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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA



Theatre can seem like a poor place to be in the summer. But the Lowry provides things that you (and the kids) can look forward to.

Firstly some FREE entertainment as an exhibition by the prizewinning children’s authors Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler who have created some of the world’s best-loved, and best-selling children’s picture books, including The Gruffalo, Zog, Room on the Broom, The Smeds and the Smoos, and most recently, The Baddies.

It will feature several of Julia Donaldson’s personal writing notebooks, containing the very first ideas and creative thinking behind her picture book stories. This will be the first time that they have been shown as a collection, giving visitors a chance to see how her work has developed and changed over the years. These will be shown alongside Axel Scheffler’s original artwork, showing the process of his illustrations from sketches and works in progress, to full page final illustrations that readers are familiar with seeing in the finished books.

The exhibition will also look at Julia and Axel’s own personal stories and their brilliantly creative partnership and how this has developed over 30 years. The exhibition explores their stories through three key themes:

  • ‘Highways’, brings together stories where Julia and Axel’s characters embark on new exciting journeys - from ‘the deep dark wood’ with The Gruffalo and across the sea, so wild and free’ with The Snail and the Whale to blasting into space with The Smeds and the Smoos.

  • The second theme celebrates ‘Heroes’ – from the super-long and super-strong Superworm, to the little girl in The Baddies, who shows us that you don’t have to be big to be brave, and George, the smartest – and kindest – giant in town.

  • Lastly, ‘Home’ focuses on stories with families and friendships at their heart; from Stick Man, reunited with his ‘Stick Lady Love and stick children three’, to the Tales of Acorn Wood, home to many animal friends.

And the Julia and Axel-themed fun will not be confined to the Galleries space, with activities taking place throughout The Lowry. From selfie ops with a large Gruffalo statue outside The Lowry’s main entrance to earning a gold star at the Zog Academy in the Pier Eight lounge, and story sessions at The Highway Rat Storytelling Camp, and interactive role play at The Gruffalo Play Kitchen, there’s loads happening at The Lowry for families for the duration of the exhibition.

If you like dance then get ready for Message In A Bottle, a new dance theatre production by Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Kate Prince, set to the music of 17-time Grammy Award-winning artist Sting and presented by Sadler’s Wells. Message In A Bottle sees a village alive with joyous celebrations suddenly come under siege. In the chaos, three siblings – Leto, Mati and Tana – are separated from their parents. They undertake a perilous journey to new lands and set out on their own extraordinary adventures. Songs include Every Breath You Take, Roxanne, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Walking On The Moon, Englishman In New York, Shape Of My Heart and Fields Of Gold. So you can sing along to music you grew u. with.

Next Zog is coming with performances from the 4 August to 3 September.

Large in size, and keen in nature, Zog is so eager to win a golden star at Madam Dragon’s school, where dragons learn all the things that dragons need to know. Zog tries so very hard, perhaps too hard, and he bumps, burns and roars his way through years one, two and three. Luckily, the plucky Princess Pearl patches him up ready to face his biggest challenge yet…a duel with knight, Sir Gadabout the Great!

And finally the return of the much-loved family favourite; Everybody is talking about Jamie from the 7-17 September

Jamie New is sixteen and lives on a council estate in Sheffield. Jamie doesn’t quite fit in. Jamie is terrified about the future. Jamie is going to be a sensation. Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight.


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