Sussed used the story as a starting point to: research Central Asian music and dance; improvise scenes, develop characters and invent dialogue; write a song, and explore how movement and gestures can tell a story. They created set, costumes, props, and an evil Dev (demon) puppet, inspired by Sophie Herxheimer’s illustrations in the book.
I was invited to the final performance, and given my own special Central Asian seat! The performance was truly wonderful. Sussed had taken Peter Brook’s idea from ‘The Empty Space’ that a theatre company is ‘a many-headed storyteller’. So there was no ‘fourth wall’ – the children spoke to the audience directly. The children took it in turns to be the narrator, shifting between narrator and character in a natural way. The space shifted too, flowing in an instant from river, orchard, to mountain, living in the imagination of both audience and actors in exactly the way a story does. Songs and dance conjured the cultural world. This project gave the children a real experience of the magic of theatre. So often school productions are about slick presentation, or stiffly trying to get it right. I loved sitting in my special seat, and felt deeply touched to see one of my stories come to life.