Artists Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari with National Theatre Wales present Kidstown, centring Welsh children’s voices, imaginations and futures
This summer in Newtown, the National Eisteddfod and Ebbw Vale, children aged 6-11 years old are invited to Kidstown to play a massive game that they make up themselves.
Co-creation and centring children’s voices are at the heart of Kidstown, a project by artists Nigel & Louise with designer Amy Pitt and produced by National Theatre Wales.
Kidstown will give the children of Wales the voice they deserve. From climate change to the cost of living crisis, their future has never been more uncertain. Through the joy of unadulterated play and the power of storytelling, Kidstown offers children a space to imagine the world they want to live in and shape a better future for all of us. It’s time for us, as grown-ups, to listen.
National Theatre Wales and Nigel & Louise with Amy Pitt laid the foundations of the co-creative process in Newtown in August 2022. Over two weeks, local children, artists and the community helped us prototype the Kidstown idea. Mayoral elections were rudely interrupted by tiger chases; shops handed out money instead; and a fairy door opened at the base of the tree behind the bin. Meanwhile, Nigel & Louise asked questions and listened to what the kids had to say.
In July - August 2023, we’re inviting children aged 6-11 years old back to experience Kidstown on a bigger scale and across three locations in Wales over 16 days:
26-29 July, Newtown
Outside Oriel Davies Gallery, The Park, Newtown SY16 2NZ
5-12 August, Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Eisteddfod of Wales
Ar y maes, Llŷn ac Eifionydd, Boduan, Gwynedd LL53 6DW
18-21 August, Ebbw Vale
Beaufort Colts Football Club, Brynteg Terrace, Ebbw Vale NP23 6NE
After being handed a passport, kids will enter the giant outdoor arena, designed by Amy Pitt. Here, they'll find stuff to play with, build and wear. Assistants will be on hand to help them realise their imaginings.
Grown-ups are invited to take a seat outside, relax and listen to the rolling news being broadcast of what’s happening inside.
At the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru / National Eisteddfod, Kidstown (Treantur) will be delivered in Welsh by artists including Mirain Fflur.
Nigel & Louise will be collecting interviews and stories from the young participants of Kidstown in order to create an epic theatre show in 2024, which will tour across Wales and nationally.
Artists Nigel & Louise:
“We wanted to make something for children that thinks about theatre and storytelling in a different way. Something that children could create without us dictating the parameters of what the outcome might be.
So we’ve made a live performance, a story, an installation, a game called Kidstown - where children can do and make whatever they want, have fun and play with other children, without any rules. Here they are, in fact, creating the story live, totally uninhibited by the pressures of making a performance or adults telling them what’s right and wrong. A different narrative will evolve over the course of each day, for the children inside the walls to enjoy and for the adults listening outside to imagine, as a by-product of their play.
As theatre makers we are handing over the arena to the children, then our job will be to listen and ask questions while their imaginations get to work.”
Child who took part in Kidstown in Newtown in August 2022:
“I wish I could be in Kidstown forever."
NTWs’ Artistic Director Lorne Campbell, named as one of The Stage’s 100 most influential people in British theatre in 2022, said:
“Not only is Kidstown playful and cheeky, it’s also about spotlighting voices more than often unheard on stages across the UK - those of children and of our future. All of NTWs’ work is focused on delivering the goals of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, but Kidstown truly puts our future generations front and centre. We’re taking a genuinely collaborative approach to this project, listening deeply to children as they experience Kidstown and building a bank of their stories, observations, concerns, hopes and dreams to create a radical theatre production in 2024.
This summer, Nigel & Louise will bring a very special kind of creative joy and artistic magic to Newtown, Ebbw Vale and the Eisteddfod. We can’t wait to see how the kids react; and we as grown-ups will have to wait until next year’s show to see what the excitement is all about.”
Together with many other theatre companies across Wales and the UK, National Theatre Wales is using the Theatre Green Book as a guide to make our productions more sustainable. For this production, for example, we are using an old wooden set floor from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Dance to build seating and we are sourcing recycled materials from car boot sales, charity shops and from other companies or institutions that have costumes, wig, sets and props they no longer need.
We’re offering sign-supported English, live illustrators, radio aid support, relaxed sessions, and touch tours. Each site has step-free access.
Forthcoming NTW productions
Touring across Wales and UK from October to January
Following a successful premiere in Cardiff in 2022, NTW will be touring this immersive theatre experience directed by Butetown film and theatre-maker Gavin Porter, taking it to theatres and community venues. Created with a collective of musicians and artists, and real-life stories from people across Wales, the show combines film, music and theatre to create a live documentary. Circle of Fifths explores how music and stories can connect us in times of grief and loss - allowing us a moment of collective reflection and celebration.
★★★★★ “You feel you are part of something real and stark and spiritual.” Buzz Magazine
Circle of Fifths opens at The Riverfront in Newport on 19 October 2023.