'Everything Has Changed' - particularly if you're a kid!
Last week marked the first performances of Everything Has Changed in local primary schools across London.
In March 2021 we were commissioned by New Diorama Theatre and British Land to create a show for young people (aged 7-11) in response to the pandemic, almost a year after the first lockdown was announced. We were incredibly excited by this for a number of different reasons. Firstly, we’ve never made a show for young people before. The opportunity to make something that will be offered to schools for free, that could be a young person’s first experience of theatre and almost certainly their first since the beginning of the pandemic was too good not to take up. Secondly, we were taken with the idea of making something in response to COVID but not directly about COVID. What’s peculiar about this pandemic is that although we’ve all experienced common events like national lockdowns, we’ve all experienced them in different ways. Children are no different, and the greatest challenge of this piece was to capture that diversity of experience.
We began by looking at the last year through the lens of change. What does it mean when the whole world changes overnight, and you’re not sure why, and you don’t know when it will go back to ‘normal’? And what’s ‘normal’ anyway? In our show, aptly named Everything Has Changed, our two protagonists wake up to a world which is changing in front of them in increasingly absurd and bizarre ways. One day the sun doesn’t come up, the next day everything is played out in reverse, another day they have to deal with zero gravity. Although fantastical, we wanted to make a show in which two characters, the same age as our audience, have to grapple with bewildering, scary and frustrating changes occurring, without knowing how to fix them or when they will end.
We really wanted to include participation in the show as we wanted to give kids some power back, albeit in this small way, after a year living without any personal freedom or control. At one point our two heroes end up needing the help of their audience to bring the sounds of the world back. Watching this play out in a primary school is an absolute joy, the room becomes a brilliant cacophony of voices, noises, different languages and pets’ names. On the day of England’s semi-final match at Wembley there was even a chorus of “football’s coming home” that broke out from a group of year 5s. How great it feels to share stories again in the flesh, especially with audiences with such an infectious energy and enthusiasm. This is our first show for younger audiences, but I don’t think it will be the last…