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The arts


Left: Chris Bianchi (the Man) and Tom Wainwright (Goose)


Above: Lucy Tuck (The Wind) O


nly the most spectacularly unobservant could fail to have noticed that King Street is currently dominated by a huge square box, right in


front of the Bristol Old Vic. If you peer through the gaps in the corners you’ll glimpse a secret garden; you may also hear a few piano chords, as unseen musicians test out the acoustics. These sights and sounds will create little surprise in anyone who saw the BOV’s production of Treasure Island last year. In the summer of 2012, the main stage was still being refurbished, so it was necessary to create an outdoor theatre; as it turned out, Treasure Island was such a box office success that they’ve decided to do the al fresco thing all over again this year, this time with The Boy Who Cried Wolf, an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s Aesop’s Fables.


“I IMAGINED A NYMPH’S WOODLAND PLAYGROUND – SOMETHING MAGICAL ”


Sally Cookson directed both plays, and


Phil Eddolls did the stage design. We decided we’d better speak to both of them.


Sally Cookson on directing: Clifton Life: Who has The Boy Who Cried Wolf been designed for? Sally: I hope we’ve created a family show for everyone to enjoy; that we can bring these fables to life for young children who may not have read the stories yet, as well as reimagining them in a new and exciting way for the adults who grew up with them. In many of the more traditional versions


of Aesop’s Fables, the stories can come across as didactic and preachy. What Michael Morpurgo has done in his version is to add a great deal of humour, serving it up with a big dollop of humanity. His morals come across like a helpful bite-sized instruction manual on how to live a good life, rather than dogma.


Clifton Life: What made you choose these stories for this year’s play? Sally: One of the hardest aspects has been choosing which stories to tell, and in what order. Aesop wrote over 600; luckily Michael whittled his collection down to 20, and we’ve chosen eight of them. There is satisfaction in seeing a complete story told


in one go, and how we link from one story to the next is as important as the story itself. Michael is a theatre-lover, and allowed us to take his version of the stories and adapt them as we pleased into our theatrical version. They provided a delicious starting point for us in rehearsals, to which we’ve added many other ingredients.


Clifton Life: Why have you chosen to stage the production outdoors? Sally: There is a completely different atmosphere when you go and see an outdoor show – it is much less formal than being inside a theatre, and because the audience is clearly visible, the relationship between audience and performer is emphasised. Audiences want to have a good time at an outdoor show, be entertained and share a bit of a romp with the cast. It is not easy to create subtlety outside, it’s much better to engage your audience through humour. We’re also at the mercy of the weather, and this unknown element adds a frisson to the experience; you’re all in it together when you’re outside – rain or shine – and that binds you together.


Clifton Life: What appeals to you about directing plays for children and families?


THEATRE p45


MORE ➝ www.mediaclash.co.uk Clifton Life 43


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