Shaka cooks up a whole cast for clas­sic kids story

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Stage - Sara Fitz­patrick

SHAKA Cook was an adult when he first read beloved chil­dren’s sto­ry­book The Wind in the Wil­lows, but none of the magic or won­der was lost on the ac­tor.

“All these dif­fer­ent friends – Ratty, Bad­ger, Mole and Toad – come to­gether and learn how to love and re­spect one an­other,” Cook said.

“I like that mes­sage of true friend­ship.”

The Pil­bara-born per­former now stars in a one-man adap­ta­tion of the clas­sic Ed­war­dian English novel, fol­low­ing the four wood­lands crea­tures around the river, Wild Woods and be­yond.

“Tak­ing on ev­ery role is fun, ex­cit­ing and fast-paced,” Cook said.

“It’s chal­leng­ing hav­ing to shift quickly from one char­ac­ter to the next and keep the story plod­ding along, as well as the dia­logue, so it sounds like those char­ac­ters are ac­tu­ally hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with one an­other.

“An­other chal­lenge is try­ing to make all the ac­tions work for every­body in their own lit­tle jour­ney and switch­ing be­tween them vo­cally and phys­i­cally with­out bleed­ing them too much into each other.

“It all comes down to my cre­ativ­ity and imag­i­na­tion and try­ing to con­vince the au­di­ence that I am Toad, Ratty, Bad­ger or Mole.”

Cook said he wanted chil­dren to leave the show with the idea they could be friends with some­one un­like them­selves.

“Nowa­days, so­ci­ety is all about say­ing ‘that per­son is dif­fer­ent’ and then peo­ple be­come so judg­men­tal,” he said.

“But in this show you’ve got friends – vastly dif­fer­ent crea­tures – and they are there for each other, even if one friend can be a lit­tle over the top.”

Cook, who has ap­peared in TV se­ries such as The Bro­ken Shore, left the Pil­bara after high school, com­ing to Perth in 2009 to study Abo­rig­i­nal Theatre at WAAPA in Mt Law­ley.

He then went on to NIDA in Syd­ney and now re­sides in Bris­bane.

“I miss my family in WA a lot but it’s a sac­ri­fice I’m will­ing to make,” Cook said.

“Hope­fully, they can be proud of the work I do.

“I want to show them that there is some­thing dif­fer­ent out there and if my suc­cess does kick off, that makes a beau­ti­ful story; a boy from the bush, from the heart of the bush, hav­ing noth­ing to do with the arts and now be­ing part of it.”

Shaka Cook

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