Meet Annie – set designer and recycling queen

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Name: Annie Brooks

206396_658364308341_1089738967_nRole in the project: I am the designer for Leaper. My role is to design and make the set, props and costumes for the show.

Day in the life of Leaper: A day in the life of me always starts with eggs for breakfast. From that point on, there are a whole host of things to get on with. There are different stages to designing a show – firstly I’ll do some rough sketches to get the ideas flowing and get the overall feel of what I want it to look like. Next comes the really fun bit – the model box. For this show I made a model 16 times smaller than the full scale set. This is a really important part of the job because it gives you a really good idea of how the set will look and I can address any potential problems before I start making the real thing. (Plus, you get to feel like a giant for a day.) After that, my average day can go anywhere from making a handmade barrel to painting barnacles on a door frame. And lots of cups of tea.

What do you like most about your job? I love the variety of cool things I get to make, whether it be a tray of salmon eggs or a mini fishing boat. I find it really satisfying to work out what materials to use and how best to make the designs come to life. I spend quite a lot of my time browsing in B&Q shops for inspiration – often the most mundane piece of plumbing pipe can be given a new lease of life and made into something completely new! 40% of our set and puppets are made out of recycled or reclaimed materials either from things lyon around the house, skips, charity shops or even beach combs on Brighton Beach!20160204_205231_resized

Why is teaching children about conservation important? It is imperative that children (and adults) are taught about conservation – we all live on the same planet and need to share the space fairly and respect each other. In the fast-paced, busy world we live in, it’s very easy to forget where our food comes from and where our waste goes after we’ve binned it – it’s important that we sometimes take a step back and think about how we as individuals can help maintain a sustainable environment. It’s great for children to learn this for themselves at an early stage so they understand their own responsibility in the world, but also to pass on the message to their parents (which they do very effectively!)

Why use theatre? I think it’s really effective when dealing with issues or themes, that they are communicated through storytelling. Through theatre, an audience can connect to the characters in the show and empathise with their individual journey on a smaller and more palatable scale. It can often be overwhelming to take in all the facts about a particular subject, yet through storytelling, we are able to receive the information more readily, and with emotions. It also gives the audience the chance to formulate their own opinions and conclusions without being told what to think.

What part of the show are you most excited about? I’m really looking forward to seeing all the set finished and in the theatre to see how it transforms the space. It’s quite exciting to see creations that you have dreamt up with a pencil and paper, come to fruition and turn into a whole theatre show.

What sea creature are you most like? I am probably most like sea cucumber because I love eating and I particularly like eating cucumbers. Does that make me a cannibal?!


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Rehearsals week 1

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We’ve been busy playing and deciding how puppets can swim, how barrels become cars and how a laboratory can become a nursery for our little leapers! Here’s some photos…

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Meet Hal – The captain of the ship

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Name: Hal Chambers

Role in Leaper: Director hal blog photo 2

Day in the life of Leaper: Well, for the last three years I been researching Leaper and finding out some amazing facts! The most fun has been finding out all about the life of the Salmon fish from the wonderful Steve Keay! I have been writing the script for the play and casting the actors. The super talented design team and I have been talking about what the show will look like and how the puppets will move. Soon we will start rehearsals and I will direct the brilliant actors and together with the whole team we will create the world premiere of Leaper. There will be some bits which are easy and fun, some bits where we will not know what to do and some bits where we be very stressed! But ‘the show must go on’ and I hope we can create a beautiful piece of theatre for our young audiences.

What do you like most about your job? Making the show! Working with such creative people is very inspiring. And making stories for a living is a real honour. After three years of fundraising, meetings and research, being able to play around with puppets, materials, light and music in the rehearsal room is what it is all about!

hal blog photo 1Why is teaching children about conservation important? Because they are the next generation! Our generation is in danger of leaving our children with a big mess to sort out in our oceans. Let’s go straight to the source! We hope that within our play there is a subtle message about nurturing the good things in our environment for future generations to enjoy and this is something both child and parent can talk about in the car in the way home from the theatre…

Why use theatre? We can quote stats at young people about what is happening in our oceans all day long but with a puppetry performance we can let the visuals and music do the talking. If this is successful, there is a chance we can imprint something on the human heart for years to come.

What part of the show are you most excited about? The section where the Salmon leaps will be pretty epic! Especially as our fish hero has been on such an epic quest and his leaping comes to signify the Salmon’s tenacious spirit of survival. Human beings have done their best to threaten the future of wild fish but the image of a fish flying out of the water to get home is pretty mesmerising.

What sea creature are you most like? I have been told by other members of Tucked In that I snore like a walrus…. so probably a walrus!

hal walrus

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Meet the Cast of Leaper!

