Skip to main content Skip to site map (in footer)

Child's Play

  • Date: 30 September 2011
  • Area: North
Pupils from John Ruskin School performing Child's Play at the South Bank Centre

Pupils from John Ruskin School performing Child's Play at the South Bank Centre. Credit: courtesy of Grizedale Arts

Commissioned specifically for the Festival of Britain Celebrations, Child's Play is a musical play written by Ray Davies, produced by Grizedale Arts, and performed by pupils from Coniston's John Ruskin School. The play, together with the music, provides a commentary on aspirations and disappointments through six decades of modern life since the 1951 Festival of Britain.

The world premiere formed part of the finale of the 60th anniversary celebrations of the festival and took place at the Royal Festival Hall in London on 4 September 2011. The six pupil-actors worked with Ray Davies, Grizedale Arts, the director, the musicians and the school over the summer to develop and refine the production.

Child's Play is directed by Russell Peet, a former pupil at the school, and the score by international and inter-generational music figure Ray Davies is performed live by Sam De La Haye and Arthur Mazzer. Child's Play will go on to be performed at Coniston Institute in the Lake District on 16 December.

Ray Davies is best known as the lead singer of The Kinks and is respected across the generations as one of the most influential singer-songwriters that Britain has produced. He has also acted, directed and produced shows for theatre and television. This year he was curator of the Meltdown Festival at the South Bank Centre.  Kinks songs used in Child's Play include Well Respected Man, Where Have all the Good Times Gone, You Really Got Me, All Day and All of The Night, Dead End Street, and Waterloo Sunset.

The performances at Coniston Institute are part of Grizedale Arts' campaign to revitalise this local village hall, which was originally a Mechanics Institute for the miners of this small Lakeland village and was redeveloped by John Ruskin in the 19th Century as a prototype community arts and education centre. Grizedale Arts are working with the village to find a new future for the building based on new cultural activities and social development projects that will bring the institute back to life.

Grizedale Arts, an Arts Council regularly funded organisation and a member of our national portfolio from April next year, is one of the UK's most influential and significant contemporary art organisations. It is a curatorial project intended to exist in a continuous state of development, from its origins as a sculpture park to its current form as a complex network of international alliances, affinities and programmes emanating from and flowing into this particular location in the heart of rural Cumbria.

On the back of its influential artists' residency programme, Grizedale Arts has organised arts programmes all over the world, whilst developing its home base and associated programme around the farm project at Lawson Park. They have devised a public art strategy for the West Cumbrian town of Egremont, have managed The Coniston Water Festival, and have initiated a series of broadcast projects as Grizedale TV. These diverse activities are underpinned by an ethos of sensitive enquiry and curiosity. Grizedale has experimented with a range of strategies to support artists to produce extraordinary work and to replenish their practices. It promotes a new vision of art and life, working across geographical and cultural zones, that aims to challenge the conventions and dominance of metropolitan culture.

For more information visit Grizedale Arts website.