In a slight detour from my usual delightfully raucous Storytelling work, 2016 saw me working in partnership with Penguin Random House appearing as their official Beatrix Potter. This year saw the 150th anniversary of her birth and I toured an interactive family show around major literary festivals, music festivals, bookshops and story centres up and down the country. Quite often Peter Rabbit himself would join me on stage to help tell his story and to lead us in song and dance. Every single child left with bunny ears, stickers and a limited edition writing book which encouraged the themes of creative literacy explored in the show.
The casting came as a surprise to me. No to dreadlocks, no to tattoos, no to fantastical, multicoloured, flying, fairytale coat and bad monkey impressions. Yes to starched cuffs, yes to high neck blouses, yes to pocket watches, yes to sensible, boots and cut-glass annunciation. However, through honestly fascinating research I found that we had more in common than I first expected. A deep love of the countryside and an appreciative eye for beauty in the small really rang true for me. Her love of fungi (a study of which she put into a hitherto unpublished scientific paper) and no small amount of absurdity fuelled her days in her beloved Lake District. Any woman that can put a waistcoat on a frog or mop cap on a hedgehog clearly has a mischievous heart and as such I painted my Beatrix with these colours. Deliciously silly, delightfully mad and thoroughly serious about both endeavours.
The celebrations are now over and my Beatrix has been retired, but we had a blast together, as did the 1000s of children (the young and old ones) who came and listened with their hearts as well as ears.