by David Almond
Directed by Tabitha Arthur
A Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School Master of Theatre Arts / VUW (Directing) Production
at BATS, Wellington
From 14 Aug 2012 to 18 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: John Smythe; Ewen Coleman; Lynn Freeman (Capital Times);
Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School graduating production takes on stage adaptation of award-winning, dark children's novel
Michael finds a tramp-like creature in the garden shed. He appears to be dying, so Michael becomes determined to save him. But when Michael discovers wings beneath the tramp's tatty clothes, his life – and his family's – will never be the same… An eerie, magical and moving tale that will get under your skin, this production of Skellig weaves together elements of puppetry with live action.
The cast and crew of Skellig are all current students of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School. Skellig is director Tabitha Arthur's major production for her Master of Theatre Arts in Directing and is supported by a strong team of inter-discipline students. This show is the graduating production for all seven actors as well as key members of the production team.
Skellig is based on UK writer David Almond's multi award-winning children's novel of the same name, and is adapted for the stage by the author. In 2007, Carnegie Medal judges chose it as one of the ten most important children's novels of the past 70 years. This production, the Australasian premiere, will be presented to a wide audience – children and adults – and will be staged at Wellington's iconic BATS Theatre.
BATS Programme Manager Martyn Wood says: ‘It's exciting to see that the relationship between Toi Whakaari and BATS has been reignited this year. There have been some truly memorable student-led productions onstage at BATS in our 23 year history, and I am sure that Skellig will be another.'
The director Tabitha Arthur was drawn to this play when she first read it two years ago, and says, ‘I've never been able to pin this story down, to wrap it up nice and neatly. Skellig is wonderfully tricksy and slowly creeps under your skin. Its genre of magic realism lets my imagination soar.
The possibility of something existing beyond what I think exists in this world has a rich resonance for me; it allows me to open my mind to deeper themes. One of the characters says, “Truth and dreams are always getting muddled,” and our production explores this exciting muddle.'
You can check us out on the BATS website: bats.co.nz/shows/skellig
Become part of the Skellig Facebook community at: facebook.com/Skellig2012
About the Master of Theatre Arts in Directing
The Master of Theatre Arts in Directing is taught jointly by Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and the Theatre Programme of Victoria University of Wellington. Through a combination of practical and theoretical studies during this two-year postgraduate programme, MTA students develop the necessary skills to direct and initiate projects in the professional theatre and related areas.
The current presentation is one of a series of practical directing assignments that constitute a substantial component of the second year of study. The director is responsible for all elements of the production and has an opportunity to explore a particular style of theatre.
Director: Tabitha Arthur
Set, Costume & Puppet Designer: Crystalyne Willis
Lighting Designer: Sam Dent
Sound Designer: Bridget Carpenter
Lucinda (Luci) Hare: Mum, The Yeti, Lucy Carr, Narrator
Alex Tarrant-Keepa: Michael
Kenneth Gaffney: Dad, Rasputin, Narrator
Jacqui Gwaliasi: Skellig
Tameka Sowman: Mina
Sam Wang: Leaky, Nurse, Man on Bus, Dr McNabola, Narrator
Awhina-Rose Ashby: Mina's Mum, Coot, Miss Clarts. Woman in Hospital, Narrator.
Production Manager: Nicola Smith
Stage Manager: Ashlyn Smith
Props Master: Antony Goodin
Props Assistant(s): Jake Bryant, Daniel Wilson
Lighting Operator: Ruth Love
Sound Operator: Staci Knox