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Anya Scott-Rodgers talks about Funbox and the changes lockdown saw – and the return of a new Christmas show – and Pyjama Party in January

By Margaret Chrystall

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For Anya Scott-Rodgers of the Funbox family show, the lockdown period was a strange, worrying but productive time.

The Christmas show came to the ironworks for the first time.
The Christmas show came to the ironworks for the first time.

There’s the little white felt unicorn she made while learning to felt-punch – and there is six-month-old Morgan, her baby who was celebrating her first Christmas with Anya and her husband, and the return of the traditional Funbox Christmas show, this year Santa’s Pyjama Party, just seen in Inverness.

Anya reveals she got a qualification in teaching English as a foreign language in lockdown.

As she tells you how Funbox spent the last two years, it’s been an up and down road of worry, ingenuity, online development – and a big sigh of relief to be able to get out and do live theatre again.

But the comforting news is that lockdown comfortwear was worn for the Christmas show in Inverness [now passed, on Sunday, December 19] and to come dressed for a sleepover for the Elgin and Aberdeen Pyjama Party shows – and that’s adults too!

The laughs, the songs and the full-on family fun is back!

The latest show has made its Ironworks debut: “Generally we do always try to make the Christmas show a new one.

“Our two main shows a year we want to make sure is a new experience for everyone.

“But this year we have our costumes adapted from a previous show, actually from our first Christmas show, so we have reused some elements from that which we managed to keep. It’s always good to reuse and recycle.”

Funbox with Bonzo the dog and Anya.
Funbox with Bonzo the dog and Anya.

But the realities of having to abandon live theatre during Covid lockdowns have also had an effect.

Anya said: “Because the summer tour pays for the Christmas tour and vice versa, without that income from the summer show, we couldn’t go all whistles and bells.

“But it’s a new show, we’ve got new songs, we’ve got digital screens – for a number of reasons.

“We wanted to move with the times a little bit instead of a big timber set – and it is also good for the environment.

“It’s also very difficult to get hold of timber in the post-Brexit age, believe it or not.

“But so far we have had an absolute ball with this show.

“We didn’t know if people would enjoy the new look – and it’s a brand-new look as well because Gary has retired from Funbox, so it’s just myself and Kevin now.

“So it’s been all go and all change.

Funbox with Santa's Pyjama Party but coming to Elgin and Aberdeen in January with Pyjama Party.
Funbox with Santa's Pyjama Party but coming to Elgin and Aberdeen in January with Pyjama Party.

“When we were rocking up to Dundee we were a bit worried – ‘Is this going to work?’ – and we were also concerned whether people would feel comfortable enough to come to a theatre. But it has really worked and on behalf of all the venues and staff, they have been absolutely incredible, not just for us but just doing all that they possibly can to keep live theatre going.”

Last year, the Christmas show was online.

“That one for me was not having to drive home from Musselburgh sweaty and exhausted after eight shows on Christmas Eve, and being able to take my time with that.”

Funbox will be back in the north when they present just Pyjama Party, without the Christmas element, in Elgin Town Hall on January 15 and in Aberdeen Music Hall on January 16.

Anya remembered back to the last performance in Elgin before everything shut down – and said: “Last time we were in Elgin was December 2019.

“Then in 2020 we got one performance of Jungle Party and then that was our last live theatre performance – and it was a long two years for us."

Lockdown had its challenges ...

“I’m not saying it’s all been roses and there have been tears and tantrums and lots of sleepless nights.

“But there were nice sides of it as well, we could spend time with each other.

“It’s been some ride the last two years, but we are here and we’ve got through it.”

Funbox present Pyjama Party at Elgin Town Hall on January 15 and Aberdeen Music Hall on January 16. Details: funbox.co.uk

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