Timothy Wynn, Artistic Director of THAT Production Company, and Cass Ramsay, Creative Producer, have got together to answer a few questions about My Dead Bunny.
Why did you choose to adapt My Dead Bunny?
TIM: During our past collaborations with SAFI, we presented shows that were set in a school environment, and we wanted to find something that was set in a different world, and ignited the audience’s imagination in a different way. While this was percolating in the back of my mind, I heard about a new book that had just been published by Sigi Cohen and James Foley, called My Dead Bunny. We watched the book trailer online, went out and bought a copy of the book – and we were hooked.
How is this different from the other books you’ve adapted?
TIM: The Tuckshop Kid and Eric Vale, Epic Fail were chapter books. To adapt them for the stage we had to identify the action and refine it – sometimes this meant combining characters, sometimes it was merging scenes. In merging scenes. My Dead Bunny is a picture book, so the process involved us filling in gaps with the story, and bringing out more details in the narrative.
CASS: We really relied on the illustrations for this – using them as clues to flesh out the characters (pun intended). Many of James’ illustrations include references to some classic monster stories and horror films. We also used that to provide additional context to circumstance and setting.
What role does music play in the show?
TIM: Whereas the other productions we’ve done, including Two Weeks with the Queen, has been more ‘plays with songs’, I think we can safely say this one is a musical. We’re using songs, written by our brilliant collaborator Lizzie Flynn, to reveal more about the characters, and to push the story forward.
CASS: Dance and movement also plays a critical part of the story, and our choreographer, Mara Glass, has to work with both the songs and the Tim and Nick (Director and Assistant Director) to ensure everything is coming together as one story on stage.
Is the play appropriate for young audiences?
TIM: Absolutely, but like all forms of entertainment, it’s up to the individual (or school or parents) to decide what’s suitable. There are supernatural themes involved – it is, after all, a story of a bunny coming to life from the dead – however the creative team have worked hard to make the play as accessible as possible for ages 7 and up.
CASS: The production will go for about 45 minutes, involves singing, dancing, and yes, a few little scares. At the core of the work we produce for young people is the belief that audiences of all ages deserve the chance to experience stories of all kinds. After all, they experience a complex and full range of feelings, just like adults. Theatre is just one way they can learn to develop and understand their emotions. We’ve tried to make My Dead Bunny spooky, but mostly, it’s just fun.
What’s been your favourite part about adapting My Dead Bunny?
TIM: The chance to take characters who aren't major parts of the book or even have dialogue and give them a voice and a whole life and story of their own. It’s rich material.
CASS: Researching the different conventions of horror and learning about the history of zombie mythology – for the characters, the narrative, and the theatrical production itself. It’s been a bit of a dream project in that sense.