Pulling the strings

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Sara Fitz­patrick

Meet the man be­hind Moom­in­pappa at Sea, Spare Parts Pup­pet Theatre’s lat­est pro­duc­tion.

YOU may not know the ec­cen­tric Moomins and their rocky windswept is­land home.

Fa­mous across Europe, Ja­pan and South Amer­ica, their quirky tales of self-dis­cov­ery are rel­a­tively un­known Down Un­der.

Michael Bar­low is hop­ing to change that. He dis­cov­ered the

Moomin book se­ries, by Fin­ish au­thor Tove Jans­son, as a child when his aunt gave the se­ries to him and his sib­lings.

From there he was so hooked that he later cocre­ated a pup­petry pro­duc­tion based on them.

“The books were writ­ten in the ’60s and a lot of great chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture has been writ­ten since, but I would love to think some peo­ple might dis­cover the rest of the books through com­ing to see this show be­cause they are an in­cred­i­ble gift to the world,” the Spare Parts Pup­pet Theatre as­so­ciate di­rec­tor said.

As solo per­former and di­rec­tor of Moom­in­pappa at Sea, Bar­low draws view­ers into the lives of these en­chant­ing crea­tures as they face chal­lenges with courage, hu­mour and op­ti­mism.

“All of the char­ac­ters go on a jour­ney; it starts as a phys­i­cal jour­ney to this re­mote is­land – this windswept place far out to sea – and then once they are there, each one goes on their own jour­ney of self dis­cov­ery,” he said.

“We’re rec­om­mend­ing the show for ages five and up: small chil­dren re­spond more im­me­di­ately to the vis­ual ac­tion and com­edy and then adults can tap into the other layer of mean­ing about free­dom and re­spect.”

A ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion fol­lows each show.

“We re­ally like to cre­ate works that hope­fully spark con­ver­sa­tions be­tween gen­er­a­tions,” Bar­low said.

“One of the most won­der­ful things is when a child or par­ent comes back to us, some­times af­ter some years later, and says ‘we’re still talk­ing about that show’ or ‘my child went home af­ter­wards and wanted to make pup­pets out of their toys’.”

Bar­low said Finn Fam­ily Moom­introll, the third book in the se­ries, was a good edi­tion to be­gin read­ing to chil­dren.

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