The iconic Little Angel Theatre, much loved by families for generations, celebrates its 60th anniversary with an adventurous and enchanting year of work, the first half of which is announced today.
Little Angel first opened its doors on Saturday 24th November 1961 when a troupe of enthusiastic puppeteers under the leadership of John Wright found a derelict temperance hall in Islington and transformed it into a magical little theatre, specially designed for children and for the presentation of marionette shows. Now under the leadership of artistic director Samantha Lane and executive director Peta Swindall, boundary-pushing puppetry is at the heart of this unique theatre, which ignites the imaginations of the youngest minds and equips tomorrow’s puppeteers with the skills to become world-class artists.
Tucked away down a quiet Islington street, this 90-seat puppetry powerhouse has recently built a new global audience, reaching more families and young people than ever before throughout lockdown. With children starved of culture and interaction, Little Angel adapted fast to the closure of theatres last year and made their work quickly accessible through digital formats which have been watched all over the world, with productions and accompanying puppet making activities inspiring and engaging young audiences in more than 90 countries, receiving over 757,000 views. This success has enabled Little Angel to go further in supporting their large freelance theatre family, staff and community throughout the last year.
As well as being an internationally recognised theatre with productions touring throughout the UK and across the globe, Little Angel has its roots in Islington and works closely with its local, diverse community on participation events and activities throughout the year, giving away thousands of tickets so all can benefit and enjoy this remarkable art form.
Looking forward to the year ahead, artistic director Samantha Lane and executive director Peta Swindall introduce the first half the 60th Anniversary season:
“The new season kicks off with an adventure-style play for an adventurous year as we continue to find advanced and innovative ways to engage our audiences digitally with a new production of Sean Taylor and Neal Layton’s interactive story ‘Where the Bugaboo Lives’. Each performance will be different as young audiences ‘choose their own adventure’ while they watch, deciding which way the story goes. Following this, we cannot wait to welcome audiences back to our theatre, as soon as it’s safe, to see our new production of Julia Donaldson’s much-loved story about helping others in need ‘The Smartest Giant in Town’ and look forward to collaborating with Fierylight for the first time. We are also kicking off a new digital interview series ‘’People Behind the Puppets’ to celebrate 60 years of the world-class artistry at the heart of Little Angel. We hope it will inspire the next generation of puppet makers.
Created from ideas and stories from young people at Great Ormond Street, our production of ‘If Not Here…Where?’, toured hospitals and hospices throughout the UK last February. Now at a time when young people in hospital feel more isolated than ever, we are so proud to have created a digital version of the show enabling it to tour again in a Covid-safe way this summer. We also hope to brighten up the streets of Islington with a special project this June ‘The Wishing Tree’ inspired by a new poem by Joseph Coelho. Our community is at the heart of everything we do and this is a wonderful chance to celebrate our birthday with them.
We have been overwhelmed by the response from children, local and far afield, to our Watch, Make and Share free digital series created in response to lockdown. We hope it has made a difficult time a bit brighter for our young audiences and are thrilled to be able to continue to create new digital shorts and activities for families to enjoy throughout the year to come.”