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Wednesday 17th October 2018

Out of the Ark Music Asks: An Interview With Nikki Lewis, Author Of The Inn-spectors


We often get asked about our team of writers, so we thought we’d give you a little insight into the creation of one of our new-for-2018 nativities, The Inn-spectors for 4-8 year olds. With a simple script and some fabulous songs, this nativity follows a team of inn-spectors, sent into Bethlehem to check that all the accommodation is up to scratch, but they are not pleased. A stable is no place for visitors and their newborn baby; it really is a health and safety nightmare! Can the inn-spectors be convinced that the stable really is fit for a King? Find out more with this bestselling nativity musical for 4-8 year olds.

You’ve written a number of nativities for us already - Born In A Barn, Christmas With The Aliens – where did your inspiration come for this new nativity, The Inn-spectors?
I was staying in a hotel with my family and, after being asked to review our stay, the initial idea came to mind! I began to wonder how the Bethlehem Inn may have been reviewed at the time of Jesus’ birth and, if an inn-spection had be carried out in the stable, how the inn-spectors may have reacted!

How do you go about writing a nativity – do the songs or the script come first? What is your process for writing? It’s often a bit of both but, as someone who enjoys drama, I do spend lots of time thinking about the characters in the story (including any humorous foibles!) and how they could be brought to life by a group of primary aged children. I had lots of fun developing the characters of the inn-spectors and have a particularly soft spot for Jeffrey! This initial character work often starts to shape the style of the songs that tell their story and at this point, a few lyrics or choruses may come to mind. This messy but crucial ideas stage often takes the form of incoherent squiggles in an overused notebook or snippets of melodies recorded on my phone. I may then form a storyboard to plot the action and once the overall framework is there, the whole process becomes a little easier….most of the time!

For me, the most important moment, however, is when I can actually begin to picture the classes of children I teach performing it. I have the luxury of being able to road test the songs on classes of children and, as young people are the most discerning critics of all, I always know when whether a song or is going to work or not!

What do you think schools will like about this nativity?
Well, I think the theme of “inspection” may resonate with the teaching world so there could be lots to smile about there! The script is great fun to perform and the songs are catchy, making them easy to learn which is important when school life is so busy.

Have you got a favourite moment in the script?
I always love the closing tableau in every nativity I either stage or write and I promise it has nothing to do with the sense of relief I am feeling as we near the end of the performance! That’s the bit I always try and get “right” with a cast, however young they may be. A little moment of stillness is important I think, so, in this script, my favourite moment is when the inn-spectors deliver their final inn-spection report to characters in the assembled tableau.

The songs are so catchy. Were any a challenge to write – have you got a favourite?
That’s quite hard. My four year old loves When You’re A Star! so that one always make me smile as I imagine her dancing around the kitchen with jazz hands! I also like the Ooh, Ooh, Singing The Blues and, when my school performed this one, this was the song I heard most being sung in the playground, complete with some great improvised dance moves! The opening song We’re Going Home was really easy to start but for a variety of reasons was difficult to finish! Bizarrely, the final version came to me when I was sat in the waiting area at the dentists!

Click here to find out more about Nikki Lewis' The Inn-spectors and listen to song samples guaranteed to have you "dancing around the kitcken with jazz hands!"

Click here to find out more about Nikki Lewis' Born In A Barn - a wonderful nativity play for 4-7 year olds.

Click here to find out more about Nikki Lewis' Christmas With The Aliens - an enchanting modern play that is out of this world!




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