Friday, 1 April 2016

Drama on the East Coast

I'm delighted to welcome guest-blogger Adrian Cory this morning. Adrian runs one of the most original and innovative start-ups I've come across in recent years - KidzDrama - which supplies scripts for parties, sleepovers, wet Bank Holidays, just about any occasion really. And as all parents know, it's almost impossible to think of something new for the kids to do and planning a party (that doesn't break the bank or hasn't been done before by the rest of the class) can be a nightmare. Step forward, Adrian...

Holidaying with the children when they were in their preteens was a simple affair. We’d rent a cosy caravan somewhere along the Suffolk coast, stock up on food that would squeeze into the bijou microwave and wait to see what the elements threw at us. When the sun shone, nothing beat crunching through the ubiquitous shingle of the more southerly shores of East Anglia and if the temperature ventured into double figures, we often braved the murky depths of the North Sea in lieu of any warm, turquoise Mediterranean waters. 

However, on the days when the coastal gales and horizontal rain were leaving red scorch marks on my children’s faces, we were forced back into the fibre-glass haven of the two-bed mobile home. With the storage heater on full blow, I would enthusiastically encourage the playing of world-class board games: Cluedo, Trivial Pursuit, Frustration and Ker-Plunk! among others. This was, however, before the days of the smartphone and the tablet and the thrill of these competitive tests had a finite shelf life. After several days of weather-enforced confinement and the constant, torturously-loud beating of rain on the caravan roof, I was met with a mutinous cry: “Find something else for us to do…or it’s no more washing up!”

This ultimatum was indeed a challenge. As a child, my parents always tasked me with washing up at weekends and on holidays; it was the only way to open up the world of sweets and 45 rpm singles via pocket money earned. I was determined to pass this burden onto my own children as soon as they were old enough to know which side to dry a carving from. I didn’t want the chore back on my holiday roster, that’s for sure.

Suddenly, an idea! I picked up the video camera.

“Okay, guys, here’s what we’re going to do.”

Blue one eyed me suspiciously and pink one just huffed and waved the remote control at me by way of suggesting daytime television would be eminently better than any scatterbrain plan of mine. 

“You two are going to write a report on something that’s happened while we’ve been away and you’re going to present it like a real newsreader. I will video it on the camera, so it’s like you’re in a proper news studio.”

“Does the story have to be about us or can it be about anything?” said blue one.

“Can we dress up and wear make-up like Fiona Bruce?” said pink one.

As I confirmed these barriers to the task as non-barriers, the pair happily began planning their news story and their wardrobe. (Although, to be fair, the wardrobe was less of a deal breaker for blue one!) I set up the camera and after an hour of pencil chewing, word scribbling and applying of Bratz eye-shadow, we were ready for the local news live from Bawdsey Quay. The kids had even crafted an impressive BBC logo which they positioned as a backdrop. 

Pink one delivered a perfect monologue describing how a golden Labrador had fetched a long stick out of the sea and, as it walked back up the beach to its owner, managed to knock a 99 Flake cornet out of a toddler’s hand with the end of said stick. The ensuing screaming and wailing could be heard for miles and only abated when full reparations were made by the dog’s owners. 

Blue one spoke briefly about the latest space shuttle launch.

We played the resultant video back a few times and both were particularly pleased with their efforts and the masterful filming proved a fine addition to our holiday video archive (ahem!). 

“Why don’t you write a whole news programme, Dad?” said pink one. “Then we can act it out.”

This then was the inspiration for my first play, Panic in Toy Town. I had the newsreader commentate on the ensuing credit crunch and how it was affecting the characters of Toy Town. I then built in roles for the family to play out as part of the script. It was a limited version which was fun to do and, ultimately, the basis of what is now a full Kidz Drama comedy play. 

I didn’t take the idea forward as a business project properly for another seven years. Back in September, pink one picked up another play manuscript she’d discovered lying around and found herself giggling at the antics in The Missing Pyjama Case. She said it was about time I put the plays on tinter-web. Which I did. 

And now other families have access to what are essentially “space fillers”; children’s plays which can be enjoyed on holidays, quiet weekends or rainy days. They are also ideal activities for kid’s parties and sleepovers; the result of just one parental idea borne from a summer of drama on the east coast.

Adrian Cory

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