Young audiences rejoice! Monkey Baa Theatre Company has announced their 2017 season, and it looks like a cracker.
Monkey Baa is “a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to creating exceptional theatre for young audiences”. From what we saw of their 2017 season, “exceptional” is the right word. The season is categorised into two divisions: Primary and Secondary, and several workshops are held throughout the year for students and teachers. There is also a Special Event being held in May: Oddysea is a free show for audiences 5-12years, with mild disabilities. Using song, touch, smell and taste, it follows the adventures of Crab and Turtle in a beautiful oceanic installation.
In the Primary line-up in 2017, the year will be kicked off in May with the brand-new show Diary of a Wombat. Based on the book by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley, this is a Monkey Baa original production which was developed with the help of students in school workshops. This show promises to be hilarious and touching, and after its short season at the Lend Lease Theatre in Darling Quarter will head off on a major national tour.
The next Primary show is in September: Grug and the Rainbow is a co-production with Windmill Theatre and is based on the picture book character created by Ted Prior. It follows Grug on his adventures as he embarks on an epic journey to find a rainbow.
Also in September, one show falls into two categories: The Arrival is classified as both Primary and Secondary. It is adapted by Michael Barlow from the book by Shaun Tan, and produced by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. It incorporates puppetry, digital animation and live performance, and does not have any dialogue. I imagine this show will be asking some very important questions of both the students and the teachers who come to see it.
The Secondary line-up begins in July with Lally Katz’ charming play Neighbourhood Watch. Having seen the original production at Belvoir a few years ago, I can absolutely understand the desire to put this in front of senior secondary students (a part of me wishes I’d seen it then). It is a show about bridging divides and celebrating the positives: humour, strength and unlikely friendships.
In September the final Secondary show is Where the Streets Had a Name, by Randa Abdel-Fattah (adapted for the stage by Eva Di Cesare). The story is set in Palestine and explores themes of displacement, family, freedom and friendship as we watch young Hayaat on her mission to cure her beloved grandmother.
There are some quite exciting things to see from Monkey Baa in 2017. This is a company that has its heart and its head aligned, and both in the right place. If you’d like more information, their website is monkeybaa.com.au. I encourage you to have a look.
Kitty Hopwood – Theatre Now & Talking Arts