The Tin Soldier

Hans Christian Andersen’s first ever children’s story is about two people who find each other in a rough tough world – although, like winter, nothing lasts forever.

The Studio, Edinburgh Festival Theatre
7th – 23rd December 2017

An adaptation by acclaimed writer of young person’s theatre Mike Kenny (The Railway Children), with award-winning Russian puppet designer Victor Nikonenko. Directed by Garry Robson with performances from Robert Gale, Caroline Parker, Joe Brown and original music and live performances from Novasound – the writing partnership of award-winning songwriter Lauren Gilmour and critically acclaimed music producer Audrey Tait.

Birds of Paradise’s first Christmas show was a magical tale of derring do, devotion and never giving up.


Buy the music

Buy a CD here

How did we make The Tin Soldier accessible?

There was only one route to The Studio due to building works. This PDF explained how to get to The Tin Soldier


Audiences could also watch this video for a visual walk through of the way into The Studio, starting from the corner of Potterrow and Marshall Street facing north.

Captioning of all script, sound effects and song lyrics.


Audio Description is delivered via a live pre-show and online information. You can access character and set descriptions on the website from Tuesday 5th December and Cara from BOP will meet you at the venue to describe set and characters to you and introduce you to a handling version of the set. During the show description is built into the script. Anyone requiring audio description should arrive 30 mins ahead of performance.

Audio Description: Online Resources

Listen to the clip below for an audio description of the set and each of the characters:

Click on this word document for a full transcription of the above audio description.
Transcription of audio description


British Sign Language is used throughout the show. One character is Deaf and signs throughout and all other characters use sign language during the show

BSL: Online Resources

Click on this word document for a plain text synopsis of The Tin Soldier
The Tin Soldier: Plain Text Synopsis


Relaxed performances are marked below. At these the cast will take time to introduce themselves aspects of the show will be softened so there are no harsh sound or lighting variations and we will provide visual synopsis and autism packs that include fidget toys.

Relaxed: Online Resources

Click on this word document for a plain text synopsis of The Tin Soldier
The Tin Soldier: Plain Text Synopsis

Hans Christian Andersen’s

The Tin Soldier

Written by Mike Kenny

Presented by Birds of Paradise Theatre Company, in association with Festival Theatre, Edinburgh


Robert Softley Gale : Jack
Lauren Gilmour : Soldier
Caroline Parker : Dancer
Joseph Brown : Kipper
Audrey Tait : Sticks

Creative Team

Mike Kenny : Writer
Garry Robson : Director
Victor Nikonenko : Designer
Novasound : Composition
Grant Anderson : Lighting Designer
Lewis den Hertog : Animation Designer
Natalie MacDonald : Director of British Sign Language interpretation
Iain Halket : Set and Prop Construction
Alison Monaghan : Puppet Maker
Ali Gilles : Soundbeam consultation – Associate Musician, Drake Music Scotland

Production Team

Mickey Graham : Production Manager
Rosie Ward : Stage Manager
Cara Ballingall : Assistant to the Director with special responsibility for access
Jonny Reed : Technical Manager
Andy Reid : AV Operator
Shamil Khairov : Lead Russian Interpreter in Scotland
Judith Fagelson : Russian Interpretation
Ciaran Traynor : Russian Interpretation
Amy Cheskin : BSL Interpretation
Catherine King : BSL Interpretation
Melissa Morbey : BSL Interpretation

For BOP Theatre

Garry Robson : Artistic Director
Robert Softley Gale : Artistic Director
Mairi Taylor : Executive Producer
Michelle Rolfe : Assistant Producer
Callum Madge : Projects Officer
Joy Parkinson : Press Coordination

BOP Thanks

Pete Sparkes and Drake Music Scotland for advice and generous use of their Soundbeam | Everyone who supported us at development stages | Cerin Richardson | Brian Loudon and everyone at Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | North Edinburgh Arts | Grid Iron | Dan Travis | Lyceum Theatre | The Cycle Service | Craig McArthur for tactile set | All our Young Advisors, their parents and big people | Aine Murphy and Royal Blind School, Edinburgh | Mhairi Quinn and St Roch’s School, Glasgow | BOP Youth Arts Consultant Amy McAinsh | Socha Spencer and Alice Comiskey for What’s it Like to be Disabled? | Mary Bailes


Garry Robson: Director

A photo of Garry Robson. He is bald, has blue eyes and is smiling with one hand to his face in a pose.

