PUPPETS’ RULES SURPRISES TAN
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.
Shaun Tan with director Philip Mitchell and puppets.