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Interview: Enjoy an Instrumental Break!

Writer and Director Mia Jerome tells us about The Instrumentals

It’s great to see new work being written for young audiences and The Instrumentals, coming to the Little Angel Theatre this season, promises to be an upbeat, fun production. We took a few minutes to catch up with Mia Jerome who is the show’s writer and director, and ask her a bit about what she has planned.

Hi Mia. So a brand new piece of work is coming to town! Can you tell us about the story and how you came to write it?

Hello! It was inspired by my own experience at my Grandad’s funeral. In the Caribbean, we celebrate those who have passed over. At the time, this was really difficult for me to understand because I missed him so much. I started to think more about this idea during the pandemic, when so many children were forced to think about death and what that means. Sometimes we don’t have the difficult conversations with children until we are forced to. 

The Instrumentals is about a little girl called Belle who is at the wake of her Grandpa. Feeling sad and confused, she slips down into the basement to hide from everyone – and there she meets all of her Grandpa’s old musical instruments. They teach her all about his life and help her honour his memory. It is a joyous celebration of love and legacy.  

Tell us about your cast. Are they African Caribbean performers?

Yes, both of the performers are people of colour. Maya Manuel plays our main character, Belle, and also puppeteers Jacques the Sax. She has roots in Zimbabwe. Wait until you hear her sing!

We also have Elliot Liburd who multi-roles as Mike, a very chatty microphone, and Kit & Cyril, who make up an argumentative drum kit! Elliot is a very talented and capable performer whose family hail from Nevis. He’s very funny. Watching them both explore these characters in the rehearsal room has been a joy. 

And you have some puppets in the production? Who has created those for you?

Our puppets have been created by the wonderful Oliver Hymans. He is incredibly talented and they are magnificent. They have so much character, and that’s before a puppeteer gets their hands on them! It’s so wonderful to see all my original ideas for the characters come to life. 

As the music complements stories from the African Caribbean diaspora what kind of instruments can we expect to encounter? Will they be familiar to young audiences or will we see something unusual?

We have a synthesiser, saxophone, drum kit, harmonica… I believe all of the instruments will be familiar to audiences, and all of our original music is inspired by sounds of the seventies and beyond. The music was created by Féz and Cal-I Jonel – I feel very lucky to have worked with them both. 

What messages or feelings are you hoping your young audience will take away with them?

The Instrumentals is a joyous and hopeful story, even though it centres around loss. We can get through the most difficult times when we have our family and friends around us and a song in our heart. 

There are additional family workshops alongside the show. What will they involve?

Our workshops will give people the opportunity to create an instrument based puppet! You can book here.

Thanks so much to Mia for taking the time to chat with us about this fabulous new production.

The Instrumentals plays at The Little Angel Theatre from Friday 10 February to Thursday 16 April 2023. Further information and bookings here.

About Mary Pollard

By her own admission Mary goes to the theatre far too much, and will watch just about anything. Her favourite musical is Matilda, which she has seen 16 times, but she’s also an Anthony Neilson and Shakespeare fan - go figure. She has a long history with Richmond Theatre, but is currently helping at Shakespeare's Globe as a steward and in the archive. She's also having fun being ET's specialist in children's theatre and puppetry, and being a Super Assessor for the Offies! Mary now insists on being called The Master having used the Covid pandemic to achieve an award winning MA in London's Theatre and Performance.