the team taking the original show and adding in the visual elements. The cast are amazing and giving their all during rehearsals. It’s a great, collaborative team. The fact that all the cast are BSL fluent is magical as it means everyone can communicate in their chosen language. It’s rare to have a mainstream room with so much signed language on and off stage, and it’s so fantastic to see. The end result will be a visual feast of a show for everyone to enjoy.”
All performances of The Gruffalo are relaxed performances. Relaxed performances are for everyone, providing a welcoming and inclusive environment which can be enjoyed by all. These performances allow for some noise and movement in the auditorium, re-entry when needed and a chill-out space for patrons who may need time away from the performance. The performances are accessible for everyone, including people with learning disabilities and anyone who would benefit from a less formal environment. Relaxed Performance Guides will be available before the show.