Monday, 10 July 2017

First Hippo on the Dramaturgy: Oliver Lansley @ Edfringe 2017

First Hippo on the Moon
2 – 20 August
Pleasance Beyond

From Number One bestselling Children’s author David Walliams comes an explosively funny space adventure for children of 3 and up. Two big hippos. One ENORMOUS dream. Who can make it to the moon first? 3 ...2 ...1 ...BLAST OFF! 

(Q&A with Les Petits’ Artistic Director, Oliver Lansley)

What was the inspiration for this performance?
David Williams fantastic and anarchic picture book of the same name. It seemed perfect for us. These great animal characters, a space race, and a whole lot of poo jokes.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?

I think it's an essential space for that. To me most art is about trying to answer a question you don't know the answer to. I think with what's going on in our world at the moment there is an increasing responsibility for performance to raise these questions and be a provocateur.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?

For this show there's a lot of people we worked with before Finn one of our directors was the puppetry director on our show Alice's adventures underground so seemed perfect for this puppetry packed show.

The performers have been in various other of our shows from the marvellous imaginary menagerie, the fantastical flying exploratory laboratory and our immersive Sherlock show, Games Afoot.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I've been interested since childhood. I loved performing but even as a kid I was making up stories and experimenting with ways of telling them. I would do shows for the people on our road in my front garden and make my mum serve them chips through the kitchen window.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

The challenge is trying to capture the essence of such a bright, anarchic picture book but also to fill that story out into an hour long piece of theatre that is going to keep kids hooked. Whenever your working with puppets there's alway a lot of play to get a sense of what that puppets movements and personality is. That dictates the ways the character works a lot.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

With our children's shows certainly, but I think there's a definite thread of irreverence which runs through all our work. And a certain rich, visual style.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Fun, for me that's what's most important. That the kids have a great time, laugh and want to go back to the theatre again.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

You have to listen to an audience and be prepared to keep changing and growing the show. For us a show isn't finished once it's open, it's an ever evolving process.

David Walliams has taken the literary world by storm and his brilliantly funny stories are adored by children all over the world!  He has achieved unprecedented critical acclaim and quickly developed a reputation as a natural successor to Roald Dahl. His books have been translated into over 45 languages and sold over 9.5 million copies in the UK alone.

Adapted for the stage by acclaimed award winning Theatre company Les Petits and hot off the heels of their hugely successful Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs tour and immersive hit Adventures in Wonderland, comes a fantastical adventure featuring puppetry, music, mayhem and a giant space race to the moon! Based on David Walliams’ original children’s book with illustrations by Tony Ross, The First Hippoon the Moon is an explosively funny space adventure which sees the enormously rich Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III and ingenious Shelia compete to be the first hippo to make it to the moon.

The creative team have worked on such hit shows such as Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, The Nationals’ Elephantom, War Horse and Raymond Briggs’ The Bear. Les Petits was set up as the sister company to 'razor sharp theatre group' (The Telegraph) Les Enfants Terribles whose work includes The Trench, The Vaudevillains and Alice’s Adventures Underground. 

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