A BOOK published in 1899 has been brought to life again – with themes that still resonate today – in a new production coming to Tamworth next week.
Creature: an adaptation of Dot and the Kangaroo will take to the stage on May 22 and 23 at TRECC: the second regional NSW venue on the tour schedule.
Based on the classic children’s book Dot and the Kangaroo by Ethel C Pedley, which was also made into a beloved animated/live action film in 1977, it combines physical theatre, interactive digital technology, storytelling and song.
Director David Clarkson described the show as beautiful and moving, but also lots of fun.
“The piece is quite special in many ways,” he said.
“The story follows the journey of Dot, a little girl who is lost in the bush and is rescued by a wonderful kangaroo and taken on a journey to get her back home.
“As part of that journey, she meets wonderful creatures.
“There’s dance, acrobatics, aerial performers, a kookaburra that climbs a rope and does an acrobatic dance, brolgas that fly through the air, and beautiful projections that animate the Australian bush and bring it to life.
“At times it’s also quite haunting, such as the dingo chase where the kangaroo and Dot make that leap of faith over a gully.
“There are many key moments from the book and in 45 minutes we bring those to life in quite magical ways.”
On for young and old
Creature is a Stalker Theatre and Out of the Box production.
Clarkson, who is also Stalker’s artistic director, said “we really wanted to make a piece that was as interesting to the adults as well to the children”.
But there were some moments that appealed to children in a surprising way, as he discovered while sitting in the audience.
“There’s a piece called The Brolgas, where dancers fly through the air,” Clarkson said.
“In one of the last couple of shows, some kids behind me said, ‘That is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen’.
“It really moved me to hear 10-, 11-year-olds say that …
“Somehow we manage to capture the beauty and specialness of the Australian bush.”
Pedley dedicated Dot and the Kangaroo: “To the children of Australia, in the hope of enlisting their sympathies for the many beautiful, amiable and frolicsome creatures of their land; whose extinction, through ruthless destruction, is being surely accomplished.”
Clarkson said the book had Dot discovering the beauty and joy of the Australia bush and sought to encourage humans to respect the land.
“Land clearance is an ongoing hot topic in the bush, and Ethel C Pedley took a stance on that,” he said.
“It makes the show as timeless and relevant now as it was in 1899; the same issues are being addressed.”
- Creature: an adaptation of Dot and the Kangaroo, hits TRECC on Tuesday, May 22 at 6pm; and Wednesday, May 23 at 10.30am and 12.30pm. Tickets here.