Theo Hubble; Audience Member and Mr Wilson’s Second Liners Fan! (Big Feast August 2015)
The Big Feast is Appetite’s largest strategic event. Held on August bank holiday weekend in Stoke-on-Trent’s City Centre it is visited by thousands and spectated by hundreds of shoppers and pedestrians. This year’s event hosted wooden parlour games, aerial acrobatics, a poetry takeaway, south-Asian dance and many more promenade performances. The event was preceded by a short taster programme,’Takeaways’ in which Appetite introduced some of the acts to towns located in the far North and South of the city. These areas had been previously identified as areas of low Appetite engagement.
We met 5 year old Theo and his mum Amy during Mr WIlson’s Second Liners’ act at the Big Feast. Theo and Amy live in the nearby town of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
As it was nearly the end of the summer holidays, Amy took Theo to Freeport (a shopping mall in Stoke-on-Trent) to buy some new things for his return to school. Located towards the North of the City Freeport was identified as an Appetite ‘Takeaway’ venue – a taster programme to increase arts engagement in the North and South of the City. One of the acts on show was Mr WIlson’s Second Liners, a New Orleans style brass band that play 90’s club classics.
“As soon as he saw Mr Wilson’s coming down the escalators Theo was mesmerised. Discovering Mr Wilson’s inspired him so much that after he first saw them he put his arms through the handles of a carrier bag and hit it with sticks, like a drum.”
In Freeport they were handed a Big Feast programme and discovered that the band were playing in Tunstall (another Takeaway location) the following day.
“We hadn’t heard of Appetite before this but wanted to go along to see Mr Wilson’s. We also saw ‘The Lift’ in Tunstall which we also enjoyed”.
Deciding that they would go to the Big Feast and see the band for a third time Theo asked his mum if she could make a ‘Mr Wilson’s’ costume. They both went about sourcing clothing and accessories for his costume.
“He really wanted a pink jacket but we couldn’t find one. We couldn’t get a red one either so we decided to use an old jumper. Theo chose the buttons and all the accessories to go with it. He even wanted me to make an instrument so I made all six!”.
Amy mentioned that she is not musical or particularly crafty but will “have a go” at making things for Theo. Amy mentioned that Theo loves music, drama and dance so likes to engage his vivid imagination in any way possible.
At the Big Feast Theo’s costume caught the attention of the band and they encouraged him to join them.
“We’ve made lots of great new friends in Stoke. Meet Theo everybody, he’s ace.
He came to a few sets this weekend and joined in on a couple of tunes!”
(Quote taken from Mr Wilson’s -Facebook page)
Since the Big Feast Amy has kept in touch with the band via social media and has sent them photographs and updates about Theo. She has also sought advice from the band about music education and what instrument may be most suitable for his age.
“They suggested that Theo take up ukulele lessons when he is 6 (next month) and progressing onto the trombone at 8.”
For his next birthday Amy and Theo’s dad have bought him a ukulele.
Amy and Theo have since seen the band in Morecambe and Chatsworth house. Amy has also seen them at a bar in Manchester. Amy firmly believes that watching and meeting Mr WIlson’s has been one of the biggest influences on Theo’s life so far.
“He has something to say about them every day. He’s just said to me that when he is
older he wants to start his own band”.
Amy said that due to work commitments Theo’s dad has been unable to watch Mr Wilson’s as much as they have. However she added that he has seen the change in Theo since meeting the band.
“Theo’s dad saw them twice at the Big Feast and loves how this experience has changed Theo.
It has built his confidence up so that instead of clinging to my
leg he’s gets up and gets involved now.”
Amy believes that Theo’s love of Mr WIlson’s has bought them closer together. They have shared creative interests; Theo is inspired to make things and Amy creates things with him to build on Theo’s artistic skills.
“Mr Wilson’s has brought us together as a family. I feel closer to Theo because of it. This is because we make things together and he’s always happy with the outcome”.
Since the first encounter Theo “has something to say about them every day”. Amy has downloaded mp3’s from their website to listen to while they are in the car. They share their love of the music and dance and sing along to it.
Theo also has pictures of the band on his wall and has written their name on the driveway using chunky chalk during Mr Wilson role play activities.
The family now look for other events to take Theo to.
“Now we’ve got something we know he likes, we keep our eyes out for other things to take him to. We’ve not found anything else quite like it yet but we’re not sure where to look. However Mr WIlson’s have also recommended we see Flame Oz so we’ll see them to when we go to the Chatsworth House gig.”
During our interview Theo drew this picture:
What themes would you use to categorise this case study?
Family; skills development; personal development; confidence; inspiration; creative action; cultural appetite; performance; music.