Eastern Reporter - - Lifestyle - Tanya Mac­Naughton

IT says a lot when even the cre­ator of the source ma­te­rial can be as sur­prised as the young chil­dren in the front row when watch­ing a stage adap­tion of his work.

This hap­pened when Mel­bourne-based artist, writer and film­maker Shaun Tan flew home to see Spare Parts Pup­pet Theatre pro­duc­tion Rules of Sum­mer last month.

De­spite hav­ing been in early dis­cus­sions with di­rec­tor Philip Mitchell, Tan said he did not know what to ex­pect.

“I had a cu­ri­ous ex­cite­ment be­cause I al­ways know that any Spare Parts adap­ta­tion is less an adap­ta­tion than a to­tal rein­ven­tion of a work,” Tan said.

“In fact, whilst work­ing on the book I did think this is great food for the­atri­cal thought: a set of con­cept art­works for a story that hasn’t been writ­ten yet, that needs some­one to come along and write, drama­tise, bring to life. And that’s what’s cer­tainly been done here with ter­rific en­ergy and zest.

“Sur­pris­ingly, the show re­minded me of many things from my own child­hood (grow­ing up in Hil­larys) that I hadn’t thought about in a long time; par­tic­u­larly the dy­nam­ics of ‘friendly fight­ing’ that all chil­dren know well but prob­a­bly find hard to ar­tic­u­late in words.

“The dream­like space of the theatre is per­fect for this and it does feel in Rules of Sum­mer that you are in a shared dream with the other au­di­ence mem­bers, a place be­yond or­di­nary lan­guage.”

It was the fourth time the Fre­man­tle-based pup­pet theatre com­pany had based a work on one of Tan’s books.

Rules of Sum­mer is at Dol­phin Theatre, UWA, un­til Oc­to­ber 8.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d474421

Shaun Tan with di­rec­tor Philip Mitchell and pup­pets.

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