UP­CLOSE: GEMMA COLCLOUGH

HK Magazine - - CULTURE -

HK: Why did you choose “The Hunt­ing of the Snark”? GC: It was my fa­vorite poem as a child. I have a very sur­re­al­is­tic sense of hu­mor. My dad used to read it to me and he would adopt silly voices. When I got to cre­at­ing a piece of chil­dren’s theater, it was a no-brainer. I knew “Snark” so well. I loved it as a child but as I grew up it took on a new mean­ing for me.

HK: What were you aim­ing to do with this pro­duc­tion? GC: We saw lots of chil­dren’s theater around but none of it re­ally catered to the whole fam­ily. We looked to try to cre­ate a show that was en­joy­able for small chil­dren from a visual point of view; for older chil­dren from a story point of view; and for adults from a com­edy point of view.

HK: “The Hunt­ing of the Snark” is quite com­plex on pa­per, and there’s not much of a sto­ry­line. How did you go about tack­ling the nar­ra­tive?

GC: It’s based on the Lewis Car­roll poem which is ba­si­cally non­sense. It’s quite a pop­u­lar piece of lit­er­a­ture in the UK, but not a lot of peo­ple know it par­tic­u­larly well. We tried to sim­plify it by putting a mod­ern slant on it, so now it’s a story about a fa­ther and son, the Baker and the Boy, who go to very strange lengths to find a Snark, and the ad­ven­ture brings them to­gether, with all th­ese mad­cap char­ac­ters around.

HK: Ahead of the tour, have you been adapt­ing the play to make it more ac­ces­si­ble to in­ter­na­tional au­di­ences? GC: It’s brand new ter­ri­tory, but it should trans­late uni­ver­sally. A lot of it is very silly, with phys­i­cal com­edy. The nar­ra­tive of each char­ac­ter is played very phys­i­cally and mu­si­cally, and it’s told in a col­or­ful, bright, musical way. Sto­ries about fam­ily, about a par­ent and a child, are some­thing every­one can un­der­stand. HK: What do you think it is about Lewis Car­roll that makes him so uni­ver­sally loved?

GC: Ev­ery­body knows the char­ac­ters of the Jab­ber­wocky or the Ban­der­snatch, but no­body knows what they look like or sound like, and I think that’s the power of Lewis Car­roll. He ig­nites your imag­i­na­tion, and you’re to­tally free to imag­ine what th­ese char­ac­ters look like. What hap­pens with Car­roll is, whether you go to Snark Is­land or to Won­der­land with Alice, you’re sud­denly taken from this grey, smoky, down­beat world to a sur­real, amaz­ing, en­chanted place. It’s that es­capism, and it feels like that’s what ev­ery­body needs some­times: a trip to Snark Is­land.

HK: How close is the pro­duc­tion to how you imag­ined “The Hunt­ing of the Snark” to be?

GC: Half of it is ex­actly how I had imag­ined it, and the other half is com­pletely dif­fer­ent. The de­sign is kind of steam­punk and then it goes into this mag­i­cal, col­or­ful world. We started with the Lon­don sky­line, dank and unimag­i­na­tive, and then you get to sail off into this is­land of color and crazi­ness. The main point of the de­sign is that Snark Is­land is this oth­er­worldly place. It’s not in space, not on the sea, just some­where else. And we re­ally wanted to take au­di­ences on a jour­ney to a dif­fer­ent world.

HK: It’s a tour­ing pro­duc­tion, so how much are you bring­ing with you?

GC: We’re bring­ing ev­ery­thing, and we’re so ex­cited. It’s a re­ally fun show. In try­ing to draw in the whole fam­ily, we’re de­liv­er­ing a re­ally high qual­ity piece of theater for every­one. Catch “The Hunt­ing of the Snark” when it makes its way to Hong Kong from Sep 20-25 at the Academy of Per­form­ing Arts, 1 Glouces­ter Rd., Wan Chai. $395-550 from hk­tick­et­ing.com.

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