Apples & Pears is delighted to announce an extension of our partnership with Omnibus Theatre which will mean we fund trips for families from the local community and targeted schools who wouldn’t usually be able to afford a theatre trip but will now get to experience a fantastic new play, Zeraffa Giraffa.
This play is by award-winning poet and writer Sabrina Mahfouz, based on the picturebook by Dianne Hofmeyr and illustrated by Jane Ray. The play is inspired by the remarkable true story of a real giraffe called Zeraffa, and her epic journey from the plains of Ethiopia to the Jardin de Plantes in France.
Our friends at Omnibus Theatre explain that at the heart of this funny and emotionally engaging tale is a story which investigates complex and contemporary issues for a young audience. The playwrite Sabrina was raised in London and Cairo, and the narrative explores something which is very important to Apples & Pears and the people we work with: what it’s like to be different and the importance of acceptance. All this will be brought to life using everything from puppetary to live music in the setting of Omnibus Theatre’s unique converted Victorian library, right on the edge of Clapham Common.
Marie McCarthy, Omnibus Theatre’s Artistic Director comments: “Our partnership with Apples & Pears is fundamental in allowing us to reach new audiences and spread this message throughout our local community. It’s important that we explore issues around how we embrace and celebrate difference. We’re delighted that Apples & Pears is helping us to engage more school children and young families in this subject – at the same time as having fun and being entertained.”
To give you a flavor, here’s an extract of the play:
Across the plains of Ethiopia where grass grows tall and Acacias taste sweet. A young giraffe is sent as a gift from the Pasha of Egypt to the King of France, but Paris is very far away…
With a boy called Atir to help Zeraffa find her way, the pair sail down the Nile past pyramids, sphinxes and temples and out across the stormy sea to a country where everything is different. No one has seen an animal like Zeraffa before. Can Zeraffa and Atir find a way to make this new place home?
We were lucky enough to have an interview with the playwrite Sabrina who told us what the play means to her
Q. This was your first children’s theatre production, what was it about Zeraffa Giraffa as a story that appealed to you?
A. When I read it and researched the story around it I found it fascinating. It revealed a lot of stuff about Egypt that I wasn’t aware of; I found it very illuminating. Also it seemed to have a lot to say about displacement and children in particular.
Q. What do you hope that young people will get out of seeing this play?
A. It’s a visually stunning show which explores ancient issues that seem particularly poignant right now – migration, travelling, children being given huge responsibilities, cultural misunderstandings and exchanges. The puppetry and performances are absolutely spectacular.
Q. What inspired you to become a writer and performer?
A. Reading sparked my interest in writing; as a kid I’d borrow as much as I could from the Omnibus, which back then was a library. Then in my early 20s I saw some people reading out their writing at the Southbank Centre, and found out about performance poetry which has been a really great avenue for me.
Q. Why is it important that young children growing up in multi-cultural London hear this story?
A. I think if children are old enough to hear and repeat what is said around them, they’re old enough to see issues such as sexism, racism, homophobia and all other types of prejudices be explored theatrically, if in a child-appropriate way. It is never too early to get a child interested in questioning the apparent norms of our society and to become strong in their own opinion.
Q. Apples & Pears looks to open up as many activities as we can to families in London. If there’s one thing you’d like to see young people have more of a chance to do, what would it be?
A. It’s definitely going to the theatre – but not just to shows specifically written for them. I also think sightseeing in London is overlooked when you live here and can be expensive, but it’d be great if young people were able to visit all our remarkable buildings and sites for free.
We are really excited about this opportunity and can’t wait to hear what the children think of it. Later this year we’ll bring you a review of the play and how the children responded to it. Watch this space!
If you’d like to see the play, check out the website here.