Catherine Wheels' award winning show White is a hit with pre-school children and adults alike
For something so simple, it can be awfully hard to get right. Creating theatre for a pre-school audience is a fine balance of ‘suddenlys’ (moments where things change and recharge a child’s focus) and gentleness.
Get it wrong, and you’ll have a room full of tinies wandering in boredom or howling in fear. Get it right, and you’ll have a hit on your hands — which is exactly what happened with Catherine Wheels’ popular show, White.
Premiering in 2010, the show has garnered multiple awards, toured the world, and been performed over 800 times. Aimed at two to four year-olds, White is a perfect 40 minutes long and centres on two characters who slowly allow colour into their world.
To what does performer Andy Manley attribute the show’s enduring appeal? ‘I think the idea is really simple but it resonates with the audience — and I mean all of the audience regardless of age,’ he says. ‘So many adults say they forgot they were at a children's show and just watched as an audience member, which I love.’
That said, it was the little ones Manley and the team considered during White’s creation. ‘We were keen to have recognisable things that a two year-old could understand and relate to,’ says Manley. ‘Although they’re very small, they have definite routines in their life and the two characters in White go through these daily activities — getting up, getting ready, eating breakfast. The suddenlys can then start to appear, but the children have the framework of something they have seen before, so it’s not alarming.’
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 17–Wed 24 Dec