Project Description

Loosely based on Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis and created in collaboration with 100 Young Producers, The Boy Who Became A Beetle is a funny, messy and moving new show for everyone who knows what it’s like to feel different.

The Boy Who Became A Beetle Poster


Created as part of the


in partnership with
Penn Hall School
Queen Victoria Primary School
St. Gregory’s Catholic Primary School
St. John’s CE Primary School
and Uplands Manor Primary School

The Young Producers Project &
The Boy Who Became A Beetle was funded by

With support from

The Boy Who Became A Beetle & Young Producer Supporters

Greg’s an ordinary boy, much like any other. At least, he was… Until this morning.

When he wakes up with clacking pincers on his head, a huge heavy shell on his back and six spindly legs with a mind of their own, life’s about to get a whole lot trickier.

How will he get dressed? Eat his breakfast? Go to the loo? What will his family do when he scuttles out of his bedroom? And how will the rest of the world react to this creepy crawly crisis?

When the villainous Beetle Buster shows up with his Verminator machine, Greg must choose between hiding in the shadows or embracing his new life as a great big mini-beast, supported by his plucky little sister and a perky puppet dog.

With live music, a sprinkling of songs, riotous action and thrilling transformations, The Boy Who Became A Beetle is a funny, messy and moving new show for everyone who knows what it’s like to feel different.

The Boy Who Became A Beetle was created as part of our year-long Young Producers project.

Over the 2014-2015 academic year, 100 pupils in five Black Country primary schools became Young Producers, working with Little Earthquake and Black Country Touring to commission and create a brand-new piece of theatre for family audiences.

The Young Producers were involved in every element of the theatre-making process: from choosing the show idea and developing the story, through to recruiting the cast and creative team, contributing ideas for the design and music, and, finally, to hosting and promoting a performance in each of their own schools as part of its initial tour.

More information about Young Producers can be found here.

CAST (in order of appearance)

Si O’Nyde / Zayn Puppeteer | Daniel Moseley
Mum | Helen Belbin
Vic | Niamh McGowan
Greg | Alex Ranahan

With special appearances by Lee Comley, Therese Collins, Sarah Hamilton Baker and Jack Trow


Director | Gareth Nicholls
Writer | Philip Holyman
Set, Props & Costume Designer | Susannah Henry
Lighting Designer | Will Evans
Composer & Musical Director | Luke Thomas
Technical Stage Manager | Stacey Choudhury-Potter
Set Construction | Nicholas Nicholls
Film Maker & Photographer | Adrian Burrows
Graphic Designer | Gareth Courage
‘Zayn’ Puppet Makers | Catherine Baines and Susannah Henry
Verminator Makers | Gary Scholes and Susannah Henry
Additional Prop & Costume Construction | Liz Vass and Kay Wilton
Consultant Entomologist | Dr. Ross Piper


Project Leaders | Gareth Nicholls and Philip Holyman
Black Country Touring’s Young Promoter Co-ordinator | Natalie Kidman
Independent Evaluator | Kate Organ


Co-Directors | Gareth Nicholls and Philip Holyman
Advisory Producer | Louisa Davies


Penn Hall School (Wolverhampton)
Headteacher: David Parry
Group leaders: Sarah Wilkinson and Stuart Morgan, with Dina Freeman, Viv Skidmore and Sue Taylor
Young Producers: Cameron Birch; Alex Brown; Ashleigh Green; Miloslav Holub; Lydia Jackson; Cameron Janagal; Ali Khan; Kaif Khan; Kara O’Connor; William Spencer

Queen Victoria Primary School (Dudley)
Headteacher: Wendy Rawlinson
Group leader: Kirsty Walker
Young Producers: Callum Archer; Alivea Bennett; Chloe Berry; Louise Broadley; Sally-Anne Clarke; Leah Clayton; Alfie Cole; Ben Cooper; Gemini Dennis; Carly-Leigh Harris; Isabella Hinton; Jarad Horton; Cory Howe; Rajwinder Kaur; Joseph Lowke; Callum Mason; Alarna Mehmi; Jake Morgan; Paris Narroway; Tyrell O’Sullivan; Keeley-Mai Price; Harriet Robinson; Unique Roy; Marni Simmonds; Asa Southall; Caitlin Taylor-Moloney; Joseph Turner; Callum Webb; Lily Worton; Jake Wright

St. Gregory’s Catholic Primary School (Sandwell)
Headteacher: Krystyna Bickley
Group leader: Simon Kettle
Young Producers: Andre Alicias; Sanjeo Benny; Matthew Brookes; Aidan Halliday; Elizabeth Healy; Alicia Kurasinska; Erin Lewis; Elise Malone; Jessica Marsh; Dylan Phillips

