Fall hook, line and sinker for this funny and empowering one man show for children

Date published: 15 January 2024

An award-winning children's writer is bringing a free show inspired by his own family's fishing escapades to Oldham this February half term.

Author and performer Oliver Sykes, who is 34, was one of six kids brought up on the breadline by his single parent dad on a rural council estate.

When the children's mum suddenly walked out on the family, dad Chris quit his factory job to look after his children.

They survived on free school meals and yellow-stickered, cut price items from the supermarket, supplementing their diet by hunting and fishing, as was common in his dad's Romani culture.

And so fishing became an important part of Oliver's childhood, as both an adventure-filled family day out and a way to put a cheap and nutritious meal on the table.

Now Oliver is touring a show based on his second children's book, Fishing for Rainbows, which has just been longlisted for the 2024 Children’s Literature Festivals Book Awards.

It was published in May, 2023.

Suitable for audiences aged five and over, the stage adaptation of Fishing For Rainbows tells the story of strong-minded siblings Kezia, Duke and Danior Boswell. 

Since their mum passed away, the family has fallen into a strict routine.

The boys and dad go out fishing while 12-year old Kezia stays at home to tidy and cook. 

But Kezia has a plan, one that could transform her from a modern-day Cinderella into a super cool fishergirl.

Fishing For Rainbows follows Oliver's successful stage version of his first book, Alfie's First Fight. 

Published in 2022, the book was named Illustrated Young Reader of the Year at the 2023 Children’s Literature Festivals Book Award. 

Influenced by his family's love for boxing, the Alfie's First Fight show toured to 60 venues across England and Wales, including libraries, theatres, schools and even boxing clubs.

The show will be at Oldham Library and Lifelong Learning Centre, on Friday, February 23 at 10.30am.

Tickets cost £5.

A free children's writing workshop follows at 12pm.

Oliver, who grew up in the Peak District in north Derbyshire, and now lives in North Wales, said: "Fishing for Rainbows is inspired by my childhood, when I would often go out fishing with my dad and brothers.

"The character of Kezia was created for my little sister Amber, who says she always felt sad not to be invited on the fishing trips.

"It is a story about families, loss and reaching for the stars."

The Fishing for Rainbows stage show is supported by Big Imaginations, Z-Arts and Touchstones, and was created using public funding from Arts Council England. 

It is written and performed by Oliver Sykes and directed by Dominic Berry.

Tickets can be booked using the Eventbrite link here

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