Artist Q and A

House of Fairy Tales logo

What is The House of Fairy Tales?
The House of Fairy Tales is a place of magical, parallel worlds where learning is play and play is directed learning. We are a collective of artists, writers, poets and educationalists who believe that by creating quality child-centred art we can inspire the thinkers and creators of the next generation.

Tell us about some of the things you've done before
We've welcomed visitors from another dimension to the Whitechapel Gallery, we've trained an army of young ghosts at St Paul's, we've taken our travelling art circus to Camp Bestival, Glastonbury and Thames Festival, we've recreated the Hollywood studio at The Apple Cart festival, we've transformed the prestigious London Selfridges building into an underwater wonder world and saved the planet from the Memory Eaters at Mottisfont National Trust. Thankfully we've had the unflinching support of over 200,000 keen-eyed and quick-minded children and young people.

Our installations wrap children and families in the world of story. The immersive element of our work gives audiences an opportunity to play at being something other than themselves, they stretch their minds until the story ends and maybe beyond – that's the intention.

What is the Adventure of the Missing Manuscript?
An adventure is “an exciting or unusual experience” – and The Adventure of the Missing Manuscript is no exception with two interactive elements! At the Royal Shakespeare Theatre we have created an immersive installation of the imagined, magnificent mind of Shakespeare and around the gardens we've designed a story-based trail with the help of an illustrated map. 

Families will wander through the town guided by the original map to fulfill tasks that weave the rich tapestry of Shakespeare's colourful life, his characters, emotions and plots with a drop of House of Fairy Tales magic.

In the Swan Room, families are invited to interact with a range of instruments of creativity such as the 'Story-Generating Machine' and 'Prospero's Alchemy Laboratory'. Having worked with the eclectic collection of tangible props, costumes and magical machines children will be inspired to create their very own Shakespeare-inspired drama. 

How did you come up with this idea?
All of our work starts from the same source - inspiration– the stories and the natural environment of the installation. We came to Stratford and wandered the streets, much like a child would. We spent time exploring, asking questions and saw how contemporary life interlaces with the past; we listened to stories and visited the RSC prop store; a treasure trove for the imagination. 

The sources then merge in a creative cavern, much like the one we've created in the Swan Room – and out of it came The Adventure of the Missing Manuscript. Shakespeare was an industrious storywriter. He created some of the most perfect dramas – covering all the human emotions. It got us thinking about Shakespeare as story-machine maker, which developed into the idea of Britain's industrious past and how machines and technology have come together today to assist mankind – but it all began with an idea.

Is this a new piece for the RSC?
Yes 100%. Some of the props aren't new - the RSC has been very generous and let us explore the prop cabinet, such as the life size bear, but how they'll merge with The House of Fairy Tales means that every day new dramas will be created and performed.

Who is it aimed at?
The House of Fairy Tales aims to work with families, and touches the imagination in all of us…we have created this work with 5-12 year olds in mind.

Who will perform it?
The children themselves.

Did you find out any unusual things about Shakespeare when you were creating the adventure? 
When you look at stories from the past you realise that nothing is usual, but it was interesting to hear how Shakespeare saved his family name after his father, originally a pillar of society with multiple properties, died in debt. It is touching to think about Shakespeare as a son as well as a writer.

What would you like people to go away with once they've experienced the adventure?
A sense of their own creativity and a passion for Shakespeare.

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