The Bookbinder

Based on a story by Ralph McCubbin Howell & Hannah Smith
By Ralph McCubbin Howell
Director Hannah Smith

  • Venue Downstairs Theatre
  • Dates 26 September – 8 October 2017
  • Duration 55 minutes

    A bookbinder is looking for a new apprentice. Maybe someone in the audience would like the job? But he must warn us first of what happened to the last child who worked for him: this boy needed to find a lost page from a particularly magical tome, and found himself on a strange and mystical adventure…

    Weaving silhouettes, paper-art, puppets and music, The Bookbinder is a curious and clever solo performance for savvy children and their grown-up companions.

    In the spirit of the idea that theatre is for EVERYONE, here’s a real little gem for little and big people alike, all the way from (little) New Zealand. – Eamon

    Trick of the Light production

    For ages 9 and up!

    During the run of The Bookbinder, we will be hosting special workshops and free art activities in the foyer.


    Based on a story by Ralph McCubbin Howell & Hannah Smith
    Writer Ralph McCubbin Howell
    Director Hannah Smith
    Music Tane Upjohn-Beatson


    Ralph McCubbin Howell

    • A Note From The Creators

      The creative duo behind The Bookbinder, writer/performer Ralph McCubbin Howell and writer/director Hannah Smith, reveal how this spellbinding story came into being…


      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.


      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.

    • Workshops

      Make Your Own Book!

      Be a bookbinder’s apprentice yourself and learn to make your own books with author and illustrator Tina Matthews.

      Bring an idea for a book: a short story or even a joke. You can tell the story with words or pictures. You can bring copies of pictures you’ve already drawn to use in your book. Your book will be eight, sixteen or 24 pages and 7.5cm x 7.5cm in size. You’ll design and create the inside of the book and bind it together in a front and back cover.

      Make Your Own Book workshops follow the performances of The Bookbinder on Thursday 28 October or Tuesday 3 October

      Date: Thu 28 September or Tue 3 October
      Show: 11am – 12pm
      Workshop: 12.30pm-2pm
      Venue: Belvoir
      Cost: $25 (show) + $10 (workshops)
      Ages: For 9 years and up!

      Workshop materials supplied, parent or guardian supervisor required.

      Book Now for Thu 28 September

      Book Now for Tue 3 October

      Story Squad and Belvoir present: Worlds Collide!

      What would happen if you fell into the world of your favourite book?

      This unique full day workshop will provide the ultimate immersive experience, combining creative writing and a magical storytelling performance that will inspire imagination beyond measure.

      Kids will craft their own stories exploring the idea of lines blurring between real and imaginary worlds, engage in craft activities, and attend the stunning performance of The Bookbinder.

      Date: Wed 27 September OR Wed 4 October
      Time: 9.00am-3.00pm
      Venue: Belvoir
      Ages: 9-12 years
      Cost: $110

      Sold Out! Email [email protected] for information about future workshops

    • Art Activities in the Foyer

      Stay on after the show and enjoy the FREE art activities on offer in our foyer.

      Kids of all ages have the opportunity to create a whole cast of shadow puppets, create their own zine, and make a paper creature and add it to our garden.

      Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.

      12pm-2pm (Tue-Sat) & 3.15pm-5.15pm (Sun)

      No booking required, just turn up!

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