Marking the first time the Central Library has been used as a pop-up venue for Edinburgh Festival Fringe, SLIME will bring The Herd Theatre’s playful storytelling adventures to the heart of Edinburgh for young children and their families. Writer Sam Caseley and director Ruby Thompson spill the beans on their surreal and slimy adventure for 2-5 year olds.
Can you tell us a bit about what SLIME is about?
SLIME starts in a garden’s undergrowth. There’s no food left except for one delicious leaf hanging high, surrounded by a pile of poisonous pellets. It’s here that we meet Slug and Caterpillar. Caterpillar thinks Slug is gross, they’re covered in slime, they have terrible taste in music, and they’ll never become a butterfly. Slug doesn’t trust this arrogant caterpillar – if they get to the leaf first there’s no chance of sharing. They’re both starving so the competition is on. Faced with poison, the threat of humans and their own differences SLIME is a play about prejudice, self-worth and friendship.
Where did you find inspiration for the show?
Everyone seems to hate slugs, humans are constantly trying to destroy them. We wanted to make a show that celebrates this creature that gets so little love. Then we started to make the show and found out more about slug’s slime – it’s amazing stuff. It’s sticky and slippery at the same time, it helps them climb, helps them escape predators, helps them find their way, helps them find each other – it’s basically their superpower. That got loads of ideas going!
We also wanted to make a high quality, innovative theatre experience that really catered to our audiences needs.
This is the first time Edinburgh’s Central Library has been used as a Fringe venue. Are you looking forward to performing there?
Edinburgh Central Library is a beautiful building, full of stories, and we can’t wait to add one more. The team at the Library are really excited to be part of the fringe, of being able to offer their regular family visitors a opportunity to see some theatre, and attract new families to the library.
Being in the library also means we have a fringe luxury – being able to leave our set up. This is perfect for SLIME as our set is a giant, immersive foam garden with a squishy floor and soft grass walls on every side. Basically a giant bit of undergrowth is going to land in the library and live there for the festival.
We’ve also published a book of the show, with illustrator Shoo Rayner and Hull Libraries (who we’re associates of), so a library feels like a good home for the show. The books will be available after the show so you can carry on your slime journey after the show’s over.
What is it like making theatre for children aged 2-5?
In many ways it’s no different to making theatre for an audience of any age, we work a hard to tell a story in a dynamic way that will keep audiences engaged throughout. There’s a few ways we open it up to a younger audience – for example in SLIME we only use a handful of words, 12 nouns which are also signed using BSL. This ensures the really young one’s can engage without having to understand too much language. We’ve also worked hard on the design to ensure our audience can engage with the show through touch, as well as sight and hearing, as kids this age engage with the world a lot more through touch than we do as adults. We’ve got squishy cushions to sit on and squelchy slime to play with at the end!
We also always work with children to make our shows and we partnered with McMillan Nursery in Hull to make this one. Through running ideas past the children here and testing different bits of the show we can make sure that all elements of the production work for them. The idea’s we get through these workshops are nearly always the best.
We’re part of the Hull Takeover, which see’s 5 companies from Hull up at the fringe, and we’re glad to be making sure that audiences of all ages can engage with this.
Slime has become a global phenomenon. How do you use it in the show, and are you fans of the gooey stuff yourselves?
For sure. We’re nostalgic for the slime-like gunge of our 90s childhoods, and are definitely prone to watching a slime video on Instagram every now and then. In the show Slug is very proud of their slime; they use it for sticking stuff together, for healing themselves and for a very special use towards the end that I can’t reveal – you’ll have to see the show! If you check out our Instagram @theherduk, you can catch some slime videos that Slug and Caterpillar have made.
SLIME is playing at the Pleasance Pop-Up: Central Library (venue 462) from the 2 – 26 August at 11.15am. You can buy tickets here.