On Saturday 29th February the cast of 'Aamira and Gad' was interviewed by our wonderful YOUNG BUZZ REVIEWER competition winner- Miai Phillip.
What sort of person is going to love this show?
Demi: I think everybody will love this show. It is suitable for children because it teaches them important things about how to resolve conflict and how to get along with other people. It’s also an important show for adults to learn, because sometimes adults make mistakes and they can learn things from children and from watching children’s theatre.
Why did you want to be involved in this production?
Lyla: So I(’ve) worked with BIMB for some years and it’s been so nice to see them develop and grow as a company because we started out together at drama school and a few years later they’re in The Vault which is amazing, doing the show that they’ve written and we’ve all put on together. Katherine makes all the puppets herself. It’s been (an) amazing opportunity to get involved in something that feels like a family company, it’s really nice (and) it’s been really fun.
Demi: Can I also add to that? It’s such a beautiful story, that takes you on so many different kinds of journeys and being a part of that is something really really special.
Why is it important to tackle subjects like war and conflict in a children’s show?
Katherine: Well, war and conflict doesn’t just affect adults in the countries where it’s happening, it affects children very very very deeply and so exploring children’s stories and looking at how it affects kids is really important because often they are the silenced voices, so we have to help speak and raise up their voices and (do it) at an age appropriate level. Exploring those themes early on can help create a really empathetic young person and grow some really beautiful, understanding people (that) is why it’s important to do it for children’s theatre.
How do you keep children interested and engaged?
Alex: So, I think that children are probably one of the toughest audiences ever (laugh)because you have really high standards and you know what is fun and what is interesting. (We) just (wanted) to throw as much colour and life into it as we could, all the music (and) all the movement. We didn’t want to panda to children because your so much more intelligent than a lot of people give you credit for and that was really exiting. (Also) finding that balance of how scary we could go and finding that little bit fear to put you on the edge of your seat.
What process did you undertake to create the show?
Katherine: So, the process that I think is most important at BIMB is finding the right team. Me and Tess who is my other director friend, think it’s so important to get a group of people who work together wonderfully and are happy to create and improvise and just get stuck in and that’s what happened with theses amazing people (referring to cast). We were very careful about who we wanted and how we put the team together. I think the show would not be the same if we’d had even one different person. So, it’s entirely up to the entire group what the show became.
What’s challenging about bringing this script to life?
Emma: I think the most challenging thing is because none of us have experiences of war and conflict so there’s a lot of research (involved). Research is really key especially when dealing with something that you don’t personally have any memory or experience of and you need to make sure that you honour the truth and reality of people that are going through the issues you’re tackling.
I didn’t know much about the Palestinian and Israeli conflict before I came to see this show, but I watched some videos online, how did you prepare for your roles?
Thomas: Like Emma just said, the most important part was getting the research right so that we all had a grounding in the subject matter that we were going to be tackling. Personally, manning the big puppet (named) Archibald, (meant) it was important to find the right way he moved through the space (so it) was reflected in the way he physically appeared. So, I spent some time watching puppetry videos on the internet and practicing a lot with the puppet.
Who in the show is most like their character?
(Overlapping voices erupt between laughter, disagreement and disbelief). “Alex” “Nah I reckon its Emma” “I think its Demi” “Really do you think it’s me?” “Oh, we got a few different answers” “I think Demi” “well obviously you can see there a lot of crossover”
Who’s the least like their character?
Thomas: Me, I’m not like a big mole at all (everyone laughs) nothing moley about me. Lila on the other hand, is very moley! (more laughter)
Katherine: (Also) Ed, while he plays the soldier, he’s a very lovely person in real life! (they all concur)
What do you love about your character?
