The Farmer’s Cheese

14 04 2010

You’re invited to join MED-EL for a musical performance to celebrate the year 2010 being their 20th anniversary, check out performance dates for the children’s musical “The Farmer’s Cheese”.

Devised for musical theatre by Oliver Searle, based on the children’s book, “The Farmer’s Cheese” is written by Geoff Plant of MED-EL and the Hearing Rehabilitation Foundation. Performed on stage by two actors and a six-piece ensemble, and akin to Peter and the Wolf, all the animals are represented by an individual instrument. The irate farmer remonstrates with the animals in turn while the mouse looks set to win the battle of the cheese.

24th April 2010 at 2.00 pm, Turner Sims Concert Hall, University of Southampton, Salisbury Road, Southampton, SO17 1BJ

8th May 2010, at 3.30 pm, (refreshments available from 3.00 pm), The Drill Hall, 16 Chenies Street, London, WC1E 7EX

For ticket information contact MED-EL Customer Services on
01226 242 879 or email: charles@medel.

Performances last approximately 40 minutes. Tickets are free of charge on a first come first served basis.

If you want to find out more about the cochlear implant music scene, you can find out more at CI Music Scene, where they also have a review of The Farmer’s Cheese. I’ve reproduced it here as it’s so hard to read the text on their website! (Tut tut)

Many thanks to Nicky Broekhuizen of CICS Scotland for her review of the Farmer’s Cheese which first appeared in CICS October Newsletter.

We, along with a number of other CI families, went to the Scottish Storytelling Centre to see ‘The Farmer’s Cheese’, a stage version of a children’s book of the same name by Geoff Plant. The story has been adapted into a musical dramatisation by Oliver Searle, especially targeted at hearing impaired children.

The forty-five minute production was staged very simply ; no scenery, just the six musicians from Symposia, a collective of Glasgow-based musicians, on stage behind the two actors and providing the accompaniment with a range of wind and string instruments, including the flute, violin and the ‘cello. Indeed, it was quickly clear how integral the musicians were to the performance; their silent yet humorous entry onto stage grabbing the children’s immediate attention.

From that moment on the audience were hooked. The ensemble was soon joined on stage by the principals – the cheese-loving farmer and the narrator who, for the second part of the play, donned ears and a tail to turn into the infernal mouse. The plot is straightforward; in the style of ‘the old lady who swallowed a fly’, the farmer buys a succession of animals with the hope they will catch their predecessor. The story is heavy on repetition and told in uncomplicated language, so none of the children had trouble following the action. The actors were completely engaging and physical, holding the attention of the audience throughout and generating a lot of giggles and belly laughs along the way.

The musical accompaniment was a vital, integral part of the performance. In the first part of the play each of the six instruments represented a different animal with a signature melody – not unlike ‘Peter and the Wolf’ – with the flute, for example, bringing to life the scampering, light-footed (and light-fingered) mouse and the prowling cat evoked by the ‘cello. Later, various members of the ensemble played key parts in the farmer’s increasingly desperate, and humorous, schemes to retrieve his cheese with bursts of rock and roll amongst others. This clever weaving of musical instruments into the story was an excellent way in which to introduce live music to implanted children and, with the music never competing with the actor’s voices, it didn’t detract from their understanding of the story.

Tom was on the edge of his seat throughout, utterly absorbed and, from the many chuckles and absence of chatter, it was obvious that he wasn’t the only one. The extent of his understanding was obvious from the complete lack of questions both during the play and afterwards.

So, thank you MED-EL, for sponsoring this work by Oliver Searle and Symposia. Not only has it given hearing impaired children a wonderful introduction to live music and theatre in a truly accessible way, it also brought about an excellent opportunity for families to get together – and we all know how important and useful that is. Let’s hope ‘The Farmer’s Cheese’ reaches other areas of the UK in the future…..

Source: CI Music Scene



4 responses

14 04 2010
Jeremy Freeman

Already booked the family! 🙂

16 04 2010

I’ve ordered tickets for the London performance!

Someone recommended Gregorian plainchant to me as it is just that, plain singing. I’ll let you know if it works and if so what I listened to!

17 04 2010

Ooohh yes – never thought of that! I do have that kind of music somewhere, someone sent me a CD once. I’m going too, so see you there!

17 04 2010


I’ve been listening to some “easy listening” which is ideal for us, tee hee . . . The concept of each character having a signature instrument reminded me of a favourite Bert Kaempfert album of my parents’. The eponymous “Happy Trumpeter” and “Tootie Flutie” do what they say on the tin.

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