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Gilly Baskeyfield (Nest)

Q) To begin with, please could you tell us a little bit more about your role as artistic director and M6 theatre company?

My role at M6 is to look after the artistic programme of work that M6 creates with, for, and by young people. We create original touring productions that we hope is high quality, relevant and innovative for children and their families. We tour to schools, community settings, arts venues and theatres all over the country. Our secondary work tours mainly to schools and youth settings and is produced to provoke important peer conversations about some of the complex challenges they are dealing with. M6 also has a really vibrant youth theatre programme for local children and young people aged 8-18, running lots of outreach projects in our local community. We work with amazing artists who really help us to create theatre experiences that can inspire and transform young lives.

Q) How would you describe ‘Nest’ to potential audience members?

Nest is a playful and joyful view of the world through the eyes of two crows, Piper and Birtle, who are looking for a place to call home. They build a nest in the only tree left in a city so that they can care for two very precious eggs. The human world is so full of fascinating objects that the nest is soon filled to the brim with stuff and the two birds have to act quickly to avert disaster and keep their eggs safe. It’s got a great, well told story and is underscored by beautiful music, has some very catchy songs and some wonderful design. Our two performers make really excellent crows and the large-scale props have delighted the young audiences who’ve seen it so far.

Q) What was your inspiration for writing ‘Nest’?

I think we knew we wanted to create an environmental show. We work with thousands of children and young people ever year and they have really serious concerns about the climate crisis and their future. As Nest is for very young children, I hoped to nurture a love and respect for the natural world with the show because I think that’s how we can be encouraged to care. Children (and me as it happens) love animals and so we decided to explore having animal characters so that we could see the world through different eyes. Crows are incredibly clever creatures – they’re sociable, inventive and adaptable and they really fascinate me. Inspiration has come from many different places. We took a very simple idea into R&D and with the help of some fantastic artists, Nest started to emerge.

Q) Why do you think it is important for young children to engage with pieces of theatre similar to ‘Nest’?

Theatre experiences can be truly magical for young people. They can really support children’s understanding of the world, of themselves and of others. M6 believes in the power of theatre to transform young lives and this is why we work in so many schools in our home base of Rochdale, where a great many children are not in the position of being taken to the theatre at the weekend. We think every child should have the chance to be transported, to be moved, to be excited and filled with the joy that live theatre can bring.

Q) What are you hoping audiences take away from this production?

Well, I hope audiences, young and old, will enjoy the emotional journey the show takes them on. It’s funny and fast paced but it is also tender and moving. We are always pleased to hear how much parents and grandparents enjoy our shows alongside their children. Perhaps Nest will inspire some interesting conversations on the way home about what’s important to us, but I also hope it has audiences singing and looking out for crows and magnificent trees!

Photography by Lewis Wileman


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