Garry Robson has directed over 40 professional productions both here and abroad receiving several awards including a Manchester Evening News Theatre Award and a Herald Angel. He was Artistic Director of DaDaFest International 2008 and 2010 , establishing DaDaFest as one of the key International Festival for Deaf and Disability Arts and performance worldwide. As an actor as well as numerous roles on TV and Radio he has performed in many of the major theatres in the UK in a range of classics and new works. He was Bob/Billy in Graeae’s Reasons to be Cheerful, Peachum in their Threepenny Opera and in 2017 has recently completed a major tour of England as Uncle Ernie in an acclaimed version of The Who’s Tommy.

Mike Kenny: Writer

A black and white photo of Mike Kenny. He has a greying beard, thin framed glasses and is wearing a scarf.

Mike Kenny is one of the UK’s leading writers, specialising in theatre for young people and families. He has received numerous awards, was included in the Independent on Sunday’s list of Top Ten Living UK Playwrights and his plays are performed regularly throughout the UK and all over the world.

Recent productions include original plays Follow Me (Tangere); The Messenger (Barnstorm, Ireland); A Tiger’s Tale (M6) and new adaptations of Solace of the Road (Derby Theatre); The Wind in the Willows (York Theatre Royal); Aladdin (West Yorkshire Playhouse).

Credits include: Wild Dreams (Theatre du Rond-Point, Paris); Twin Stars (Unicorn Theatre, London); Whiter Than Snow (Graeae, London); Flat Stanley (West Yorkshire Playhouse and Polka, London); The Snow Queen – new version for Cork Capital of Culture (Graffiti, Ireland); Boy With a Suitcase (SNAP); The Gardener (AJTC and Nottingham Playhouse); Of Mice and Men (Mind… the Gap); Three Wise Monkeys (Hiccup Theatre); Underneath a Magical Moon (Tutti Frutti).

His adaptation of The Railway Children won the 2011 Olivier Award for Best Entertainment. He is currently working on a large scale community production with Graeae, commemorating the Disabled of the First World War, and, The Vulture’s Song, a collaboration between Britain and India for the anniversary of Independence.

Victor Nikonenko: Designer

A black and white photo of Victor Nikonenko. he has a long white beard and thin wire framed round glasses.

Victor Nikonenko graduated from art school in Irkutsk, Siberia in 1976 and has been involved in theatre production design since 1979. He has worked on many stage productions, taken part in Russian and overseas exhibitions, and attended international theatre festivals in Russia, Finland, Croatia, Serbia, Iran and Poland. He has designed more than ninety productions belonging to a range of genres in countless theatres in Russia and beyond. This includes productions of works by many renowned literary figures, including Shakespeare, Molière, Colin Higgins, the Brothers Grimm, Aleksander Pushkin, Gabriel García Márquez, Nikolai Gogol, and Anton Chekhov. He has won numerous awards, including several “Golden Masks”, which are the most prestigious theatre awards in Russia.  His works are held in the Bakhrushin State Theatre Museum as well as in private collections in Russia and abroad.

“Viktor grew up in Siberia in the boreal forest as well as around Lake Baikal and the seasons, climate, air, people, wildlife and water in these two areas could not be more different. Maybe that’s why he has such a love for pomegranates? After all, you can’t grow them in Siberia … Perhaps it explains why this artist has so many styles and facets, so many paths in his Siberian Wizard’s secret garden.  I know that there is a small Indonesian corner, as well as a Mexican and an African. Don’t believe me? Look at the pictures … they show such cultural diversity, and yet the artist’s portrayal only touches upon this plurality. He has only scratched the surface.”

