We’re very excited to be bringing Ruby’s Wish back to Belvoir this year. Can you tell us a little bit about it the show and what inspired it?
Both Adriano Cappelletta (co-writer/performer) and I have spent time working in children’s hospitals as Captain Starlight, a super hero sent to earth to brighten the lives of sick kids. But more often than not it’s actually the kids who brighten our lives. We’ve both met some seriously inspiring kids. Ruby’s Wish is based on a true story. ‘Ruby’ despite her illness had the most incredible optimism and an imagination without limits.
In the play we follow Dot, a rather socially awkward woman who finds solace in creating music (with a pretty spectacular loop pedal jacket) and mime as the clown doctor, Dr. Audi-YO, at a children’s hospital. It is here she meets Ruby, a very grown up and sick eight-year-old girl. The pair form an unlikely friendship through imaginative adventures that transform Ruby’s hospital room into a playful wonderland. In essence, it’s a work about friendship, hope and the blurred lines between fantasy and reality.
What got you into theatre-making? Were you introduced to it in childhood or was it something you discovered later in life?
I’ve been making ‘theatre’ since I was a kid. I grew up in a remote part of the Blue Mountains and to keep myself entertained my sister and I were constantly dressing up and putting on concerts for my parents. I still feel like I’m doing much the same thing: I get to play professional adult dress ups and call it my job!
I was also fortunate to be in a very special year group at NIDA. A lot of us shared a passion for creating our own work and collaborating and I’m still very inspired by working with fellow classmates such as Adriano Cappelletta, Kate Box and Marney McQueen.
While Ruby’s Wish is suitable for children, this is a show that can be enjoyed by the whole family. How do you make theatre that connects with both young and old?
Jo Turner (co-writer/director), Adriano and I really wanted to create a show that didn’t talk down to children and allowed adults to free their imagination and embrace their inner kid. I’m fascinated by how often the notion of growing up means becoming serious and forgetting to dream and play. I don’t think the progression to adulthood needs to abandon the wonders of childhood. To me the connection between young and old is simply about harnessing playfulness and joy and, as an adult, holding on to childlike ideals by keeping an open heart and mind.
In an age where entertainment is increasingly digital and virtual, why do you think going to the theatre is still such a rewarding experience for families?
The theatre is magical. In a tiny black box we create new worlds in front of your eyes. You can’t beat that visceral human connection of seeing people interact and engage right there in front of you. In Ruby’s Wish, a mop becomes a monster, a tooth becomes a star, a sterile hospital room becomes a jazz bar. Ruby is a puppet, but I bet by the end of the show you might just think she’s a real little girl. You will laugh and you might even cry. No iPad can do that.
Ruby’s Wish is playing in the Downstairs theatre 21 September – 9 October 2016. Find more information and book tickets here.