Shaun Tan tales

North Coast Times - - FRONT PAGE - PAGE 13

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 adap­ta­tion 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 week. De­spite hav­ing been in early dis­cus­sions with di­rec­tor Philip Mitchell, Tan said his book was so loose and open-ended, 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,” he 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.

Tan said it was a ter­rific hon­our to col­lab­o­rate with such a con­cep­tu­ally in­no­va­tive and tal­ented com­pany of artists on his tale about two young boys ex­plor­ing the world around them. “I think the mem­ory of this show might well stick with au­di­ences, es­pe­cially chil­dren, well into their se­nior years,” Tan said. “It might even make sib­lings and best friends a bit nicer to each other, or at least able to rem­i­nisce fondly about the times when they are not. “Good ideas don’t be­long to any­one, they be­long to ev­ery­one, and like DNA they shift and change and sur­vive that way. I love it when au­di­ences re­flect on a work in a way that’s trans­for­ma­tive, that they see some­thing I don’t see, or re­call a per­sonal mem­ory, usu­ally some­thing to do with their own friends or fam­ily, by par­tic­i­pat­ing in our shared dream.” Tan fin­ished the day with a sold-out In Con­ver­sa­tion ses­sion with Mitchell. Rules of Sum­mer is at Dol­phin Theatre, UWA un­til Oc­to­ber 8.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d474421

Shaun Tan was be­witched by a new stage adap­ta­tion of his work.

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