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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | October 20, 2020

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School Holiday Sugar High with Opera Queensland's Hansel and Gretel

School Holiday Sugar High with Opera Queensland’s Hansel and Gretel
Claire Matthews

Looking for some magical performances to keep the kids entertained these holidays? Opera Queensland’s Hansel and Gretel has you covered.

Hansel and Gretel is one of the most-loved operas ever written, a classic now reimagined by Opera Queensland and shake & stir theatre co for the 21st century.

Hansel and Gretel journey into the dark forest, but what will they find? An enchanting story, Hansel and Gretel transports children and adults alike to a world of magic, sugar and gingerbread.

From Monday 6th to Thursday 9th July at West Village, in West End, the workshops include a video stream of the opera, with a visit from the two featured sopranos.

Jessica Low (mezzo soprano) and Irena Lysisk (soprano) will be present to interact with the kids, and teach song, dance and drama, experimenting through play.

We had a chat to Opera Queensland artistic director, Patrick Nolan, on the workshop series.

The Creative Issue: What inspired you to produce the Hansel and Gretel workshop for primary school children?

Patrick Nolan: Hansel and Gretel is one of the most told fairytales and operas across the world, every year. I think that’s because it contains some really basic truths about growing up and the rites of passage as a child, understanding that what you want and what’s good for you are not necessarily the same thing. In that quality, we wrote a story that we originally put together to tour in schools, as part of our education program. We played it to over 15,000 children across the state. We’ve got a partnership with West Village, and they approached us and asked if there was something we could do with them for the school holiday period. We thought it would be good to bring this production back to life, particularly in this time.TCI: How did you decide on the video stream and live teaching format for Hansel and Gretel?

PN: Part of the production has quite a lot of video in it, in the original production, so that was kinda of a natural segue to go from the video elements within the production to sharing the production itself a week later in a beautiful video format. So, we could have that as part of the presentation. Then, we can have the real singers there from the production telling the story as well. So, students could experience the whole production but also have the opportunity to stop and talk to the performers as well. So, the two women who play Hansel and Gretel are present. They are there to stop the video and answer questions, and sing, so it’s a very interactive process in telling the story. Students can experience the story as it is but also then there are moments where they can push pause and interrogate the story.

TCI: Given the disruptions to school this semester, how important is it to you to provide an educational arts experience?

PN: It’s always important to bring the arts into the education, into the classroom. The arts have the ability to bring a different perspective on how we understand ideas, and how we relate to each other. We’ve all been going through a very challenging and stressful time the last few months, in our relationships with each other and how we work, all the usual things we take for granted have been taken away from us. I imagine for children that’s particularly difficult to understand. Imagine as a child not being able to hug your grandparent, or not being able to go and play with other kids.

I think what the arts can do is give us ways into understanding why we are being confronted with this challenge, and give us a different perspective on how we are dealing with the challenge that is currently placed in front of us. Hansel and Gretel in this context is very much about two young children going on an adventure, where they face death, basically, they’re kidnapped by the witch. The witch certainly isn’t the virus, but there are certain connections there.

We thought this production is relevant, particularly at this point in time where we’re all asking what’s good for us and how to take care of each other, which are kind of the key themes in Hansel and Gretel.


Hansel and Gretel workshops with Opera Queensland start on Monday. Grab some tickets for the kids and take them far from isolation into a world of magic.

The Details:
Who: Opera Queensland & shake & stir theatre co

What: Hansel & Gretel school holiday workshop

Where: West Village, 97 Boundary St, West End

When: Monday 6 July to Thursday 9 July
Time: 9:30am – 11:30am

Age: Suited for primary school aged children, parent/guardian to also attend

How Much: Tickets are $15 per child – includes bento box morning tea by Cheeky Poke

Tickets: Audiences can book via the West Village website.
Numbers are strictly limited to ensure safe social distancing is maintained throughout the workshop. Parental supervision is required and limited to 1 adult per attending child.

Images supplied.