Little Angel Theatre turns 60 with a year of celebration

This year our little theatre is turning 60, and we’re celebrating with a year of new and adventurous puppetry.

Little Angel first opened its doors on Saturday 24th November 1961 when a troupe of enthusiastic puppeteers under the leadership of John Wright found a derelict temperance hall in Islington and transformed it into a magical little theatre, specially designed for children and for the presentation of marionette shows.  Now under the leadership of artistic director Samantha Lane and executive director Peta Swindall, boundary-pushing puppetry is at the heart of our unique theatre, which ignites the imaginations of the youngest minds and equips tomorrows puppeteers with the skills to become world-class artists.  

We’re kicking off celebrations with a ‘choose your own adventure’-style live digital production of Sean Taylor’s Where the Bugaboo Lives, broadcast on Zoom from 14 March – 2 May, on sale now. Find out more and book tickets here.

Subject to government guidelines, we hope to be able to reopen our doors for live performances from the week commencing Monday 17 May. We’ll be opening with a brand new musical production of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s The Smartest Giant in Town, adapted by Barb Jungr and Samantha Lane (the team behind The Singing Mermaid and The Pixie and the Pudding). Tickets on sale soon.

We’ll also be taking celebrations online, with a new series, The People Behind the Puppets, interviewing a different puppetry designer each week from 1 April. Our Watch, Make, Share series will continue with a new digital short and accompanying craft activity every two weeks.

We’ll also continue to engage with our community, with a digital tour of our suitcase show designed for hospitals, If Not Here… Where? and a brand new project called The Wishing Tree, which will see magical trees pop up all over Islington this summer.

Looking forward to the year ahead, artistic director Samantha Lane and executive director Peta Swindall introduce the first half the 60th Anniversary season:

‘The new season kicks off with an adventure-style play for an adventurous year as we continue to find advanced and innovative ways to engage our audiences digitally with a new production of Sean Taylor and Neal Layton’s interactive story ‘Where the Bugaboo Lives’. Each performance will be different as young audiences ‘choose their own adventure’ while they watch, deciding which way the story goes.   Following this, we cannot wait to welcome audiences back to our theatre, as soon as it’s safe, to see our new production of Julia Donaldson’s much-loved story about helping others in need ‘The Smartest Giant in Town’ and look forward to collaborating with Fierylight for the first time.  We are also kicking off a new digital interview series ‘’People Behind the Puppets’ to celebrate 60 years of the world-class artistry at the heart of Little Angel. We hope it will inspire the next generation of puppet makers.  

Created from ideas and stories from young people at Great Ormond Street, our production of ‘If Not Here…Where?’, toured hospitals and hospices throughout the UK last February.  Now at a time when young people in hospital feel more isolated than ever, we are so proud to have created a digital version of the show enabling it to tour again in a Covid-safe way this summer.  We also hope to brighten up the streets of Islington with a special project this June ‘The Wishing Tree’ inspired by a new poem by Joseph Coelho.  Our community is at the heart of everything we do and this is a wonderful chance to celebrate our birthday with them. 

We have been overwhelmed by the response from children, local and far afield, to our Watch, Make and Share free digital series created in response to lockdown. We hope it has made a difficult time a bit brighter for our young audiences and are thrilled to be able to continue to create new digital shorts and activities for families to enjoy throughout the year to come.’

If you’d like to support us during this landmark year, you can find out how to do so here.