Izzy Gizmo: A Story Gig – Blog by Ruth Mary Johnson

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At this time of year, for the past 5 years, I have been living in a picture book for the New Writing North Children’s Theatre tour. Surrounding myself with monsters, moons, princesses, dragons and alley cats has been magical and, in that respect, this year is no different; I am living in a picture book.

This year, however, rather than a team of brilliant creatives responding to a book, it has been the communities we have toured to that are shaping the way that we present the story. As part of Durham Book Festival’s Little Read project, 5 communities from County Durham are composing and writing the songs that will be performed as a Story Gig on the 13th October at Durham Gala. This is different to anything the team has ever done before and it is so exciting!

I have always been interested in ways that co-creation between performers and audiences can happen in the act of storytelling and this project is an ambitious way of trying this out. The story will be told as a mini-gig, through music and the songs created by the communities, who will then be invited to come along to the gig as very important persons (big and small).

Jeremy Bradfield and I have been on the road on the hunt for songs to sing to help us tell the story of Izzy Gizmo. The picture book, created by Pip Jones and Sara Ogilvie, is a glorious exploration of invention and determination, and every group we have met so far have LOVED IT! There has been a really special moment as we have shared the reading of the book together as we all start to live in the picture book.

And we having LOVED working WITH the groups in creating the songs that will be performed by the band on the 13th October. Not only do the groups create the tune and the lyrics for the songs, but they have been giving us excellent ideas for how to perform the material. The band was named by one young inventor as IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTORS and we can’t wait to meet our VIP bandmembers again at the Durham Gala as they will be able to see, hear and be proud of what they have invented.

Must dash… got some songs to find!