St. John’s CE Primary School (Walsall)
Headteacher: Andrew Mills
Group leader: Jane Perks
Young Producers: Benjamin Allsopp; Alex Baldwin; Luke Barber-Powis; Taylor Barley; Christian Burbridge; Eleanor Causier; Joshua Clarke; Kiera Cooper; Cian Daniel; Leon Edwards; Callum English; Ilisha Evans; Lewis Fletcher; Marshall Grainger; Jack Heath; Dylan Heydon-Matterface; Harriet Newell; Jack Robinson-Parr; Matthew Salt; Abigail Shutts; Chloe Smith; Millie Stringer; Nelo Sylvester; William Tutt; Clegg Wilkinson

Uplands Manor Primary School (Sandwell)
Headteacher: Paul Moore
Group leaders: Dawn Jordan with Jayne Davies
Young Producers: Aleena Ahmed; Joshua Armstrong; Hafsa Asad; Taite Brooks; Yasmin Giles; Jamie-Leigh Heaven; Telvin Jackson; Malayka Kouser; Kate Lloyd; Lilly Lomax; Charlie Melody; Sean Pearce; Saifullah Rana; Adam Rowley; Paige Smart; Alannah St Prix

Little Earthquake would like to thank the following people and organisations, without whom this project would not have been possible:

Steve Johnstone, Frances Land, Natalie Kidman, Deb Justice, Sarah Watton, Dawinder Bansal and the board at Black Country Touring; Neil Reading, Andrew Jemmett, Sam Fleming and the team at the Arena Theatre; everyone at the Performance Hub, University of Wolverhampton (Walsall Campus); Rob Elkington and all at Arts Connect West Midlands; Nikki Ralston and Jill Brown at Arts Council England; Julie McKirdy and Fran Ellis at Thimblemill Library; Brian Bishop and all at Warwick Arts Centre; Tim Hodgson and all at mac, Birmingham; Justine Ranson, John Cocker and all at Telford Culture Zone; James Yarker, Craig Stephens and all at Stan’s Cafe; Jack Trow, Samantha Fox and Sarah Hamilton Baker for their invaluable workshop contribution; Robin Stephens for being the face of the trailer beetle; Nicholas Nicholls and Patterns Derby for saving the day, again; Barbara Nicholls for the gala premiere cakes; Val and David Holyman for masses of things, as always; Richard Smith and all at Tuckey Print; Annie Brewer at Jerwood Space; Flints Theatrical Chandlers; Sue Gormley, former headteacher of Uplands Manor Primary School; Rupert Phelps; Michael Addison; Colm O’Brien; Geoff Foster & Daughter — and last but not least… our magnificent Young Producers, without whom there would be no show!

Once upon a time, four people had a conversation in a garden over homemade scones and almond cake. Little Earthquake wanted to make a family show and Black Country Touring wanted to help make it happen. Let’s work together, we all said. And so that’s what we did. Nearly three years after that conversation, we are all very proud to present The Boy Who Became A Beetle to you today.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]We have all been on a massive yearlong journey of discovery — when we started, we knew almost nothing about what the show would be, who would make it or how it would turn out.[/pullquote]

But it has taken a lot more than four people to get this far. There is an enormous network of artists, technicians, advisers, managers, education professionals and kind souls across the country who have all leant a helping hand. One special group of people, though, has arguably had a bigger influence than any other.

Since September 2014, we have been working with nearly 100 Young Producers — pupils from Years 4, 5 and 6 at five primary schools across the Black Country who have been involved in every element of the theatre-making process: from choosing the show idea and developing the story, through to recruiting the creative team, contributing ideas for the design and music, and, finally, to hosting and promoting a performance in each of their schools as part of this initial tour.

The very first question we asked in our very first session with each group was: “Who is the most important person in the theatre?” — and to begin with, most of the Young Producers said it was the main actor or the director. But after we looked at all of the jobs and all of the skills and all of the hard work that goes into making a show happen, someone always came up with (what we feel is) the right answer: “The most important person is everybody.” And that, we said, is how our show would get made: by working as a team, by collaborating, by exploring ideas, sharing opinions and making decisions together.

We have all been on a massive yearlong journey of discovery — when we started, we knew almost nothing about WHAT the show would be, WHO would make it or HOW it would turn out. Now, after more than 80 hours of contact sessions with the groups, and many hundreds of hours of work by the whole team on top of that, the show is ready for its first public outing.

You can Tweet about the show afterwards and tell us whose side you’re on using the production’s two hashtags! Are you #TeamBeetle or are you #TeamBuster?

We all hope you enjoy the performance!


Each performance of The Boy Who Became A Beetle was introduced by a group of our Young Producers in this short curtain raiser film.

The original trailer for the Summer 2015 tour of The Boy Who Became A Beetle.