BAR­LOW DRAWN TO STORY

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - TANYA MACNAUGHTON

THE beauty and emo­tion of To­hby Rid­dle’s Aus­tralian pic­ture book No­body Owns the Moon was the rea­son Spare Parts Pup­pet Theatre di­rec­tor and writer Michael Bar­low wanted to cre­ate a stage adap­ta­tion for the Fre­man­tle-based pup­petry com­pany.

“I was re­ally drawn to the quite emo­tional core of the story,” Bar­low, of Wem­b­ley Downs, said.

“It has some­thing mean­ing­ful to say about what makes some­one feel at home some­where and what makes them feel part of the life of a place.

“And it has To­hby’s lovely wit and com­edy which we’ve used as a spring­board; I hope it will bring a lot of laughs to the au­di­ence.”

The pro­duc­tion, us­ing hand pup­pets, mar­i­onettes and masks, fol­lows two an­i­mal char­ac­ter friends, Humphrey (don­key) and Clive (fox), liv­ing in a big city.

Humphrey, who is a bit down on his luck, re­ceives an in­vi­ta­tion to a night at the theatre through an act of chance and he and Clive have a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

“There’s an idea in the story about what’s re­ally valu­able; Humphrey gives his warmth and friend­ship very freely,” Bar­low said.

“He doesn’t re­ally take any­thing from any­one but by some mea­sures we would look at him and say he’s not suc­cess­ful be­cause he doesn’t have a steady job or big in­come, but he does have a very big heart.”

The pro­duc­tion, for ages five years and older, fea­tures per­form­ers Yvan Karls­son, Ge­off Kelso, Jessica Lewis and Shirley Van San­den and was co-cre­ated with Spare Parts leg­end Noriko Nishi­moto be­fore she died in May.

The 75-year-old Ja­panese-born pup­peteer had called WA and Spare Parts home since 1982 and her in­flu­ence on Bar­low and the rest of the com­pany was im­mense.

No­body Owns the Moon was the last pro­duc­tion Nishi­moto worked on.

“Her in­put to the show was mas­sive and if she had still been with us through the later stages of mak­ing it, she would have con­tin­ued to in­flu­ence its shape,” Bar­low said.

“We all miss her pres­ence and con­tri­bu­tion; I hope the work does jus­tice to her.

“I’d worked with Noriko for many years, first as a trainee pup­peteer and then later as an as­sis­tant di­rec­tor and co-de­vi­sor, and in more re­cent years she men­tored my devel­op­ment as a di­rec­tor.

“I can only say it was a mas­sive plea­sure to work with such a gifted artist and there are many of us who would lay a lot of thanks at her feet for what she achieved.”

Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son d459367a

Di­rec­tor Michael Bar­low (seated) with per­form­ers Ge­off Kelso, Shirley Van San­den, Jessica Lewis and Yvan Karl­son.

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