An eye on Simeon’s Watch

Paul Birch takes a look at our new national tour – Simeon’s Watch…

Simeon (John Holden-White) and Rina (Katie Brier) sharing a cup of cocoa out in the fields
“Change can bring real challenges to families, particularly the changes that threaten to alter our relationships with the people we love most. Simeon’s Watch focuses on three generations of one family and the impact on all of them as they face the demands of growing old.”

So writes Bridget Foreman about her new play for Riding Lights. This is a production which picks up echoes of the biblical story of Simeon, the man who watches and waits at the end of his life, not forgotten by God, until he glimpses the hope God has prepared for us all.

The script for Simeon’s Watch comes from a series of workshops with those living with dementia, their families (including young people) and professional care staff and clinicians. Over a number of weeks we met at Friargate Theatre and in residential care homes, exploring ways that drama might help these families communicate better, as they continue to care for one another. Using improvisation, play and applied theatre techniques, we discovered the range of emotions created by the demands of ageing, including, sometimes, a Simeon-like joy and peace in the middle of it all.

In several dramas addressing this subject, the story is often constructed around the theme of loss – whether it’s memory, dignity, relationship or hope. Our aim was to bring out some of the other ‘notes’ from the stories we found in these workshops – notes of love, comedy, play and intimacy.

Simeon’s Watch explores ways in which responding to change more playfully can often transform our relationships. Children and young people, of course, do this best. Care homes that have nurseries or schools attached to them demonstrate the positive impact shared by the different generations while they interact. Responding ‘playfully’ to painful interactions will never reverse time or heal damaged minds but it can radically improve the quality of relationship and communication. This production is a celebration of that.

If Simeon’s Watch is to be a distinctive ‘voice’, Riding Lights wants that to be one that refuses to let a sense of fear put further stress on loving relationships that have been nurtured over many years. However old or young we may be, we hope this play will change minds about the problem of changing minds!

You can find out more about the show, as well as a list of tour dates, at

Filming Baked Alaska

Last year we had an extraordinary response tour our national tour, Baked Alaska. Having reviewed the project with our commissioning partners, we agreed the show’s message should go much further…

So we plan to put highlights from BAKED ALASKA ON FILM to reach an even wider audience.

Baked-Alaska-7662-WEBWe would like to raise sufficient funds to make a series of short films available, at least for an initial period, as a free download to schools and other groups where teaching and discussion about climate change can take place.

By illustrating 6 key issues, accompanied by teaching materials, Baked Alaska could be a great resource. Translating highlights onto film seems the best way to be good stewards of the creativity we have already invested.

Can you help?

There are various ways you might like to help us to make this important thing happen!

1. Giving personally, or encouraging others to give at

2. Pass on a Baked Alaska fundraising brochure to a church/green organisation. You can download a copy here or call 01904 655317 and we’ll post you some.

3. Putting us in touch with funding organisations who may want to support the Baked Alaska film.

Introducing… Simeon’s Watch

A family adventure before Christmas by Bridget Foreman

Simeon's-Watch-hillside1Simeon’s Watch is an engaging new play for a family audience about… family. A delightful story about what growing old might mean, about being surprised, remembering love and discovering hope.

Leah keeps losing things. First it was her knitting, and now her father keeps wandering off. She frequently loses her temper and some days she thinks she’s losing her mind.

Or is it her father Simeon who’s doing that? Staring out of the window, muttering about angels, waiting with unshakeable conviction for ‘God knows what’. It’s all a game to Leah’s daughter, which only makes things worse.

Something has to change.

As the nights draw in, Leah watches her father wind down and her daughter race ahead.  She seems to be waiting too – but for what? And when the whole family is drawn to a starlit hillside, what more is to be lost and found?

Get ready for Christmas – make time for Simeon’s Watch.

Now Booking for a National Tour:
October to December 2016

Simeon’s Watch tells an inspiring story of family life that embraces three generations of shepherds – grandparent, parent and teenager. Their story links with the familiar story of the anticipation of the birth of Christ.

