Category Archives: My Dad’s a Birdman

Benny’s Pom-pom Antennae

Read Stage 1 of Benny the Beeboy’s life >>
Read Stage 2 of Benny the Beeboy’s life >>

We have been busy making our oversized bee antennae for Benny the Beeboy (fellow competitor of the Great Human Bird Competition from My Dad’s a Birdman).

The designer wanted the antennae to look like wool pom-poms. We cut out our doughnut shaped cardboard pieces and sandwiched them together. We then made a small ball of wool and tying it securely through the hole, then began to wind the wool around the doughnut ring.

Step 1: Cardboard doughnuts

Step 2: Sandwiched together

Step 3: Wrap wool around cardboard

Step 4: All finished

Once we had enough wool wound around we then very carefully cut through the outer edge of the ring. Before removing the cardboard we tied a piece of wool through the middle of the two cardboard rings. When this was secure, we removed the cardboard and fluffed out the pom-pom.

Step 5: Cut around the outside edge

Step 6: Remove cardboard and fluff out

We attached the pom-pom to some garden wire and then secured it to an alice band.

Step 7: Attach to the alice band

Our pom-poms are intentionally very large, if you were to make them you might want to make them smaller as although they are made of wool they are very heavy. We are going to secure them to the person wearing them’s head in a special way which you can see during the show.

- Catherine, Head of Costume

(Fake) Benny the beeboy

Read Stage I of Benny’s life >>

Stage 2 of Benny’s life
We are progressing with the bee! We have created a toile of the bee costume for the person playing the bee to practice in. A toile is where we make up a cheap version of the pattern so that we can check that is works before we cut out the real fabric. In this case we also wanted to check that the costume was comfortable . The wings are made and attached to the toile ( being modelled by our wardrobe work placement Naomi Emmanuel ).

The designer has seen and approved the toile and now that we know the costume works we will start cutting out the real fabric . We are going to make the yellow and black stripes of the bee by using two lycra fabrics , one in yellow and one in black. We have worked the stripes into the pattern. You cannot see them on the toile because it is all black, but it is imprtant when first creating the pattern to look ahead at how it will look when it is finished.

Our next project for the bee is the antennae . . . .

- Catherine (Head of Costume)

My Dad’s a Birdman opens tomorrow, Thursday 25 November. Come see Benny the Beeboy in this uplifting tale from the award-winning author David Almond, with fun catchy tunes by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys!

Buzzzzz….

Lately, our Costume team has been busy (as bees) with building fancy, fun costumes for our Christmas children’s show My Dad’s a Birdman. One of the more challenging costumes is for one of the fellow entries of the Great Human Bird Competition – the bee! Over these few weeks, keep your eyes peeled on our blog to see how the costume is coming along, as our Head of Costume Catherine reports:

Making a bee costume for one of the Birdman competition entrants:

Because the person has to jump onto a crash mat, the costume cannot have any hard parts or sharp edges. The frame or skeleton is being made out of plastazote tubing which is strong and flexible but also soft.


Over the skeleton goes the skin, which will give the bee the lovely round bottom the designer wants. This is made out of plastazote sheeting, cut into little orange segment shapes, covered in stretchy fabric and then stitched together to make a round shape.

- Catherine (Head of Costume)


Pet Shop Boys + David Almond = My Dad’s a Birdman

My Dad’s a Birdman, a show we originally staged in 2003 is returning this Christmas. Only this time, it’s bigger and better than ever!

That’s right! We have just confirmed that the world famous electronic duo Pet Shop Boys will be writing original music for it. It’s their first venture into a theatre project for young audiences and so we’re really looking forward to hearing what they will come up with. Plus David Almond’s just won this year’s Hans Christian Andersen Award, also perhaps better known as the ‘Nobel Prize for children’s literature’.

Not many people remember or are aware of this, but My Dad’s a Birdman actually originated as a play. It was later turned into the beautiful best-selling children’s book, which is what it’s more known as now. When Almond’s award-winning work Skellig was being staged in our Main House back in 2003, he used similar themes and wrote My Dad’s a Birdman for our younger audiences to be staged at the same time next door – in The Maria studio.

The story is really beautiful, dealing with love and loss in a way that younger children can understand. There’s a great synopsis and quick interview of David Almond on the Booktrust’s website.

Also launched today is the My Dad’s a Birdman Drawing Competition. Win an autographed copy of the beautiful book by David Almond (courtesy of the wonderful Walker Books) and a goody bag. Submit your drawings today (you have to be ten or under though)!