Fly High's director, Jemma Gross, on inspiring children through theatre
1. Sum up why parents should bring their children to watch Fly High.
As a parent if you personally like physical comedy, great music, excellent funny and moving characters then come see Fly High for yourself! The show is packed with opportunities to expand your little protégés’ knowledge, empathy, creativity and understanding of human nature, of how to believe in themselves and enjoy learning and of course, aerodynamics.
2. What do you hope to inspire/encourage in children through Fly High?
[I hope to inspire them] to be curious, brave and to try and try and try again [and show them] that we can grow and learn and that to fail only really means ‘first attempt in learning’ Rachel [Barnett-Jones, writer of Fly High] taught me that.
3. What inspired you to write/direct/create Fly High?
The idea of a children’s musical about flying was actually given to me by my (then) 7 year old niece. It stuck in the back of my mind and 7 years later (!) here we are! Myself and Rachel adore flight and are both fairly geeky about aerodynamics and since becoming a mum myself I have shared that passion with my little one. It became all about timing really; having a toddler who I wanted to make work for combined with finding other creatives who shared the thinking and passion to make it happen.
4. What are some of the challenges you faced during the creative process?
The challenges have been surprising really; some usual- how best to tell our story, and should the characters be children or adults? and others not so usual: how much science can we get across that will actually stick?, how to make sure all ages find it fascinating and fun and not only for the little ones and biggest of all how on earth are we going to get things to fly!
5. Tell us about the music that will feature in Fly High.
The music has been written by Arran Glass and is simply put, magical. Catchy, beautiful and fun. Arran has a way of using song and scores to move our characters forward in their journeys, to help convey their emotions and he understands (as a parent himself) how children can respond to the most complex pieces in a way that can sometimes be forgotten. And of course there is definitely some silly words and actions in there too!
6. What was your thought process as you developed the personalities of the two characters, Poppy and Mo?
It has been very important to myself and Rachel to show two individuals who, through their friendship and helping each other become braver, stronger and smarter than they were separately. Poppy as the lively but finds it hard to focus struggling artist helps Mo, the quiet frustrated wanna-be engineer, to be brave and to embrace the learning style of it can’t do it YET’ whilst Mo, brings a focus and a steadiness to Poppy that she needed to forward her dreams
7. As a creative parent what tips do you have for other parents in occupying their children?
Think about what you enjoy doing and see how you can include them, or perhaps there was an hobby you loved to do as a kid, or always wanted to do, introduce them to it and learn alongside. Anything can be made into imaginative play from playing I spy with colours whilst on commute, or using a napkin to create a butterfly (spoiler alert). Also don’t feel you have to occupy their every moment. Boredom is an essential part to growing up, only when we are bored do our imaginations take flight and wonderful things get invented.
Fly High plays at KC Arts Centre from 19 February 2020, get your tickets here.