Performer puppeteer Adam Bennett is currently touring Chicken Licken all over the UK. Here he reflects upon taking a classic performance out on the road again, and his efforts at negotiating a run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015
As soon as the final show of Caucasian Chalk Circle at the Royal Lyceum Theatre finished, I was back on the road again with Chicken Licken. In fact the following morning I was on the road at dawn heading from Edinburgh to Maidenhead to pick the show up off Steve Tiplady who had been substitute performer for me while I was on a four week run in Edinburgh.
I arrived to find Steve already half way through the morning show delighting the audience at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts and it was a rare pleasure to see my show performed by another puppeteer, although not the first time. I have taught the show to Mark Down and Mark Whitaker before, both highly reputable performer/puppeteers. Melvyn Rawlinson also performed his own slight variation of the show which was equally delightful. Afterwards, over lunch, Steve and I plotted putting together the next DNA show Tom Thumb, collaborating on the show with Rachel Riggs (DNA’s Artistic Director) and creating a show for me to perform but one that Steve can also perform when I’m otherwise engaged.
Up and down the country through the Spring weather, thousands of lambs in the fields gambolling and the slow yellowing of the rape seed crops I travel to theatres and arts centres some very familiar others completely new. Google maps is my new friend and tailbacks on the M6 my nemesis. Most of the shows are completely sold out and the audiences as always are a delight. Once you’ve played to 3-6 year olds it’s hard to go back to other ages of audiences. They are instantly responsive with their enjoyment, genuinely vocally fearful of the fox and constantly willing to help out with the storytelling when required; reminding me of where I’m up to, warning the Little Red Hen of danger, trying to guess the animals of the ridiculous dough shapes I’ve made.
In July I will be playing outdoors at the Wordpool Festival and Mouth of the Tyne and I will also be at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Summerhall, Cairns Lecture Theatre, 3:35pm) from August 5 until August 28th. If you’re going to be in Edinburgh at this busy time, make the effort to come along and see the show, let others in Edinburgh know that even if you’re not a young child anymore you won’t see better puppeteering at Fringe 2015 and you won’t see a better audience response either. Guaranteed. Or your money back.
I’ve never stopped enjoying playing Chicken Licken and I don’t think I ever will. Pure pleasure and delight.
Chicken Licken does the seemingly impossible – appealing to 3 – 6 year olds and fans of The Great British Bake Off. Adam Bennett is the only star of this one-man cookery show, casually making bread – Mary Berry herself can’t match his self-assured style and natural relationship with the viewers. Though performing classic stories, the audience genuinely don’t know what is going to happen next, and even more remarkably, it seems Bennett might not either. He makes a production that has been around for 15 years feel as fresh as a newly-baked loaf.
Flossie Waite – Children’s Theatre Reviews
Playfully taking theatre for young audiences seriously