We asked Jude Christian, the writer of our Christmas 2023 show The Snow Queen, some questions to get to know her, and the show better!
What can audiences expect from this show?
A snowy, magical adventure that’s sometimes serious and sometimes silly. Lots of big characters and high-stakes stories – and hopefully a song or two…
Can you tell us a bit about what inspired this adaptation of The Snow Queen?
The original story is mainly about three things: firstly the brilliance and vastness of the world (and especially of nature – how many amazing plants and animals there are, and the incredible ways our planet moves and changes); secondly it’s about bold human beings making big decisions about where to go and what to do within that huge, dazzling world; and thirdly it’s about how important friends are – and how our friends can drive us mad, but they shape who we are and we don’t want to lose them! This adaptation is about all those three things.
What are some of your favorite winter/Holiday traditions?
Wrapping presents and decorating trees are my favourite bits – and eating roast potatoes.
Can you share a little about how you got to where you are today?
I used to make up stories all the time when I was little (my friend and I ‘published’ a book of illustrated stories which we tried to flog round our village, but no one bought it, unsurprisingly…), and I fell in love with theatre through singing songs from musicals (obsessively, constantly). When I went to university I found out what directing was (up til then I wanted to be an actor) and spent years training and working to expand my skills and grow a freelance career…then after years of directing new plays, I started writing again – partly because I found myself wanting to do it more and more alongside directing, and partly because there were stories I wanted to tell and I didn’t think anyone else was going to tell them.
So now I do lots of different things (writing, directing, helping other people develop their work) in lots of different forms (theatre, music, film) for lots of different audiences (I love making work for young audiences and families, especially at Christmas), and I love the way that every day brings something new and different.
Can you walk us through the process of writing shows?
I like having some time at the beginning for ideas to swirl around – whether it’s plot, characters, themes, or very specific moments that just feel like they should be brought to life – and to develop those ideas with the other people involved in the show. Then eventually I’ll plan the structure, and after that I’ll write a first draft (which usually ends up wandering away from that structure plan). Then it’s really helpful to hear the script read aloud by actors, and to get feedback from collaborators about their reaction to the story and style, and which bits feel like they’re working or not.
On a second draft I tend to make really big changes – some things get edited, and others get chucked away completely, with new things emerging especially alongside the director and designer developing their ideas. For a rehearsal draft, I try, and I think about what it would be like to hear/see all of these things live in a theatre (is it exciting, does it make sense, do moments last long enough) – and then in rehearsals it all changes again in response to what the director and performers bring…
How has this show been different to your other previous projects?
I love the theatre auditorium at Polka – it brings an audience together while also allowing for really spectacular visuals and action, and that’s had a big impact on our approach to telling story in this production. There’s an intimacy that means we can speak directly to the audience, but there’s also a lot of space for that audience to lose themselves in the action of character-driven scenes and big spectacle.
Lastly, what is your favorite aspect of writing for this type of audience?
I was obsessed with stories when I was young – whether it was books, films, games, or live performance – I loved imagining my friends and myself on adventures that were fantastical but also dangerous and emotionally high-stakes. So, I think my favourite aspect of writing for young (and family) audiences is trying to create those kinds of stories, the ones that younger-me would have wanted to experience again and again.
The Snow Queen runs between Saturday 11 November to Sunday 21 January. Recommended for ages 6-12, tickets from £10*. Book your tickets here.