Australian children’s theatre appeals to all nationalities and ages
This is the Adelaide-based company’s fifth visit to China and first trip to Taiwan.
Windmill Theatre Company executive producer Kaye Weeks says they keep returning to China because of the incredibly positive response the company receives.
“I think they just love the pretty inventive, fun and imaginative way we tell stories,” she says.
“And the very modern technologies and modern storytelling devices that we use… (which is) probably as opposed to what has been in China for many years, which is fairly traditional storytelling.”
Windmill Theatre Company was founded in 2002 as an initiative of the South Australian Government. The aim was to establish a national theatre company for young people and families that offered the same production standard as work made for adults.
“Baba Yaga has got beautiful sets and lighting design and costume design and music especially for the shows and it’s all brand-new Australian work as well,” Weeks says.
“We commission writers to create new work for us. So, it’s not existing scripts it’s all new Australian stories that we’re showcasing and they’re kind of just as much fun for the adults in the audience as they are for the kids, so they resonate with family audiences across the globe.”
Baba Yaga is a fresh take on an old Russian folktale. It follows receptionist Vaselina who lives a quiet life in a high-rise apartment until an eccentric woman starts to make a raucous in the building.
After performing in China the production will travel to Kristiansand in Norway in September for the annual international association of theatre for children and young people (ASSITEJ). Baba Yaga is one of 10 productions – and the only Australian show – to showcase at the European gathering.
The production will finish 2019 with a six-week trip around the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Weeks says the global demand for the production is a result of the South Australian government’s continued investment in producing work for young audiences.
“I think South Australia has really invested in making work for young audiences and I think over the years we’ve done that very well because it’s something we’ve put a high value on,” she says.
“I guess when you do something for a long time you get good at it and our state has become known as a place that makes fantastic work for young audiences.”
Windmill Theatre Company’s latest early childhood production Beep will also spend much of the next year on the road.
Following a season at Adelaide’s DreamBIG Children’s Festival last month, the show will tour nationally before heading to the United States and Canada for three months at the beginning of 2020.
The company has previously toured North America with Grug, Big Bad Wolf and Grug and the Rainbow.
Weeks says it has been exciting to steadily grow the touring activity over the last few years.
“Touring our works allows us to create valuable employment opportunities for Australian artists and gives children from all over the word the opportunity to experience our unique South Australian style of storytelling,” she says.
Back on home soil, Windmill Theatre Company will stage Girl Asleep at the Adelaide Festival Centre in September.
The company will announce its 2020 Adelaide season later this year.