Preview: Free School Meals

Inspired by Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child food poverty, Unfolding Theatre’s Free School Meals puts kids in charge in a new show about power, inequality and hope for change.

During the pandemic, kids were given food parcels that consisted 10 cheese slices, a Frube and half a carrot. The kids are pretty outraged. They think people deserve better. So they’re taking over and turning the tables, dishing up delicious bites, brilliant beats and tastes of a better future.

Written by Luca Rutherford and co-created with 40+ school children, Free School Meals is set in The Future – a restaurant run by children serving up super fresh ingredients and a healthy portion of home truths.

Director Annie Rigby explains how the show came about, “Inspired by Marcus Rashford’s brilliant campaign against the inadequate food parcels offered to families during the pandemic and having listened to more than 4,000 children and young people tell us about the change they wanted to see in the world in our Multiverse Lab project, we started thinking about inequality, protest and hope for change. Then, like many of our best ideas, no one can remember who said it. But someone said – what if we made a show set in a restaurant run by children?

As with all of Unfolding Theatre’s work, participation drives the creative process. For Free School Meals, the team has created a fictional world for their young co-creators to play in – a restaurant where the children are in charge. The creative team is working with 40+ children aged 8-12 to explore what they want to say in this space. In weekly workshops, they are talking about politics, about hopes for the future and what they think needs to change.

Led by Artistic Director Annie Rigby, Unfolding Theatre brings together surprising combinations of people to better represent England’s diversity on our stages. Over the last decade, the company has built a reputation for working with all sorts of people from different walks of life to make theatre with a wild sense of humour and strength of character.

Free School Meals opens Northern Stage’s Housewarming season with seven performances from 25 – 28 August. Tickets start from £10. Visit or call 0191 230 5151 to book.

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