Whether it snows or whether it doesn’t, a big white beast called The Snow Bear will be going on the prowl this weekend.
This is a new winter show told and performed by storyteller Chris Bostock and musician Ken Patterson who call themselves Hearthside Productions.
The show, inspired by Norwegian folk culture, embarks on a 40-date tour this weekend with two performances in South Shields.
Chris is a man who can spin an engrossing tale out of thin air and keep a young audience in the palm of his hand. But for this show his story-telling powers will be augmented by live music (cello, tuba, accordion, ukelele), magic, puppets and projections.
The Snow Bear tells of a polar bear who is taken away from his Arctic home and embarks on a series of adventures with mischievous elves, goblins, trolls and a friendly tomtem – spirit – who helps him to find his way back.
The tour will include lots of audience involvement with young children taking part in music and storytelling workshops. They are also invited to take their own bears.
Chris Bostock, a co-founder of storytelling troupe A Bit Crack, has 22 years of storytelling experience and was formerly director of Tyne and Wear Theatre in Education Company which put on shows for young children at the old Gukbenkian Theatre – part of what is now Northern Stage – in the 1980s and 90s.
He and Ken are both based in Newcastle and have worked together for more than 20 years.
Chris says: “We wanted to create a special programme for family audiences with stories and music that people can take away and perform at home.
“So we’re using puppets and a miniature theatre to help tell our stories and hope to inspire the next generation of performers.”
The show, with a set by Alison Ashton, puppets by Alison McGowan and a minitaure theatre by Jon Codd, will open at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery on Saturday with performances at 12 noon and 2pm.
Other public performances will take place at The Alnwick Garden (December 6, 13 and 14), The Kirkgate Centre, Cockermouth (December 12), and St Mary’s Heritage Centre, Gateshead (December 20, 21, 22 and 23)