19 August 2020 / Poel Workshops

What Did You Do…..? (2) A Wise Child and a Little Angel


PHOEBE HYDER was a 2020 Poel Workshop applicant.  As well as performing as an actress she creates much work as a puppeteer, movement director and puppetry director, working across stage and screen.

As an actress at the very start of her career I found it hard to comprehend but also grieve for something that I was only just getting my foot in the door of.

Many early-career artists like myself have felt the blow of lockdown harder than most established artists for the very simple reason of not being established… it’s back to the beginning as you try to build up the momentum and network you were just getting a grasp on. But despite the lack of ‘in the room’ opportunities and the prospect of tangible future work, lockdown has presented me with some awesome ways to keep theatre alive that wouldn’t have come about otherwise.

Firstly, I was part of theatre company Les Enfants Terribles’s creation Prism, an online theatre production, along with a collated cast of 2-3 minute clips from artists all over the country. These were made in isolation by the artists, the brief being: ‘a world to escape to’ and from there you could run wild. As a puppeteer, my world was of pictures coming to 3D life before your eyes, while others created hilarious characters and bizarre worlds. The project is all spun together in a web that the audience can navigate at their own will and can enter to escape the lockdown fog whenever necessary.

Next, for me keeping theatre alive means developing your practice and I had the phenomenal opportunity to do just that by being part of Emma Rice’s: ‘School for Wise Children Summer Spread’. I received a place on the Movement Direction course via Zoom headed by Etta Murfitt. Coming out of lockdown I think the need to diversify your work and be as multidisciplinary as possible will be paramount to getting employed and surviving, so having this opportunity, time and space to develop my work as a movement director is something I’m incredibly grateful for. A happy surprise presented by lockdown!

Then, Little Angel Theatre is a special place for many; it was one of my first employers when leaving drama school and is an important theatrical corner stone for many schools and children across the country. The theatre receives zero government funding so during lockdown, in both a campaign to get donations but also to continue providing theatre for families, freelancers from LAT were asked to record themselves reading a children’s story for the theatre’s media channels. I had the pleasure of reading ‘The Little Match Stick Girl’ which I enjoyed revisiting immensely. Over lockdown Little Angel have released 18 weeks worth of resources, videos, online puppetry shows, making tutorials, courses and stories – all free to enjoy; an amazing feat to have been a part of.

Lockdown, with its abrupt stopping, has enforced a sense of calm perspective and time to reflect upon your practice as an artist. I’m looking forward to seeing how our industry slowly starts to reopen, as we gradually move out of lockdown and hopefully towards finding a vaccine. Perhaps that’s one last thing lockdown has surprised me with, how artists all over the country have embraced and reignited an open-hearted giving nature towards the work and others… something we can all agree our industry has been well overdue an injection of!