Robert Softley Gale: Actor

A photo of Robert Softley Gale. He has brown hair that is spiked up at the front and a big smile

Robert Softley Gale is an established figure in the Scottish arts scene, with over sixteen years of experience in diverse and varied roles – including actor and performer, director, writer and advocate of equality within the arts. Robert’s professional acting debut was in 2002 and since then he has appeared in many productions – including co-writing and performing in ‘Girl X’ for National Theatre of Scotland. His award-winning solo performance – ‘If These Spasms Could Speak’ – was a hit of the 2013 Made in Scotland programme and has subsequently toured internationally to countries including Brazil, Estonia, the USA, Ireland and India.

A graduate of Glasgow University, Robert is an Artistic Director of Birds of Paradise Theatre Company. For BOP he has directed the smash-hit sex comedy ‘Wendy Hoose’ and ‘Purposeless Movements’, for which he was nominated for a CATS Best Director award. He wrote BOP’s 2017 hit Blanche & Butch. Robert also sits on the board of the National Theatre of Scotland.

Caroline Parker: Actor

A photo of Caroline Parker. She has short dark hair and is peering out playfully from behind a red brick wall.

Most recent with House of Krip/Fittings Multi Media Arts for the Vogue Ball 2017 in Liverpool. Previously played Antonia in Birds of Paradise production ‘Miranda and Caliban The Making of a Monster’ which took place in Hong Kong and Glasgow simultaneously. TV appearances include Doctors BBC, Murphy’s Law BBC, Stuart a Life Backwards BBC/HBO, Switch BBC. With such companies as Krazy Kat Theatre, Hot Coals Theatre and The Bone Ensemble Caroline has also consulted/directed tweaking their visual creations. Finding and evolving the funny, and clear physical storytelling.

Caroline also does the stand up comedy circuit, is a member of Abnormally Funny People. In the cabaret circuit Caroline performs in her unique style signed songs, she recently gave a TEDx talk on ‘Singing Without Her Voice’. At the 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony she signed the closing number ‘I am What I Am’ alongside Beverly Knight. In 2015 Caroline won three best Actress awards for her role Mabel Morgan in BSLBT Zone film ‘If I Don’t Lose, I’ll Lose’ at the Cenedeaf III Rome film festival, Clin d’Oeil and Cannes Disability Film Festival 2016.

Joseph Brown: Actor

A black and white photo of Joseph Brown. He has short dark hair and some facial stubble.

Joseph Brown graduated as an Actor-Musician from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in 2010. Theatre credits include; Scribble (Assemble Roxy), Feast & Famine (Urban Fox Theatre), The Polio Monologues (Birds of Paradise), Safeword (Traverse Theatre), Tell Me What Giving Up Looks Like (The Arches), Addressed To a Friend (Kazzum), Globophobia (Urban Fox Theatre), Carmen (Leicester Square Theatre), The Cherry Orchard (The Rose Theatre), The White Devil (The Rose Theatre). Musical Direction work includes; Heartlands (Traverse Theatre), The Secret Sex Life of Robert Burns (Storytelling Centre), The 306: Dawn (National Theatre of Scotland).

Joe is producing a workshop that will be held in February 2018 – exploring diversity within casing for theatre and how we can start to expand the amount of actors with disabilities we are seeing on our stages in Scotland.

Lauren Gilmour: Actor / Musician / Composer

A black and white photo of Lauren Gilmour. She has thick dark hair with a fringe and big dark eyes.

Lauren has been writing, performing and teaching music in different capacities for the last five years, whilst completing her First Class Honours degree in Commercial Music. As a young composer, her motivation to create new work for community projects has seen her collaborate with diverse organisations such as Glasgow Connected Arts Network, The Place; Recovery Unit, Lambhill Stables and Youth Facility and North West Glasgow Arts Trail. Her passion and motivation to write for a shared purpose and community benefit is continually developing.

