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Hansel & Gretel: Lichfield Festival

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
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Classic children's story given nightmare makeover
The classic children's fairy-tale story of Hansel and Gretel is given a dark and sinister makeover in this brand new puppet production which comes to Staffordshire as part of the
Lichfield Festival. Hansel & Gretel (A nightmare in eight scenes) is a re-imagining of the famous tale created by a leading artistic team. Simon Armitage's new poetic adaptation of the Hansel & Gretel story meets eerie, glittering music by Matthew Kaner and the dark puppetry of Clive Hicks-Jenkins, with Adey Grummet providing the remarkable narration.

Hansel and Gretel
Lizzie and Di with Hansel. Photo credit Phil Cooper

Goldfield Productions is embarking on a brand new touring production for 2018, with Hansel & Gretel (A nightmare in eight scenes) being performed at the Lichfield Guildhall on Friday 13th July and at Lichfield Garrick's studio theatre on Saturday 14th July. The performances form part of the annual Lichfield Festival which, this year, runs from July 4 to July 14. With a newly commissioned extended poem by internationally-renowned writer Simon Armitage, chamber music by BBC Radio 3 embedded composer Matthew Kaner, and puppetry and animations by acclaimed artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins, the 65 minute production rebuilds the tale into a sinister fable for our times. Hansel and Gretel appear as two heart-rending table-top puppets (made by master woodcarver Jan Zalud), struggling in an unforgiving world of curious wooden forests, desolate villages and a fearsome predator. This artistic interplay is created live on stage and simultaneously projected onto a large screen.

Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel puppets by Jan Zalud. Credit Phil Cooper

Hansel & Gretel premieres at Cheltenham Music Festival, Parabola Arts Centre on July 7 before commencing its UK tour at the Lichfield Festival on July 13 and 14. The show, which spent nearly two years in the planning, was inspired by the Hansel and Gretel creations of artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins that first appeared in a picture book, and subsequently as a Toy Theatre for Benjamin Pollock's Toy Shop. It was a natural development to bring these ideas to the stage. Matthew Kaner's musical ensemble features an unusual dark-hued collection of viola, cello, cor anglais, bass clarinet and horn as well as the childhood sounds of toy pianos. It forms Kaner's first work for the stage. Artistic Director Kate Romano said: "Goldfield Productions are thrilled to work with this superb team. Our three artists – Armitage, Kaner and Hicks-Jenkins - have reimagined the famous tale for modern times, hinting at dark contemporary themes amongst the more familiar elements. Fairy stories remain our most vital connection with the minds of ordinary people - wonderful, shocking, humorous - and Hansel & Gretel embraces all of this."

Lichfield Garrick
Lichfield Garrick's studio theatre plays host to puppets

Hansel & Gretel (a nightmare in eight scenes) can be seen on Friday 13th July at 9.45pm at Lichfield Guildhall, and on Saturday 14th July, from 11am, at Lichfield Garrick's studio theatre. For more information, and to book tickets priced £12 each, either visit or telephone the Festival box office on 01543 412121. For further information about Goldfield Productions please visit
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Why? Dark and sinister re-imagining of the classic fairy tale
When: July 13 and 14
Phone: 01543 412121
Where: Lichfield Garrick, Castle Dyke, Lichfield WS13 6HR
Cost: Tickets cost £12
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