At the same time, it gently, amusingly, movingly explores the demands of growing old.  It shows the transformation that can come when both young and old bring acceptance to what is becoming a normal part of the adventure of family life.  By offering hope and joy, the play helps us all in our understanding of relationships that will always remain precious, however they may change.

Responding to the increasing challenge that declining mental health causes to families and indeed churches, Riding Lights has spent time with various groups exploring ways in which particular communication skills can transform these relationships.  Some of the insights we have discovered together are woven into the narrative of Simeon’s Watch.


Book the Show For Your Community

Simeon’s Watch will appeal to a wide age-range but still remain captivating for older children (10 yrs and above). It will certainly deliver a performance to bring great delight to any church community in the build-up to the Advent and Christmas season.

You can book a performance now by contacting Beth on 01904 613000 or emailing

Crosslight: Dress Rehearsal Photos

As Crosslight heads out on tour here are a few picks from the dress rehearsal photo shoot.

Many thanks to Tom Jackson who took these fantastic photos.

Crosslight is touring nationally from the 24th February  to the 26th March. You can find a full list of performances at Or try the tour map to quickly locate a show near you.

Changing The Temperature

In September we asked Jonathan Bidgood, co-writer of Baked Alaska, to write a piece for our Members’ newsletter on why climate change and christianity could possibly be a recipe for entertainment. It’s a great insight into just why we think this topic is so important, so we thought we’d share it here too…

This autumn we’ll be hitting the road with an exciting new show, Baked Alaska. It’s been a year in the making, a collaboration with Christian Aid, Operation Noah and the Diocese of Lichfield, aiming to engage and embolden the christian community in the run up to December’s crunch climate conference in Paris held by the United Nations.

What kind of a show is it?

Baked-Alaska-7506-WEBBaked Alaska sits firmly in the satirical mould that is trademark Riding Lights. With sketches, puppets, live music and incisive storytelling that gets right to the heart of the issues. First and foremost we want the show to be a great evening out.

The very best entertainment can also get us thinking about big issues, so it will also be a chance to wrestle with the topic. Like so many of our shows, Baked Alaska isn’t a series of answers, but a story to help us ask better questions. What is the climate crisis anyway? Why should we care? What can we do? We also want the audience to come away feeling hopeful – not powerless when it comes to tackling climate change.

The question about why we should care is particularly close to my heart. This is an issue that is so vast, so all consuming, that it is easy to ignore, failing, as it does, to tap into our more immediate needs and desires. It can be even easier to ignore within christian communities, where an emphasis on evangelism, or caring for the vulnerable, or righting social wrongs so often takes up all of our attention. Questions of conservation and resource management seem very far away when there are people going hungry on your doorstep.

Why should we care?

Baked-Alaska-8130-WEBWell, of course, it is an issue about people going hungry. Environmental problems hit the world’s poorest communities hardest. It might not be the frame many of us are familiar with seeing the environment in, but the most convincing scientific predictions suggest that those on the front line of climate change will be the most vulnerable – our neighbours all over the world. Christian Aid’s input into the project has helped us find stories which illustrate these problems, and some of the possible solutions.

Secondly, we are called to be the stewards of creation. In the very first chapter of the bible we are told that God sets human beings in dominion over the whole earth, a verse that has led to some astonishing, environmentally destructive behaviour over the ages. I can only imagine that such behaviour is the result of people failing to read the previous verse, in which we are told that we are created in the image of God. It is the image of a God who hovers above the waters, who speaks creation into being, who establishes a rich, interdependent ecosystem and then declares each part of it to be good. That dominion does not come with a licence to use and abuse, but with a powerful invitation, a responsibility, to become more like God in all of our actions, and in our treatment of his creation.

Can you help?

I’m sure there are almost as many opinions out there on this subject as there are audience members. Whatever your take on the issue, we’d love for you to come along, enjoy the show, and then please stick around and chat to us. Perhaps you could bring a whole group? I’m desperate to help start a church wide conversation on this one, to see the christian community become a world leader in caring for our planet. So, whatever you think, I hope to see you on the road this autumn.

