A spongy new adventure for Big Imaginations audiences


A spongy new adventure for Big Imaginations audiences across the North West
A brand new commission for Early Years children sees Big Imaginations pushing the boundaries of creative play.

Z-arts, 335 Stretford Road, Manchester, M15 5ZA

Big Imaginations is continuing its wonderful obsession with bringing brilliant children’s theatre to the North West with a brand new commission for 2016! This time it’s an adventure with Sponge.

Who remembers the gorgeous early years show “Shiny” that Turned on its Head brought to Big Imaginations in 2014 or 2015? We’re bloomin’ delighted that they’re back in 2016 with a new, squishy, spongy kind of a show, commissioned by Big Imaginations especially for early years.

Sponge embraces all things spongy. Alluding to a child’s ability to soak things up ‘like a sponge’, a lovely piece of cake, or simply the springy, squashy, malleable, texture which fascinates us and children alike. Set to an original score fused with 1970s interludes by composers such as Henry Mancini, the performers will reveal and explore small and large scale sponge environments and props for children to squash, roll, pop and squeeze.

Liz O’Neill CEO of Z-arts in Manchester who head up the Big Imaginations consortium said: “We’re so excited to be able to be able to bring Turned on Its Head back for a brand-new special adventure to delight Big Imaginations audiences across the North West. It’s so important to give babies and toddlers the chance for creative play with something so visually spectacular to inspire and entrance them.”

Sponge will premiere at Just So Festival in August before travelling the country before ending its tour in 2016 at The Barbican in London for a series of Christmas performances before continuing to delight and entertain early years children and their grown-ups in 2017.

Turned on its Head is led by dance artists Liz Clark and Oksana Tyminska, based in the East Midlands. Through the success of “Shiny” the company is now acknowledged to be creating great theatre for children aged 6 months to 4 years (enjoyed by parents also!) and pushing the boundaries of participatory theatre.

Artistic Director Liz Clark says: ”We want to make theatre that places experiences of the child at the heart of it. For me, making this work was a response to the frustrations of taking my own non-hearing son to theatre performances and him not understanding that he couldn’t get on stage on touch the magical world that was being presented. Oksana and I wanted to create theatre that was close up, personal, invitational and above all, inclusive. Why shouldn’t a child’s first experience of theatre be about being so close to the performer they can touch them?

We also want to co-create our theatre with our audience. What you’ll find when you come to see our work is that the children become immersed in the theatrical experience on their own terms and our performances give space for engaging and respecting each child’s response. We incorporate improvisation with the children and their families as active participants in telling the story. The result is beautifully moving theatre which is about each child’s own journey.“



If you are a Big Imaginations venue and would like to book the performance for your venue please contact Zoe Pickering

  • For further information, images, or for interview / press review ticket requests, please contact Laura Stevens or 0161 226 1912.
  • Big Imaginations is a region-wide group of venues and promoters dedicated to bringing brilliant children’s theatre to the North West. From grand auditoriums to rural village halls and everything in between, our mission is to spark the imagination of children aged 0-12 with the wonder of theatre.
  • Big Imaginations headed up by Z-arts has brought together 15 venues to make the North West’s children’s theatre offer bigger, better and more affordable. For a full list of venues involved and work programmed visit.
  • Big Imaginations is supported by Arts Council England through a 3 year Strategic Touring Grant. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives.
  • Turned on Its Head was created to push the boundaries of performance for children under 5 and their families. Creating the company was also a direct response to my many frustrations of taking my own non-hearing son to theatre performances for young children and him not understanding that he couldn’t access the performance in a kinaesthetic way. For him, and for most children, I felt that theatre needed to be a close up, personal, invitational and above all, inclusive.
  • Liz Clark has been nominated for an Arts Foundation Fellowship, a national award which supports artists who are considered to be making new and innovative work before they reach the stage of being well established.
  • Commissioned and produced by Big Imaginations. Co-commissioned by Spark Arts for children
  • Produced with thanks to Attenborough Arts, Curve and Sydney Heath.


January 19th, 2016

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