Rachel Colles’ Festival Adventure at El Mes Petit de Tots, Sabadell

30 November 2022

Theatre Maker and Artistic Director of Dirliebane Theatre, Rachel Colles, spent a few days at El Mes Petit de Tots Festival, Sabadell, as part of Starcatchers’ Artist Development programme, Playspace. Read more about her festival experience: 

What an amazing treat to be invited by Starcatchers to be a delegate for the El Petit Festival in Sabadell, Catalonia this November.

This was a new experience for me and I didn’t know what to expect. Definitely not that I would be going without my usual partner in crime and co-director of Dirliebane Theatre Company, Fiona, who had injured her hip a few days before and sadly couldn’t come. I did have the great pleasure of getting to know Gemma and Rhona from Starcatchers, and Skye Reynolds, who were the other delegates on the trip, and it was a highlight for me to discuss our likes and dislikes around what we saw. Eight shows in three days!! A lot of babies, toddlers and their carers! A little bit of Sabadell, quite a lot of tapas and a few large gin and tonics. It was brilliant to meet so many interesting people from around Europe and talk about our work, funding, politics, weather and the similarities and differences in our experiences of making theatre for young people.

I had some real favourites amongst the performances. Semilla (Seed) by Compangnie Tea Tree from Belgium was a gorgeous piece playing with waiting for a seed to grow. Infused with fun, lovely character contrast, amazing movement and a lot of mess, it was my kind of show.

I also loved Univers (Universe) by Engruna Teatre from Catalonia. Based around galaxies of stars and neurons in the brain, this was a beautiful space full of interesting objects which the children could engage with immediately alongside the performers. There was an interesting structure and excellent live music; but most of all I just loved watching the children and babies negotiate the space and the performance.

Throughout the Festival, I found it very interesting to observe what seemed to engage and what didn’t seem to engage the children (and myself) and why it was different in different situations. Sometime I liked when characters had contrast and changes in pace and energy, but I also loved some shows where the characters were essentially very similar. I liked when the show looked beautiful, but that was very clearly never enough on it’s own to keep the children interested. I really enjoyed the physical comedy and gymnastic dance in lots of the work, but it did make me ponder that–as a middle-aged woman who can barely touch my toes–I might not be totally suited to making European theatre for under fives!

Luckily, us at Dirliebane are clowns–so we’ll just truly believe we are amazing gymnasts when we continue the development of our new piece, Sit, Stand, Lie.