Gilly Baskeyfield is the Artistic Director of M6 Theatre, and is the writer and director of their brand-new family friendly show Nest, heading out on tour.
Encouraging young generations to care about the environment and those we share it with, Nest uses shadow puppetry, original songs and clowning to follow Birtle and Piper, two birds and their eggs, in the only tree left in the city.
A high energy show with giant sized props and steampunk costume, this two-hander gives a bird’s eye view of humans who leave their clutter in the urban landscape below. A bottle cap makes a cracking mirror, a five-pound note makes a tip top tablecloth and dice make a delightful stool… but what will happen when the dynamic duo take a shine to collecting and they fill their nest with too many things?
Nest tours 16 September – 3 November 2023. More information can be found here.
Nest is about to head out on tour, what can you tell us about your new show?
We’re all really proud of Nest and the lovely journey it takes the audience on. It’s physical, playful and uses shadow puppetry as well as a beautiful underscore with dance to explore themes of home, care, family and materialism. It follows two crows, Birtle and Piper, who find a new home for themselves and their two precious eggs in an old nest in the only tree left in a sprawling city landscape.
Birtle becomes fascinated with the human world and materials below and starts collecting everything he thinks they would need, and the nest becomes too full of ‘stuff’. The nest in the show is a metaphor for our own world, which is fragile and has too much ‘stuff’ in it also. We hope to explore the concept of what is really important to us with young audiences, and delight them with our large-scale props!
What inspired you to write it?
We work with thousands of children and young people each year and one of the biggest challenges they will face as they grow up will be the effects of the climate crisis, so we knew we wanted to create a response to this. Lockdown showed us how much we need the peace and solace that natural spaces can bring us and how important they are for our sense of wellbeing, so highlight the importance of keeping these spaces safe mattered a great deal to us.
We wanted to tell this story through two birds as M6’s shows in the recent past have had quite a few animal characters in them. We’ve had Spike the hedgehog in Mavis Sparkle, Ella the tiger in A Tiger’s Tale, the tadpoles in Mission Save the World and in The Lost Story we met a character who had crow friends. They are so clever, ingenious, sociable and they form deep bonds. These animal characters have always been supporting players, but this time I suppose, we’ve put them in the spotlight, to find out if we can learn anything from them.
Tell us a little more about M6 Theatre and your aim to create high quality theatre for young audiences?
From our home base in Rochdale, we create original, relevant & emotionally resonant theatre experiences for, with and by children & young people. Our aim is to nurture hearts, challenge minds and ignite imaginations. We have a vibrant participation department hosting weekly youth theatre groups for local children and young people aged 8-18, including one specifically for those living with disability.
We’re like a big family! Our original theatre productions tour locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. We work with amazing and talented freelance artists who bring their skills and expertise into our development and rehearsal rooms and together, we grow new stories, experiment with content and form.
A young audience is no different to any other kind. They deserve a good story with characters that they care about and can relate to. We use lots of visuals to support understanding with beautiful, ingenious sets and props to delight our audiences. We think that every child has the right to experience the joy of live, high-quality theatre, so we always tour to our local schools. We learn so much from sitting with the children, talking to them and their teachers about the shows and these audiences really help us make the work as good as it can be.
What are you looking forward to most about taking the show out on tour?
We’re so excited to visit some amazing theatres and share Nest with audiences all over the country. We’ve already done a short pilot tour locally and have had a fantastic response from young and old audience members alike. We know lots of families always come to see us because they love M6 shows, so hopefully there’ll be some old friends to see again – and hopefully new ones too.
Tell us a little about the cast who will be bringing your characters to life?
They’re both amazing! Emily Spowage and Cynthia Emeagi will be playing Piper and Birtle for us. Emily was born in Sheffield and now lives in Manchester and has worked with us many times before. She’s naturally funny, with lots of energy and really cares about the work. You can always rely on Emily to touch your heart because she’s such a truthful performer.
Cynthia is joining us for the first time, but hopefully not the last! She is a Manchester born, Nigerian actress who trained at Manchester Metropolitan University, School of Theatre. She’s worked with Hull Truck, Chester Storyhouse and for Manchester International Festival to name a few. She’s an amazing young talent – funny and sparky. It’s quite a technical show with lots to think about, but she’s managing to rise to the challenge with such good humour and grace. We’re so pleased to have her on the show. Both make amazing crows!
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see Nest?
Do it! In a market flooded with book adaptations, a new title like Nest might feel like a bit of a risk, but we are proud to welcome back audiences who go out of their way, time and time again to see us, because they really love our work. We’re proud that parents and grandparents enjoy our shows as much as their children do and I suppose that’s because we make great stories, told with high production values.
Nest is funny, fast moving, has a marvellous set, beautiful music and is performed with great actors. The catchy songs will have you singing all the way home. It’s also tender and moving. The children we’ve met so far love Birtle and Piper and their affectionate, loving relationship and they really care about the eggs.