Banbury author's children's lockdown book to be turned into a musical for children by Cherwell Theatre Company

A Banbury theatre group is aiming to help children avoid difficulties with their mental and social development with a new production about a lockdown bear.

Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 1:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 1:46 pm
Author Karra McFarlane, pictured last lockdown with her new book, Pete Stays Home

Cherwell Theatre Company (CTC) is producing a creative musical based on Banbury author Karra McFarlane's popular children's book, Pete Stays Home.

As an interactive play to fit in with school work, Pete Stays Home will be performed later on in the spring in schools and community centres in the Banbury area. Some outdoor performances are also planned.

CTC has provided creative online support to schools and young people in the Cherwell district throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. During this challenging time, its experts have found, it has become very clear that the mental health and social development of many young children has been severely affected. Pete Stays Home is being produced in an effort to help this situation.

Pete Stays Home - the story of a bear under his own hibernation lockdown - which Cherwell Theatre Company will produce with school as an interactive musical

Like many parents, CTC artistic director Tristan Jackson-Pate has been balancing working from home with providing opportunities for young people and home schooling his two children.

During this time he discovered the Karra McFarlane's specially themed book to read to his youngest child during story time. This book explores the theme of lockdown through the story of young bear, Pete who has to hibernate in his cave to stay safe through the winter. He misses his grandparents, his friends and going to school.

“We’re delighted, with the support of Cherwell District Council and Sanctuary Housing, to adapt this wonderful book into an interactive, musical performance for children in local schools and community centres later this spring” said Mr Jackson-Pate.

CTC’s outreach coordinator, Sophie Beckinsale said: “This book is a brilliant way of getting children to express their feelings about lockdown without actually asking them to relive their own experiences. We are working alongside teachers, children and a fabulous creative team to develop this project which is needed now especially after a third lockdown.”

Year 1 children will receive three online workshops prior to the performance. The workshops will be developed and delivered with performing arts students from Banbury and Bicester College, featuring a section of the story each week with fun tasks for children to complete including creative writing, art and music activities which they can share with the actors when the show pops up in playgrounds - once restrictions are lifted.

To find out more, please see the theatre company's website here.