As we roll into our third week with The King of Tiny Things, I am still continually
boggled by the talents of our cast, but my eyes are starting to open up to the
symbolic possibilities of our show. Not only through the medium of our circus
performers' skills, but through the creatures whose stories that we are telling.
On one level we see people playing garden insects, and can believe the creatures
journey on that level, but because it is a human on stage, we are able to draw
human lessons from the discoveries that the insects and bugs make. Without giving
away the story, there is something really beautiful in seeing the life cycle of a bug,
performed by humans on stage. I know that one of my anxieties (isn't it for
everyone) is a fear of change. Our Caterpillar goes through a fascinating and
enormous physical change in the show – it transforms into a Butterfly, an almost
totally different creature and it is understandably reticent about this. By watching a
human being undergo this, we can't help but be aware of our own fear of change. We
also see the butterfly emerge from a difficult period and embrace its true­ self,
unafraid to fly and newly confident. That kind of human message might fly above
the heads of our younger audiences, but the inbuilt symbolism means a story of
creepy crawlies has a deeper resonance for an older audience.

We are also dealing with the human story of two sisters growing up, and making
discoveries together in the garden. Just as our bugs are not always eager to move on
to the next stages of their lives, so our sisters, Chrissie and Jeanne, revel in the fear
and delight of their garden adventure, and wish that time could stand still. I think
everyone has those moments that they wish they could return to – the thrill of
unbridled play with a close friend or a sibling, the feeling of adventure late in the
garden, under the stars as the sounds of the night begin to surround you and take
over your imagination. The children that come to see our show, will share in that
sense of excitement as they sit in the theatre. So too will the adults that watch, but
their excitement will be tinged with the warmth of nostalgia that childhood
memories bring. Since we started rehearsing I know that I have recalled with
pleasure a particular Summer spent with my two best friends as an 11 year old. I
wonder if that is a coincidence? Perhaps. I think it more likely that in a period of
change in my own life (I only just left University and the whole world is seeming
really rather big and full of complexity) the stories that we are telling have begun to
speak to me, to fill me with a sense of longing for a blissful time in the past, as well
as hope for the future. The King of Tiny Things just might do the same for you. I
hope it will.

By James