The Gruffalo for refugees
Whilst visiting Lesvos earlier this year, I offered to run a shadow puppet activity at Pikpa, open refugee camp; a self-organised, autonomous space run by volunteers. I asked what they would like. “Could you do The Gruffalo?” to fit in with their English lessons for younger children. Of course I said, yes!
With its clear story and lovable characters, I found it easy to adapt into a play. Also as it has just 5 characters in the story and rarely more than two on ‘stage’ at a time, this meant it would be so much easier to perform than my recent performances!
I cut a quick prototype Gruffalo, arranged some coloured plastic and glass bottles, vases, egg boxes and played with my halogen torch in my friends kitchen.
The Gruffalo visits Athens Children’s Hospital
Developing the puppets with colour
The Gruffalo returns to Pitsmoor Adventure Playground!
I was familiar with the Gruffalo before being asked to do the puppet show – Very familiar, in fact I’d been the Gruffalo himself once! I was asked to don this magnificent costume and entertain the children at Pitsmoor Adventure Playground in 2016
Two years later and I’m invited back to the playground, to perform The Gruffalo at a dear friend’s birthday party celebrations for 4 generations of family. A delight to be invited and fun to perform, not least as my co-puppeteer was my grandson, Louis and the sound engineer was puppeteer, Lois Conan of The Travelling Shadow Theatre.
Back to Athens
The following month, I was back in Athens and we the assistance of Andrianna and Lizeta, we ran a week of workshops for young children at the refugee support service provided by Welcommon Hostel. With more children attending from The British Red Cross, Refugee & Migrant Support Service, we made a cast of Gruffalo puppets and performed our version of the story.
A show to take with me
Who knows where The Gruffalo will appear next?!
The original cast. Illustrations by Axel Scheffler
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, PDF: The Gruffalo