Birmingham Rep are building up to their production of Philip Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS.
In the version by Nicholas Wright, the production opens on Friday 13th March and runs till April 18th.
This is a huge undertaking for the Rep but should be exciting in the Rep’s large acting space. Details below are from the Rep’s press release.Daemons, armoured bears, witches, gyptians and cliff-ghasts are just some of the magical creations from Pullman’s best-selling trilogy. The riveting story has been adapted for the stage into two plays by Nicholas Wright and will be directed by The REP’s Artistic Director Rachel Kavanaugh and Sarah Esdaile who are working with specialist puppet company Blind Summit Theatre, designer Ruari Murchison and a company of 25 actors to bring Pullman’s magical worlds to life.
His Dark Materials takes us on a thrilling journey through worlds familiar and unknown. Pullman’s magical story unfolds in a world where young girl Lyra lives in an Oxford very like our own, but strangely different with people’s souls brought to life as animal companions, known as daemons.
When Lyra overhears her Uncle, Lord Asriel, arguing with the religious authorities about mysterious “dust”, she embarks on an incredible journey to the Arctic to try and discover the truth. She meets the dangerously enticing Mrs Coulter and learns the secrets of the truth-telling Alethiometer. Along the way she encounters fantastical creatures in parallel worlds – armoured bears, flying witches and child-catching Gobblers.
In an eerie deserted city. Lyra meets a young boy, Will, who is on the run. Her fate is strangely linked to his own, and together they must find the most powerful weapon of all – a magical knife that can take them to parallel worlds. In Part 2 of the story Lyra is kidnapped and Will sets off to rescue her with the aid of the Gallivespians – Lord Asriel’s trusted spies. When the two are reunited they must travel to the land of the dead and fight to decide the fate of Good and Evil, before reaching perhaps, the Republic of Heaven.
Rachel Kavanaugh most recently directed Peter Pan at West Yorkshire Playhouse and The Music Man at Chichester Festival Theatre which became the theatre’s most successful show in recent history. Her other notable productions include The David Hare Trilogy, Hapgood, The Wizard of Oz, The Madness of George III and Uncle Vanya. Co-director Sarah Esdaile’s recent productions include Drowning On Dry Land at Salisbury Playhouse and The Grouch at West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Blind Summit Theatre’s wonderful puppets will bring Philip Pullman’s fantastic creatures to life. Created by Nick Barnes and Mark Down, the production will feature some 15 puppets. Blind Summit Theatre was founded in 1997 and their previous collaborations and productions include Antony Mingella’s Madame Butterfly at The Met, New York and for ENO, Complicite’s Shunkin in Toyko and at the Barbican, and The Ramayana at the Lyric Hammersmith.
Leading the cast as Lyra will be Amy McAllister who appeared as Boletta in The REP’s 2008 production of The Lady From The Sea. She will be joined by Nick Barber as Will. Nick’s credits include Love’s Labour’s Lost (Rose Theatre Kingston), Othello (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Faust (Punch Drunk). Playing Lord Asriel will be John Hodgkinson who has appeared at The REP in several productions including Hapgood, Uncle Vanya and The David Hare Trilogy. Christopher Ettridge, also recently seen in Hapgood at The REP will play Lord Boreal. Appearing as Brother Jaspel will be Daniel Brocklebank, who appeared in the hit film Shakespeare In Love for which he won a Screen Actors Guild Award for his outstanding performance of Sam Gosse / Juliet.
The cast also includes Tim Kightley as Master and Fra Coram, Thomas Aldridge as Roger, Nicholas Asbury as John Faa, Charlotte Asprey as Mrs Coulter, Gerard Carey as Pantalaimon, Ian Conningham as Fra Pavel and Emma Manton as Serafina Pekkala. The ensemble is completed with Minnie Crowe, Josie Daxter, Geoffrey Lumb and Ben Thompson plus a company of eight young actors from The REP’s youth theatre, The Young REP.
Joining Rachel Kavanaugh on the creative team will be Sarah Esdaile as co-director, designer Ruari Murchison, lighting designer Malcolm Rippeth, movement director Toby Sedgwick, fight director Kate Walters, composer Catherine Jayes and sound designer Dan Hoole.