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October 16, 2017 | by  | in Theatre |
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THEA311: Collaborative Production presents In the Attic and Moonlight

This year’s Collaborative Production (THEA311) course was focused on children’s theatre — hooray! I am a big lover of children’s films and as a theatre student, I’m horrified at my lack of knowledge of children’s theatre. If someone was to say “children’s theatre” I automatically (and incorrectly) think of clowning and interactive shows.

The THEA311 class was divided into two shows, In the Attic and Moonlight, both directed by Kerryn Palmer. Students took on roles both onstage and backstage, with some doing both jobs in the same show.

***

I was pleased to be able to see the first showing of In the Attic, was aimed at eight years old and above. The show follows Alex (Corey Wills), Sam (Peter Rogers), and Bea (Cassidy Cruz) who go into an attic, and get transported in a Jumanji-style to a world called Owt. Owt is a Coraline-esque world and its elements often scare the main characters, prompting them to go home, but things go haywire…

The set and lighting were incredibly beautiful. Sheets covering old objects sing of their former use when lifted, and boxes become portals to other worlds, with lighting aiding the mystical elements. The use of a smoke machine was also well applied, especially with the witch-like creatures of The Binders (Gemma Revell and Saffron Troughton), whom I adored! I left the show humming The Binders’s song, haunting and inviting at the same time. The rap and hip-hop talents of Daniel Gagau and Janaye Henry for the Guides added a sense of modernity to the show. The creatures of Owt were creepy, intriguing, and well animated, beautifully highlighting the talents of Revell, Troughton, Natalie Wilson and Georgia May. The Pan’s Labyrinth’s Pale Man creatures as well as the hilarious French police clowning duo were my favourites, succeeding in their task of both scaring me and making me laugh.

While the ending was surprisingly dark and left open-ended, I felt only sympathy for Sam — Rogers’ expressions evoked his character even without words. Wills and Cruz gave flat and unexciting performances that made it hard for me to care for their characters.

***

Moonlight was also a strong and delightful show, aimed at four to eight year olds, about Luna (Yasmin Golding), a young girl who is scared of the dark. She’s about to go to bed but her Nightlight (Georgia Ball) starts to flicker before going out completely. Luckily, Mr Watt, played by the dynamic and energetic Kevin Orlando, is able to fix her Nightlight, but only with Moonlight (also Ball). Luna goes out into the magical forest, putting on her pink boots and grabbing her pink umbrella, but not a jacket, which the little girl next to me was adamant she needed as it’s “cold outside!”

Luna’s journey is much like Alice in Wonderland, where she meets and empathises with different characters. She also finds that without Moonlight, the forest is scared and slowly dying. Moonlight provides a  subtle tale with themes of environmental change and corporate greed.  Luna eventually decides not to give Mr Watt the Moonlight, and instead gives it to the forest and all the characters who live there.

I concur with the little girl sitting next to me when she said that the Signposts Frederick (Pernille Himmelmoe) and Gwyneth (Finnian Nacey) were the best characters. Silly and inviting, channelling their Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, the two really captured the audience with their voice as they moved physically very little. As the little girl next to me said “they had the best accents.”

I appreciated how Ball played both the Nightlight and the Moonlight, upgrading through the play, especially as Luna realised she was no longer scared of the dark and therefore no longer needed a Nightlight.

The entire cast were strong performers, and the tech elements (again) were great! At one point it actually looked like light was streaming through a forest! The music did well to incorporate live and recorded sound, and also allow Golding and Ball to showcase their beautiful vocals.

***

Both of these shows were incredibly strong performances and displayed awe-inspiring tech elements of sound and lighting which are simply divine. I thoroughly enjoyed both shows, and if weren’t able to see it, you really missed out on something fabulous! If the quality of these shows is anything to go by, this Collaborative Production course will be incredibly popular in the next few years, especially if they retain the focus on children’s theatre.

Interested about applying for the course? More information can be found here

 

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