Words: Sarah Beresford
When I was 'little', I grew up on a diet of 80s tv, the era of 'Hi De Hi ' with Ruth Madoc, and 3-2-1 with Ted Rogers and the infamous Dusty Bin. Whilst I was watching these iconic programs from home, Lowri Madoc, daughter of actors Philip Madoc and Ruth Madoc was experiencing tv and theatre productions first hand as she tripped around to theatres with her famous parents. At the time, Lowri admits that she took her experiences for granted - as do many children growing up - but reflecting back she realises just how interesting and good it was.
And it was this experience that led Lowri to write a series of six books for children - starting with Hetty `Backstage - that are both fiction, but also semi-autobiographical. The setting for Hetty Backstage is the life of a child who follows their parents around to different theatres, stages, and productions. Below is a video nib from a recent interview with Lowri about her debut book.
On reading Hetty Backstage, it is clear the colourful and vibrant descriptions really reflect Lowri's love of life backstage. And it's infectious. My feeling is, that the book is a great way to demonstrate that there is 'more to acting than just acting!'. It's a really fun book to read and you feel that it will encourage children to try other roles backstage as well as consider taking part in plays and acting. So for those children who do not relish the thought of being in the limelight, but would like a piece of it, then this is a great book to read. It reveals the skills, creativity, technical know-how, and dedication needed for a production to appear seamless.
As with Hetty, Lowri's favourite dressing room backstage was the dancers because, in Lowri's words, 'They were all so gorgeous...their costumes and their shoes.' Lowri recounts that 'there's a bit in the book about what trinkets and stuff are on the dancers dressing tables, including the cards and the letters from their boyfriends, and my youngest son, said: "mum why did you put that in the readers head about boyfriends". I said because they were gorgeous and so fabulous and he said: "Just like you mum!". Now, if one of my kids said that to me, they would have serious 'brownie' points! You never know what kids take out when they are reading.
That said, there are few key messages running throughout Hetty Backstage - themes including being truthful, facing her fears, and having confidence in herself. When I asked Lowri about any messages in the book, she highlighted her aim to leave the reader with an overall positivity.
Lowri says ' It's important for there to be some message in the book. Having gone through books with all my kids, they either may have read them because they thought they should or read them because they have been told to, but the ones they enjoyed most have been happier ones.'
Lowri continues ' I think as you get older you are able to deal with more complex issues, but because I was aiming at that transitional age 7/8 year olds, it's more about reading fluency. It's an achievement when they get through books on their own, and it helps to build confidence in their reading.'
Lowri's writing draws on her own life-experience of being in boarding school, and also the reality of living with divorced parents who both worked in the same industry. Hetty's theatrical adventures is a lively and enjoyable read, and there's even a glossary of terms at the back to help increase your child's knowledge and understanding of the theatre.
<<Lowri Madoc, Author.>>