Meet the cast
Born in 1946, harrow Middlesex Michael went to state schools in Pinner, Harrow and Watford. He went on to a varied higher education including a year of Middlesex Hospital Medical School, a year at Wadham College Oxford doing first year of a degree in Physiology and three years for a BA Hons in English Language and Literature. Followed by an MA in Children's Literature and a Ph.D. in Children's Literature!
Michael has performed his one-man poetry show in schools, colleges, libraries and has done this since 1974. He also presents on BBC Radio 4, with shows including 'Treasure Islands' series about children's books; and 'Word of Mouth' ongoing series about language; and on BBC World Service 'Poems by Post' poetry request programme that ran for about 8 years and Radio 3 'Best Words' a series on modern poetry.
Michael has published over a hundred books: poetry, novels, short stories and picture book texts.
He was always passionate about science and literature and thought for a while that he could combine the two by becoming a doctor. In the end that didn't seem right, so he concentrated on the writing and performing. Doing this show brings him back to where he started 50 years ago!
Michael’s best experience doing biology and medicine was dissection. He thought it was like uncovering a code, a hidden language that lies under our skin.
Michael has learned more about music performing with the Homemade Orchestra than he has in the whole of his previous life. Again, that's been like uncovering a code, that he knew was there but couldn't quite read or see how it all stuck together.
Tim has played, written music, and got bands together, most of his life, and likes painting as well.
He was born in Liverpool and grew up in Birkenhead where his Dad was a bank clerk, and wrote children’s stories in the evenings, including Dennis The Menace for Thompson's Press.
Tim got into music at primary school , where he played recorder and sang in the choir. His older brother played violin and had his pals round to practice often, so Tim used to tag along and listen. They told better jokes than anyone else.
After studying law for 4 years, Tim became a professional musician. He won the Greater London Arts Young Musician's Award and toured in Europe with Ian Carr's Nucleus, who helped him a lot. He was also a member of a 21 piece big band called Loose Tubes which was on TV quite a bit and played at The Albert Hall in The BBC Proms. When they played at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, they used to march out of the club and round the streets of Soho playing. In 2009 Tim was the first musician artist in residence at the art gallery Tate Britain, where he wrote and performed music about Turner's paintings.
About the same time Colin Riley and Tim started writing music for Michael Rosen's brilliant books of Nonsense poetry, and that gave them the idea for Centrally Heated Knickers. When Tim was at school, his science teacher said he was hopeless at it , so he didn't like it. But now he buy books on bridge building and likes taking his sons to the science museum and finding out how things work.
Colin has been a composer all his life. It all began when he practiced the piano and played wrong notes. He began to think that these sounded better than what was written down! Since then Colin has been lucky enough to have worked with a lot of really interesting musicians and have carried on learning all the time. His music is sometimes very tuneful but also sometimes quite strange to listen to because he’s interested in mixing different things together. Colin likes odd chords and odd melodies that he can blend together to make something that sounds like no one else but him.
Colin has had fun working on this project because he gets to do lots of messing around first and then find out what works later. In some ways it’s like a science experiment, testing things out, trying different things mixed together. But if it all goes wrong, at least there isn’t a loud explosion or too much mess!
Jm Hart is from a very musical family. His mother is a folk singer, his father is a choir conductor and his brother is a singer and trumpeter. Growing up there was always music around and from an early age Jim was banging on pots, pans and anything else he could find.
Since those early days of banging and clattering Jim has made this his living and has worked all over the world playing improvised music which is very often called jazz! He has even been to the magical world of the Zingzillas twice so you may know him from Cbeebies. After growing up in Cornwall, Jim went to study at Chetham's school of music in Manchester before going on to train at the Guildhall School of music and drama in London. He has lived in London ever since and is now a resident of Muswell Hill.
Jim is also a windsurfer and a keen juggler and for a while he considered joining the circus.
When he was a boy Jim used to enjoy mixing chemicals from his junior science set together to make the test tube overflow. He always wore safety goggles!
David was born in London town 1984 and given a guitar from his aunt when he was 6.
He has always listened to music and remembers at this age listening to Michael Jackson, the Beatles and John Williams.
He studied with Tim Whitehead from the age of 16-18 then went onto to study at Trinity College of Music in Greenwich.
Since then David has gone onto play rock, funk, pop, classical and jazz music all over the world to any one that wants to listen to it.
He's always dabbled in music, playing and composing and enjoys the scientific process of it. Constantly fixing and adjusting the mechanics of what's going on, kind of like building a spaceship.
He once tried to make beer from a home chemistry set and tried to make his own fireworks, both experiments ended in disaster.
He currently lives in Brockley, London.
Maisie started dancing aged 3 and some time later completed a BA hons in Dance Theatre at Laban. A few years after that, she decided she’d really quite like to fly too, so she enrolled on a foundation in circus arts with AirCraft Circus, specialising in aerial rope and physical theatre. Maisie has performed in the UK and Europe with companies including La Mi La Dance Projects, Winter-Walker, RPM Dance Theatre, Zoi Dimitriou Company, Theatre Hullabaloo, Circus Suburbia and Aircraft Circus.
Maisie really likes: travelling and performing in lots of different theatres and to lots of different people, singing very loudly in the shower, tea, chips and growing things on her allotment… and dancing and circus of course. Her favourite memories of science at school are making purple celery and conspiring with her class to cover the science teacher’s shirt in crocodile clips (while he was wearing it).
Tony was the director of the Unicorn for fourteen years and helped to create the first UK purpose-built theatre for children in London. Originally a drama teacher in London schools, he trained to be a director with TAG Theatre Company, Glasgow. He has directed over 60 professional shows. As a freelance director, Tony’s work has taken him to New York, Washington, Seoul, Tokyo and Debden. Never all that good at school and college, Tony is now, who’d have thought, a Visiting Professor and Fellow at Rose Bruford Drama School.
Tony is learning to play jazz guitar. Actually, he started learning over thirty years ago but he’s an incredibly slow learner. Jazz is like magic. Tony needs to hear it or else he goes a little bit loopy. Tony loves the mystery of poetry - it says something that can't be said in any other way. Science was another subject he failed miserably at school. But he likes reading about Darwin and evolution and enjoys staring at fossils.
Design Jason Southgate
Lighting Design Martin Jady
Production Manager Petrus Bertschinger
Assistant Production Manager Alan Benton
Stage Manager Amy Slater
Photographer Stephen Berkley-White
Tour Producer Miranda Pitcher
Project Manager Davina Christmas