DanceEast and Tim Casson offers families a Night At The Theatre

Night at the Theatre a family friendly part of the DanceEast spring season

Night at the Theatre a family friendly part of the DanceEast spring season - Credit: Archant

There’s nothing quite like a visit to the theatre – it’s thrilling, it’s exciting and it’s fun but for many people it can also be more than a little daunting.

Night at the Theatre part of the DanceEast spring season

Night at the Theatre part of the DanceEast spring season - Credit: Archant

Perhaps they don’t know what to expect or how to behave or what to wear. They have a 101 questions that did they but know it, are nothing to worry about. Research has shown that some potential audiences are losing out because they feel that theatre is not for them. They feel it’s high-brow, or elitist or they feel nervous about the sort of entertainment on offer.

Research has also shown that the younger the audience the more nervous they will be about entering a theatre for the first time.

Choreographer Tim Casson has a show to help people of all ages fall in love with the theatrical experience and it’s a family-friendly dance event called Night At The Theatre.

It’s designed to appeal to all generations – everyone from eight to 80 can engage with the performance at their own level and get something from it.

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Night At The Theatre is being staged at the Jerwood DanceHouse on Ipswich Waterfront. Tim says that the evening promises to be a fantastic introduction to dance and theatre for young people, with just a hint of audience participation.

“It’s all about tearing down those false barriers and creating a memorable, fun experience which will encourage people of all ages to come back and try something different. Who knows they may get a taste for live entertainment? There’s nothing quite like it.”

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Night at the Theatre combines a mixture of dance theatre, audio-description and imaginative storytelling. “It’s a narrative dance piece which means it is dance theatre. It has a story to tell. It explores what happens when three friends become trapped in an abandoned theatre – we create a brilliant theatre set for them to inhabit and as the performance progresses they become the stars of their own show.

“It’s perfect for those who love an adventure. Night at the Theatre is designed to be an immersive dance theatre experience which actively encourages the audience to engage with what is going on before them and to let their imaginations run wild.

“It’s about what it’s like to go to the theatre too, as the theatre is a really magical place where all kinds of amazing things can happen, but can also be a scary place too, so we decided to play with that idea.”

He says that the idea for the piece came from working on a previous commission where he was asked to come up with a dance piece that could include disabled dancers. “When you work with disability, for some reason, everyone focuses on what they are not able to do but I wanted to focus on what they could do and do brilliantly. So I came up with apiece that would celebrate that and it evolved into this current production.

It is also a result of his extensive experience of staging work in unusual places including shopping centres, libraries, hotels, pubs, offices and football stadiums.

His company, Casson & Friends, has also presented its work at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Glastonbury Festival, Brighton Digital Festival, The Lyon Biennale and Downtown Dance Festival in New York.

Tim says that the magic of theatre can be found in its ability to play with ideas. He wanted to create a hybrid story that combined the wit of the physical with the playfulness of imagination.

“I believe the best theatre comes from the heart as well as the head.”

Great theatre is also a collaborative affair mixing creative talents like filmmakers and musicians with computer programmers and psychologists with a view to coming up with something new, exciting and surprising. “That’s why I don’t like giving too much away when talking about my shows. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I want the audience to arrive and experience it in their own way without too many preconceptions. I want them to be lost in the moment and hopefully go: ‘Woe that was amazing’.

“So you could say that my favourite collaborators are the audience, the public, inviting them to engage with dance and performance in exciting and accessible ways. We will never do anything to make them feel uncomfortable but we do love it when they feel they can contribute to the performance.”

Under the direction of Tim Casson, is an exciting Dance Theatre Company that creates engaging interactive performances with a focus on collaboration, interaction and joy. Night at the Theatre, by Casson & Friends, will be at the Jerwood DanceHouse on Saturday February 4 at 1.30pm and 4.30pm

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