Ralph McCubbin Howell (Writer & Performer)
The Bookbinder was borne out of a series of happy accidents. We’d just come out of a big show, and wanted to make something small. We’d found a venue in a bookshop, and wanted to make something to suit. Then a friend of ours happened to meet a bookbinder by the name of Michael O’Brien. We went for a cuppa with Michael, who proved an excellent spinner of yarns. Slowly an idea began to take shape – a story about binding books but also about weaving tales…
We made the show fast – in our living room, using props we had at hand. Then we threw it in front of an audience for twenty odd shows in a fortnight. Each night we cut bits that didn’t work, and added bits that did, and to this day it remains an ever-evolving beastie.
This isn’t a work for little children. It’s wordy and funny and delightfully dark. It’s something less easily categorised (and more of a headache for marketing teams) – a cross-over work, for adults and older children. It’s a genre familiar in literature but rarer on the stage, and owes a debt to authors like Neil Gaiman and Susanna Clarke.
Hannah Smith (Director & Designer)
I love it when I read a book or hear a piece of music and the experience is intimate and affecting and internal – when you listen to a song on headphones that you haven’t heard in stereo before and you understand how it’s put together for the first time. Or when you’re reading and someone speaks to you and you’re called back from another world. I think that work you do as a reader or listener to fill in the gaps is really significant.
Theatre is special because it trusts an audience to do that work, and to be artists who help create the performance through active listening and interpretation. A script is a blueprint of a play, and the play is the blueprint of a performance which shifts, shimmers, and is a different experience inside every person’s head. It is magic.
That is the ethos I wanted for this show. Spare, elegant, signposts for the imagination. Simplicity. Clean outlines that the performers and audience could colour in together, making a slightly different picture every time.
The Bookbinder is playing at Belvoir from 26 September to 8 October. Find more information or book tickets here.