A play on anxiety in young children will be performed at the Lyric Hammersmith on 5 February.
Butterflies, a play for children created to explore how young children experience anxiety that already toured in 2017 and 2018, comes back this winter with a new storyline on Covid.
In October 2021, UNICEF warned that children and young people could feel the effects of the pandemic on their mental health for years.
Nathan Curry, Butterflies’ director said: “Following the pandemic and the increase in anxiety we felt it was time to re-explore the show and share it again.”
Curry explained that the show was initially conceived by working with young people and noticing an increase in anxiety overall, but especially in very young children.
The director explained that they first launched a mindfulness programme to help dealing with worries.
“It felt like there was a piece of theatre to be made that was fun, energetic and thoughtful to explore how worry can feel inside you and how friendship, playfulness and sharing your feelings can get you through”, he said.
And that’s how Butterflies was born.
Thus, the story follows three friends on a journey filled with adventures that represent different stages of worry, as Curry explained, but they manage to face their fears by trying new things or looking after each other.
“During the piece the children are very animated and excited by the characters’ adventure and there is a powerful connection as they witness them managing their worries”, said Curry.
In addition, the director explained that the play focused on how some worries such as the fear of the dark or loud noises can exist in very young children, while others are learnt like the fear of getting things wrong, or what other people think of us.
In order to represent anxiety on stage, Curry said that the company uses images and movements to show feelings and atmosphere.
“We have three fantastic physical performers and a brilliant stage design to explore the various physical states of anxiety – being off balance, stuck, feeling the flutter for example”, he added.
As for the new Covid storyline, Curry said they did some research on ways the pandemic has impacted children and explored how people have coped.
Asked about the message of the show, he said: “That worry is a normal part of life, we all have it. It’s something you cannot avoid or completely get rid of but you can learn to know it, name it and work with it.”
As well as in venues, Curry explained that the show had also been toured in schools and will continue to do so.
“At the end of the piece we share a few mindfulness techniques with the young audience and they each get a small butterfly puppet to take home,” he said.
Regarding future projects, the director spoke about Belongings, a play on growing up in the care system.
“We are committed to making theatre for children that explores the complicated and sometimes challenging elements of growing up with a sense of play, fun and optimism,” he added.
Butterflies is a co-production between Half-Moon and Tangled Feet.
The two had previously worked together in 2015 on a co-production of Need A Little Help, also directed by Nathan Curry.
Butterflies is recommended for children from 3 to 8 years old.
The show at the Lyric Hammersmith is on February 5 at 11am and 1pm.
Admission is £8.
Featured image credit: Greta Zabulyte