Theatre helps unite generations

The Oxford Times: Viv Peto with her granddaughter Nell Viv Peto with her granddaughter Nell

A GRANDMOTHER is enjoying spending quality time with her grandchildren thanks to an East Oxford theatre.

Viv Peto, from Cowley, first discovered her love of the stage ten years ago after signing up for projects at the Pegasus Theatre.

Since then, three of her six grandchildren have joined her to tread the boards in the Magdalen Road project’s productions. The latest additions are six-year old Nell and 15-year-old Bill Peto, both from Cowley.

Now she is encouraging more people to answer the theatre’s call for people of all ages to sign up to courses.

Ms Peto, 65, a former Oxford University Health researcher, said: “I started about ten years ago in the adult group and have been coming here nearly every year since then. My own son, who is 40 now, signed up for classes here, that’s how I discovered Pegasus.

“I have really enjoyed it. I suppose it is quite a rare thing to be able to say you have done with your grandchildren.”

The children are involved in the theatre’s youth projects – Bill by training as a theatre light and sound technician, and Nell in the drama and music classes. The family meet several times a week at the theatre.

Ms Peto, whose most recent performance with the theatre was as a puppeteer on a show called The Quest, said: “On The Quest, Bill was doing the sound and I was going off to do the backstage stuff.

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“It was nice to be able to work together and quite an unusual thing to say you have done.”

Granddaughter Nell, who goes to John Henry Newman Primary School in Littlemore, said: “I have enjoyed it very much.

“I like singing the songs and I have learned Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which is now my favourite song.”

Pegasus marketing director Gill Jaggers said the theatre wanted to encourage more cross-generational projects at the theatre, and the Petos were a perfect example of how age and generation does not have to be a barrier.

She said: “We would love for more people of all ages to get involved.

“Our next registration event is on June 13 so it would be great for people to come down and see what courses and programmes the Pegasus has to offer.”

l The registration night is for courses starting in September.

Most will involve taking part in a grand showcase of short performances in February 2013 as well as a few full-scale productions later in 2013.

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