From page to stage: a picture-book introduction to live theatre

Several theatrical adaptations of children’s classic books are touring the country, reports Sara Keating

 

Children love nothing more than the familiar, as any parent who has been asked for the umpteenth time by their little one to read Peepo or Brown Bear or Owl Babies or whatever other picture-book has piqued their interest will testify.

This month, several theatrical adaptations of children’s classic books are touring the country and these stage versions make for perfect first experiences of live theatre. The familiar story and characters will keep a child focused and engaged, while the joy of recognition at seeing a favourite character come to life cannot be over-estimated. Parents, meanwhile, will delight in the various creative approaches that transform two-dimensional illustrations into real, physical worlds.

Judith Kerr’s 1968 classic The Tiger Who Came to Tea, for example, is brought to life with retro vim in a musical adaptation by David Wood, as a mysterious tiger arrives at a young girl’s front door and eats his way through every item in her fridge. Sam McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You and Anita Jerman’s My Little Storybook are animated by life-size (and giant!) puppets in a double-bill from Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia that is as gentle as a bedtime story. John Light’s picture-book The Flower, about a world bleached of colour, gets a gorgeous live translation in Branar’s non-verbal show Blath/The Flower; the detailed recreation of the black and white world, originally illustrated by Lisa Evans, is a wonder.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Guess How Much I Love You and My Little Storybook runs from October 26th-27th at the Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire.

Blath/The Flower runs from October 27th-28th at the Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo; then October 30th, Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea runs from November 6th-7th at the Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire; then November 8th/9th, Town Hall Theatre, Galway; and November 10th/11th, Cork Opera House.

Sara Keating is an arts journalist. She blogs about books, theatre, music and art for children at kidscultureireland.com and is running Baby Book Club at libraries throughout Dún Laoghaire this autumn

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