We're delighted to once again be welcoming the Oliver Award nominated Wizard Presents to Lighthouse, who bring us their adaptation of the Michael Morpurgo children's novel I Believe in Unicorns from 23-24 February. This intimate show is set in a library full of books that hold more than stories within their pages, and features an actual book swap (remember to bring one with you!) and a chance to contribute to the stories that are told on the stage.
Producer Danyah Miller, who also stars in the show as the Unicorn Lady tells us how she first got into performing and what she loves most about storytelling ...
HOW DID YOU GET INTO PERFORMING?
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a performer, to be on the stage. As a little girl my desire never wavered from this and as I grew older my love of theatre increased. My degree, at Bretton Hall College (affiliated to Leeds University) was in Drama, Dance and English, however afterwards I found myself involved in theatre management, marketing, box office and administration. I was good at this but still yearned to be on the stage! When my daughter, Sofie, was born I wished for her to follow her dreams and in an instant I knew that I would have to follow my own. When she was nearly one year old, Sofie and I set off to L’Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jaques Lecoq in Paris to retrain in mime and physical theatre. On my return I immediately became involved in storytelling and performing. I had finally found my way of expressing my creativity and I have continued to develop that since. It has taken me a while to find what I most joyful doing, but I have, and I love it!
WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY ABOUT STORYTELLING?
As a storyteller I love the balance between being myself and creating characters. The storyteller is in the central position from which everything else flows. I love interacting with the audience, sharing stories, offering stories, listening to stories. I love the depth and breadth of stories, they touch us in so many ways, unexpectedly sometimes. When left to their own devices a good story, however it is told and whatever medium, begins its secret work inside us! We are all story creatures; it is a large part of what makes us human; we are always sharing stories with each other...
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT IN A THEATRE PRODUCTION?
The audience! I believe that there is triangle between the story, the performers and the audience where magic is created.
As a producer I also recognise the importance of building and developing a really strong and coherent team to create a show, however large or small. This includes, creative, production, administrative and marketing practitioners. When the whole team is fully engaged and excited by the project alchemy occurs!
WHICH PRODUCTIONS HAVE YOU SEEN THAT HAVE INFLUENCED AND INSPIRED YOU THE MOST?
As a young girl I remember seeing Geraldine Chaplin in Le Cirque Imaginaire and it took my breath away! I vowed then that I wanted to be part of this magic on stage... I was taken to RSC as a young teenager and mostly remember the smell of the place and how imbibed with emotion it was. Between school and university I lived in London and went to see as much theatre as I possibly could, on every day off I saw a matinee and evening show. I remember sobbing my heart out during Angels in America and Normal Heart and dancing and singing down the street after watching Robert Lindsay and Emma Thompson in Me and My Girl. More recently I was thrilled to see Tempest, a collaboration between Little Angel Theatre and RSC and later Little Angel’s production of The Man with Enormous Ears. I loved the way they played with scale, the puppetry and the interaction between actors and puppets. Mr Bunk was pure joy and Carnivali was an extraordinary fusion between film and theatre.
I love how a piece of theatre, dance, physical theatre or music can take me on such a journey; transform me. Last Christmas I watched Dani Parr’s Along the Riverbank, it was delicate, funny and moving. As I watched it was as if I was a 5 years old again, my heart skipping when the butterflies and dragonflies flew over us and when Ratty and Moley chatted to the children... I was transfixed!
There are so many incredible theatre productions I have had the privilege to see. I particularly like children’s and family shows, I want everyone to have the chance to see superb and compelling theatre whatever their age.
WHICH PART OF UNICORNS DO YOU LOVE PERFORMING?
All of it! It is a superb story and one of which I never tire... As each show finishes I know that I have to wait until I can begin again! I love sharing this story and its interactive nature. Secretly I think my favourite part of the show is drinking the milk!
DO YOU BELIEVE IN UNICORNS?
Totally and joyfully and absolutely - Yes! What is great is that maybe you will too when you have seen the show...