The Red Tree: A Play by Barking Gecko, 2011

Directed by John Sheedy, Production Design by Gypsy Taylor

Perth-based children's theatre company Barking Gecko approached me in 2010 with an interest in adapting my picture book The Red Tree as a stage play involving live performances, music, song, puppetry and an innovative set design featuring revolving platforms, echoing the strange emotional cylces outlined in the original story. I met with a very enthusiastic John Sheedy and Gypsy Taylor (who also worked a little on the film adaptation of The Lost Thing), who had already developed some innovative concepts. The Red Tree is a challenging book to adapt: the original illustrations deal with large shifts of space and time, without much explanatory context to guide a reader/audience, in an attempt to capture feelings of depression, loneliness and emotional disorientation. It is also a very 'silent' work, with characters who do not speak, or have a particular identity. John and Gypsy successfully solved these problems by translating each scene into a new, original form, as well as introducing new elements of music and physical performance.

This is the second time The Red Tree has been adapted for stage, after a very different production in 2004 as part of Queensland's Out of the Box Festival.


Subiaco Arts Centre, Perth, July 2011

Prendivile Performing Arts Centre, August 2011

Cast & Crew

Directed by: John Sheedy
Production Design: Gypsy Taylor
Lighting Design: Matthew Marshall
Sound Design: Kingsley Reeve
Production Manager: Genevieve Jones
Performed by: Ella Hetherington
Composer, Musicians: Dylan Hooper, Clint Bracknell and David Salvaire


Official site: Barking Gecko Theatre Company

Youtube: a behind the scenes look at Barking Gecko's adaptation of The Red Tree.



Perth Now

Sometimes you just don't know what to do... performer Ella Hetherington tries to speak on behalf of a mouthless puppet.

Ella Hetheringtion as 'the girl' experiences a nautical calamity: segements of a rotating stage fold up to form a boat and wavy ocean.

Boom! Bap! Pow! (Dylan Hooper, Clint Bracknell and David Salvaire) perform a dynamic live soundtrack, a little like knowing chorus figures giving form to each 'landscape'.

Things go from bad to worse: black leaves raining down from the darkness above.

Sometimes you wait and wait and wait: chalking time on a small clockwork carousel.