Little Bulb: Bright Ideas

8 Dec 2023
Four Seasons. Photo Paul Blakemore

The glorious Little Bulb Theatre Company are award-winners in their work for young children. We're so thrilled they took a Christmas break to spend the season with us in the cosy Weston Studio. 

Let's find out a little bit more about them from Clare Beresford, Co-Artistic Director...

Tell us a bit about Little Bulb?

Like a lot of theatre companies we started out as a group of friends that met at University (Kent Uni in our case) and loved working together. It's been over 15 years since then and in essence not much has changed in how we make our shows. However, being lucky enough to become an NPO means we've been able to grow and work with a bigger team including having our own Producer, Finance & Marketing Manager and lots more ensemble members which is wonderful and makes a lot more things possible - including this run, which we’re thrilled about!

Is it good to be back in Bristol? 

We absolutely love working with Bristol Old Vic and bringing shows here! The Weston Studio is one of our very favourite studios spaces and it's just such a treat for us to be doing a Christmas show here again.  Having previously made Antarctica and The Night that Autumn Turned to Winter with BOV for the old studio space we're thrilled to return a third time. We really love the new space, and being in Bristol in general - the audiences here are great! So yes, very happy and very grateful to be back!  

How did Four Seasons come about?

The idea of doing a show about the seasons set to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons has been in Alex's (LB Co-Artistic Director & Director of Four Seasons) head for a long time. His son had a book about the music that contained snippets of it explaining what they represented and he was really inspired by that and how theatrical the music is. 

I'd also seen an outdoor aerial performance to a Max Richter version of it a few years back and whilst it was kind of terrifying watching aerialists hang from enormous cranes, it was also just absolutely stunning seeing that and hearing it live! (I also couldn't get my head round how the violinists were performing it so well in such freezing weather) so I think we all just love it as a piece of music and were really excited by Al's idea of trying to portray it physically.  

We did consider making it totally silent but it felt right that the animals made noises and once that had happened and the humans started chatting it just felt like a show that was full of everything; music, props, mess, text and movement - it all felt right to be in there. 

Once you start exploring the Four Seasons there's so much you can pack in - we mostly had to decide what to leave out, especially in spring and summer when everything is bursting into life; we could have done a whole section on insects alone but were inspired by the music to condense it down to just the ones that hang around the picnic table - namely flies and lots of wasps!

What will audiences take away for the show?

Firstly, we hope audiences will have a really fun, enjoyable time watching the performers running around, clowning with the props to transform them into different weathers and animals etc, and that maybe they too will have a go at making some props of their own out of bits and pieces lying around their homes. But mainly we hope that they have a renewed sense of appreciation in the natural world around them and that the children are inspired to plant the seed paper that everyone is given after the show and have the chance to watch something grow that they've planted themselves.  

Having recently got into gardening myself it is just miraculous to me every year what grows out of bulbs and tiny seeds. Also, watching the cherry blossom tree outside my window become all the different versions of itself is a mesmerizing and incredibly beautiful reminder that nature contains everything - not just life, and warmth and growth but also decay, frost and hibernation, and there is a place for it all in a perfectly balanced cycle.

Would Vivaldi be a fan, do you think?

Well, a lot of what is in the show, Newbie the dog and the farmer, for example, are characters that we were inspired by Vivaldi's own instructions on the piece. There is a sound that alludes to a barking dog in the second movement of Spring and the accompanying sonnet also mentions a shepherd, so I think he'd enjoy that they're characters that run throughout.  Also, as well as being able to capture the beauty of the seasons I think you can tell from the music that he's got a pretty good sense of humour too so I think he'd be amused by our interpretation (if not a little baffled by all the modern objects) and very happy that his piece was still being listened to and loved, especially by children.