Natasha Rickman is a director who has previously worked on Twelfth Night (Rose Playhouse), Comedy of Errors (RSC), Time Machine (Creation) and more recently several digital shows such as A Virtual Reality and Merry Wives of WhatsApp (Creation Theatre).
She spoke to us about her latest project, an interactive Christmas show with Iris Theatre, The Snow Queen: An Online, Storytelling Adventure.
Who inspired you most growing up?
I think that would have to be a combination of my mum and the Spice Girls!
What can we expect from this reimagining of the Snow Queen?
It’s a story that we all need to go on together with Holly the storyteller – so there’s lots of interaction. We need to make ice palaces, rowboats, pretend to be royalty, and disco dance in the snow, or Holly can’t turn the pages of the book and find out what happens at the end. As well as the brilliant Leda, who plays Holly live, we also meet cartoon characters who can speak to the audience, as well as puppets along the way.
What can we find in the downloadable activity pack?
There are lots of Christmassy things to do like baking, word searches, write your own stories and colouring in. It also has instructions on how to make your own crown, which you can use at key points when you watch the show – or throughout if you like! Why not?
How have you found the process of adapting shows for digital audiences?
I love how collaborative the projects are – it’s like rehearsing, tech-ing and dressing a show all at the same time. I also find the importance of that live connection with an audience even more vital in the current circumstances.
Have you noticed any changes in your approach to developing online shows, such as A Virtual Reality and Merry Wives of WhatsApp?
It’s something I’m fascinated by, and I learn something new every time I make or watch an online show, which is really exciting for me. I spend a lot of time just playing and researching before making something new online, which is how I discovered the app to make our character avatars which now feature in The Snow Queen.
Why do you think it’s important to continue to produce theatre at this time?
Because, more than ever, I think we need to escape into a really good story, and to feel the sense of connection that being in a live audience brings.
What do you think makes the story of The Snow Queen so timeless?
It’s a story about friendship, and bravery and love. I think we need all of those things always – and especially in 2020.
How have you found hope and solace in this difficult time for the arts?
I am really lucky to have an amazing support network of friends and family for which I’ve been so grateful. Seeing live audiences in the digital theatre pieces I’ve worked on has also really lifted my spirits – I’m terrible for crying in the curtain calls when you can see everyone waving!
Any other projects you’d like to tell us about?
I’m also directing A Christmas Carol for Guildford Shakespeare Company and Jermyn Street this Christmas, which is for older family audiences.
If you had to live in one season (winter/spring/summer/autumn) for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
Ooh, that’s tricky – probably autumn. I love pubs with real fires and autumn walks when you don’t get rained on!
Why should people tune in to this version of The Snow Queen?
We talk every day in rehearsals about how excited we are to have audiences with us because children and their big people are at the heart of this show and this production. We hope it’ll make you laugh, cry, and give you a chance for a disco dance too!
The Snow Queen available online until 26 February