Fresh from winning a major theatre award in China, New Zealand children’s theatre company Little Dog Barking will now perform among the world’s best, presenting its captivating puppet play about death at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2014.
Its stage adaptation of Duck, Death and the Tulip, a book by German illustrator Wolf Erlbruch, has captivated not only early childhood audiences, but young adults and beyond with its inventive and entertaining way of addressing one of life’s more difficult topics.
“Death is an inevitable part of life; however people tend to approach it with caution in everyday conversation, particularly with children,” says Peter Wilson, founder of the Wellington-based theatre company, who adapted the show for stage.
Duck, Death and the Tulip is a heart-warming story about a duck and a representation of death and in bringing it to the stage for young audiences, Wilson draws deeply on personal experience.
“When I was a young boy and my brother died, no one was around to explain death to me and it would have been wonderful to have had a book like this. I’m excited at the opportunity to perform it alongside artists from around the world that attend the Edinburgh Festival. It’s a time when producers and presenters gather to see what is new, what is innovative, what is unique and what they might buy.”
Directed by Nina Nawalowalo with “sublime” music composed by internationally acclaimed New Zealand composer Gareth Farr, the play is “impeccably” performed by Wilson and Shona McNeil using puppets crafted to replicate the book illustrations.
By using the medium of puppets, masks and music, it allows the play to deal with a difficult subject in a way that is elegant, straightforward and thought provoking. The story follows a duck as he befriends an individual representing death and as we watch the bond grow, death clarifies to duck about the wonders of life and the reality of death.
Audiences are left feeling both mutually moved and entertained as duck finds herself accepting death’s lingering presence and no longer feels threatened or afraid.
Wilson’s life work creating theatre for children and families has taken him to many corners of the globe, most recently China where he was chosen to collaborate and work alongside puppet companies across Asia in the First Asian Pacific Puppet Festival – where Little Dog Barking won Best International Drama for another of his shows, Paper Shaper.
Prior to founding Little Dog Barking he was Founding Artistic Director of Capital E National Theatre for Children in Wellington, New Zealand which continues to bring entrancing and educational theatre to young audiences nationwide.
Little Dog Barking Theatre is receiving support from many people and organisations in New Zealand, including Creative New Zealand, to present at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And, the show will be broadcast to international audiences.
Creative New Zealand’s Senior Manager for International projects, Cath Cardiff has said “The Edinburgh Festivals provide a wonderful showcase for New Zealand performers and artists. Creative New Zealand is delighted to be providing support to Little Dog Barking to take Duck, Death and the Tulip to this incredible international audience. We wish them every success in Edinburgh.”