The Chit Chat Chalk team have sent us some behind the scenes info about their magical half term show which comes to our theatre on 17 Feb (book here).

Where did the idea for the show come from?

We first became interested in creating this show in late 2016. The concept and ideas behind the show developed over many conversations (in lots of Manchester coffee shops!). The first thing we knew about the show was that it was called ‘The Chit Chat Chalk Show’ and that we wanted to make children feel empowered, everything else followed! We were interested in fusing our skills as practitioners working across different art forms – both physical theatre and contemporary dance. We had been working with children and young people over the previous 5 years delivering creative learning activities, but we wanted to make a performance that was created for young people.

Was there a particular story you’d heard about or something in the news?

Our education work with children had opened our eyes to the pressures that children now face in school and their social lives. We wanted to make a show that made them feel good, helping them develop the skills to cope with pressure!

Has it been a tricky subject to handle?

Not at all, we all felt really inspired and knew the importance of it!

Did you work with schools and young children to develop the piece and, if so, what did learn that was valuable?

We worked with arts centres across Greater Manchester and Lancashire to develop the show and regularly invited young children to be audience members to observe and participate within the work as it developed. We worked closely with Z-Arts, Waterside Arts, The Dukes Theatre and Salford University as partners on the project and they assisted us in connecting with groups of children – they were the first people to experience the show, offer feedback and help us direct the future studio phases.
We then embarked upon a schools tour across Cumbria where we visited 7 different education centres; primary schools, further education colleges and S.E.N groups. We explored the show through workshops, allowing the children to take part in exploring creative tasks and creating their own mini performances!
The young people enabled us to see the strengths, weaknesses and challenges that we were going to face within the show. We learnt that every show was going to be very different each time… after all, each child is truly unique!

Are you changing the show much as you perform it?

The show has developed throughout 2017 and into 2018. We began the first stage of research and development in January 2017 and since then the show has come a long way from where it started! Each time we perform the show we are continuing to learn new discoveries. We push ourselves hard in the rehearsal room and are never satisfied; this is the mentality that keeps the show progressing.

How are the cast reacting to working so closely with young audiences?

We are having so much fun working closely with lots of excited little people! They bring an energy and vitality to each of us when we perform. It feels like a really special show when we see how much fun the children have had.

Are there any particular skills/expertise that you have looked for in recruiting the cast?

The most important thing we look for when recruiting new Chit Chat Chalk cast members is someone who can fit into our small team! We have a really intensive touring period coming up and its so important to us that we all have a fun and enjoyable experience! On top of this, the new member of cast must be good at dancing, acting, drawing, interacting with children, multi-tasking, carrying props, cleaning chalky mats, long van journeys!

How long did the whole thing take to get to touring stage?

From idea to tour, it has taken us about a year to bring The Chit Chat Chalk Show to the stage!

What are your longer-term ambitions for the show?

We would love to tour the show internationally! It’s a really accessible show and the messages are so important for every child, wherever they live in the world!

Is it hard work to perform the show

It’s quite hot under the lights! The main challenge is keeping track of the 120 tiles that we move throughout the piece!

What is the next show you are planning for The Knotted Project and Hawk Dance Theatre?

We will be developing a brand new children’s show together in Summer 2018! We love working together and have so many ideas for the next collaboration, keep an eye on our social media for updates, what we can promise; is a magical, dynamic and visual show!