Blog: Save the Bees – Introducing Children to Big Ideas through Theatre

In making Me & My Bee, we wanted to take on the challenge of creating a show for families that delivers a big idea to small people. Our focus is on how to tell the story, get the message across so that they can engage in the subject in a positive and active way. If we can get the next generation active now, the future starts to look better.

Children are surrounded by complicated, difficult and challenging situations all the time – divorce, poverty, injustice, the list goes on. We wanted to tackle climate change. One simple story within climate change is the frightening prospect of the bees’ decline, and with it, the demise of the planet. Me & My Bee is about helping to save the world by saving a bee.

The thing is, on one level, the situation is very simple. If we don’t take care of the bees, our planet will collapse. For example, we rely on bees to pollinate one third of the crops we use as food and, apparently, Albert Einstein said that without the bees, humans have 4 years left to live. The show is just as much about humans as it is about bees, but we think bees are a good start.

There are so many things NOT helping the bees it all gets a bit much. Climate change is just “AHH!”, urbanisation is growing at an alarming rate and we aren’t going to pretend we can take on a huge pesticide company with a load of scientific proof we don’t personally have.

It’s not so much that we were concerned that the children in the audience wouldn’t understand – it was more that we didn’t want to give them nightmares! We needed to address the subject ensuring that there was a hopeful solution to a big problem and to deliver the story with fun – we definitely don’t want to stun children (or adults) with the serious gravity of the situation.

Me & My Bee is a political party, disguised as a party party, disguised as a show. We chose to create a form that addressed the audience directly. We decided to do this because we wanted to make sure that they knew that the show was for them and it needed to be listened to.

We wanted the show to have a lively immediacy.

We wanted to make sure that the piece was both informative and entertaining.

We wanted to share the mission with them – we wanted them to feel they were part of the show and that the show was part of something bigger. And, if we were going to make a show for an audience with children in it, about a huge, real world problem, we wanted some sort of solution. We knew from the very start of the making process that our audience would leave the show with a packet of seeds. Planting flowers is one thing we can do – it feeds the bees, helping them, and therefore us, to survive. That’s where the narrative came in. It’s very simple and we’ve all seen it before (more or less). It’s a classic Bee meets Flower love story. Only, our Bee’s Flower disappears. The Bee goes on a mission to find his flower but it has been replaced with a building (obviously…). Luckily though, there are plenty of bees out there in the real world whose stories haven’t even started yet. We give audiences party bags (packets of seeds) so they can connect what they’ve seen at the theatre with the real world they lived in.

The plight of bees has been a cause for concern for years now. And, yes, on the micro scale, the show is about bees, but it’s also about their effect on our own ecosystem. We think it’s important that we live in a society where respect for the environment is part of your upbringing. We want to connect children directly to the world they live in so they can begin to understand the impact they have on the planet they will grow up on. We hope the show makes audiences think about how to take care of the smaller things, of cause and effect, and to consider the planet we live on, before it’s too late.

In August 2017, we (Lucy Adams, Joe Boylan, Greta Mitchell and I) took the show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, we are now taking it on a UK tour! We are putting the saving of bees (and climate change) into children’s own hands. And as newly fledged members of the Bee Party, it’s up to them to make a difference no matter how small. That’s the big idea. Save the bees. Save the world.

Me & My Bee begins its UK tour at Southbank Centre 10th – 12th Feb (part of Imagine Children’s Festival) and tours throughout 2018. For further info, please visit: www.thisegg.co.uk

Josie Dale-Jones

Josie Dale-Jones

ThisEgg was founded in 2010 by a group of young women passionate about creating and producing their own work. Since then, Josie Dale-Jones has continued to self-produce shows with a variety of artistic collaborators under ThisEgg. ThisEgg makes intimate theatre that connects with audiences, moving them to laugh, cry and imagine; prompting them to ask big questions about the world we live in. ThisEgg devises original work which mixes theatrical styles, celebrating different forms of entertainment. You can follow Josie Dale-Jones on Twitter @JosieDaleJones