As one half of folk duo Bella and the Bear, Lauren has performed extensively in Scotland and won three notable songwriting awards including a Scottish Alternative Music Award and the prestigious Danny Kyle award at Celtic Connections. Lauren’s composition work with Novasound now sees her writing more commercially for theatre and short film.

Audrey Tait: Musician / Composer

A black and white photo of Audrey Tait. She has feathery brown hair and a big smile.

An experienced drummer, Audrey has toured extensively and reached the final of worldwide drumming competition ‘Hit Like A Girl’. Notable live performances include The Royal Albert Hall, SxSW (Austin, Texas), Transmusicales Festival (France), T in the Park and Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club.

Named as “one of Scotland’s most innovative music producers”, her work has featured on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 3 and BBC Scotland as well as being the only female producer shortlisted for the coveted Scottish Album of the Year Award for two of four albums made with hip-hop band Hector Bizerk.

More recently, her composition work has branched further into theatre and short film – soundtracking productions including ‘Crazy Jane’ and ‘Miranda & Caliban: The Making of a Monster’ with Birds of Paradise. This work inspired the creation of Novasound – a songwriting and production partnership with Lauren Gilmour – in 2017. Soundtracks include short-film TAM (Greenlight Creative) and Belle Jones’ powerful Edinburgh Fringe success; Shame.

Grant Anderson: Lighting Designer

A photo of Grant Anderson. He is looking to the side, he has short brown hair and is smiling.

Grant is a Lighting Design graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Select credits include: Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs (Edinburgh International Festival); The Broons national tour (Sell A Door); Cuttin’ A Rug, Simon’s Magical Christmas Socks, Panic Patterns (Citizens Theatre); Submarine Time Machine, To Begin (National Theatre of Scotland Learn); Love Song, In My Father’s Words, Hecuba, Promises Promises, Baby Baby (Dundee Repertory Theatre); The Polar Bears Go Wild, Weans In The Wood, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty & The Beast (Macrobert, Stirling); News Just In (Random Accomplice); And The Beat Goes On (Perth Theatre & Random Accomplice); Wendy Hoose (Birds of Paradise & Random Accomplice); Summer on Stage 2012 – 2016 (Lyceum Theatre); The Maw Broon Monologues, The Snaw Queen (Tron Theatre); Chess, Cabaret, 9 to 5, Urinetown, Addams Family, Company (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland); Little Red And The Wolf, Freak Show, Forest Boy, The Girl Who (Noisemaker). Grant has also, designed extensively for the Scottish Events Industry, including Botanic Lights 2015 Seasons In Colour and 2016 EXPLORE, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh as well as Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Torchlight Procession & Street Party.

Iain Halket: Set & Props Construction

A photo of Ian Halket. He has short brown hair and slender features.

Iain Halket is the Artistic Director and main performer of the Folding Theatre Puppet Company. He studied set and costume design at West Sussex College of Design. He has worked extensively within theatre for 35 years as a set and costume designer, prop maker, production manager, performer and director. He works with a wide variety of theatre and puppet companies. Recent productions have included “Shoe Kangaroo” for Garlic Theatre Company, “The Tinderbox” for Norwich Puppet Theatre, “The Gingerbread Man” for Clydebuilt Theatre Co, “La Tragédie Comique” and “By the Seat of your Pants” for Plutot La Vie, “The Tempest”, “Twelfth Night” and “Comedy of Errors” for Garidge Theatre Co, “Big Man Walking” for Puppet Lab. “Drift” for Vision Mechanics.

Alison Monaghan: Puppet Maker

A photo of a small puppet with sparse blonde hair in a blue dress.

Alison Monaghan graduated with a 2:1 BA Honors Degree in Drama in 1990 and has worked in theatre ever since. Inspired by an abiding and passionate interest in puppetry and visual theatre Alison joined the Edinburgh Puppet Company (now Vision Mechanics) working as a performer, puppeteer, maker and designer and toured extensively throughout Britain and Ireland as well as Azerbaijan and Greece. Alison founded Yugen Puppet Company in 1997, with a mission to inspire greater interest in Scotland’s rich heritage of fairy and folk stories. Since then Alison has presented her work throughout Scotland, combining this with extensive free-lance work as a puppeteer, designer, builder and director and workshop leader. Companies include, Vision Mechanics, The Mac Robert Arts Centre, Leicester Haymarket Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland, Gerry Mulgrew, and Carnegi Hall, Dunfermline .

