“A real lesson in producing a programme, particularly for children” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
Whether writing or designing, I have always been inspired by an attention to detail in production: the subversion of things we take for granted – the double-take.
My work on Theatre Lovett’s show programmes is dominated by this interest: taking something throw-away and turning the tables on it, subverting the audience’s expectation in terms of the aesthetic and the content.
This is particularly rewarding when working with the rich tapestries woven for young audiences by Theatre Lovett.
Working initially with company directors Muireann Ahern-Lovett and Louis Lovett, I then sit down with the script and, with the production design aesthetic in mind, I imagine each world to its fullest. From this I write a full text before designing it into a programme-sized publication.
Taking a sideways glance at what is happening on stage, the articles, fake ads, and interviews riff and expand upon the play’s imagined universe. I try to pack in as much content as possible, filling each page to the last, offering as many moments of recognition and reminder as possible for the young audiences.
I try to give a sly voice to voiceless and minor characters, while poking gentle fun at the format of show programmes – and at Theatre Lovett’s leading star (sorry, Louis!).
Originally called The Trumpeter, the series for Theatre Lovett began with an edition for The House That Jack Filled by Finegan Kruckemeyer. The story of an old hotel, Louis played every one of its vast cast of characters. The programme included an interview with Harrison the Housecat, Mr Truro’s Spectacular Guide to Playing the Spoons, a recipe for Crepes Suzette by mischievous twins Charlotte and Brian and a series of unusual hotel facts (including the mysterious story of the train on Track 61 and New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel).
The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly (also by Finegan Kruckemeyer) has been performed at theatres and festivals all over the world. Its Peggy O’Hegarty comes from a family of packers, and the programme was thus pitched as a special edition packing manual. It included Peggy’s Packing Particulars, a series of facts about packing, Louis Lovett on Packing a Play, instructions for how to play a game called Packed Like Sardines and, lastly, sadly, an obituary for Hildegaard the mouse.
The latest was for A Feast of Bones. Originally produced for Dublin Theatre Festival in 2013, the edition was updated for its run at On the Edge Festival Birmingham and Baboró Galway in 2016. A Feast of Bones was set in a restaurant called Le Monde Bouleversé in the wake of World War I, and so its programme became a menu.
“In its mix of wit and wisdom, Theatre Lovett’s show programme series is a beauty, capturing the humour, logical absurdity and intelligent detailing of Kate’s writing”Louis Lovett and Muireann Ahern, Theatre Lovett