A Mummy Auction for All Ages / by Lenni Sanders

This month saw the come back of Mummy Auction TV, relocated just a few minutes walk from the very docks that we tell the story of, at Liverpool World Museum. It’s the story of tonnes of animal mummies being delivered to Liverpool Docks in the early 20th century and the farmers who ground them up for fertiliser, the collectors that got lucky and the painters that turned mummies into paint. There were so many uses for mummies, animal or human. It’s such an interesting topic! The challenge for us was to turn what was a playful performance for adults into a playful performance for families - which means a lot more than trying not to do swears more than usual…

What we decided to do was to take the immersive elements of this performance and amplify them. The poem which for adults set the scene became an immersive story-telling element with blue material for the sea that our audience could wave and hats for all the characters that our audience could wear. The story became much more about evoking a feeling that telling the specifics of a narrative. We made sure we hit some key facts, what we wanted our young visitors to go away thinking about, but we largely put the ‘poetry’ to one side and focussed much more on the feeling of being at the docks. We had more props and more energy and plenty of fun.

As the story became a bigger focus, the ‘auction’ became a smaller part of the piece. We made a big deal out of turning the victorian tele on (the anachronism of which always got a giggle) and after that did a very short, energetic run through of all the strange things people used mummies for. Previously, we had focused on one item and gone in-depth, calling on whatever standup skills we might have to riff on that subject.

It was a challenge to change the focus of this performance but one that we really enjoyed. It was an absolute delight to rework a show that we had worked so hard on originally. Thank you to Liverpool World Museum for having us! What a great time we had.