Blog: Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder

The co-artistic director of Box of Tricks theatre company on making theatre truly family friendly

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On Saturday we made our annual trip to Paines Plough’s Roundabout space for the fifth year in a row.

The first trip was in 2014 when our daughter was in utero, expressing her approval for the play – Lungs by Duncan McMillan – through vigorous kicking, and this last trip was the first with two kids, our now four-year-old daughter and her five-month-old brother. Thankfully it was a resounding success – it seems we have two theatre babies in the family!

Obviously, as artistic directors of a new writing theatre company, it’s a priority for us to introduce our children to a variety of cultural experiences from an early age, but often this means endless adaptations of popular picture books rather than the more challenging fare we were used to pre-parenthood. And although everyone loves The Gruffalo, don’t parents deserve a bit more variety? Just because you become a parent doesn’t mean you suddenly stop enjoying going to the theatre, you’re probably just too knackered to even contemplate leaving the house after 6pm for at least six to 12 months after your bundle of joy arrives!

Wouldn’t it all be so much easier if you could just take the baby with you to a daytime performance?

Wouldn’t it all be so much easier if you could just take the baby with you to a daytime performance? And ideally not one filled with school groups or a performance that finishes smack back in the worst part of any parent’s day: 5-6pm, commonly known as the “witching hour” – and with good reason.

Now, some theatres are already totally on board this train and welcome parents and babies to their relaxed performances – my son and I spent a very pleasant afternoon at the Royal Exchange recently – and some even host specific performances for parents/carers and babies, but it’s far from common. Do a cursory internet search for “parent and baby theatre Manchester” and you’ll find plenty of cinema listings but very little in the way of live entertainment.

With that in mind we decided that Box of Tricks needed to be the change we wanted to see. So we presented our first baby-friendly matinee in 2016 during our run of Plastic Figurines at New Diorama Theatre in London, and followed it at the start of this year with a baby-friendly performance of SparkPlug at Home, Manchester.

These events have proved incredibly successful and we’re delighted to be able to programme our third parent and baby matinee of Under Three Moons at the Lowry, Salford at 11am on Wednesday 25 September. Not only can you see a cracking piece of new writing, there will be a sensory space available from 10am for your baby to roam around and explore musical instruments alongside a variety of textures, sounds and colours.

Quality new writing and hot coffee in a comfortable theatre where no one will bat an eyelid if your baby fills their nappy, loudly babbles their approval or attempts a stage invasion – what more could any parent want?

Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder is co-artistic director of Box of Tricks Theatre Company. Under Three Moons opens at the Lowry on 24 September before touring to Huddersfield, Liverpool, Crewe, Hull, Leeds, Ormskirk, York, Newcastle, Mold and Whitehaven. The parent and baby matinee takes place at the Lowry on 25 September at 11am with a sensory space open from 10am for the duration of the performance (

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