The Whirlybird: 'If the audience feels a renewed sense of wonder and connection to nature, then we've achieved our goal'
- Kelly Apter
- 10 April 2019
Eco Drama's Emily Reid explains the company's focus on creating work that makes it fun to care about the world
In an era when fears about the environment are increasingly taking centre stage, it makes sense that audiences who will live with the consequences – children – are suitably informed. Formed in 2007, Eco Drama has been a frontrunner in creating work for young people that makes caring about the world fun, with its latest production, The Whirlybird, about to tour Scotland as part of the Puppet Animation Festival.
'Our productions are more than just educational theatre about a topic, like recycling for example,' explains company founder, Emily Reid. 'Instead, we work on the premise that children have a natural curiosity and wonder for nature, and that theatre can nurture this, particularly at a time when the technological world has enlarged in importance. After an Eco Drama performance, if the audience feels a renewed sense of wonder and connection to nature, then we've achieved our goal.'
The company also practises what it preaches, touring Scotland in a van run on 100% recycled vegetable oil, and ensuring its set and props are sustainably sourced. But it's in the subtlety of its themes that Reid hopes Eco Drama can make a real difference, especially as touring to nurseries and primary schools is a large part of the company's remit.
'The Whirlybird is about finding inspiration in nature,' says Reid. 'After its many failed attempts to fly, it finally finds inspiration in the sycamore seed – also known as the helicopter seed – which it sees spinning and flying through the air. As children aged 3-7 enter nursery and primary school for the first time, and may feel the pressures associated with "fitting in", we wanted to encourage them to feel confident in who they are, to show them it's important to try and fail, and that it's OK to do things outside the norm. So our central bird character is celebrated not only for doing things a bit differently, but for being connected to nature.'
Platform, Glasgow, Tue 16 Apr and touring.