5 minutes with… Oliver Birch

Secret Santa at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal from 17 - 24 December Kendal Town Centre at Christmas (photo: Cumbria Tourism)

Introducing 5 minutes with… Oliver Birch..

Who is… a writer and composer. I’ve made a brand new Christmas show for the Brewery Arts Centre called ‘Secret Santa’. It’s a new story set the night before Christmas when Father Christmas is preparing to deliver his presents. But he’s pestered by the cheeky girl who lives next door, Holly, and makes a big mistake which jeopardises his ability to deliver the presents and there’s a good chance that Christmas might be cancelled…

Secret Santa is at Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal from Saturday 17 – Saturday 24 December

Tell us more… It’s an all new Christmas story with reindeer, dolphins, crocodiles, ostriches and other creatures from the zoo. But most of all, the story involves a very naughty pig called Sausage. What’s different about this project is that it’s been tailored to Kendal and the Lake District. It’s set in Kendal, where it plays, and street names and references pop up in the script. I believe a story has power when it refers to the place where it’s being told.

Why is this special to you… I love Christmas and animals! So I wanted to find a way of combining the two! It’s lovely to be given the opportunity to write a completely new play as well; so many theatres up and down the country have to put on a limited number of Christmas stories; you’re sure to see a load of Treasure Islands and a few Wind in the Willows this year.

What can audiences expect… Lots and lots! Music, played live by a musician, a host of crazy characters, a beautiful set by the wonderful Leah Sams, lots of jokes and physical comedy, a bunch of naughty animals, and a chance to get up close to see how Father Christmas manages at this time of year!

Reindeer-pig! Featuring in Secret Santa at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal from 17 - 24 December
Reindeer-pig! Featuring in Secret Santa at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal from 17 – 24 December

If you could name only 3 unmissable cultural hot spots or events in the Lakes – what would they be… Well Brewery Arts Centre itself is a must, being a cinema and a receiving house for comedy and theatre, and producing its own work. The Beatrix Potter museum is great fun for little ones, and I bet the Dickensian Festival in Ulverston is really fun.

In a nutshell how would you describe the cultural offer in the Lakes… The Lakes has such a wide cultural offering; lots of different theatres show a whole host of stuff, Lantern parades, a hot house for visual artists and of course a huge cultural history what with Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Not to mention that the whole place itself is a work of art…

And after a cultural adventure in the Lakes, where would be your ideal place to eat or stay… I stayed in a tiny cottage in Grasmere last Christmas with my family and ate in lots of the wonderful cafés in the village.

And we just have to ask.. if you could choose one view in the Lakes where would that be… A few years ago I walked up Easedale Tarn in the snow. The tarn was frozen and the sky was blue. That was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

// Secret Santa, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, from 17 – 24 December

Secret Santa is a spellbinding seasonal story of friendship, childhood wonder and Reindeer-pigs!

Secret Santa is at the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, from Saturday 17 – Saturday 24 December.

Book tickets at the box office 01539 725133, or visit the Brewery Arts Centre website

Secret Santa is the new Christmas show at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal from 17 - 24 December
Secret Santa is the new Christmas show at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal from 17 – 24 December