We’re about to go into rehearsals and want to introduce you to our wonderful cast….

‘Daughter’ – Lizzie Franks:

Lizzie is an actor, choreographer and part of comedy double act ‘Franks and Skinner’.

Lizzie trained at The Arts Educational School, Tring, in dance and musical theatre and then studied Drama at Exeter University.  Lizzie has performed in theatres, parks and even in a pond (as a water puppeteer!). She also works as a deviser and writer and loves being part of family shows that combine visual theatre, puppetry, music and great stories.

Theatre credits include; Cinderella (Ben Crocker/The Roses Theatre), The Tale of Mr Tumble (Manchester Opera House), Stockton International Circus Festival (Slunglow Theatre Co.), Franks and Skinner (Just The Tonic, Edinburgh), Jack and The Beanstalk (Peterborough Key Theatre), Grandpa in My Pocket: Teamwork! (Nottingham Playhouse/ National Tour to No.1 venues), Dick Whittington and his Cat (Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds), Cuckoo’s Nest (Lost Theatre, London) The Alchemystorium (Gomito Productions), Rift Zone (New Diorama Theatre, London).

TV/Film credits include: Mister Maker’s Arty Party (CBeebies), Guitar Hero Live (Activision), Grandpa In My Pocket (Adastra Creative/ CBeebies).


‘Father’ – Philip Bosworth:

Philip is an actor, a puppeteer and a puppet-maker.

Philip has worked in theatres all over the UK and across the world, as well as on the streets, in people’s homes, in underground tunnels, and even a converted fish packing factory in Norway! Philip is also a designer and maker for puppet shows and cartoonist.

Theatre credits include; The BFG (Bolton Octagon) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Vaults Waterloo/Les Petits/EBP productions) Bookstory (Monstro Theatre, UK tour); A High Street Odyssey (Inspector Sands, UK street tour); Monkey Bars (Chris Goode & Co/Unicorn Theatre/Traverse Theatre); The Adventures of Thunder and Coal (Nonesuch Theatre); Flogging a Dead Horse (Faulty Optic/Roundhouse London/European Tour); Henry and Elizabeth (Chris Goode & Co,UK Homes Tour); Horrid Henry – Live and Horrid! (Watershed/MJE Productions/Sheffield Lyceum/Trafalgar Studios/UK Tour); Hedda Gabler & The Man of Future is Dead (Edinburgh/Bulandra Theatre Bucharest); Swimming In The Shallows (Pleasance).


 Puppeteer – Robert Welling:

Robert is an actor and has recently finished working as a puppeteer for Theatre Hullabaloo.

Robert trained at The University of Exeter and Drama Centre London. He enjoys devising new work as well as working with traditional texts and has performed in festivals, theatres and all kinds of weird and wonderful places all over the UK. Robert is also an associate artist at theatre company Wet Picnic.

Theatre credits include; Bear & Butterfly (Theatre Hullabaloo / UK tour), Full Stop (UK Tour), Hamlet (Park Theatre), On Love (The Bike Shed), Suitcases (York Theatre Royal), Orestes (The Scoop), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Middle Temple), Ovid’s Banquet Of Sense (Shakespeare’s Globe), Romeo & Juliet (The Dell, RSC Festival), Ghetto (Watford Palace), Whistle Down The Wind (West End).

TV/Film credits include Billy Elliot (Working Title Films) and Crip on a Trip (Channel 4).


In Leaper we’ll be playing with puppets, light, movement, music and even the odd song or two. We can’t wait to get going and see what they can do!!

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Meet Claire – The Puppet Master

Name: Claire Harvey

Role in Leaper: Puppet designer and builder

Day in the life of LeaperMy job is fairly straightforward, I talk to the director and we decide what puppets are needed, and I go away and build them! On an average day on Leaper I head to my workshop, say hello to the workshop cat and from then I can be found drawing, sculpting, drilling, sanding and drinking tea. I’m working very closely with set designer Annie Brooks to make sure that our aesthetic styles fit together, so we share photos, ideas and help each other problem solve.

What do you like most about your job? I’ve really loved the research process for this project, I’ve been to aquariums, pet stores, read fish books, watched salmon swimming online, drawn thousands of pictures of fish faces, and have come to the conclusion that despite their importance, salmon are not very pretty creatures to translate into puppets!

Why is teaching children about conservation important? I’m hoping that the show will be able to convey some of the important conservation issues we have come across  and provoke conversation between children and their adults. As a society we are so out of touch with our beginnings in nature, we have and continue to abuse it, and this is simply not sustainable.

Why use theatre? Theatre is a powerful vehicle and one that I think will provoke these conversations and encourage change not just in our generation, but in our children as well, through sharing an experience together.


