Exquisite puppetry - an up-close introduction to the power of the piano

Arts Desk

The Boy, The Piano & The Beach – Promo

The Boy, The Piano & The Beach – Images

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Commissioned by the Brighton Festival, May 2018


A little boy is playing on the beach when he is magically transported to another world. His adventures through this enchanting land are packed full of extraordinary encounters with curious and mystical creatures. But can he find his way back home?


‘Every member of the audience was utterly spellbound from beginning to end. What a fantastic way to introduce what might be broadly described as classical music to a completely new audience! This magical show is without question one of the most moving events we have ever enjoyed at Swaledale Festival, and I can’t wait to have it back again next year’ Artistic Director, Swaledale Festival, 2018


The Boy, The Piano and The Beach is a piece we’ve been cooking for a while.

All 3 of us at Slot Machine have classical music in our families, but are aware that music (along with other arts subjects) is getting sidelined in education, as hard-pressed schools struggle to meet the pressures of time and resources.

So we wanted to push against that a bit, and make a piece that showcased a wide variety of classical piano music – with the addition of a story told in visuals.

We also noticed whilst researching other shows how comfortable children are with abstract and complex ideas, if those ideas come as a story.

The idea of a quantum reality – or another world – crops up in stories like Alice In Wonderland, His Dark Materials and Doctor Who. It’s complex science, but kids get the concept straight away.

Like many of our other shows, we always do pre-show touch tours for young people with special educational needs, plus relaxed performances, and ‘stay and play’ sessions after the show, where you can meet the puppets and the cast – and in this case explore how a piano actually works.

The show features classical piano pieces by Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev and Philip Glass, among others. Classical music is often seen as elitist and is almost completely inaccessible for families and young people, but this show demystifies the whole experience and makes it an exciting adventure, told through music.

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