Baked Alaska is touring until the end of November 2015. You can find a full list of upcoming performances here.

Baked Alaska – at Coventry Cathedral

We were thrilled to take Baked Alaska to the Reconciling A Wounded Planet at Coventry Cathedral, a perfect fit as the two day conference was looking at “stories of hope’ in the midst of the growing environmental crisis”.

Even better, The Church Times were there and Pat Ashworth gave the show a fantastic review. Below are a few choice quotes and you can read the full piece on their website.

“a robust and delicious satire on climate change”

“This is pure Riding Lights: funny, colourful, biting”

“You couldn’t feel passive about the issue after watching this”

We’re also really enjoying take the show to Cathedrals, partly because the set looks fantastic in such large spaces. Here’s the audience gathering ready for the show at Coventry.

Coventry Cathedral

Baked Alaska is touring the UK until the 28 November. You can find a performance near you at or see what else the press have been saying here.



Baked Alaska – Production Photos

It’s been a fantastic couple of opening performances for Baked Alaska at Friargate with a full house for both nights. Of course the next step is to get the show on the road – in fact the cast are loading up the van as I type.

We also had our first review through from the Diocese of York, you can read the full piece on their website, but here are a couple of choice quotes…

“It seems incongruous to call a show about climate change fun, but Baked Alaska is.
The songs in particular are very strong, with Jonathan Bidgood’s folk roots coming through.”

“…the real power of this show is the way the audience are enabled to take action.”

Kit Powney who saw our short preview performance at Greenbelt also commented:

“The show ingeniously blends together an upbeat, lively and humorous narrative rooted in daily life,
with the heartbreaking reality of the lives of many around the world affected by climate change.”
(full article here)

The show is looking great too and we got a couple of fantastic shots from the dress rehearsal courtesy of Andrew Dyer. (Click on a photo for the larger version.)

Baked Alaska is touring the UK until the 28 November. You can find a performance near you at

Baked Alaska Trailer

Baked Alaska is about to head off on tour, serving up a deliciously slice of entertainment which takes a ‘seriously funny’ look at climate change.

We’re really excited about this one, particularly the chance to engage people all over the country in thinking about the environment in a funny, fresh and hopeful way.

Have you seen the trailer?

Full of laughter and vibrant music the show brings inter-connecting stories of the wild and unpredictable effects of climate change from the four corners of the earth.

You can find out more about the show here. Or if you’re looking for a performance near you, why not try our handy tour map.

Christmas Shows for 2015

Every year we tour two magical, highly entertaining Christmas shows to schools, churches and arts venues. Warm hearted, original and full of fun, Riding Lights Christmas shows have been entertaining family audiences and primary schools since 1977.

A Christmas Cracker  Nearly-2015-WEB-poster
21st Nov – 23rd Dec 2015
21st Nov – 23rd Dec 2015

Full of the warm-hearted fun and festive story-telling Riding Lights’ Christmas productions give a wonderful glimpse into the heart of the first Christmas.

Our two fantastic Christmas shows touring for 2015 are: A Christmas Cracker – by Paul Birch, telling magical Christmas tales to warm up the winter evenings across the UK. Then for our Yorkshire tour we have Nearly The Goat, Nigel Forde’s wonderfuly festive show staring, well… a goat.

Watch the trailer

To get a taste of our Christmas shows here’s the trailer for A Christmas Cracker:


Baked Alaska – Tour Dates

Baked-Alaska-Web-PosterWe’ve been bowled over by how much interest there has been in our upcoming autumn tour, Baked Alaska.

This means we should have more than 50 performances of the show covering a significant amount of England and Scotland, plus a brief trip into Wales.

The list of tour dates is below and we’ll release more information soon. Hopefully there’s enough here to let you plan a trip to one of the performances, we’d love to see you there.

Tickets for the whole tour will go on sale on the 6 July.
You can book by calling our national box office (01904 613000) or online via the Baked Alaska show page.

Most performances will have their own local box office as well, we’ll add these details as we have them.

Tour Dates (autumn 2015)

[gigpress_shows tour=19]

Tour Map