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The South East sees a festive season of great art

  • Date: 21 December 2011
  • Area: South East
a girl and a boy are wearing wooley hats and holding candy canes

Hansel and Gretel, The Berry Theatre, 2011. Credit: photo courtesy of The Berry Theatre

This winter sees a wonderful array of theatre productions and exhibitions to delight and dazzle children and adults alike, all supported through our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts programme or through our regular funding programme.

From Oxford to Folkestone and from Milton Keynes to Basingstoke, there's plenty on offer this December and January to fill you with festive cheer including pantos, grottos, and an exciting new work from choreographer Hofesh Shechter and sculptor Anthony Gormley.

Strangeface's The Amazing Adventures of Pinocchio, The Stables, Milton Keynes - 20 December 2011 to 24 February 2012

The multi award-winning mask and puppet theatre company Strangeface have pulled off another great classic, The Amazing Adventures of Pinocchio. Based on the original story from Italian children's author Carlo Collodi, the story follows the loveable Pinocchio's and his madcap adventure and follies, set to live music and song.

The Amazing Adventures of Pinocchio has a run at The Stables in Milton Keynes from 20 December to 7 January and then does a regional tour (with a one-off show in Tyne and Wear) through to February 2012. Strangeface's show is supported with a £9,987 Grants for the arts award.

Strange Cargo's The Cheriton Grotto, The Factory, Cheriton - 1 to 23 December 2011 - free

Folkestone public art organisation Strange Cargo, an Arts Council regularly funded organisation, have put together a magical winter grotto in Cheriton that pays homage to Charles Dicken's classic tale A Christmas Carol and the town itself.

Set inside an old factory, The Cheriton Grotto contains over a thousand little houses, a floor size Ordnance Survey map of the area and one hundred local voices reading Dicken's A Christmas Carol. Visitors will also have the chance to decorate a house to add to the map room.

The Grotto is the first project in Strange Cargo's programme of new work that aims to bring extraordinary creative interventions to unexpected places, creating more art opportunities for the Cheriton and Morehall area. The Grotto is supported with a £10,000 Grants for the arts award.

Peter Pan, The Anvil, Basingstoke - 8 December 2011 to 2 January 2012

The Anvil, an Arts Council regularly funded organisation, presents their yearly family pantomime. This year, it's Peter Pan and stars Ben-Ryan Davies (Waterloo Road) as Peter Pan, Pete Hillier (Cbeebies' Boogie Beebies) as Smee and Gary Turner (Emmerdale) who returns to The Anvil as Captain Hook. So far the show is a hit with all ages.

Hansel and Gretel, Berry Theatre, Hedge End - 12 to 24 December 2011


The Berry Theatre presents their first festive production, Hansel and Gretel, a retelling of the classic Brothers Grimm tale complete with music, puppets and humour.

Hansel and Gretel tells the story of materialistic brother and sister who grow bored of their beautiful handmade wooden toys carved by their father, the Woodcutter, and demand shinier plastic toys. On Christmas Day, their father abandons them but a carved wooden bird saves the day.

Hansel and Gretel is produced by The Berry Theatre, Peut-être Theatre, Unpacked and Hiccup Theatre and directed by Berry Theatre's Sarah Brigham. This work is part of a larger children's theatre programme supported with a £74,000 Grants for the arts award.

Pegasus's Grimm and Grimmer..., Pegasus Theatre, Oxford - 9 to 30 December 2011

As part of Pegasus's 50th year celebrations, the Oxford youth theatre produces a special Christmas show Grimm and Grimmer..., with a comedy fairy tale adventure in which the Brothers Grimm and their sister Lotte become trapped in their own fairy tales. The show is full of physical comedy, absurd jokes and magical illusion. Featuring special guest appearances from Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Tom Thumb, Little Red Riding Hood and Rumplestiltskin subject to their availability. Pegasus is an Arts Council regularly funded organisation.

Survivor, Barbican, London - 12 to 14 January 2012


Looking beyond December, art lovers may be interested in the world premiere of Survivor, a dynamic new collaboration between two of the UK's most acclaimed artists: choreographer Hofesh Shechter and sculptor Anthony Gormley. The piece was commissioned by the Barbican and is described as an original score by Shechter set in a visual landscape by Gormley.

Survivor premieres at London's Barbican Theatre 12 to 14 January 2012 and is supported with a £95,000 Grants for the arts award. Hofesh Shechter Company and Barbican are both Arts Council regularly funded organisations and Hofesh is a Resident Company at Brighton Dome.