BADAPPLE Theatre Company’s Christmas show, The Snow Dancer, opens a two-day run at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, tomorrow.
In its 21st year, the Green Hammerton theatre-on-your-doorstep company has revived artistic director Kate Bramley’s magical eco-fable for its latest rural tour from December 2.
Bramley’s original story blends festive family entertainment with an important eco-message and an original score by Jez Lowe, as actors Meg Matthews and Danny Mellor tell the story of the animals of The Great Wood, who are desperate for a long sleep, but find it too warm because something is awry.
Everyone is going around in circles and is sick of nuts before Christmas is even in sight. On a set design by Catherine Dawn, the intrepid heroes in this fairy tale with a furry tail must search for the mysterious Snow Dancer to make it snow if they are ever to sleep.
Badapple’s trademark humorous, song-filled shows have been delighting audiences of all ages for 21 years on tours of rural locations around Yorkshire and further afield. The company “brings a full theatre experience to unusual, often tiny, spaces with significance to their communities in productions that reflect world-wide issues that have an impact on village life”.
Founder, writer and director Kate says: “Theatre is just storytelling and what better way to raise awareness of issues? The climate emergency, referenced in The Snow Dancer, is something we’ve been concerned about for a long time.
“We want to create social discussion that’s relevant to our audiences and 21st century living. We can do this through theatre and constantly reinventing what that is: with music, sometimes dance, puppetry and on one occasion live baking!”
Kate continues:“Badapple as a company has been working on becoming more environmentally sustainable for over a decade, wherever possible reusing or recycling sets and sourcing sustainable clothing for costumes.
“By taking theatre to rural locations on tour, we have reduced the environmental impact of audiences having to travel to one location to see a production.”
Badapple will stage two school shows and one public performance at the JoRo at this week’s residency. “We’ve rarely performed at a ‘fixed’ venue in a city in the past 15 years, but we’ve struck up a great partnership with Joseph Rowntree Theatre and their community commitment and ethos is so synchronised to our core values,” says Kate.
“It’s harder for us to sustain a run of performances in one larger venue, having not specialised in this area for 15 years, but it’s just about making new friends in new areas and the return of The Snow Dancer to York this year is a great chance for the good folk of our nearest city to see what it is we do.”
As with all theatre companies, particularly touring companies, Badapple has experienced the hardships of the various lockdowns during the pandemic. In particular, one show in production for 18 month and booked into 30 venues had to be cancelled immediately. The pandemic has been a time of crisis for the North Yorkshire company but nevertheless one of reflection that has resulted in positive outcomes and new plans for the future.
Kate says:“We were lucky to be so well supported by Arts Council England to get us through this period. It was really hard but we came out fighting. We made sure we stayed connected to our Badapple Youth Theatre students online and later with outdoor classes, and then we diversified into outdoor touring for the first time [with Danny Mellor’s Suffer Fools Glady in September 2020].
“Like many other organisations, we had to diversify, exploring film work and also radio. Despite the hardships of that time, there were so many positives to come out of it. We are now looking to find long-term partners and finance to create a bespoke outdoor space for summer shows for the next decade and hopefully beyond.”
Badapple Theatre Company in The Snow Dancer, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, December 15 (two school performances) and December 16 (public performance). Tickets for Thursday’s 7.30pm show are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Further Yorkshire performances:
Thornton le Dale Village Hall, December 17, 6.30pm, tickets on 07894 345126 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brandesburton Village Hall, East Yorkshire, December 18, 6pm; tickets on 01423 339168.
East Morton Village Institute, 11 Main Road, East Morton, Keighley, December 19, 3pm; tickets on 01423 339168.
Green Hammerton Village Hall, near York, December 20, 2pm; tickets on 01423 339168.