Take flight with two new friends as they soar through clouds, fly over distant seas and circle faraway lands. They touch down in mysterious new places and discover oceans to swim in, rocks to clamber over and bridges to cross. But where will they fly to next?
Lift-off on a journey full of music, physicality and zooming paper aeroplanes, where sometimes the skies are not as clear as we first think.
Developed with children who have shared their experiences of losing loved ones, Paper Aeroplane sensitively explores loss and bereavement, the challenges we face when trying to move on, and how we can help one another along the way.
Paper Aeroplane was a Lots of Odds production that toured nationally as part of Half Moon Presents. This took two phases, a short run in 2020, with a remount in 2021.
The production was filmed in Autumn 2020 for digital screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic. A British Sign Language interpreted recording was also made available. The films premiered on 14 November 2020, with repeat screenings throughout December 2020 and January 2021. Alongside the films were three online creative learning workshops for audiences to take part in at home, exploring the themes of the show. All the films had closed captioning for d/Deaf and hard of hearing audiences. From Autumn 2021 the production has been available to watch via Half Moon’s On Demand service.
Paper Aeroplane was an Off West End OnComm Award finalist for Best Show for Children. This award was introduced to recognise the best work that was presented online or broadcast during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
The filming of Paper Aeroplane was made possible by funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, distributed by City Bridge Trust through the London Community Response Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players for making this possible.
“The performance handles grief and loss in childhood in a thoughtful way that somehow manages to be playful.”
Tower Hamlets Mum
“A warm and tender show.”
Amber-Rose May is a director, performer and theatre maker who specialises in creating thought provoking and magical theatre for young people, allowing them to explore and understand important topics. She is the director and creator of Paper Aeroplane, a brand new musical journey full of physicality and zooming paper aeroplanes that sensitively explores loss and bereavement for ages 3-7.
In the interview below, Amber-Rose reveals more about the show, the inspiration for the story, and why it is important for everyone to understand and talk about the different stages of the grieving process.
Tell us a little about Paper Aeroplane. What’s the show about?
Paper Aeroplane is a show for 3-7 year olds that sensitively explores bereavement, the challenges we face when trying to move on, and how we can help one another along the way.
Two friends are brought together on a musical adventure and, with a few bumpy flights along the way, they learn that grief can be felt and displayed in many different ways; sometimes in ways we don’t even understand. However, with the help of one another, we can get through difficult times and find hope along the way.
Why did you choose to stage this show?
To help talk about grief through bereavement. Everyone, at some point in their life, is going to lose someone or something they love. What to do, how to feel and how to process the feeling of loss can sometimes be difficult to fathom. I wanted to create a show that helps us start conversations about the processes of grief and display emotions in a way that is accessible, relatable and understood by children through adventure, play, friendship and music.
What was the inspiration for the story?
The inspiration for the story came from my sister, close friends and young people who I have worked with: all of whom have lost parents and close relatives of their own. Time heals pain, but no matter how hard we fight, grief can catch us out sometimes and make us feel unbalanced. Hearing other children share stories about the time they lost their loved ones really hit home, and I knew from that point on I wanted to inspire other young people to talk about their loved ones, cherish the good times and make lots of memories along the way.
How did the piece come to fruition?
The piece was curated with children and young people all of whom had lost their mother or father. Through a number of drama and storytelling workshops, we collectively came together, shared the feelings they had experienced, made memory jars, and wrote letters to the loved ones we had lost. The letters were then folded up into paper aeroplanes and we launched them into the sky.
Standing side by side and flying the paper planes there was instantly a sense of relief. It was such a simple, effective moment that I will treasure forever. At that point I knew I had to tell a story about how we can help one another in the most simplest of ways, which can make a massive difference to our lives every single day.
Why do the issues covered in Paper Aeroplane particularly resonate with you?
The issues resonate with me because I truly believe that talking and trying to understand that feeling sad, angry, hurt, isolated, shock, denial and acceptance are all part of the grieving process.
Having lost my parents at a young age, I know how difficult and how different grief can be for children and young people. Seeing a show like this may make a big difference to their lives, and that is what makes theatre so special, exciting and magic.
How do you want audiences to feel during / after the show?
Happy, joyful, hopeful, sad, surprised, delighted and free. I hope that audiences feel that they can speak about losing someone or something more freely. They can walk away understanding that grief isn’t just about feeling sad, it comes in many forms of emotion.
Finally, describe Paper Aeroplane in three words.
Musical, adventurous and reflective.