Lyla: Well, I played a couple of characters but the puppet (Archibald) was so (much) fun, to be able to focus your energy into something and bring it to life which is something that you usually don’t get to do as an actor (as) you(‘re) usually bringing yourself to life. To create a living thing out of some fabrics is amazing. It’s fun to play something completely different to yourself and to find “his” (Archibalds’) anger and snootiness was quite interesting. Also we had a challenge because Thomas and I had to speak at the same time, which was difficult but with practice it came together and actually it gave our character another dimension because “he” was, well we always say “he”, but actually “he” wasn’t a “he” or a “she”, because “he” was both (Thomas: a “them”, an “it”, kind of all these weird voices) “it’s” a creature, a monster, so that was really interesting to explore as well.
Demi: There was lots I liked about Aamira. Her fearlessness, determination, cheekiness, hopefulness, (her) love (of) stories and imagination. I think it is fun to play kids because when we get older, we forget that innocence and that magic that you have when you’re a kid, so don’t lose that. Its’ nice to put yourself back in the shoes of who you were 15 years ago and remember how you can make magic out of nothing and all the possibilities.
Alex: My favourite thing about Vasilisa, the rebel archivist was how she overcame her fear of the top archivist (Archibald) and the way she’d steal herself and try to make sure she had enough energy to fight the good fight and (laugh) keep going.
What do you dislike about your character?
Emma: Gad’s so obnoxious, corrective, perfectionist and pedantic (but) he learns to respect his best friend.
Ed: We didn’t want Dan to be hated, he did a really terrible thing… (I won’t give any spoilers) but afterwards his real true colours come out, he didn’t mean it. A lot of the soldiers are sent out to war, a lot of kids, a lot of young adults that don’t understand anything and they just get scared and they shoot, they take, they make judgments or pass comments and they’re hurtful. I love Dan for him and I hate his mistakes but through mistakes you learn to become a better person and that’s the message with Dans’ role.
My favourite part of the show was the tale of the house beyond the wall. What is your favourite part of the show and why?
Demi: I think the tale of the house beyond the wall is cool because I didn’t know any puppetry before I met Kathrine. It’s incredible how you can just look at that coat and its manned by these three wonderful people but it (becomes) a woman and you see her whole story. The movement is so special. What you can do out of nothing is (just) so cool, I think.
Thomas: Yeah, my favourite bit was the tale of the house beyond the wall, because there’s something really cool about all six of us in the company being actively involved in creating this story and you’ve got Ed on the violin, we(‘ve) got me and Alex and Lila running around creating it and then Demi and Emma. I really like that, it’s nice that we’re all working together and we’re all on the stage at the same time, it’s really fun.
Lyla: And when the fairy lights come on (everyone says “yeah” in unison).
Ed: We all agree on fairy lights.
How would you describe the show in 3 words?
Tess: (after pausing and with some prompting) Wait, Wait, ok, I would say… magical, inviting and playful.
Emma: And poignant.
Katherine: Hopeful, curious and provocative.
What is the underlying message?
Ed: (Emphatically) Love and hope. Don’t ever judge. Just try and love each other for who we are.
Lyla: Everyone is going through their own thing.
Alex: You can write your own story. You don’t have to stick to the ending you think has to happen.
Demi: It’s like Aamira says at the end, you have the power to change things. You don’t have to follow the path that everyone sets out before you.
If you had a magic wand, what would BIMB do next?
Tess: Oh ok, we would buy a building in the north of England, a theatre and there will be a playground for kids and a fairy garden. We would produce our own shows and invite other people to come and do shows with us…
Katherine: A lending library where everyone can borrow theatre books and stories…
Tess: A place where people could play and create whatever they want and our cast would be allowed to run around (playful laughter) and that’s the dream.
Tess Agus - Director
Katherine Sturt Scobie - Director and puppet maker
Demi Wilson-Smith - Aamira
Emma Zadow - Gad
Edward (Ed) Watchman - Dan
Thomas Delacourt - Puppeteer
Alexandra (Alex) Ewing - Puppeteer
Lyla Schillinger - Puppeteer
BIMB - Be In My Beanie