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Our entertainment manager Dawn has been putting on theatre shows at Willows Activity Farm for 15 years. She tells us about a typical day, her favourite characters and her most memorable moments on stage.
“We’ve had a jam-packed schedule during Easter, so every day has been crazy. We’ll do up to 10 shows a day during the holidays, so beforehand we’ll be doing lots of rehearsals as well as sourcing props, and writing and recording all of our own songs.
“We’re very excited about our new character, Mr Tod. He’s our first baddie! We’ve had lots of fun with booing and hissing during his shows.
“Everybody loves the Peter Rabbit shows too – he’s the top man, very brave and adventurous. Benjamin Bunny is my favourite, he’s adorable. And Lily Bobtail is great too, she’s very clever and always gets things done.
“We work on ideas for shows all the time. One idea I had was from a dream. We did a show where Benjamin Bunny had the hiccups and wanted to get rid of them – and the children helped. That came from a dream I had about one of our theatre people, who had hiccups in the costume!
“I’ve been here for 15 years now, so I know the kind of things children like and being interactive is always fun. It’s great seeing them singing along.
“I’m actually a classically trained actress and went to The Royal Central School Of Speech and Drama and I’d done a lot of Shakespeare over the years. Then one day my agent called to say she’d found me a casual job on a little farm.
“I thought it would just be one season, but I loved it – and eventually started running the shows. Now, I don’t really remember not being here. Willows has got bigger and bigger over the years, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every change.
“In the summer, I might work on my scripts in the afternoon by Golly’s field – he’s a Shetland pony and I’m addicted to him. He’s the only one who’s been here longer than me. Sometimes he’ll come over where I’m sitting and look over my shoulder while I’m working.
“Some days can be very long and it’s tough staying focused, but I work with a great team. They make me roar laughing and we have a massive amount of fun.
“One of my favourite moments, was when Lily Bobtail took a dive on stage. We were doing what they now call ‘The Horrific Troll Song’ – it’s very quick, lot of jumping and spinning around. All of a sudden she was lying next to me, flapping around like a fish. That was very funny! You don’t want things to go wrong, but when they do it’s hilarious.
“One thing I love about being at Willows, is that because I’ve been here so long, I know everyone and everybody knows me. And, that can be funny sometimes, even when I’ve left for the day – like when I’ve been running for a plane at Stanstead airport and I’ve had children running behind me, saying my name because they recognise me from the farm!”