The Gruffalo

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!

Early Gruffalo

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.

Background scene

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


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