Little Bulb started out at the University of Kent where its founding members, strung across different years, collaborated for the first time on Crocosmia, a devised piece exploring the memories (both joyous and tragic) of three precocious siblings through their parents record collection. The show premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2008, and went on to win Fringe First, Total Theatre and Arches Brick awards as well as touring extensively both home and abroad.
In 2009 we returned to Edinburgh as the resident company of the Forest Fringe with Sporadical: An Epic Cardboard Folk Opera which was nominated for a Total Theatre Award. We returned again in 2010 with Operation Greenfield, which was awarded the Herald Angel. Operation Greenfield returned once more to the theme of growing up, this time focusing on the lives of teenagers and their dreams of winning the local talent competition in the small, fictional village of Stokely.
Also, in that same year we were commissioned by Farnham Maltings to create a new show for village halls touring and so The Marvellous and Unlikely Fete of Little Upper Downing was born. For the 2011 Fringe, music became the entire focus as we presented Goose Party; an experimental free set of bizarre compositions and genre fusions performed by our alter ego band of the same name. In 2013 we dispensed with music altogether with our dance theatre exploration Squally Showers, which looked at the lives of young professionals in a TV studio amidst the political upheavals of the 1980's, completing our trilogy of pieces exploring the theme of growing up and later going on to be performed at the National Theatre’s SHED space.
Throughout this time we were collaborating with Battersea Arts Centre to create Orpheus, a 1930's Parisian retelling of the Ancient Greek myth inspired by the music of Django Reinhardt. For this production we teamed up with many wonderful collaborators to create by far and away our largest show to date. Orpheus premiered at BAC in the spring of 2013 to sell out shows and rave reviews. We have since taken it to venues around the country, and internationally to the Salzburg and Brisbane festivals.
In addition to our work for adults, Christmas 2013 saw us premiere our first ever children's show in a co-production with Bristol Old Vic. Antarctica was specially devised for an under fives audience and was a physical and visual exploration of the animals (both real and imaginary) of the South Pole. We had so much fun performing for younger audiences that we jumped at the chance to make The Night that Autumn Turned to Winter (also with Bristol Old Vic). This time we explored the changing seasons in a magical wood and immersed ourselves in the world of traditional folk music from across the British Isles.
Alongside these children’s productions we continued to make new shows for adults. In 2015 the Nuffield Theatre teamed us up with Professor Paul White in the Sound and Vibration Department of South Hampton University to create Wail, a scientific cabaret about the songs of the Humpback Whale. In 2016 we created Extravaganza Macabre for Battersea Arts Centre’s brand new courtyard theatre. The show drew on Victorian Melodrama, hurtling through a wild evening of plot twists, piano flourishes and audience mischief.
2019 saw us complete The Future which explored the the themes of existential risks, consciousness and super intelligent A.I; we developed it at Bristol Old Vic before taking it to Battersea Arts Centre for a three week run. 2019 also saw us make a return to rural touring with Mountain Music. This co-production with Farnham Maltings was an exploration of the Scots Irish migration of folk music to the New World leading to the birth of country music.
In 2020 we rode our lockdown luck to make Hibernation a show all about hibernating animals inspired by all the hibernating humans were up to at the time. 2021 saw us land our biggest show to date Wolf Witch Giant Fairy which we made in collaboration with the Royal Opera House, we were thrilled and hugely honoured to win that years Olivier award for Best Family Show and we revived it again for Christmas 2023.
Christmas 2022 saw us collaborate with designer Kirsty Harris and The Spring in Havant to make our first fully fledged installation for families set in a magical library unsurprisingly titled The Magic Library. Later that spring we made a new show for families called Four Seasons which was an exploration of the magic of the changing seasons inspired by Vivaldi's iconic score. We did a pilot tour to South West to schools and arts centres followed by a wonderful Christmas 2023 run in Bristol Old Vic's Weston Studio.