Just messin’ about on bikes…

Getting toadily excited over a bike-based shoot for exciting new hip hop musical, In the Willows, from Metta Theatre.

Way back last May, a late night shoot with Metta Theatre and their Artistic Director Poppy Burton-Morgan, took me to East London, with the heady scent of petrol fumes in the air.

Perhaps not quite the atmosphere or location you’d expect in a poster shoot for a new adaptation of pastoral children’s classic Wind in the Willows But then, Metta specialise in telling political stories with imagination, creating, bold, dynamic and contemporary stagings.

No surprise then, that their hip-hop inflected ‘Willows’ involves pulling wheelies on a mean hog, rather than messing about in boats on the river.

Working with as heavy prop as a motorbike meant managing some inescapable safety issues (flammable vapour and electrical lights, heavy machinery crushing fragile limbs etc), but with the right planning and proper care in the shoot, we were able safely to capture the sort of dynamic, in-movement imagery that designer Rebecca Pitt’s 90s hip-hop brief demanded.

The first stage visuals were followed up by the addition of cast portraiture, including Tracey Beaker actor and Oliver Award-winner Clive Rowe, to help co-producers including Exeter Northcott, sell the show to a broad audience.

Of course, visuals are only one facet of successfully marketing the show, with brilliant promo videos and a PR campaign that saw the performers on Blue Peter and Poppy on Front Row. Now that the tour is out on the road, it’s also generating some fantastic reviews.

But it’s nice to feel that helping create such a visually striking campaign is a part of the show’s success. Can’t wait to see it at Richmond later in the year.

In the Willows is on tour now. Book tickets