‘Fox’ exquisitely rendered

Another transformation of the fox to 3D. This is a felt sculpture by Moira Court

Perhaps the greatest accolade for any book, and the most sought after by its creators, is to have it picked up and lifted off the page by a team of actors, directors and producers, whether they be from the film, theatre or computer graphics industry. For other people to be so impressed by your work that they want to give it a new life in their own medium is, for me, the highest praise.

The picture book, Fox, by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks, has now been transformed into a play and performed, for the last three weeks, at Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. Exquisitely rendered through dance and puppetry, against a backdrop of computer generated scenes straight from the pages of the book, this classic story of love and betrayal has enchanted a whole new audience, ranging in age from toddlers to grandparents. The production team at Spare Parts has long since mastered the art of getting maximum impact from the simplest of materials. The bushfire at the heart of the plot morphs seamlessly into the equally destructive orange fox. The dog and magpie masks, when removed from the heads of the dancers, become separate puppets performing their own shadow play. Margaret Wild’s pared back text, combined with Ron Brooks’s flamboyant colours and stark images, make the book a powerful and moving one. The unseen narrator of the play uses some of Margaret’s text. The dancers speak just enough of her other words to give the play an emotional impact that matches the original. I have been reading the book to children ever since it was first released in 2000. I invariably have tears in my eyes before the last page. Seeing the play also brought tears to my eyes, which shows how sensitively the transition from paper to stage has been handled and how much passion and skill has been applied to giving this story a new lease on life.

Of course I would love the Spare Parts team to adopt one of my own stories at some point. Other groups have turned several of my short stories into musical performances, most notably ‘Muntilunch and Kristy’, which was set to music by Ziggy de Voight and performed as ‘The Invisible Child’ during the opening ceremony of the CBCA Conference in 2000. And my full length biographical fiction, Black Jack Anderson, was turned into a play and performed by the students from Esperance Senior High School as part of the Festival of the Wind in 2014, so who knows? Maybe one day …

Leave a Reply