Heads Up Festival has presented a succession of shows for younger audiences over the last few seasons and we have enjoyed great support from Hull Libraries, who have allowed us to take over the Children’s Library within Central Library in order to transform that wonderful flexible space into all manner of unusual environments. The Adventure, Almost Always Muddy and Neverland have all proved incredibly popular with families looking to take their children on a leap into the unknown.
The latest show to grace the library is Turned On Its Head’s Sponge, shortlisted for the Best Family Welcome award in the Fantastic for Families Awards 2018, the perfect production for the four month to four-year-olds in your life. Young audiences are invited to squeeze and pop themselves through this new squashy kind of show, which is set to a 1970s influenced kitsch score.
Sponge is presented by Big Imaginations and East Midlands dance company Turned On Its Head. The Heads Up team saw the show in November 2017 and marvelled at the response of the young audience and their accompanying adults, who all very quickly got caught up in and fascinated by the squishy, squashy texture that permeates the show. It all looks very simple – sponges are squished, thrown around, metamorphosise into all manner of objects and living creatures and are used to build structures and add splashes of colour – but beyond that simplicity is an incredible fusion of participatory interaction, multi-sensory experience and performance. It reminds us how to play, and of the importance of play and, well, it’s also such a lot of fun.
As performers Louise and Shane tell their story, via dance, movement and physicality as well as the use of lots of sponge of varying colours, the under-5s realise that they can enter the performance space. Indeed, they are invited to do so and how this is managed – without at any point feeling like it is being managed – is all rather miraculous. By the end (minor spoiler alert), there’s a riotous party atmosphere and not one person present without a big smile on their face.
So, now it’s in Hull, here as part of Battersea Arts Centre’s Collaborative Touring Network of which Heads Up is a part. And we’re incredibly excited that youngsters from this city, and their adults, will be able to get to squishy grips with it all.
Some tickets are available for the three performances today (Saturday) and, with E52’s Dark Winter already sold out, this presents Heads Up audiences with the last opportunity to buy tickets for this tenth season of work.
Performances take place today at 9.45am, 11.45am and 2.30pm.
Book tickets at www.headsupsponge.eventbrite.co.uk