Once in every childhood there should be a show that you remember for the
rest of your life. This will be my children’s
Parent at Warwick Arts Centre, 2017
About the show
What have Buzz Lightyear, Barbie, the blue Brontosaurus and any other toy got in common?
Answer: They can all go on a massive adventure together in “Your Toys”.
A show like no other – one that features your very own toys!
A heartwarming story about friends pulling together, Your Toys is funny, full of music and surprises, and will send you home with a huge smile on your face. It’s an anthem to creative play and silliness, and is back this autumn due to popular demand.
Adults and children alike are invited to bring a toy and watch it join in the rumpus.
“My little boy had never been to the theatre before. He wanted to see it all over again that afternoon”
(Parent at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, 2016)
A toy is a powerful object. Even as adults, we can remember a favourite toy and what it meant to us.
Having made a number of shows over the last few years that included puppetry of one kind or another, we at Slot Machine HQ had spent a certain amount of time animating all sorts of creatures.
But we were struck over and over again by how strongly both children and adults relate to these make-believe beings – especially if the object being animated has some relationship with them already.
An instance that springs to mind is of a young family member who could be persuaded to go to bed by the Donkey Hot Waterbottle (known as DonkeyHottie), but not directly by the parent making it speak.
So we began to experiment with the idea of a piece where all the puppets were people’s toys brought on that day to the theatre. How might this work? How would children feel about seeing their well-loved toy in a new context? Through workshops with children – in schools as well as during research and development for the piece – we began to experiment.
Many children imagined their toy going on an adventure – and we loved this idea. Some children had fantastical suggestions about where these adventures might take place – in the mountains, a storm at sea, in the desert. Someone said “we want a boy who cries a lot”. Someone else said “talk gobbledygook” – as a company we like to experiment with language, and we’d been exploring how best to communicate with an audience for whom English is not their first language. We also loved the idea of unlikely characters being thrown together and having to work as a team.
However good an artist you are, it’s almost impossible to replicate the charm and energy in a childs’ drawing, and coming away from workshops with fistfuls of these, it seemed clear we should find a way to build these images into the piece, so we started to experiment with projecting these images onto the set. We wanted to create a world that reflects children’s energy and their delight in all things surreal, but one that was also delicious to watch as an adult.
The result is a piece that has been made from the heart (and not without struggle) by a wide group of people of all ages. We have all come up with a story that in many ways is an anthem to the strength of a group powering on through adversity – and that will now be shared with an even wider group of people.
We hope none of you ever have to battle a huge and hungry monster, but we hope you enjoy Your Toys.