What part of the show are you most excited about? I’m really looking forward to creating the plastic monster. It’s a really important scene, which highlights a fact about the sheer amount of plastic in our oceans. At the moment I’m trying to decide how abstract to be with it (whether it needs things like eyes and mouth or if I can be shapes) and the balance between scary and too scary! I’ve made a lot of very dark looking puppets in the past and this is my default! I’m planning to send photos to one of my little nieces and if she is too scared – I’ll change it!

Which sea creature are you most like?

In terms of sea creatures I think I’m most like some sort of hilarious bug eyed gold fish. I’m hoping to make this particular creature I’ve just made up for one of the sequences…see if you can spot me the fish when you watch the show!

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Meet Steve – Our hero!

Name:  Steve Keay.

Meet Steve!

Meet Steve!

Role in the project: Advisor to the team on Salmon life history, breeding, care of ova, rearing of juvenile Salmon and the technique of Salmon Kelt reconditioning in fresh water.

Day in the life of Leaper: I run a Salmon hatchery and breeding unit for the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board near Perth. My work in the unit I’m told is what sparked the concept of Leaper! I am a semi retired fish biologist and have been involved with Salmonids as well as a few other species all of my working life. Back in 1992 I was tasked with trying to work out a way we could maximise the numbers of eggs and young Salmon we could produce without taking too many fish from the rivers each year. They were declining and there was concern by fishing interests that they may lose this valuable part of the years annual run of Salmon into the River Tay system. I worked out a technique to nurse these valuable fish back to health after spawning. (By the time they have swum from their feeding grounds at sea up to the very highest points of our tributaries and stayed there till they spawn they will not have fed for almost a year and in the wild would all succumb after spawning). By introducing them to food and treating all their ailments its possible to keep them in good condition for many years in the rearing unit and spawn them many times producing thousands of eggs each year from these valuable fish.

What makes up an average day in your role? Really there is no such thing. Although my job changes with the seasons it revolves round caring for my fish. No 2 days are the same really. At the moment I have more then half a million Salmon ova to look after as well as their mums dads and some new fish who have recently joined them in the unit. The eggs need constant care, all have to be counted and the Alevins once hatched must be closely monitored to check when they need to be moved into rearing tanks to feed and grow for a while before they leave to make their amazing journey out to sea. I can be nursemaid, doctor, cook, plumber, electrician, carpenter and metal worker all in one day!

What do you like most about your job? Simple! It has never been a job. I have kept fish in aquaria since the age of 10.  Always wanting more fish and bigger fish tanks. Then amazingly I was given both and have even been paid to fulfill my hobby. I am such a lucky man to have never considered myself as actually having “worked” a single day in my whole career. I am as excited by fish now as I was when gazing through the glass of my aquarium at two goldfish, a Tench and a catfish when I was 10.

Why is teaching children about conservation important? It’s vital as we are only custodians of this amazing planet we live on. It will soon belong to them. They will have responsibility for making sure there is still a living breathing planet to pass onto their children. Unfortunately, it may not contain all the species that are with us now and will certainly contain many less fish!

Why use theatre? Leaper’s story covers so much ground in so many amazing places that the only way to bring it to life other than following her on her journey is to bring those places to the children. Theatre especially the magical theatre of Tucked In is the best medium for this. It captures the imagination on so many more levels than a film.

What about the show do you find most exciting? Two things. The way the amazing writer has taken the story of one little Scottish Salmon and its amazing journey to be a window to the plight of so many other creatures living in our seas. Secondly, the most exciting thing for me will be when I’m in the audience watching children’s faces fill with wonder as the story unfolds.

What sea creature are you most like? Ah..keep the hardest question till last ! Ok I think a Sea Horse. When you watch these amazing creatures in an aquarium they appear to hang motionless in the current. Almost as if hanging from the surface held by an invisible thread. But look closer and you will see they have almost transparent fins which are peddling like mad just to keep them where they are. My work with fish has been very like this! They do keep me on my toes.

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Welcome to our new blog!

Tucked In have been very busy over the past few months booking a very exciting tour for spring 2016. Our new show, Leaper; A Fish Tale, will be diving into rehearsal in late February and then taking to the stage in March. You can find out where you can see the show on the aptly named ‘see the show’ page.

Expect puppets, music, magic, facts, figures and hopefully a little bit of inspiration to make our world a better place for our children and our fish!

Blogs post will be written by Director, Hal Chambers and Producer, Steph Connell, with a few special guests along the way. We will be using this blog to share snippets from our research, updates from the rehearsal room and a sneaky peek behind the scenes, so watch this space!

Bye for now. In the meantime in the wise words of Dory ‘just keep swimming’!

Love Tucked In x

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