The Lost Toys’ Big Christmas Adventure! is the first show from new production company, UnderWired, set up by actresses Kali Peacock and Katy Morgan, who met on tour in 2008.
It’s not about creating stories exclusively about or for women; our philosophy isn’t women only, it’s female first
UnderWired’s mission is a simple one - to create and champion women in the arts, whether that’s onstage or in creative and technical roles. “Our first show is produced, written, composed and designed by women,” says Kali, “But it’s not about creating stories exclusively about or for women; our philosophy isn’t women only, it’s female first.
“Being an actor can often feel like you spend most of your time waiting for someone to give you permission to do what you do,” Kali explains, “That’s also a feeling many women can relate to. Yet we know so many talented women who, particularly once they hit 40 and maybe have children, struggle to get the same range of opportunities.”
The Lost Toys’ Big Christmas Adventure! features music specially composed by Sarah Travis, the first woman ever to win a Tony Award for orchestration for her work on the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. Sondheim himself said of her work: “This woman’s orchestrations make me cry.”
“Having someone as talented as Sarah on board from the start is brilliant,” says Kali, “It doesn’t just mean we get amazing music, it means the company get to work with the very best, which helps us to give everyone involved a real opportunity to develop.”
“I was delighted to be asked to work with Kali and Katy,” says Sarah, “I really admire their passion for live theatre and how they’re able to tap into children’s imagination and joy. Their enthusiasm is totally infectious.”
Launching a female first company with a show for children might seem like an unusual place to start, but it goes right to the heart of UnderWired’s mission as Katy explains: “We chose to start with a show for children because it’s a great chance to explore some of our themes with a young audience and to engage them early on. As mums, we know that what you tell your children is only part of the story – what they see around them really matters. Traditional Christmas shows often lack a strong female character, so writing something with that in mind was a great place to start. Children are also a great barometer. They’re not interested in your agenda or your company values, they just want to be entertained and to have fun."
Accessibility is also an important factor, Kali explains, “As the mum of a five-year-old whose disability means he can’t walk or talk, making theatre accessible to all children is also something I’m passionate about. Theatres - particularly some of the older ones - can be difficult to access, so we decided to take a fully accessible space and turn it into a theatre instead.”
“It’s not just about physical accessibility either,” Katy adds. “Taking a non-traditional theatre space - in this case Eastbourne’s Towner Gallery - and turning it into a theatre, gives us a chance to break down some of the preconceptions about what theatre is, or has to be. Getting children engaged with the idea of fun stories, wherever they happen to be staged, is really important. What’s also crucial to us is to include relaxed performances. I have a nephew who has autism, so creating a show he can come and see and enjoy is really important. We need the arts more than ever right now, so it’s important to widen their appeal, whilst keeping true to the issues we’re passionate about.”
The Lost Toys’ Big Christmas Adventure! runs at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne from December 13th - 31st. For info and tickets visit: https://www.underwiredproductions.com/