Rosie Ward: Stage Manager

Rosie is a freelance Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Manager based in Edinburgh. She has most recently been working as the Stage Manager for “At a Stretch”, an LGBT love story for ages 6+ by theatre company Jordan & Skinner. Previous roles include Stage Manager for Thrive Theatre (Buffer), 2.8 Hours Later, and The Village Pub Theatre, and Assistant Stage Manager for Traverse Theatre (Tracks of the Winter Bear, Milk and Grain in the Blood), York Theatre Royal (Cinderella, Murder, Margaret & Me and The Tennant of Wildfell Hall), York Mystery Plays 2016 in York Minster, and the National Theatre of Scotland (Dragon).

Cara Ballingall: Assistant to the Director with special responsibility for access

A photo of Cara Ballingall. She has short, curly brown hair and is smiling.

Cara Ballingall graduated from Guilford School of Acting in 2014 and has since worked with the National Theatre, Finborough Theatre and The Merely Players. She was also an ensemble member for Olympics and Paralympics Team Welcome Ceremonies.

Press responses to The Tin Soldier

“BSL signing and captions ensure everyone can follow the narrative, the performances are, like the music, full of an engaging warmth and humour while the final image of transformation is simply beautiful.”

The Herald ****

“Every performance of a BOP show has audio description, BSL and subtitles as standard. These aides are used to enhance the show for everyone rather than distract from it and it once again begs the question- why isn’t every theatre company doing this?”

Broadway World ****

“Together they all do two very important things: tell a good story well, and show audiences that there is no invisible line between disabled and non-disabled performers – they’re all just performers.”

The List ****

“The collection of live music, intermittent puppetry, and clever staging (including some excellent use of helium balloons) make for great variety. On top of that, the show is captioned, and the whole cast integrates British Sign Language into their movement. It feels less like an added bonus and more like an extra layer of depth to the storytelling, well as providing some great comic moments.”

The Fountain

Audience feedback for The Tin Soldier

“Absolutely loved it. Really magical show and it was so impressive how beautiful the BSL and captioning was integrated into the show. Fantastically talented cast too!”

“Beautiful, magical and very moving! Captivated the children and excellent non-threatening audience participation. I would love to see more of your productions”

“I loved it! It was so good! It was amazing for disabled people!”

Good to have everyone included and very very good. Please do some more.”

Production Photographs


It was great for the children to experience the processes of making a production. They look forward to seeing its development.

Over 2017 BOP are working to explore how we apply Creative Access within a children’s show. This is creating lots of exciting possibilities and we will be working with young people as well as schools and other arts companies throughout 2017.

At the end of some development days in January we invited a small audience of young people to see excerpts of the work in development. These young people are our Young Advisers and they will be invited back during rehearsals to test out the work with us.

Mabel liked how you got everyone involved. Morris liked the educational sign language element. Morris liked how the music fits with the story.

The Tin Soldier – Fri 20 January 2017 – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh (photographer – Andy Catlin)

They are desperate to see the full show.

Throughout 2017 we have been working with St Roch’s School Glasgow and The Royal Blind School Edinburgh. We have made visits to them and when possible they have come to us. This has allowed us to talk about careers in the arts and to talk about how we are developing the access elements of the show.

Finally, a broadcast version of the show will be available to schools across Scotland for the final week of term – for more info on this and resources available contact

You can download FAQs about the schools opportunity here BOP Theatre | The Tin Soldier in Schools FAQs

You can download our schools info sheet for The Tin Soldier here Tin Soldier Schools info sheet

You can read our full internal evaluation from the development week here The Tin Soldier – Jan 2017 – Development Evaluation.docx