Mr Matthew Gregory, Executive Producer of ABA Productions and Founder of KidsFest believes theatres not only excite kids, it also serves as a springboard for further discussion between parent and child. With three children aged 7, 5 and 5 months old, he is married to Emma, a drama teacher and choreographer (who also happens to be a very busy mum). A Chorister at York Minster, Music Scholar at Bloxham School, Matthew studied English & Theatre Studies at Warwick University (UK) and received a Post Graduate degree in English and Drama from Cambridge University. Originally from North Yorkshire, England, he is currently residing in Hong Kong with his family.
Matthew took time to tell TNAP what KidsFest is all about and what are the shows to look out for in 2015.
Hi Matthew, could you share with our readers what is KidsFest all about?
KidsFest is a collection of world class theatre productions for young people. The productions come from outside Asia, mainly from the UK, and are currently brought to Hong Kong and Singapore, with other cities to follow soon. The aim is for children, parents and teachers to enjoy bright, colourful, entertaining and educational performances, to inspire them in their work and play, and open up a new world of creativity in their lives.
As the Executive Producer of ABA Productions and Founder of KidsFest, what are some things you look out for when deciding on the productions to present to children?
We look at many shows every year, mainly from the UK and Australia and assess them for quality, appeal to the audience in a particular city, scale, critic reviews, etc. We are very strict with ourselves regarding the production we choose as we need to be honest and loyal to our audience base. If we bring good work, the audience will keep coming to watch. So many more of the productions we see do not get picked!
Why should parents bring their child to watch theatre?
It is a wonderful opportunity for a shared experience. The excitement of arriving at the theatre, the fun of reading the book together before the event at home, the first look at the set and stage, the moment the characters appear onstage, the moment when something is funnier, cleverer, more entertaining than you expected, and that glance between parent and child, when the realisation is clear: both parties are enjoying themselves, the parent as well as the child. It is also a wonderful springboard for further discussion after the event: was it as you expected, did you enjoy it? What would you do differently? Was it better than the book? Why? What would you say about it to your friends who have not seen it?
Many parents may think the ticket to a theatre show is too high. Could you shed some insight as to why theatre tickets are priced at such rates?
The biggest costs are: venue, production fee to the travelling theatre company, flights, hotels, per diems, rights, royalties and licenses, marketing, set and props. Shows from overseas tend to cost more than local ones, mainly because of the flights, hotels, etc.
How can parents prepare their children who are going to watch a theatre show for the first time?
Be positive and excited about it yourself. Share your experiences of going to the theatre. Read the book. Arrive early, go to the toilet! Talk about how you book tickets, collect tickets, show your tickets, how you know where to sit. Talk about remembering to turn off your own phone so it doesn’t disturb others. Talk about respecting the performers and the space, but at the same time it is absolutely fine and important that you have fun!
The Gruffalo seems to be a popular story amongst children. What are some key highlights from the theatre production that vary from reading the picture book?
Music and songs, dance, audience interaction, elaboration of the story to give the characters more depth and help young people relate to them.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea will be showing in Singapore for the very first time at KidsFest 2015. What age group is the production targeted for?
This is the second time Tiger will come to Singapore. It’s really great for the young ones, so 3 – 7 is best. Every aspect of the production looks like it has come straight from the book. This is the perfect first show for young people coming to the theatre for the first time with their families and friends.
Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo is said to be an interactive experience. What can audience expect from this show that is different from the other productions?
This one is based on facts rather than a story. Some children will be able to get very close to the dinosaurs, and you really do learn a lot about them, their habitat and how they would have lived many millions of years ago.
One reason why children and parents should go to KidsFest 2015…
A unique opportunity for a joyful shared family experience with a world class production in Singapore for a limited time only.
KidsFest Singapore starts on 21 Jan to 1 March 2015.
Go to KidsFest website for more details on their shows.
Photos courtesy of KidsFest
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