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.
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.