Out of the book and into his life
That was in 2010 when The Arrival was an unprecedented success for the Auckland company earning six Chapman Tripps, including Best Production and Most Original Production.
Their new show, Paper Sky, opens in Wellington at Downstage Theatre this week. It’s a modern fairytale, the story of Henry, a reclusive writer, whose ordered world is thrust into disarray when his own creation, Luminia, bursts from the pages of his fantasy and into his apartment. The play was commissioned for last year’s Auckland Arts Festival, but Red Leap artistic director, Julie Nolan, says Wellington audiences will see a re-worked version.
“This is Paper Sky in the latest point of its journey,” Nolan says. “Since the Auckland festival we secured funding to develop the play further, and we’ve developed the love story between Henry and Luminia.”
Red Leap productions have earned a reputation for what Nolan calls” image-based storytelling,” the use of movement, imagery and puppetry, to tell a story with minimum use of language.
“We’re using old school theatrical techniques with puppetry and imagery. We’ve worked a lot with paper for this one. We liked the relationship between paper and love; paper too is transformative and fragile.”
Nolan formed Red Leap Theatre in 2008 with fellow artistic director Kate Parker. The pair met in 1995 while studying at the John Bolton Theatre School in Melbourne.
“Bolton teaches a specific style of working. It’s a traditional physical theatre style using mime and mask work. It just draws you in, I’m hooked.”
After Nolan and Parker returned to Auckland they soon began collaborating. Other productions include Moahunting 2001, The Butcher’s Daughter 2003, and Beyond the Blue 2008.
Nolan says Red Leap remains loyal to the teachings of John Bolton through the whole process of creating theatre.
“We strongly believe in the practical experimenting and development of ideas. Our work begins with development workshops. In between these workshops we research and create the physical imagery.
The company has just returned from Sydney and Hong Kong where they toured The Arrival and next year it’s off to Taiwan. There’s similar hopes for Paper Sky.
”It’s very appealing theatre for an international audience because when you use little language you don’t have the language barrier.”
Paper Sky, Downstage Theatre, November 2-17.