The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Compass presents an original translation and stage adaptation by Canadian writer Luciana Burcheri. Directed by Jane Spence, and performed by a cast of talented, emerging artists, this inventive production is sure to enchant the imagination of all ages.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince is a story that is loved by many and has been translated into over 250 languages. Though often thought of as a children's tale, it is a richly layered text that speaks to those of all ages. The story is of an aviator that crashes in the Sarara desert and meets a fantastical little prince from another planet. They become friends as the boy shares the discoveries he has made on his journey through the galaxy. Though told with a beautiful simplicity it invites contemplation about the complexities of life, love and death. As I researched the author I learned that this story was in part autobiographical. Saint -Exupery was not only a writer, he was a pilot who served during both world wars. In 1943 he crashed and was stranded in the Sahara desert for 3 days and published The Little Prince shortly after his return. Written at a time when the world was in great turmoil, he witnessed first hand the devastation caused by the abuse of power and greed. In this work he explores the loss of childhood innocence, imagination, the impact those we love have on us and what is truly important in life. The story is really that of the inner journey the Aviator has during his time in the desert, symbolized through his encounter with the Little Prince. The Aviator is reminded and in turn reminds us " to look beyond the surface of things. If we open our hearts and minds and see the world with our imagination, we can discover there is beauty and life even in the smallest and driest of places. We can only see clearly with our hearts. What is truly important is invisible to the eye."
As drawings and imagination play such an important role in the story, we wanted to honour them in our design, we wanted to create an illustrated aesthetic that is brought to life through our pilot's imagination. In our concept the ensemble members have become the stars or "fates" that guide the journey, transforming the environment and themselves into the many different characters that inspire his epiphanies.
Thank you to Lisa Dent-Couturier and Compass Theatre Productions for providing the opportunity to imagine, create and collaborate with this talented group of emerging artists and technicians.
Lisa Dent-Couturier - Production Manager & Producer
Lucas Wilson - Assistant Production Manager, Properties Manager, Carpenter & Technical Director
Stephanie Simonetta - Stage Manager & Assistant Properties Manager
Amber Archbell - Professional Mentor Stage Manager
Carolyn Hooper - Costume Manager
Dave Metcalfe - Lighting Designer
Morgan O’Dwyer - Scenic Painter
David Langlois of Metaphysical Theatre (Rat); Rachael Newbigging (Snake) - Puppets
Andrew Couturier - Photography
Visit our Facebook page for cast photos, bios, and other information about this wonderful production.
with Richard Sheridan Willis
Born in Stratford-upon-Avon on purpose, Richard Sheridan Willis was given the Complete Works of Shakespeare as a christening present and dedicated to the theatre by his actor-director parents. He was on stage from the age of six, and after a TV and film career as a child actor, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. From London’s West End to Off-Broadway and the White House, he has performed Shakespeare, Ibsen and Wilde, through to Morris Panych, David Mamet and Tom Stoppard. Television appearances include Dr. Who, Law & Order, and Flashpoint. Love brought him to Canada, where he performed most recently in the Toronto production of the Railway Children.
Strolling Player is a kaleidoscope of classical drama and highly personal stories from theatre, TV, and film, framed by the memory of a small boy at his father’s seaside theatre, watching a play, entranced…and remembering his future.
In March 2012, audiences at the Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant and the Norfolk Arts Centre shared these comments about Strolling Player: 'a spellbinding production,' it was 'a wonderful story of a wonderful journey' and 'was done beautifully.'
Strolling Player website
How Strolling Player came about... from Richard Willis on Vimeo.
Director's Notes by Lee MacDougall
"Stories can die if there is no one to tell them." So says the character Fumiko in Emil Sher's moving play Hana's Suitcase. Based on the true story of Hana Brady, a young girl caught up in the horrors of World War II, this play is a moving testament to the power of one person's story. Hana was a young Jewish girl who lived with her family in a small town in Czeckoslovakia, and her story would have disappeared forever if not for the diligence of a young Japanese woman named Fumiko Ishioka. It was she who decided in the year 2000 that Japanese children should learn about the Holocaust. After receiving a few relics from the Auschwitz Museum, including a small battered suitcase with the name Hana Brady painted on one side, Fumiko decided to find out who Hana was, and what had happened to her.
The immensity of the Holocaust is almost impossible for us to conceive, but we can understand and empathize with the plight of one person. By shear determination, Fumiko was able to find Hana's surviving brother George, living in Toronto, and through him to learn the story of Hana's life. Through a radio documentary, then a book, then a play and a film, Hana's story has spread around the world. It is so important today that stories like hers are still being discovered. So very important that we tell this story to children who know so little of this history, and to adults who must be reminded what hatred and intolerance will allow. Hana now lives on, as the teacher she one day hoped to be. It is my pleasure to work on this beautiful play with the Theatre Norfolk & COMPASS Theatre Productions team.
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Photo © Andrew Couturier and COMPASS Theatre Productions