Nursery Crimes is The Little Company’s year-end play that puts together some of our favourite Nursery Rhyme characters into a brand new play about solving mysteries! We speak to writers and directors Kate Golledge and Ellis Kerkhoven, to find out more about their process and how they are making this play one that will get the kids all excited!
We’ve been thinking about the idea of doing a Nursery Rhyme mashup for a few years. There are lots of single nursery rhyme shows but we were interested in the idea of mixing up the stories and what happens when the characters meet. We hit upon the title first and as soon as we had that, we knew we were playing with ideas that were related to mysteries, Crimes and detectives. The story went through many phases, but fairly quickly settled on the main character called Polly (from the rhyme Polly Put the Kettle on) who became a detective to solve mysteries such as who pushed Humpty Dumpty off the wall! The research phase was interesting - one of the first things we had to do was to circulate a list of the songs we hoped to draw inspiration from as we discovered that the well-known songs in the UK are not necessarily the same well-known ones here! (Kate is still upset that we couldn’t use The Grand Old Duke of York). We wanted the story to be fun and colourful, with a splash of mystery and problem solving for the older children.
We shortlisted from a MASSIVE roster of initial characters, choosing the ones who would be most well known. And then we played with what we know about each of them to get quirky characteristics. For example, Twinkle Twinkle isn’t a star in the astronomical sense, but a pop star. When we first meet her, she’s stuck in a tree ‘ up above the world so high!’. Jack and Jill, well - they banged their heads, didn’t they, so in this version they have amnesia. There are more surprises, we don’t want to give away too much!
It’s been really fun to write from the source material of just the rhymes and to not have to follow a particular story or plot. This was also probably the biggest challenge! I love things that are unexpected and it was fun to see the characters take shape in their unusual, clever ways. It was an interesting process to be co-writing, and a first for me to work in this way. We started by dividing up the scenes and writing some each, then edited and adapted what the other had written. Finally, after trying them out with actors in the UK we put it all together and worked side by side to come up with what we are taking into rehearsal. One particular geographical challenge was that our composer Madeleine Tan discovered the tunes to some of the rhymes are different over here in Singapore, so there was some negotiation there!
It’s a fun and upbeat story with a lovely message about making good use of your time. Younger kids will love the music, the colours and characters, and older children will enjoy piecing it together and trying to solve the mystery alongside Polly.
Nursery Crimes runs from 17 October 2018 at KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT. Click here to find out more about the show and the family package promotion.
Published on: 20-09-2018
Learn how to create effective outreach strategies to engage with diverse audiences
A powerful professional development programme for early childhood educators.